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Mexican Fried Rice is a fast and easy one pan meal with ground beef, rice, peppers, corn and spices. It has bold flavors and a burst of fresh lime for a filling and satisfying dinner.
Mexican Fried Rice is a great dish to make on a busy weeknight. It’s got a ton of flavor, it cooks quickly and you can easily customize it. It’s wonderful as a complete meal with just some fresh Corn Tortillas on the side. You could also round it out with a nice Wedge Salad as a starter. Or top it with some homemade Guacamole and serve some tortilla chips and salsa on the side.
This recipe is perfect for using up leftover rice, and is different from the traditional egg fried rice you might be used to. There are lots of bold flavors and Mexican spices, plus a fresh burst of citrus and herb when you finish the dish off with lime and cilantro.
You can customize with veggies that you prefer – if you’re not a fan of bell peppers, omit them and add zucchini instead. Try it with ground turkey or chicken, or even shredded chicken.
How to Make Mexican Fried Rice
Cook the meat. In a large skillet, cook lean ground beef with some onion, garlic and bell peppers. Drain the grease from the pan by soaking it up with paper towels. You don’t have to drain everything; there is a lot of flavor in just a little bit of the liquid.
Make the sauce. Season the meat with salt and pepper, minced garlic, chili powder, paprika and cumin, and add some Caldo de Tomat (tomato bouillon). Pro tip – don’t season your ground beef until after you’ve drained it. Otherwise you end up losing the flavor you were trying to add. Add water, corn, green chiles, and lime juice. Simmer for a bit until the sauce is thick and reduced.
Add the rice. Add cold rice to the pan. Leftover rice is best – hot, fresh rice will end up starchy and mushy. Stir to combine with the meat and veggies, then press down into the hot skillet. The rice will get crispy on the bottom which adds another layer of flavor. I usually do this a few times so there is crispy rice mixed throughout the Mexican Fried Rice.
Mexican Fried Rice Recipe Tips
- Always use cold rice. If you’re wanting to make this recipe and you don’t have any leftover rice, here’s a tip. Cook some rice about an hour before you want to make your meal. Lay some parchment paper onto a baking sheet and when the rice is finished cooking, spread it out on the parchment paper and pop the whole tray into the fridge. Spreading it out will help it chill faster.
- Chop ingredients small. You want to be able to eat everything together in the same bite, so it’s important to use small cuts for the onions and peppers.
- Variations: Feel free to add black beans or pinto beans. You could also sub these for the meat if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish.
- Storing leftovers: Mexican Fried Rice should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.
- Can you freeze Mexican Fried Rice? Absolutely! Allow the rice to cool completely before placing into a resealable freezer bag or freezer safe container.
- Reheating: Make sure rice is completely thawed if reheating from frozen. Heat in a covered microwaveable steamer or on the stove.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes
- Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Ground Beef Enchiladas
- Mexican Sopes Recipe
- Tender and Juicy Steak Fajitas
Mexican Fried Rice
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon tomato bouillon Caldo de Tomat
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- 15 ounce can corn drained
- 4 ounce can green chiles
- 2 medium limes plus more, if desired
- 4 cups cold cooked rice
- Fresh cilantro if desired, for garnish
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crumble ground beef into the skillet and add diced onion and peppers. Cook until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; 5-7 minutes. Drain any excess grease.
- Season with salt and pepper, and add minced garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin and tomato bouillon. Saute for 1 minute, then add corn, green chiles, tomato paste, juice from one lime and water. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is reduced and thickened.
- Turn heat up to medium-high and stir in rice. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. *For crispy bits of rice, press down on the mixture after each stir and let sit for 1-2 minutes each time.
- Remove from heat and juice the second lime over the rice and stir.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with cilantro (optional) and lime wedges.