Easy Mexican Rice
This easy Mexican Rice recipe is flavored with fresh tomato, white onion, garlic, and jalapeño. It’s a perfect side dish for Carne Asada, Carnitas, Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef, or shredded chicken. It only takes 30 minutes to make!
Rice as a side dish is pretty underrated. There’s SO much flavor in this easy Mexican rice, and the texture is amazing!
What I love about going this route instead of the taco route is this rice dish makes for great leftovers.
You can make a big batch and have this meal all over again, just as good as the first time. It’s so easy to add complimentary dishes like Guacamole or bean-based side dishes like Corn Avocado Black Bean Salad.
For flavor, long grain white rice is cooked in a fresh tomato and onion puree, chicken stock, jalapeños, and garlic, and we also take a few minutes to toast the grains, which gives it more of a pilaf-type texture.
To me, the fresh tomato makes a HUGE difference. Using jarred or canned tomato sauce, or tomato paste, makes the dish taste metallic to me, and the fresh tomato gives a distinct brightness to the recipe. The dish is an absolute delight to eat!
Tips for Best Results
Use the best tomatoes – Avoid cheap, rock hard, colorless tomatoes for this recipe, and spend a little more for quality vine-ripened tomatoes. Select tomatoes that are mostly firm (but not rock hard), with a subtle aroma. If there’s no smell at all, they are underripe and won’t have much flavor.
Rinse the rice thoroughly – You’ll want to spend a couple minutes either soaking and draining, or rinsing the grains under running water. This will remove excess starch, and ultimately give us more separate grains instead of sticky grains.
Use a nonstick pan – Though this will be less sticky than steamed rice, it’s still a good idea to use a nonstick pan here. You’ll guarantee that the grains don’t stick to the pan and get burned.
Step by Step Overview:
To start, place some tomatoes and white onion into a food processor, that have been roughly cut into chunks:
Puree until only a little bit chunky, then set aside:
Next rinse long grain rice with cold water for 1-2 minutes, until the water runs clear:
This will rid the outside of excess starch, and give us more separate grains in the final dish.
In a large skillet or nonstick pan with a lid, add oil, chopped jalapeños, and minced fresh garlic cloves, and cook over medium heat:
To reduce the spice level from the peppers, I prefer to remove the seeds and ribs before chopping. As someone who wears contact lenses, I also wear gloves when I chop up the jalapeño, to protect my skin from any possible irritation (and also make me less scared about taking my contacts out at the end of the day).
What kind of oil to use
For the cooking fat, my favorite fat to cook with for Mexican food is lard, which works great here.
Butter is not traditional, but tastes delicious. Avocado oil also works. I do not recommend vegetable oil, which has no flavor, and I also do not recommend olive oil, unless it’s on the milder side.
Cook everything together for 3 minutes until slightly softened, and very aromatic:
Add the rinsed rice to the pan:
Toast the grains for 5 minutes, stirring often. Then add the tomato onion puree:
Then add chicken stock (or chicken broth) to the pan:
Cook covered for 15 minutes, then let the pan sit off the heat, still covered, for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
That’s it! Pretty minimal cooking time, and a very easy recipe.
Next time try my fresh Cilantro Lime Rice, which is also a very flavorful side dish.
How to Serve
This Mexican Rice will start to become firmer as it cools, so serve it while hot and fresh, when the grains are at their fluffiest.
This goes great as a side to dishes like Pulled Pork spiced with Sazon Seasoning, but sometimes I also like throwing it into salads like this Steak Salad or soups like Chicken Tortilla Soup to bulk it up.
You can also pair it with Ground Beef Tacos for Taco Tuesday! Another great complimentary side to add in the Mexican cuisine realm is some type of bean side dish, like refried beans or black beans.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep any leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes, it freezes very well! Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave in the fridge overnight, or add a couple extra minutes to reheating time if reheating straight from frozen.
The key to reheating well is making sure you retain the moisture so the grains doesn’t dry out. Either re-warm in a saucepan on the stove with a lid on it, or in the microwave with a lid or some kind of cover.
I really don’t recommend this. Part of what makes homemade Mexican rice so great compared to the box mix is using those fresh aromatics.
So long as you use a pan that’s big enough, this is a great side dish for scaling up. It’s one of my favorite dishes for doubling, and meal prep for other Mexican meals.
Bell peppers – If the jalapeno is too spicy, swap it out for chopped red bell peppers or green bell pepper.
Green chilies – To skip chopping the jalapeno pepper, you may swap in a 5oz can of green chilies instead, but the flavor won’t be as fresh.
Vegetarian option – Use a vegetarian friendly fat and swap out vegetable broth for the chicken stock.
Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Easy Mexican Rice
- 2 tomatoes
- 1/2 white onion
- 1/4 cup oil*
- 3 jalapenos seeded and ribs removed, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups long grain white rice rinsed until water is clear
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth
- In a food processor, puree the tomatoes and onion until it looks like a slightly chunky salsa.
- Heat a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Add the jalapenos and garlic, and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, until softened slightly.
- Add the rice to the pan, along with one teaspoon of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the onion tomato puree and the chicken broth.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and leave the pan covered to sit for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Serve with Carnitas, Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, or whatever you'd like to pair with the dish. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Posted updated in October 2018. Originally published December 2016.
11 Comments on “Easy Mexican Rice”
The recipe says 2 cups of rice to two cups of chicken stock. I have always made rice with a two to one ratio with the stock being double the amount of rice. Is that a misprint?
Hi Cynthia, it’s not a misprint. Because of how it’s cooked, it doesn’t need as much liquid. Good question!
So easy, so much flavor. Thank you.
Joanne your rice recipe is good but it is missing one crucial step that truly makes this authentic Mexican rice. I’m married to a Mexican lady and we visit Mexico every year to see her family. You can imagine that I eat a lot of rice when we go down there and every time it is prepared, the rice is browned in a couple of table spoons of oil before the water is added. You have a step in your recipe that fries the rice in oil, but two minuets just isn’t enough. You need to fry it for a minimum of 5 minuets. The goal is constantly stir the rice and onions or garlic or what every you put in with the rice slowly until it turns evenly brown. Other than this the recipe looks great!
Hi Adam, this is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
My favorite!!!! Love this!
It looks soooo good! I love Mexican rice! <3
Do you have any tips how to cook rice? My husband is spanish and I want to make rice for him. Every time I do it’s hard or soggy. This looks yummy but, I’m sure I’ll screw it up!!! Help!!!!
Hi. I am from Colombia and we make a delicious rice. just a couple of tips for just plain rice. For most type of rice you follow the rule of 1:2 (1 cup of rice and 2 of water) . Heat a little oil and cook the rice in it until it gets a nice golden color ( this will make the grain lose). add the water, a little more oil, salt, onion and garlic powder. cook on low and when most of the liquid has evaporated put the lid on and cook on the lowest setting around 5 more minutes or until the rice is all cook.
BTW, not trying to be mean, but we are Hispanic or Latinos not Spanish. Spanish is the Language.
Looks yummy! I will have to try it! Thanks, Joann
Can you use brown rice with this recipe? I’m thinking it would work, if the cooking time is increased. Thanks!