Learn how to make restaurant-style Mexican Rice at home with this easy and authentic recipe. Tender and fluffy long-grain rice is seasoned with spices and mixed with veggies for the best flavor. Serve this simple and classic side dish with all your favorites like tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas!
“Double rice, and no beans, please.”
Up until I met my husband, an avid refried beans eater, I would often request to double up on the Mexican rice at a restaurant.
After all, the flavor is out-of-this-world, the grains are perfectly tender and fluffy, and those little bites of carrots and peas throughout – so, so good!
The more I learned to cook Mexican food at home, the more my desire to perfect the BEST and most AUTHENTIC Mexican rice recipe grew into an obsesssion.
And ladies and gents? I think we finally have a winner!
Unlike my much lazier and crazy easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe (that uses a can of salsa!!) this one is made on the stovetop, and a bit more traditional.
It starts by sauteeing up some onion and garlic, and then tomato sauce, Mexican spices, and long-grain white rice gets added in.
But the main thing I’ve found that separates a truly exceptional Mexican rice recipe from just any other? The texture of the rice.
If you’ve ever noticed, the rice you get at a restaurant is super tender but also does not clump together. And a few tricks you’ll learn in the recipe below will give you exactly that!
The simple ingredients you need to make this Mexican rice include:
- Rice. Long-grain white rice is needed. It is super important to not get short-grain or brown rice as it will change the ratio of liquid to rice. If you want a more floral taste try basmati rice or jasmine rice.
- Tomato sauce. This gives the rice the red color and subtle tomato flavor. Make sure it is not seasoned at all. Do not substitute with tomato paste or crushed tomatoes.
- Broth. A salty liquid that adds a ton of flavor. You can use chicken or vegetable, regular or reduced sodium. You may need to adjust the amount of salt you add depending on the saltiness of the broth.
- Spices. The traditional ground spices found in Mexican cuisine are cumin, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Onion. Either sweet or white onion is ideal. Red onion can be used but it will be more pungent.
- Garlic. Fresh cloves are best, but garlic powder can be subbed.
- Frozen vegetables. This recipe uses peas and carrots. You can leave them out or swap out one for the other. Canned is another option if that’s easier.
How to Cook Mexican Rice
These are the steps to follow to make this Mexican rice recipe. Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.
Rinse the Rice
Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for 1-2 minutes. Look for when the water runs clear. This removes the starchy outer coating so the grains don’t clump together.
Sauté onion in a medium-sized pot coated with oil for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the garlic and continue sautéing for an additional minute. You want them to just turn a light golden color.
Boil the Rice
Add rice, broth, tomato sauce, seasonings, and frozen peas, carrots, and corn. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 24-25 minutes. And do NOT remove the lid until at least 22 minutes as passed. If you remove it too soon, the steam will escape and the rice will not fully cook.
Once rice is cooked through and tender, stir to combine all of the ingredients. Serve with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
Meal Prep and Storage
- To Prep-Ahead: Cook and serve immediately for the best texture.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- To Freeze: Seal in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 5-6 months.
- To Reheat: Pop in the microwave with a splash of water for 1 minute or until heated through. You can also add it to a skillet with a bit of oil and warm up over medium heat.
While practically identical, the slight difference is that Mexican rice contains cumin, while Spanish rice is seasoned with saffron. Additionally, Mexican rice is generally more tender than Spanish.
Mushy rice is the result of overcooking, cooking with too much liquid, or using short-grain rice instead of long-grain.
The tomato sauce gives this side dish its red color.
Long-grain rice is typically used in Mexican recipes.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Longer is better. Use long-grain rice. Short-grain will come out clumpy and mushy.
- Rinse the rice. Run water over the rice in a strainer until it runs clear to remove the excess starch.
- Broth before water. If you have it on hand, use broth. It adds tons of flavor!
- Take a taste. You don’t want to overly salt the rice.
- Make extra. Cook up some extra rice and freeze it for an easy future dinner.
Make it a Meal
This Mexican rice makes the perfect side dish for tons of Mexican food recipes. Try it with any of the following:
Mexican Rice Recipe
Learn how to make restaurant-style Mexican Rice with this easy and authentic recipe. Serve this simple homemade classic side dish with all your favorites like tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas!
- 2 tbsp. oil olive or avocado
- ½ sweet onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 8 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 ½ cups white rice long-grain
- 2 cups broth chicken or vegetable
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. salt to taste
- ½ tsp. black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro finely chopped, optional
Add rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for 1-2 minutes, or until the water runs clear.
In a medium-sized pot add oil and onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and continue sauteeing for an additional minute.
Add rinsed and drained rice, broth, tomato sauce, seasonings, and frozen peas/carrots/corn. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 23-25 minutes.
Once rice is cooked through and tender, stir to combine all of the ingredients and serve with additional cilantro. Enjoy!