Mexican Rice

This easy Mexican rice recipe turns your basic white rice into a vibrant and flavorful side dish. It’s a simple combination of onion, bell peppers, garlic, jalapeno, tomato sauce, broth and spices that transforms into fluffy, zesty rice. Pair it with seared seafood, grilled chicken or tacos for the ultimate Mexican inspired meal.

Mexican rice in a bowl.

Living in Southern California, Mexican cuisine is a pretty big part of the lifestyle here. From street side tacos to gourmet Mexican seafood, we’ve got it all.

But a dish that never fails is a simple chicken or fish plate with Mexican rice and beans. I’ll save the beans for another day. But today, I’m going to walk you through how to achieve that deliciously fluffy rice with a kick of spice.

Mexican Rice Recipe Video

Want to know how I make this recipe step-by-step? Give the quick video below a watch!

What’s The Difference Between Spanish Rice And Mexican Rice?

While many consider Spanish and Mexican rice to be the same thing, they’re actually not. These two colorful dishes are made with similar basic ingredients such as rice, tomatoes, onion, and chicken broth. But what differentiates them are the spices being used.

Spanish rice uses saffron, which gives it its lightly sweet flavor and bold yellow coloring. And Mexican rice uses cumin for an earthy and spicy aroma.

Ingredients for Mexican Rice on a table.

Mexican Rice Ingredients

This recipe comes together beautifully with ingredients you might already have stocked in your pantry. Here’s exactly what you’ll need.

  • Olive Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Yellow or White Onion: 1 onion
  • Garlic: 2 cloves
  • Red Bell Pepper: 1/2 bell pepper
  • Jalapeno: 1 small one
  • Long Grain White Rice: 1 cup
  • Cumin: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt and Pepper: to taste
  • Tomato Sauce: 8oz (1 small can)
  • Vegetable or Chicken Broth: 1 cup
  • Chopped Cilantro: 2 tablespoons for garnishing

Mexican rice in a pan.

How To Make Mexican Rice

Making this rice dish couldn’t be any easier. All you need to do is toss everything into a sauce pan, give it a quick saute, and let it simmer. But before you throw everything in, the key here is to make sure you get your rice nice and toasted.

  1. Thoroughly wash and drain the rice with a fine mesh sieve.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
  3. Toss in the rice and saute until it’s lightly toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the cumin, salt, tomato sauce and chicken broth, then stir everything together.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked all the way through – about 15 minutes.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

A large spoonful of Mexican rice.

What To Serve With It

Mexican rice easily pairs with a few protein options or Mexican dishes. Serve it as a plate or put together a burrito bowl with some black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo!

How To Store And Reheat

You can store Mexican rice in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure to place it in an airtight container. To reheat it, simply pop it in the microwave or give it a quick stir in a saucepan on the stove top.

If you plan to freeze this, store the rice in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, you can either thaw it in the fridge overnight or cook it right away in the microwave. Just toss it into a bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring it through halfway.

Mexican rice in a bowl with lime wedges.

More Healthy Mexican Recipes

If you’re craving more Tex-Mex flavors or prepping for Cinco De Mayo, take a peek at my full list of healthy Mexican recipes. But, here’s a few fan favorites that definitely won’t disappoint!

Mexican rice in a bowl with lime wedges.

Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy & Flavorful)

4.83 from 17 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
This easy Mexican rice recipe turns your basic white rice into a vibrant and flavorful side dish. Watch the video above to see how I make it!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for garnish


  • Thoroughly wash and drain the rice with a fine mesh sieve.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-hight heat. Add the onions, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeno and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
  • Add the rice and saute until it's lightly toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Add in the cumin, salt, tomato sauce and chicken broth, then stir everything together.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until rice is cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the rice from the heat and use a fork to fluff it up.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

Lisa's Tips

  • While I think the jalapeno gives this recipe enormous flavor, if you'd like it less spicy you can omit it or add 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder instead.


Calories: 236kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 537mg, Potassium: 312mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 888IU, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 29mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: How To Make Mexican Rice, Mexican Rice, Mexican rice recipe
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47 comments on “Mexican Rice”

  1. I had a craving for Mexican rice but no clue how to make it. TGFI – Thank God For Internet. Being a denizen of So Cal I’ve gotten spoiled on good Mexican food so I looked for an authentic recipe that used mostly fresh ingredients and was easy enough for me to make. This is it! As flavorful as any restaurant or better. I rarely pass on an opportunity to use a new ingredient or learn some new culinary skill, and in this case I did both. I took Gabreila’s advice and used avocado oil instead of my trusty olive oil. The instant it hit the pan the aroma told me this was going to be like what I’ve had south of the border. I also appreciated Rebecca’s tip to replace regular tomato sauce with El Pato – although I did use a little jalapeno despite the sauce being piquant. Everything else was per the recipe. Did I mention I’m not afraid of spicy?

    I wouldn’t consider myself more than an average skill cook and tend to follow recipes to the letter – at least the first time. It was unclear to me how to toast the rice at first so I put just the rice with some oil in the pan until toasty golden-brown, set it aside, and added it back in after sautéing the vegetables. It was then that I realized I could have gone step by step as written and achieved the same result, so I quickly added the remaining ingredients and 15 minutes later it came out perfect! Fluffy, not burnt or mushy. and delicious. Thank you for this recipe! My craving is satisfied – but this is going to become a regular side dish.5 stars

    • So happy to hear this recipe satisfied your craving for Mexican Rice Dave! Now you can have restaurant quality Mexican rice right at the comfort of your own home :)

  2. What can I substitute from bell pepper?

  3. Thanks for the great recipe. I Love the flavour.  I had a lot stuck to the bottom of the pan and a little mushy.

    Any tips?

    Thanks!4 stars

    • Hi Kelli – it’s normal for a little bit to get stuck to the pan as it simmers. Perhaps you might try with a slightly lower heat next time and see if that helps. :)

  4. I love you website and all the recipes, this post is only for those people that are looking for the REAL flavor of Mexican rice. I am from Mexico and your recipe is very close to the authentic recipe, however for truly authentic arroz rojo (red rice) Mexican rice, do not use olive oil since it changes the flavor of the rice. Olive oil is used in Spanish rice. Use avocado oil instead. Also, the green peppers are more a tex-mex ingredient and they too change the original flavor I would avoid them completely. Just boiling the jalapeno with the broth is enough. Cumin is optional and it is a regional ingredient from northern states in Mexico. Cilantro can be added to the boiling water for added flavor and discarded before serving. Obviously, the cook always has the final choice. Enjoy!3 stars

    • Hi Gabriela – thanks for your feedback and sharing your version! It’s always interesting to hear how regional variations can change a recipe. I did have this version mainly in the northern states in Mexico, working alongside a Mexican chef. I’ll have to give your version a try next time!

  5. Hey the video is not showing up

  6. I made this with your Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe. Absolutely delicious!!! Thank you :)5 stars

  7. I tried this tonight and screwed it up somehow. The rice never got soft. Just kinda stayed hard and uncooked. I did swap out long grain brown rice for white rice. Could that really have been the thing that messed it up? I’m so bummed cause I made your carnitas as the main and those came out alright. I may have not made them flavorful enough. Clearly I’m a total novice! Any thoughts? Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Chris – ah, that’s a bummer, sorry to hear it! But glad you loved the carnitas! If you swapped brown rice for white rice, yes, that’s the reason. Brown rice takes quite a bit more time to cook. Check out my tips on my “how to make rice” recipe. Hope your next try turns out better!

    • Brown rice takes roughly 45 minutes in total to cook, it’s definitely what happened. Cheers.

  8. Love this recipe, but I think there’s a slight error. What sauce is it referring to when it says to add when sauteeing the veggies? It says to add the tomato sauce later. ???5 stars

  9. wow! amazing. I used brown rice therefore I had to add some water to allow it to cook more but it was delicious and so so flavorful. Thank you, huge fan of your youtube channel and blog xx :)5 stars

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed all the flavors in this rice dish! And glad it came out well with brown rice.

  10. This rice is perfect and delicious Lisa! 5 stars

  11. Is rice easy to digest? Especially for my husband who has acid reflux and was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Is Basmati rice easier to digest? Thank you for your help I really like all the recipes with nutrition and not all the starches & sugars Thank you -Gloria

    • Hi Gloria – unfortunately, that’s a very individual question, as each person is unique. White rices are generally easier to digest than brown rices though.

  12. Super excited to try this as I love mexican food and always go for the spicy rice when there’s the option!
    I have a question though regarding your thoughts on freezing rice, I thought you weren’t meant to do that? I do it myself with a veggie burrito mix I make and have never been ill or anything but interested to hear your thoughts on that.

  13. Hi Lisa, made Mexican rice a few nights ago and it was exactly what I wanted! I had all the ingredients except jalapeños so I used  some sriracha instead – delicious and great the next day with a fried egg and avocado. Thank you for all the great recipes!5 stars

  14. Ohhh myy so gooodd!!!!! I couldnt stop eating it!!!!!5 stars

  15. Another Southern California tip is to use an 8 oz.can of Pato (spicy tomato sauce) in place of regular tomato sauce although you probably don’t need the jalapeños unless you want it really spicy😊5 stars

  16. Made this the other night with brown rice. Loved it!5 stars

  17. Can you use brown rice in place of white rice for this dish?

    • Hi Aubrey- Traditionally, this recipe uses long grain white rice. But, you can swap it out if you’d like.

  18. Thanks for this recipe, you have such great ideas!
    Do you think we could use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce (especially in this time where we want to use as much as possible food from our pantries and limit our trips to the store…!)

    • Hi Caroline – I wouldn’t recommend using all tomato paste in the same quantity, as it’s concentrated. But you could use more broth and a reduced amount of tomato paste to still add some of that tomato flavor. Hope that works for you!

  19. Love this recipe and idea!! I threw extra veg in it like corn and some cabbage and cannot stop eating it.5 stars

  20. The flavor is AH-MAZING!!!! I’m in love!!! Especially while being at home so much, I’ve been eating more rice, and i wanted a way to make It more exciting. Plus I’m obsessed with Mexican food soooooo…. this was perfect!! 
    I had an issue with It being a bit….mushy?? It took about 10 minutes sautéing  the rice to get It some color…so not sure if that was where I went wrong. A lot got stuck to my pan at the bottom and the rest was a tad mushy. (I know I did something wrong but I’m just not sure what 🤔). However…I printed this recipe and it’s going in with my book of favorites!! Any tips would be helpful, but if not, I’ll just keep trying different things.  💕💕5 stars

    • Hi Adrienne – Yay, I’m happy you loved this recipe! It really is packed with flavor, isn’t it? For next time, I’d recommend sauteeing your rice less time, that’s probably why it got stuck to the bottom. Hope it comes out even better next time! :)

  21. I can eat it just plain. Full of flavor and homemade. Delicious.5 stars

  22. I love how quick and easy you can make this! So good!!5 stars

  23. What a flavorful side dish for Mexican favorites like tacos, enchiladas, and burrito bowls! It’s perfect for mid-day meals, and family gatherings.5 stars

  24. I made this to have with tacos last night and it was a hit – thank you!5 stars