Best-Ever Mexican Rice

Have you ever wanted to make this classic Mexican side dish at home, but was just too nervous to give it a try?

Well, we’ve mastered the recipe and we are thrilled to share it with you! This comes together in about 30 to 40 minutes and is perfect every single time. It’s the ideal side to our Tex-Mex Beef Tacos, Ancho Enchiladas, and Stuffed Chili Rellenos!

A white platter holding a Mexican rice with a spoon next to it.

HOW DO YOU MAKE MEXICAN RICE FROM SCRATCH?

We’re going to show you! First, you’ll need a blender (or food processor), and a couple of saucepans.

For cooking the rice, we use a 3-quart pan that’s about 8 inches in diameter. A tight-fitting lid is essential.

Puréering a couple of small Roma tomatoes, with onion and garlic creates the foundation for the rice.

You can do this in a food processor or a blender.

EXPERT TIP: For traditional Mexican rice, we prefer to not have large chunks of tomato and onion in the dish. If you want a little more texture from the vegetables, just give them a couple of quick pulses in the blender or food processor so they are not completely pulverized.

Two hands holding a blender that has puréed tomatoes and onions in it.

THE SECRET INGREDIENT

What makes this an authentic Mexican rice recipe is not just the technique, but the ingredients.

Most Mexican restaurants and home cooks use a tomato powder that is similar to bouillon. This is called Caldo de Tomate.

EXPERT TIP: This ingredient not only gives the rice the classic red color, but it gives the dish the authentic taste you get in your favorite Mexican restaurants. Caldo de Tomate is typically found in the Latin section of most well-stocked supermarkets, or you can purchase it online.

Two hands holding a bottle of Caldo de Tomate.

Now, we mentioned you’ll need two saucepans when making this dish. You’ll need one to heat the stock, and then the other for cooking the rice.

We use chicken stock for making this super easy Mexican rice recipe. However, water can be substituted for the stock, or broth, if desired.

EXPERT TIP: Heating the liquid is best before adding to the rice for cooking. We add the caldo de tomate and chili powder to the stock and then heat it gently in our second saucepan.

A whisk in a saucepan filled with chicken stock and seasonings.

THE BEST RICE TO USE

With just one glance at the rice section in your supermarket, you’ll see the are many, many varieties of rice to choose from.

Long grain white rice is typical in Mexican cooking and is perfect for this dish.

EXPERT TIP: Cooking the rice in your 8-inch diameter (3-quart) saucepan first with a little oil over medium heat causes the rice to split slightly, which allows it to cook perfectly during the steaming process. This also brings out a slightly toasted taste, too. All this contributes to the authentic taste and texture. You’ll need to cook the rice, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the rice is slightly translucent and beginning to brown, just slightly

A wooden spoon in saucepan filled with long-grain white rice.

After the initial cooking of the rice, it’s time to add in the puréed tomato/onion mixture.

Let it cook over medium-high heat until excess liquid cooks out.

Usually for about 3 minutes.

A wooden spoon in a pan with cooked rice and puréed tomatoes on top of it.
A wooden spoon stirring cooked Mexican rice in a saucepan.

AUTHENTIC MEXICAN RICE FAQs

  • Can I use canned tomatoes instead of fresh? Absolutely! We like using fresh Roma tomatoes, but canned is great, too. Go with a 15 oz. can of whole tomatoes, and drain them. Toss them in the blender with the onion and garlic, and purée until smooth.
  • Is there a substitute for the Caldo de Tomate? You can go with regular chicken bouillon, in a pinch. The Caldo de Tomate adds an additional depth of tomato to the rice, but it’s still delicious with regular bouillon.
  • How do I keep the rice from burning or undercooking? This is the big question. Everyone’s stovetop is different. It may take a little practice, but after you’ve brought the rice to a boil, be sure to turn the heat to low, and cover the pan. Too high of heat will definitely cause the rice to burn. However, it’s not uncommon for there to be a slightly burnt layer on the bottom of the pan. If the heat is so low that it doesn’t fully cook the rice, simply add a little more liquid and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes with the lid on. 
  • Can I add vegetables to this dish? Absolutely! Add chopped carrots in when sautéing the rice. Stir in thawed frozen peas at the very end of cooking, when fluffing with the fork.

A spoon holding a helping of Mexican rice over a pan.

We don’t call this the Best-Ever Mexican Rice for nothing, folks.

This easily feeds 4 people, but the recipe can be doubled or tripled when feeding a crowd, just use a larger (12-inch) pan.

So delicious!

A close up view of a platter of Best-Ever Mexican Rice.

Ready to make the best Mexican rice this side of the Rio Grande? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and hashtag #howtofeedaloon!

A close up view of a platter of Best-Ever Mexican Rice.

Mexican Rice

We're really not making this up. This truly is the Best-Ever Mexican Rice! Find the Caldo de Tomate in the Latin section of your supermarket. We go with Knorr. If using a sodium-free version, you'll need to add ¾ teaspoon of salt when adding the other seasonings.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer or Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican / TexMex
Keyword: Authentic Mexican Rice recipe, easy Mexican rice, Restaurant-Style Mexican rice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 146kcal

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor
  • 2 saucepans, one preferably should be 3-quart pan approx. 8 inches in diameter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion roughly chopped
  • 2 small Roma tomatoes sliced in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • cups chicken stock plus 2 tbsp, or water
  • 2 tsp Caldo de Tomate
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup long grain rice

Instructions

  • Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic in a blender, or food processor, and purée until smooth. Using a spatula to scrape down any onion pieces that didn't get puréed. Repeat and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the stock over medium heat and stir in the Caldo de Tomate and chili powder.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate 3-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's slightly translucent and barely toasted, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Transfer the tomato/onion/garlic mixture into the pan with the rice. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until any excess liquid cooks out, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to high and add the stock mixture to the rice. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, remove the lid, and fluff with a fork. Serve at once.

Video

Notes

If you can't get decent Roma tomatoes, you can go with a 15 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained.
Water can be sustituted for the chicken stock.  If you want 100% vegetarain, check the Caldo de Tomate label, in most varieties, there is some chicken fat.  You'll need to use vegetable bouillon in place of the Caldo de Tomate.  The taste won't be as authentic, but it will still be good. 
If using a sodium-free Caldo de Tomate, you'll need to add 1/2 to 3/4 tbsp of salt to the cooking liquid.
It is not uncommon for there to be a thin layer of almost burnt rice at the bottom of the pan.  We think it adds a little texture to the final dish.  However, if you prefer, when transferring the cooked rice from the pan to the serving dish, just don't scrape the bottom of the pan. A soak in soapy water will make clean-up super easy. 
The rice can be made up to 1 day in advance, and we find that re-heating it on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes works best. 
The rice will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and freezes for up to 1 month, although with Mexican rice, fresh is definitely best. 

Nutrition

Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in April 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe, expert tips, new photography, and a fabulous new video in March 2020!

14 Comments

  • I only have medium grain rice for the Mexican rice dish. Should I try it and if so should the amount of rice be adjusted?
    Thanks,
    M.

    • Hi Monna, you can still use medium grain and no need to change any of the measurements. The end result will probably be a little ‘stickier’ than what long grain rice will produce, but you should still achieve delicious Mexican rice. Let us know how it turns out!

  • My family and I have been making Mexican Rice for decades. My Abuelita & mom made it for dinner constantly. And we never put chili powder in our arroz Or salsa!! Just fyi.

  • My family and I have been making Mexican Rice for decades. My Abuelita & mom made it for dinner constantly. And we never put chili powder in our arroz Or salsa!! Just fyi.

  • I made this today with your chimichanga recipe, the rice was wonderful! I’ve been looking for a Mexican rice recipe for a while looks like I’ve found it! Thanks for the great recipe and the video really helped me as well!

    • Hi Chendria! We are so so thrilled to hear you had such success with our Mexican rice recipe! We love it so much, too!! And thank you so very much for letting us know and for the GREAT review! That means the world to us! Please stay in touch! All the very best, Kris & Wesley

  • I am very sorry but I do not like Wesley putting all the rice on a plate and then eating out of that plate .. Why couldn’t he get a small plate and put a serving on it and the taste it .. I found it very impilot what he did .. I was raised to not to eat out of the plate it is going to be served from .. So Please Wesley take a smaller plate the next time . Thank you

    • Hi Vera, we are so sorry that we offended you! That was a plate that we fixed for ourselves, for the video performance. Of course, if we were serving other guests, we would never have eaten off the plate. But we understand what you’re saying. Thanks for taking the time to let us know and please have a wonderful day. Kris & Wesley.

    • Are you serious? I’m sure it was just for the video and they wouldn’t do that if they were serving guests. If it’s just them – who cares?

      Thank you for the amazing video. Literally just finished making this. LITERALLY 🙂

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