On family taco nights, do you find yourself wanting a complete meal that includes restaurant style Mexican rice? You probably think authentic Mexican rice takes an hour to cook and involves exotic ingredients from your local carniceria. Actually, to make this Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice recipe, the only special ingredient you need is instant rice and fresh cilantro. The rest of the ingredients for this quick and easy Mexican rice dish are probably in your pantry or spice rack!
What is Mexican rice?
What you may call restaurant style Mexican rice is also called Spanish rice or arroz rojo (literally red rice). Even though it’s sometimes called Spanish rice, it’s not Spanish in origin. It’s a Mexican side dish made by sautéing white rice in a skillet until it turns a golden brown. Then water or broth is added along with tomatoes or tomato sauce. Sometimes garlic and onions are used as well as seasonings like chili pepper and cumin.
To me, the sign of a good Mexican restaurant is if they make flavorful Mexican rice. Some restaurants like to put peas and onions in their Mexican rice. (You can certainly add peas and onions to the Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice recipe if you wish!)
More ways to use Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice
I love having Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice as a side for carne asada, fish veracruz or Best Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos. However, Mexican rice just isn’t a side dish. You can make it the star of the meal by using Mexican rice:
- in burritos with refried beans, pulled chicken, or strips of carne asada
- in rice bowls with taco meat (seasoned with homemade taco seasoning), rotisserie chicken, or pulled pork
- in a soup with chicken and vegetables
- in a one pot Mexican-flavored stir fry with leftover rotisserie chicken and frozen pepper strips
- in a Mexican rice casserole recipe
This Mama’s tips for cooking up Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice
- You can make this Mexican rice recipe vegetarian by using a vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- If you’re gluten free or cooking for GF guests, make sure that the broth you’re using is gluten free. Many of the big commercial brands have gone gluten free or have more “natural versions” of broth or stock available at the grocery store. So no need to go to the health food store now!
- While Mexican rice is traditionally made with white rice – and this recipe uses instant white rice – you can use instant brown rice in this recipe, too. The cooking times may change (consult the directions on the box). Also, the taste and color will be different, but still delicious!
- If you’re serving this for guests, you may want to ask if everyone likes cilantro. So many people don’t! It’s OK if you leave cilantro out of the Mexican rice recipe if you or your guests don’t like it. Add a 1/2 teaspoon onion powder instead.
- Love spicy food? Don’t forget to serve your favorite Mexican hot sauce with the Mexican rice. My son loves adding hot sauce to his!
Easy 10 Minute Mexican Rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups uncooked instant white rice
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic powder, cumin, salt and cilantro. Stir constantly, cook until spices become aromatic – about 1 minute.
- Add tomato sauce and broth. Turn up heat to medium high and bring to boil.
- Add rice. Bring back to boil. Cover and turn off heat. Let stand 5 minutes or until tomato and chicken broth is absorbed. If the rice seems wet, place back on stove and cook rice over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Serving size: Serves 4 - 1 cup per person
Originally published December 16, 2014. Updated with new pictures.