Mexican Rice Recipe

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
February 27, 2024 | Updated on March 19, 2024

This easy Mexican rice recipe yields tomato-infused rice, enhanced with spices and serrano peppers. Enjoy this restaurant-style side dish with tacos, burritos, and more.

Want more Mexican inspired recipes? Try Beer Battered Fish Tacos, Tomatillo Avocado Salsa, and Queso Blanco with Guacamole next.

a bowl of Mexican rice

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This authentic Mexican rice recipe is a fusion of vibrant color and bold flavor. It’s a staple in Mexican cuisine but I love serving it with a variety of entrees. It’s soft, fluffy, fragrant, and absolutely delicious.

close up view of a bowl of fluffy Mexican rice

Why This Mexican Rice Recipe Works

  • Simple – I’ve mastered the art of making rice and I can help you too! Skip the boxed rice at the grocery store because this homemade version is so easy to make.
  • Authentic – Easy classic sides are my go-to, and this recipe does not disappoint. It’s got the perfect texture and taste.
  • Versatile – This rice complements a variety of entrees so don’t limit it to Mexican food or Taco Tuesdays. Pair it with chicken, steak, roasted chicken, or shrimp for a delicious meal any day of the week.

Tools You’ll Need

close up view of Mexican rice

Ingredients

This simple Mexican rice recipe is made with just a handful of pantry staples. So gather these basics and get started!

  • Avocado oil – Use this to sauté the aromatics.
  • Yellow onion – Finely diced onions provides a flavorful base for the rice.
  • Garlic – Smashed garlic infuses the rice with garlicky flavor.
  • Ground cumin – This spice adds a warm, earthy taste to the dish.
  • Chicken bouillon – This ingredient is essential as it has the essence of savory, chicken flavor.
  • Kosher salt – I always opt for Diamond Crystal.
  • Jasmine rice – A long grain variety of rice, which is best for Mexican rice recipes.
  • Tomato sauce – This gives the rice that standard reddish tint, and adds subtle tomato flavor that balances the savory ingredients.
  • Water – This is the liquid used to cook the rice.
  • Serrano pepper – This pepper has a moderate amount of heat (hotter than jalapeños but nowhere near as hot as habanero peppers). This is a subtle flavor to the rice. I mostly like to add it and pair with the pair in between bites.
onion and garlic added to a hot pan with oil

How To Make Mexican Rice Recipe

This Mexican dish takes just 20 minutes to cook. Let’s get to it.

1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add avocado oil and onion. Cook until onion is translucent but do not brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the rice, then toast until rice is lightly golden, stirring consistently.

2. Add cumin, cook for one minute then add chicken bouillon (break into small pieces), salt, tomato sauce, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil then carefully place the serrano pepper on top. Reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes (checking at the 15-minute mark), until rice is cooked through.

3. Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and uncover.

Leave for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Serve with desired protein and if you like it spicy, enjoy the serrano pepper between bites of rice. Enjoy!

jasmine rice toasting in a pan

Tips and Tricks for the Best Mexican Rice Recipe

  • Don’t forget to toast the rice. When toasted with the oil, you build a base for even more flavorful rice.
  • Season generously. Mexican rice is all about the flavor so don’t skip the bouillon or fresh elements like onion and garlic.
  • Let the cooked rice rest for 5 minutes before fluffing. This keeps the rice grains tender and soft so they’re less likely to clump.
  • Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave. Add a splash of water or chicken broth if the rice seems dry.
rice simmering in a pot for this Mexican rice recipe

Variations

  • Flavor – You can swap the chicken bouillon cubes for tomato bouillon. Some recipes use chicken stock or vegetable broth instead of water.
  • Rice – Use basmati rice as a substitute. Instead of long-grain white rice, you can use brown rice. It will add about 20 minutes to the cooking time and require 2 cups of water instead of 1¼ cups.
  • Veggies – Feel free to add diced tomatoes or additional serrano (or jalapeño) peppers to the rice.
Mexican rice in a pot with a serrano pepper

How to Serve Mexican Rice

  • Tacos Complete your taco meal with a generous helping of rice.
  • Enchiladas The rice’s rich tomato-based broth complements cheesy enchiladas.
  • Burritos Use it as a filler ingredient in your burritos.
  • Steak Serve this Mexican rice recipe with flavorful beef like this Chimichurri Steak.
  • Chicken Make a rice bowl using Copycat Chipotle Chicken as the protein.
a bowl of Mexican rice

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Spanish Rice and Mexican rice?

Although some suggest the two are interchangeable, Spanish rice and Mexican rice are two different dishes. Traditionally, Spanish rice uses saffron and has a yellow hue. It’s also not as soft as Mexican rice. Mexican rice typically features a tomato-based broth, resulting in a reddish color and slightly sweeter flavor profile.

Why does Mexican restaurant rice taste better?

With a few high-quality ingredients and the right technique, your Mexican rice recipe can compete with any restaurant. The most important step is to toast or sauté the rice in oil with aromatics before boiling it. This enhances the overall flavor of the rice dish.

What does Mexican rice contain?

Traditional Mexican rice is made with long-grain rice, onions, garlic, tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, ground cumin, salt, and water (or broth).

Is chicken broth used in Mexican rice?

Chicken broth is an optional ingredient, typically used when the recipe does not contain chicken bouillon.

a bowl of Mexican rice

Looking for More Rice Recipes?

overhead view of a bowl of Mexican rice

Loving this Recipe?

There’s a reason this Mexican rice recipe is loved by all! Leave a comment below and share your love for this recipe on Instagram and Pinterest. We love to see you get down in the kitchen. Thank you for supporting Whisper of Yum and happy eating!

a bowl of Mexican rice

Mexican Rice Recipe

This easy Mexican rice recipe yields tomato-infused rice, enhanced with spices and serrano peppers. Enjoy this restaurant-style side dish with tacos, burritos, and more.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

  • Medium Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • tablespoons avocado oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 large garlic, smashed
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ cube chicken bouillon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • cups water
  • 1-2 large serrano pepper

Instructions

  • Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add avocado oil and onion. Cook until onion is translucent but do not brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice, then toast until rice is lightly golden, stirring consistently.
  • Add cumin, cook for one minute then add chicken bouillon (break into small pieces), salt, tomato sauce, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil then carefully place the serrano pepper on top. Reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes (checking at the 15-minute mark), until rice is cooked through.
  • Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and uncover. Leave for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Serve with desired protein and if you like it spicy, enjoy the serrano pepper between bites of rice. Enjoy!
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a bowl of Mexican rice

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Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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