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Learn how to make Authentic Mexican Rice! It’s a simple recipe, requires just a few ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Add it to your menu for Taco Tuesday or anytime Mexican food is on the menu.

Authentic Mexican Rice on a platter

This is the best Mexican Rice recipe that is so good and so easy, it is our go-to side dish for any Mexican dinner. We serve this rice dish alongside Refried Beans or Slow Cooker Mexican Beans, Mexican Black Beans and with our favorite meals, like Ground Beef EnchiladasChicken Tacos, Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas and Carne Asada.

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The Best Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

By far, this is one of my favorite and most requested recipes to cook. We make it for any Mexican dish from taquitos, to tacos to burritos. It’s truly an authentic Mexican Rice recipe. You want to know why? Because it comes from an authentic Mexican kitchen that just so happens to belong to my cousin’s mother-in-law!

My cousin shared this recipe with me years ago and I’ve been making it almost weekly ever since. This authentic family recipe was passed down from her mother-in-law who had learned the recipe from her mother and grandmother. The ingredients are pretty simple – white rice, tomato sauce, garlic, chili powder, and Caldo de Tomate.

For me, this recipe is the closest to what you typically find in Mexican restaurants. While it might not feel “authentic” to some, it certainly is to us!

Ingredients

  • Oil – I have used vegetable, canola, corn or olive oil. Other oils that you prefer can be used as long as they have a high smoke point.
  • Long grain white rice – I have used Jasmine rice without issues, but don’t recommend a short grain because it can be too starchy. Brown rice works – see the FAQs section for tips.
  • Tomato sauce – Depending on how saucy you like your rice, use anywhere from 4-8 ounces.
  • Caldo de Tomate – This is a tomato bouillon that can be found in the Mexican aisle or with the dry soup mixes. If you can’t find it or don’t want to purchase it, you can omit or use chicken bouillon instead.
  • Water – Substitute low-sodium chicken broth if you prefer, especially if you omit the caldo de tomate.

How to Make Mexican Rice

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

Long grain white rice toasting in a pan, a wooden spoon for mexican rice

Brown the Rice. The first step is to brown the rice by cooking it in a deep skillet or a large saucepan with some vegetable oil over a fairly high heat. When the rice starts to turn bright white and then golden, you’re ready for the next step, which is basically just adding the rest of the ingredients – water, tomato sauce, tomato bouillon, garlic and chili powder.

tomato sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon

Once it all comes to a boil, cover it up and turn down the heat. A clear lid is helpful here so you can see when the rice is done, but really 20 minutes is about all it takes. If after 20 minutes there’s still some liquid in the pan, just let it continue to cook until you can no longer see liquid bubbling to the top.

Authentic restaurant style Mexican Rice, being fluffed in the pan with a spoon

Let it rest, covered, for several minutes, then fluff it up in the pan using a fork or wooden spoon, and you’re ready to serve. Sometimes I’ll add some frozen veggies, like peas and carrots, or even chicken, like in my One Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice. For a garnish, chop up some fresh cilantro or parsley and sprinkle it on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice?

Some people call this Spanish Rice, but Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice are actually not the same thing. While they do use some of the same ingredients, Traditional Spanish Rice uses saffron threads and has more of a yellow color.

Whether you call it Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice, you’ll always call it delicious!

What Spices should be added to rice?

White rice on its own has a pretty neutral flavor, so adding spices is key to adding big flavor. Add garlic, tomato bouillon and chili powder for restaurant-style Mexican rice; chicken broth, onion and garlic for rice pilaf; and saffron for Spanish Rice.

What can I use as a substitute for the Caldo de Tomate?

I have been asked this many times so I thought it was important to address. Chicken bouillon would be a fine substitution, although it wouldn’t have the same tomato taste. You could also simply use chicken stock instead of water and leave the bouillon out completely. I definitely recommend Caldo de Tomate if you can easily get it because it will give the best, most authentic flavor to your restaurant-style Mexican Rice recipe.

Keep in mind that you may need to add salt if you skip the bouillon. I highly recommend just doing a taste test once the rice is fully cooked, and adding the salt then if needed.

My rice didn’t cook all the way through in the 20 minutes. What happened?

Since each kitchen and stove is different, it’s hard to say what could have gone wrong. However, typically it’s just that the heat wasn’t high enough and the rice didn’t come to a full boil. Let it cook a little longer to absorb more of the liquid. Or, remove the lid, turn up the heat to medium and let any remaining liquid boil off. One of these solutions should work for most problems.

Is this really authentic?

Each kitchen, family, and family tradition is different. Just like in the US there are about 18 different types of barbecue sauce depending on what part of the country you live in, the same goes for Mexico and authentic Mexican Rice recipes. Just because it isn’t the same as what your family cooks, doesn’t make it wrong or bad.

What kind of rice is best for Mexican Rice?

This recipe calls for basic long-grain white rice, which is the best for an Authentic Mexican Rice recipe. However, I have used Jasmine Rice in its place and it comes out great. Basmati rice is typically used in Indian dishes, but will also work well. Brown rice can be used, but will require an additional ⅓ cup of water and about 10-20 minutes more cook time.

Can you double this recipe?

Yes! You can definitely double the recipe. You want to make sure that your pot is plenty big – A 5-quart should be fine. Double the ingredients, prepared the same way, but do not double the time. Your rice should still be ready in about 20 minutes.

Storage

Can you freeze Mexican Rice? Absolutely! Store leftover cooked rice in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.

Refrigerating – Let the rice cool completely before storing. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating – Thaw first, then Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or chicken stock to rehydrate if needed.

Top Tips and Tricks

  • Use a good quality nonstick saute pan for cooking your Mexican Rice. The rice never sticks, and it has higher sides so there’s no chance or and of the rice going overboard while stirring! Do not use stainless steel pans for cooking rice.
  • Resist the urge to lift the lid! Rice needs steam to cook and as it steams, the grains absorb the liquid which makes them plump and fluffy. Lifting the lid releases essential steam that is necessary to cooking rice perfectly.
  • About the tomato sauce – This recipe was recently updated to use a little less tomato sauce. The original calls for an 8-ounce can, but a lot of people commented that their rice was a little too saucy. This can be a personal preference and often depends on the cook, but you can use half of the can (4 ounces) and still have delicious, tomato-y restaurant-style Mexican Rice. Freeze the remainder of the sauce for using the next time you make this recipe.
  • Vegetables – Feel free to add some cooked veggies, like peas and carrots, when you add the water. This is best with frozen vegetables rather than fresh, which will overcook and turn mushy.
  • Add a chopped up Roma tomato before serving for more color and freshness.
  • Serrano Peppers – Chopped serrano peppers can add some extra flavor without adding too much heat. Sprinkle on top just before covering the pan.
  • Long-Grain Rice – You can use any long grain white rice. I have been using Jasmine rice for years and we actually prefer it to a regular white rice.
Authentic Mexican Rice recipe on a platter with a wooden spoon, a sprig of parsley

Recipes that use Mexican Rice

Even though it’s usually used as a side dish, Mexican Rice can be incorporated into a lot of different main dishes.

More Mexican Recipes

Planning a fiesta of your own? Mexican food is what we live for around here! If you want some delicious Mexican inspired recipes, you’ve got to try our Crock Pot Chicken Tacos, Crock Pot Carnitas, Baked Salsa Chicken, and my famous homemade Guacamole!

Or dip your chips in some sweet Mango Salsa. My husband swears by my Shrimp Ceviche and my kids rave about my Mexican Sopes.

Or if you’re wanting some other side dish options, we love Black Beans and Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice.

Want Mexican food for breakfast? Try this amazing Chilaquiles recipe! Just don’t forget the Margaritas!

Recipe
A close up of Mexican Rice.

Authentic Mexican Rice Recipe

4.67 from 891 votes
The best Mexican rice that is fluffy and rich in flavor!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Long-grain white rice
  • 4-8 ounces Canned tomato sauce Use at least 4 or up to 8 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Minced garlic about 2 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon Chili powder
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Instructions
 

  • Heat oil in a 3-quart saute pan over medium heat. Add rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, until rice begins to turn a golden color.
  • Add chili powder, Caldo de Tomate (tomato boullion), and minced garlic. Stir to combine.
  • Pour in water and tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
  • Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Notes

  • About the Tomato Sauce – You can use 4 ounces (¼ cup) tomato sauce, or up to 8 ounce (½ cup) if you like it saucier. If you have leftover sauce, freeze for the next time.
  • Rinsing the rice is not necessary, which is why it’s not included in the recipe. However, you are welcome to do so.
  • Feel free to add cooked veggies like peas and carrots before covering and cooking the rice. 

Nutrition

Calories: 160kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 283mgPotassium: 105mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 181IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Shaz Witz says:

    We make this all the time! I found this recipe several years ago and once I did have never looked again for Mexican style rice. I add garlic powder when I’m lazy and often skip the tomato sauce if I don’t have any! It’s delicious!

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Shaz.

  2. Tiffany Tello says:

    This recipe was absolutely delicious. I incorporated some chicken broth, a chicken bullion, and a packet of sazon. My family said this is the best rice ever and I agree. Thank you so much!

  3. Are says:

    I always wash the arsenic off my rice with a good water rinse before cooking. How can I do this if the recipe calls for dry rice?

  4. Amanda says:

    My new go-to mex rice recipe. I love this and it’s so easy! Don’t sleep on the Caldo de Tomate. I got it from Amazon for this recipe, and now it’s a key ingredient for me. It adds that brightness that can be so elusive in tomato based recipes.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Amanda.

  5. Wendy M says:

    Best ever Mexican rice recipe. Seriously the best and most basic recipe that brings restaurant quality Mexican rice!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Wendy!

  6. Tina in S. Dakota says:

    So glad I found this recipe and tried it. Perfect, not sticky, and great flavor. This one is a keeper.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Tina! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Janine in the OC says:

    Thank you for this recipe!! My son insists I have it in the fridge at all times; as a college student-athlete he is in and out of the house all day long, and he reheats the rice and places two over easy eggs on it for a quick hit meal. It’s been a lifesaver to have it prepared. I double the recipe just as written and it’s great.

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome Janine! Thank you for dropping by.

  8. Nancy says:

    I made this rice two ways and they both turned out fantastic. The first way followed the recipe exactly as written. Turned out so well! The second way was for my Keto/low carb friends. Used the same recipe except subbed the rice with cauliflower rice, and eliminated the water (it was frozen). Added enough tomato sauce to “make it red” and the same seasonings. This is a real keeper! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Nancy! Fantastic feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  9. Jackson Regalizio says:

    Super good recipe! Just wondering, does anyone know with the serving size is for the nutrition facts? Not sure if I missed it, but I’m assuming that that’s the nutrition info for half a cup?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      yes it is roughly half a cup.

  10. eric greeson says:

    Hello can use Beef bullion insted or is chic a must ?? Thanks

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Sure, you can use beef. Chicken bouillon tends to be the more widely accepted option.

  11. Que says:

    Love this recipe. My family enjoys it on taco nights. I’ve been using this recipe for the past year, no more buying packaged Mexican rice. Thanks a lot.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Que! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Angie Gullett says:

    This is the closest rice recipe my friend taught me years ago to make. Over the years I forgot how to make it. She taught me how to make it without tomato sauce and that’s what I did with the recipe. Left the tomato sauce out and it was still so good! Thanks for sharing

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Angie! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  13. Sue E says:

    Best ever!! Have made this rice several times now and it’s always perfect. I do use almost 8 ounces of tomato paste and never needed more or less. Best go to recipe for Mexican rice 👍👍👍👍👍

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Sue!

  14. Tina says:

    Can I make this in the oven? I did my calculations I’m trying to make enough for 50 servings holy cow I know lol. If I add this to a roasting pan will it be soggy? I’m going to do some more research on how to approach this in the oven just thought I’d ask first lol

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Tina, I wish I had more advice for you but I’ve never made more than a double batch. Definitley search google and I’m sure you will find something great!

  15. Michelle says:

    5 stars!!!!! just like she suggested use 4 oz of tomato

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Michelle!

  16. Ramona says:

    Omg you have changed my whole world. You have no idea how many years i’ve tried making the perfect Spanish rice. I could never do it. Even with years of watching my whole family making it so good they never measure so i could never get it down thank you so much. I did use 1/3 of tomato sauce instead of the whole can because the first batch was a little too saucy but still really yummy but the flavor was so perfect and I used chicken buion it’s so yummy. Thank you!

    1. Adrienne - Yellow Bliss Road says:

      Thank you Ramona! We are so glad you enjoyed it!

  17. Carolyn says:

    I’m Mexican and this is pretty close (although we never used a recipe). My grama always said the tomato sauce (or V8 or whatever tomato product you have on hand) was just to color it. We always sautéed our rice with garlic and onion. After you add the water and tomato product we also add broth (whatever flavor goes with whatever you are having it with). Ours is always on the dry side but probably to soak up any chili sauce from your main dish! 🙂

  18. Dave in SoCal says:

    Kristin thanks so much for this recipe. We’ve made it probably 25 times so far – every time we eat carne asada tacos/tortas, fish tacos, or pupusas. It is always a huge hit with our company and they’ve come to expect this rice when they come to visit for dinner! I don’t measure anything anymore but just make it from memory. Along the way, I’ve made a few tweaks that seem to compliment our tastes. We always make a double batch. About 10 oz. of enchilada sauce instead of the tomato sauce adds another level of flavor. I generally use chicken bouillon and only 1.5 cloves of garlic (garlic pressed) since most of the kids say any more is too garlicky. About a teaspoon of cumin for the double batch too. Very easy recipe and so very tasty.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Dave! Fantastic feedback, thank you for the kind words.

  19. Tonya says:

    I love the flavor of this, the only thing it was to wet for what I like my rice to be, next time I will cut the liquid down. Other than that, it’s a keeper!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Glad you liked it! Some are not a fan of the saucy rice so I added that note. Hope you do try it again!

  20. Rochele Gordon says:

    Can I make this a day ahead of time then put it in a crockpot for the day of the party? I will have to triple the recipe. Should I add more sauce if I do that?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Rochele, If you plan to put the rice in a crockpot, I’d recommend Placing paper towels across the top before covering with the lid. The condensation can cause the rice to get sticky and crumbly.