This EASY Mexican style rice tastes just like the sides you get in your favorite Mexican restaurant! It is made quick by cooking from start to finish in just one skillet, and uses a special trick to pack in extra flavor! As a bonus this recipe is naturally gluten free and has easy vegetarian and vegan options (more details below!)
Mexican Rice- The Easy Way!
There are many methods to make Mexican rice, some are simple, but most contain many laborious steps. This recipe cuts through the extra work and utilizes a quick and easy method to bring you the best flavor!
Being born and raised in Texas, Mexican style rice was a staple in our diet. This recipe nails the authentic flavor and can go head to head with the rice from your favorite restaurant any day! As a matter of fact, you may not even believe such great rice is so easy to make at home.
What to Serve with Mexican Rice
This dish is a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It goes well as a side dish to pretty much anything you will find on the menu in a Mexican restaurant, and can be the base for some pretty delicious home cooked meals.
I am going to give you a few of our favorite dishes to serve Mexican rice with here, but if you have a can’t miss addition to this list, let me know in the comments below so I can give it a try too!
- Fajitas- Try my Sizzling Steak Fajitas or Easy Baked Chicken Fajitas
- Tacos- Such as these healthy Turkey Tacos or slow cooker green chile chicken tacos
- Burrito Bowls- Filled with Mexican shredded beef and drizzled with this creamy jalapeno ranch dressing
- Nachos or Tostadas
- Mexican Chicken Casserole – The quickest Mexican meal on the site!
Other sides that pair well with the rice are black, pinto, or refried beans, sautéed peppers and onions, or green chile cheddar mashed potatoes.
Mexican Rice may seem like something that you only get at a restaurant, but I promise it is just as quick and easy to make at home.
I am going to offer my tips and tricks here to get the best out of this recipe. Make sure you find the FULL recipe card at the bottom of the post. If you have additional questions, you can leave them in the comments section below.
There are a few secrets to getting that authentic flavor in the rice. The three most important are:
- Using tomato paste- this gives the rice the distinctive red color
- Toasting the rice- Adds the depth of flavor you get when you order from a restaurant!
- Using whole peppers- This adds tons of flavor without adding heat! More on that below.
Tip 1: Get the right kind of rice
The ingredients for this recipe call for long grain uncooked rice. This is just regular, basic white rice. It generally uses a 1:2 ratio of rice to liquid. If you use another type of rice it could have a different ratio for liquid which could cause your rice to end up either mushy or still crunchy.
Tip 2: Don’t skip toasting the rice
The first step of the recipe has you sautéing the onion and toasting the rice. This is an important step because it really enhances the depth of flavor in the rice.
If you try to short cut this step, you will end up with onions that aren’t cooked all the way through and rice that doesn’t have as much flavor.
With that said, keep an eye on it, because you also don’t want burnt rice! Once it starts to brown, it is done. It can quickly get too brown after that point, so be careful!
Tip 3: Don’t like veggies in your rice? Leave them out!
I love Mexican rice with peas and carrots in it. I like that it adds to the wholesome nutrition of the dish, as well as the flavor it adds.
If you want rice with no veggies, there is no special modifications needed. Just leave the frozen vegetables out of the recipe and continue as directed.
Tip 4: Don’t be scared of the peppers! It is the secret ingredient!
Cooking the serrano peppers whole in this recipe is the special method that allows us to gain the flavor of the pepper, without getting the heat. Although serranos are a hot pepper, since we don’t actually add the seeds or ribs in the recipe, and keep them contained to the pepper, the heat doesn’t transfer while the flavor does!
Serrano peppers are the traditional pepper to use for Mexican rice, but you can also substitute fresh whole jalapeño peppers as well.
Scaling the Recipe
This recipe will feed a crowd, making approximately 10 cups of rice. It does save well both in the refrigerator or freezer, but if you need less than this amount, you can scale the recipe down, by cutting everything in half.
If you need a larger amount of rice, I recommend making 2 batches of this recipe rather than trying to double the recipe.
If you are cooking for someone with special dietary needs, this recipe will meet or can be easily modified to meet many needs.
As always, please verify each store bought ingredient to make sure it complies with your specific dietary need.
- Gluten Free- This recipe is gluten free when using gluten free broth and bouillon.
- Dairy Free- This recipe is naturally dairy free.
- Nut free- this recipe is naturally nut free
- Egg free- This recipe is naturally egg free.
- Vegetarian- This recipe can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and tomato bouillon.
- Vegan- This recipe can be modified to vegan easily by using vegetable broth and tomato bouillon.
Leftover Mexican Rice
If you have leftovers of the Mexican rice, it will save and reheat wonderfully.
You can save it in either the refrigerator or freezer by packaging it in a zip top bag or storage container, and placing it in the:
- Refrigerator for up to 5 days
- Freezer for up to a month
To reheat, place a small amount of water (1 tsp- 1 tbsp depending on quantity) in with the rice and reheat covered on the stovetop, or in the microwave in a microwave safe dish.
Once reheated, I like to leave it covered in the container for about 5 minutes for the steam to really make the rice soft and fluffy again.
More Mexican Favorites!
If you enjoyed this recipe, make sure and take a moment to check out some of our other must make Mexican favorites, or browse all of our easy recipes for more inspiration.
- Easy Homemade Salsa
- Mexican Ground Beef and Rice Skillet
- Ultimate LOADED Taco Dip
- Mexican Spinach Chicken Bake
- Oven Baked Salsa Chicken
Hungry for more family-friendly recipes? Sign up for my free recipe club to get new family-friendly recipes in your inbox each week! Find me sharing daily meal-time inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 16 oz long grain white rice uncooked
- 1 onion diced
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 32 oz chicken broth
- 8 oz tomato sauce (1 small can)
- 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
- 12 oz frozen peas and carrots thawed
- 2 serrano peppers whole
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and rice and cook, stirring frequently, until onion starts to turn translucent and rice starts to become a toasty golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in cumin, then add broth, tomato sauce and bullion and bring to a rapid boil.
- Add in the peas and carrots and serrano peppers (whole) and let the rice return to a boil.
- Cover the skillet with a lid and reduce the heat to low and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove the pan from the heat and discard the peppers. Serve warm. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)