Mexican rice is the perfect side dish to complete your homemade Mexican dinner. Restaurant-quality rice is easy and quick to make yourself. Taco Tuesday just got so much better.
Time to make some restaurant-quality rice at home with this easy Mexican rice recipe. This flavorful rice is the perfect side dish not only for Taco Tuesday, but for burritos, enchiladas, or (my personal favorite) taco chips and cheese.
Over the years, we have tried various commercial package versions of Mexican or Spanish rice. All were tasteless, pasty, and never a good experience.
Restaurant-quality Mexican rice needs three things. Many restaurant versions lack at least one of these areas — many in 2 or even all three. A few will get it all right.
- Texture - not sticky—each grain of rice needs to stand out and not stick together.
- Tenderness - soft but not mushy.
- Tastiness - it needs a great taste.
This recipe has a couple of features of note. First, it is a bit "dry" with less liquid than is commonly used to cook rice. That keeps the texture correct—not sticky or mushy. Second, by using your favorite salsa, you save a lot of time and work getting all those flavors and tastes added to the rice with almost no work.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- Brown the uncooked rice over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
- Cook until nicely toasted. No need to rinse the rice before browning. If using fresh garlic, add it at the last minute of browning.
- Add the salsa, broth, and other seasonings. Also, if using the additions, add them at the same time.
- Bring to a boil and then decrease to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.
- Remove from heat and let set for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork.
- Long Grain White Rice - If using other rice, adjust the time accordingly.
- Salsa - Use a salsa you like. It will be providing a lot of the taste and replaces tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, onion, chili powder, and green chiles.
- Spices - Some cumin and crushed garlic. Garlic powder could be used instead of fresh garlic cloves. Also, no taco seasoning is needed, thanks to the salsa.
- Broth - Chicken or vegetable stock or broth. You may use bouillon cubes in water, or just water will work with only a slight decrease in flavor.
- Optional Additions - Jalapeno, peas, or carrots.
Many people will use the two terms interchangeably, but there are not quite the same.
The two use the same spice and ingredients, except that the Spanish recipe will usually have firmer rice and frequently saffron giving it more of a yellow color.
I don't usually have saffron, and you probably don't either. If you want firmer rice, brown it a bit more. I call mine Mexican rice but call it what you want.
Mexican rice is also known as red rice or Arroz Rojo.
Serve on a plate with your main dish and some refried beans with a sprinkle of cheese and chopped cilantro.
You may also use Mexican rice as part of burritos, burrito bowls, or other dishes.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
You may freeze the rice for 3-4 months airtight in a container or ziplock bag, then thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. I do find frozen rice does lose some texture.
Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop for a few minutes.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Long grain rice is preferred. Some people like to rinse the rice.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat until hot. Add 1 cup of long-grain rice.
Toast until nicely brown, about 8-9 minutes. In the last minute of toasting, add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic if using fresh garlic.
Add 1 cup of your favorite salsa and 1 cup of chicken broth. Add ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon garlic powder if not using fresh, and ½ teaspoon salt. You may add optional jalapeno, peas, or carrots at this point. Bring to a boil, then decrease to low heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until tender.
Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, then fluff. Cover until serving.
Easy Mexican Rice
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup long grain rice - rinse optional
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 cloves crushed garlic - or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 cup chicken broth
Optional ingredients - add with broth
- 1 jalapeno - diced
- ⅓ cup peas - frozen or fresh
- 1 carrot - small, diced
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat until hot. Add 1 cup of long-grain rice.
- Toast until nicely brown, about 8-9 minutes. In the last minute of toasting, add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic if using fresh garlic.
- Add 1 cup of your favorite salsa and 1 cup of chicken broth. Add ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon garlic powder if not using fresh, and ½ teaspoon salt. You may add optional jalapeno, peas, or carrots at this point. Bring to a boil, then decrease to low heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until tender.
- Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, then fluff. Cover until serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- This recipe adjusts up or down in size easily.
- You can use different rice and adjust the cooking time. Always simmer until tender.
- Rinsing the rice is felt by some to prevent the sticking of rice. To me, the browning takes care of that.
- Add the optional jalapeno, peas, and carrot if you want.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days, but I do not like to freeze rice, but it may be frozen for 3-4 months but may lose some texture.
- The serving size is ½ cup.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published August 10, 2014. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.