Mexican Rice

4.60 from 5 votes
Jump to Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Mexican rice, also known as “arroz rojo,” is a flavorful and versatile dish that is a staple in Mexican cuisine. It is a delicious side dish made from long-grain rice cooked with various aromatic ingredients and spices, giving it a vibrant red color and a rich taste.

red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week – and be sure to tag @sweetcsdesigns on social media – I love to see your creations!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Don’t want all the extras in a recipe post? We provide a skip to recipe button in the top left corner, as well as a clickable table of contents, just below, to help make this page easier to navigate.

We add lots of tips in our recipe – so you can make this dish, understand why it works and what each ingredient means to the flavor of a recipe. I also answer questions my friends and family have asked about my recipes, to help home cooks of any skill level better understand the processes we use and why!

Easy Homemade Arroz Rojo (Red Rice)

The key ingredients in Mexican rice include rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices such as cumin, chili powder, and paprika. These ingredients are sautéed together before the rice is added, allowing the grains to absorb the flavors and aromas.

Once the rice is added, it is cooked with a combination of water or broth and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. This gives the rice its distinctive red hue and a tangy tomato flavor. The rice is then simmered until it is tender and fully cooked, absorbing all the delicious flavors.

Mexican rice is a versatile side dish that pairs well with a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. It is a common accompaniment to dishes like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas. It adds a burst of flavor, color, and texture to the meal, elevating the overall dining experience.

Whether served as part of a larger Mexican feast or enjoyed on its own, Mexican rice is loved for its fragrant aroma, vibrant appearance, and bold taste. It is a comforting and satisfying dish that brings the flavors of Mexico to your table.

red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table

How to Make Mexican Rice

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Long-Grain White Rice: The base ingredient of Mexican rice, the long-grain white rice provides a neutral canvas for absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Vegetable Oil: The vegetable oil is used to sauté the onions, garlic, and rice, adding a subtle richness and helping to prevent sticking.
  • Onion: Finely chopped onion adds a sweet and savory flavor to the dish. It provides a foundational element to the overall flavor profile.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic brings a pungent and aromatic taste to the rice. It adds depth and complexity to the dish.
  • Jalapeño Pepper: The optional jalapeno pepper, when included, adds a mild to moderate level of heat to the rice. It also contributes a fresh and slightly fruity flavor.
  • Diced Tomatoes: The canned diced tomatoes, along with their juices, provide moisture and a tangy flavor to the rice. They also lend a vibrant red color to the dish.
  • Vegetable or Chicken Broth: The broth serves as the cooking liquid for the rice, infusing it with savory flavors. Vegetable or chicken broth adds depth and richness to the overall taste.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a key spice in Mexican cuisine and adds a warm, earthy, and slightly smoky flavor to the rice.
  • Chili Powder: Chili powder brings a mild level of spiciness and imparts a combination of flavors from various spices like paprika, cumin, garlic, and oregano. It contributes to the overall robustness of the dish.
  • Paprika: Paprika adds a subtle sweetness and mild smokiness to the rice. It enhances the color and overall flavor profile.
  • Salt: Salt is an essential seasoning that helps to enhance the flavors of all the ingredients and balance the overall taste of the dish.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Chopped fresh cilantro is used as a garnish, adding a bright, citrusy, and herbal note to the finished rice.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:

  • Prep. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.
  • Cook vegetables. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno (if using) and sauté until they become soft and fragrant. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat it with the oil and vegetables. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice becomes slightly golden.
  • Season and simmer. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with their juice) and cook for another minute. Add the broth, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt to the skillet. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Avoid lifting the lid during this time to ensure proper cooking.
  • Rest. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the rice to rest. Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.
  • Enjoy! Serve with cilantro, chives, green onions, or parsley as desired.
red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Mexican Rice

Rinse the rice: Before cooking, rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and helps prevent the rice from becoming sticky.

Sauté the rice: Sautéing the rice in oil before adding the liquid adds flavor and helps to create a slightly nutty taste. Stir the rice constantly to prevent it from sticking or burning.

Use broth for extra flavor: Instead of just using water, use vegetable or chicken broth to cook the rice. The broth adds depth and richness to the flavor profile.

Balance the liquid-to-rice ratio: Use the appropriate amount of liquid to cook the rice. Too much liquid can result in mushy rice, while too little can lead to undercooked grains. Follow the recipe instructions or aim for a ratio of 1 ¾ cups of liquid per cup of rice.

Season generously: Don’t be shy with the spices and seasonings. Mexican rice should be flavorful and well-seasoned. Adjust the amount of cumin, chili powder, and salt to suit your taste preferences.

Let it rest: After cooking, let the rice rest for a few minutes before fluffing it with a fork. This allows the grains to settle and become more tender.

Avoid lifting the lid: While the rice is cooking, resist the temptation to lift the lid and check on it frequently. This can release steam and disrupt the cooking process. Only lift the lid when necessary or when the cooking time is complete.

Customize the toppings: Mexican rice is versatile and can be customized with additional toppings or ingredients. Consider adding cooked vegetables like peas, corn, or bell peppers, or garnish with fresh cilantro, lime wedges, or avocado slices to enhance the flavors.

Adjust the heat level: If you prefer a spicier rice, you can increase the amount of jalapeno or add some red pepper flakes. Conversely, if you prefer a milder taste, reduce or omit the jalapeno.

Fluff with care: When fluffing the rice with a fork after cooking, be gentle to avoid smashing or overmixing the grains. This helps to maintain the light and fluffy texture.

FAQs

Can I use brown rice instead of white rice for Mexican rice?

Yes, you can use brown rice instead of white rice for a healthier option. However, keep in mind that brown rice generally requires a longer cooking time and more liquid, so you may need to adjust the recipe accordingly.

How do I prevent the rice from becoming sticky?

To prevent sticky rice, make sure to rinse the rice before cooking to remove excess starch. Also, be careful not to overcook the rice or stir it too vigorously, as this can break down the grains and make them stickier.

Can I make Mexican rice in a rice cooker?

Yes, you can make Mexican rice in a rice cooker. Simply follow the recipe instructions, but instead of cooking on the stovetop, transfer the ingredients to a rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can I make Mexican rice in advance?

Yes, you can make Mexican rice in advance. Cook the rice as directed, then let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, reheat it gently in a skillet or microwave, adding a little extra liquid if needed.

Can I freeze Mexican rice?

Yes, Mexican rice can be frozen. Allow the rice to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Label and date it, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the rice in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Can I use tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes?

Yes, you can substitute tomato sauce for diced tomatoes in Mexican rice. Use about 1 cup of tomato sauce in place of the can of diced tomatoes. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid used in the recipe to achieve the desired consistency.

How spicy is Mexican rice?

The level of spiciness in Mexican rice can vary depending on the amount of jalapeno or chili powder used. You can control the heat by adjusting the quantity of these ingredients or omitting them altogether if you prefer a milder flavor.

Can I use other vegetables in Mexican rice?

Absolutely! While the traditional Mexican rice recipe typically includes onions and garlic, you can add other vegetables like bell peppers, peas, carrots, or corn for added flavor and texture. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time and liquid accordingly.

red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table

What to Serve With Mexican Rice

Tacos: Whether it’s classic beef or chicken tacos, Shredded Chicken Tacos, Air Fryer Tofu Tacos, or Shredded Chicken Green Chili Tacos, Mexican rice complements the flavors and adds a satisfying element to the meal.

Enchiladas: Serve Mexican rice alongside enchiladas, Chicken Enchilada Skillet, Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas or Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup! The rice provides a delicious and filling accompaniment to the saucy enchiladas.

Fajitas: Enjoy sizzling fajitas with Mexican rice on the side. The combination of tender grilled meats or vegetables, savory fajita seasoning, and the flavors of the rice creates a delightful meal.

Burritos: Fill your burritos with your choice of protein, beans, cheese, and other toppings, and serve them with Mexican rice. The rice adds substance and complements the flavors in the burrito. Try our Instant Pot Chipotle Barbacoa Copycat for a great spicy kick!

Grilled Meats: Mexican rice pairs well with grilled meats like carne asada, grilled chicken, or even barbecue ribs. The rice provides a tasty and comforting base for the grilled flavors.

Quesadillas: Enjoy cheesy quesadillas with a side of Mexican rice. The rice adds substance to the meal and balances out the richness of the quesadillas.

Mexican Bowls: Create a delicious Mexican-inspired bowl by combining Mexican rice with your choice of protein (such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu), black beans, salsa, guacamole, and other toppings. The rice serves as the foundation for a flavorful and satisfying bowl.

red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table

Mexican Rice Recipe

If you love this easy recipe please click the stars below to give it a five star rating and leave a comment! Pease also help me share on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Follow on Instagram

Follow

Click here to view web story for this recipe!

red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table

CONNECT WITH SWEET C’S!
Be sure to follow me on social media and get in on all the fun!

Only have 30 minutes to get dinner on the table? Sign up for my 30 minute dinner plans direct to your inbox!
Find and shop my favorite products in my Amazon storefront here!

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week – and be sure to tag @sweetcsdesigns on social media – I love to see your creations!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
red rice with chunks of tomatoes and chopped cilantro in a white bowl on a table
Print

Mexican Rice Recipe

Savor the vibrant flavors of Mexico with our delicious Mexican rice recipe. Made with aromatic spices, juicy tomatoes, and fluffy long-grain rice, this side dish is the perfect accompaniment to any Mexican-inspired meal.
Course Side dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword rice, side dish, tomato
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 156kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped (optional for heat)
  • 1 can 14 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 ¾ cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.
  • In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno (if using) and sauté until they become soft and fragrant.
  • Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat it with the oil and vegetables. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice becomes slightly golden.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes (with their juice) and cook for another minute.
  • Add the broth, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt to the skillet. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Avoid lifting the lid during this time to ensure proper cooking.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the rice to rest.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 428mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating