Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

Do you want to make an easy Mexican rice recipe for taco night just like restaurants serve?

You probably think an authentic Mexican rice takes an hour to cook and involves exotic ingredients from your local carniceria.

Not to worry. It doesn't!

Actually, to make this easy 10 minute Mexican rice dish, the only special ingredients you need are Minute Instant Rice and fresh cilantro. (And the cilantro is optional.)

The rest of the ingredients for this quick and easy Mexican rice recipe are probably in your pantry or spice rack!

It's the perfect rice for tacos recipe, when you’re making other types of Mexican food, or if you're grilling fish or chicken and need an easy side dish.

You'll never use those prepackaged mixes again. This homemade Mexican rice is just the best!A bowl of Easy Mexican Rice  with cilantro and wooden spoon

What is authentic Mexican rice?

What you may call authentic 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 food 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 a flavorful Mexican rice dish. You'll see that this recipe is exactly like the kind you get at your favorite restaurant or take out place without leaving home!

Some restaurants like to put peas and onions in their Mexican rice recipe, too. (You can certainly add peas and onions to your easy Mexican Rice recipe if you wish!)

This homemade Mexican rice also contains cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, you don’t have to use it.

More ways to use easy Mexican rice

I love serving Mexican rice on the side with carne asada, Ahi Tuna Tacos, or Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos.

However, this easy Mexican rice recipe isn’t just a side dish. You can make any dish a the star of the meal by adding Mexican rice:

● in burritos with refried beans, pulled chicken, or strips of carne asada, add Mexican rice right in the burrito.

● in rice bowls with taco meat (seasoned with homemade taco seasoning), rotisserie chicken, or pulled pork use Mexican rice instead of long grain rice.

● in a soup with chicken and vegetables like shredded lettuce and cabbage, add the Mexican rice right in the bowl.

● in a one pot Mexican-flavored stir fry with leftover rotisserie chicken and frozen pepper strips, use Mexican rice instead of white rice.

● in a Mexican rice casserole recipe.

● with crockpot tacos for Taco Night! I love putting Mexican rice right in the tacos, not just on the side.

Perfect for potlucks: I also like doubling or tripling this Mexican rice recipe to bring to potlucks.

I cook up a big batch then place the homemade Mexican rice in my crock-pot to keep warm.

(Don't forget to use a slow cooker liner for easy cleanup!)

Overhead shot of a bowl of Mexican Rice  with sprigs of cilantro

Tips for cooking up restaurant style Mexican rice

Go vegetarian: You can make this easy Mexican rice recipe vegetarian by using a vegetable broth instead of chicken stock or broth.

Gluten free? If you’re gluten free or cooking for GF guests, make sure that the vegetable or chicken stock or 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!

This rice dish is also a naturally dairy free recipe.

Can you use brown rice? While this best Mexican rice recipe is traditionally made with white rice – and this recipe uses instant white rice – you can use instant brown rice when you make 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!

Cilantro? No bueno! If you’re serving this quick and easy Mexican rice recipe for guests, you may want to ask if everyone likes cilantro. So many people don’t!

It’s OK if you leave cilantro out this recipe if you or your guests don’t like it. Add 1/2 teaspoon onion powder instead if you want extra flavor.

Turn up the heat: Love spicy food? Don’t forget to serve your favorite Mexican hot sauce with the rice. My son loves adding hot sauce to his!

Some of my readers have added salsa to this dish when they made this Mexican rice recipe, too.

Can you use long grain white rice? If you don’t have instant rice, you can try to make Mexican rice with long grain white rice.

You’ll just have to adjust cooking times per the instructions on the long grain white rice box.

You can use the same amount of spices and tomato sauce when you make Mexican rice. You will have to adjust the amount of broth, though.

I haven’t tried it, so you’ll have to experiment. Good luck!

Love Mexican food? Here are a few Mexican recipes you'll adore:

If you love making Mexican food at home, try these dishes:

Pumpkin Smoothie for Dia de los Muertos – Day of Dead

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos are perfect for Taco Tuesdays or any time you want to make a Mexican food taco bar

Best Carne Asada Marinade is awesome for grilling. It can also be made in the crock-pot

Layered Mexican Christmas Eve Salad can be made in a trifle bowl during the holidays

Easy Breakfast Chilaquiles are made in a skillet for easy cleanup

Crock-Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken with Black Beans & Corn is made with pineapple – so good!

Quick Horchata is made with rice milk

Chopped & Layered Taco Salad is one of my kids’ favorite recipes 

Cook up more easy rice dishes

Besides homemade Mexican rice, here are some more easy rice dishes you’ll love making for your family and friends:

This Wild Mushroom Risotto makes a delicious side dish.

Cook up this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Recipe on a busy weeknight when you don’t have too much time.

Make some Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for Mardi Gras!

This Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs Recipe is made with rice and ground beef.

Mexican Picadillo is served on long grain white rice.


Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

You won't believe that this easy Mexican rice recipe takes only 10 minutes. An authentic Mexican rice recipe for burritos or tacos.

Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 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 or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked instant white rice


  1. 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.
  2. Add tomato sauce and broth. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to boil.
  3. Add rice. Bring back to boil. Cover Mexican rice and turn off the heat. Let stand 5 minutes or until tomato and chicken broth is absorbed. If the rice seems wet, place back on the stove and cook Mexican rice over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 518mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published December 16, 2014 and February 29, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.

Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

67 thoughts on “Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

  1. M

    Thank you for this recipe! I have tried many Mexican rice recipes that never seem to come out the way I expected! This recipe did NOT disappoint anyone! I sautéed a diced onion and added a can of diced green chiles in with the spices in the first step. Followed the rest of the recipe as written , it was so delicious! Thank you again!

  2. Susan

    I just made this tonight for my Celiac son and my son….it was a huge hit!! Been trying different mexican/spanish rice recipes, and I don’t have to look anymore! Thank you sooo much for sharing this recipe….it’ll be my go to now when I make a mexican dinner!

  3. colette

    Sorry to be an idiot but when you say ‘tomato sauce’ does that mean tomato ketchup or the kind of fresh tomato sauce you might have with pasta? I’m in the UK so we might use the term differently! Thanks so much 🙂

  4. Natalie

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This recipe worked great! My only substitute was I immersion blended 1 cup of Costco’s salsa in place of tomato sauce and skipped all the spices. It was perfect, my picky 3 year old grandson, had 3 servings. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. Jill

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Terrific rice! I left out the cilantro and used vegetable broth and no one noticed. My go to Mexican rice from now on! YAY!

  6. Steve-O

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Was looking for a quick and easy Mexican rice recipe. Found this one and made it last night. Turned out great! This will be my go-to from now on.

  7. Ashley

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Wow!!!!! Ok I have tried literally every recipe and was never fully happy with the results. This one is perfect! It’s so tasty. I don’t like changing recipes but I am a vegetarian so I subbed veggie broth. I’m so happy eating this right now 🙂 thank you so so so much! My hunt for perfect, easy mexican rice is finally over. I was just about losing hope lol

  8. Joy M. Mosley

    Instructions on rice box calls for equal amounts of broth and rice. Tomato sauce is extra cup of liquid. What do you suggest.


    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Just made this tonight. Didn’t have a box, so I needed an easy quick Mexican Rice. It turned out perfect. taste was good, not gourmet like, but good enough in a pinch. Next time I’ll try it with Salsa instead of tomato sauce.

  10. Christine @ myblissfulmess

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This side dish is crazy easy, and so delicious! Perfect side dish to go with your favorite Mexican main dish. I served it along side Salsa Fresca Chicken, a recipe I got from easyfamilyrecipes.com. This was the perfect side dish for it! My family and I loved this rice. Thank you so much!

  11. Sheree Harris

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I quintupled the recipe and used instant brown rice instead. When I first added the rice, I could tell it was going to be too wet so I added a little more in. I did have to turn it back on after the 5 minutes of letting it sit. It’s still quite moist (little saucy) but I figured I’d let it absorb overnight. I will be reheating tomorrow before serving. I’m hoping it will be perfect by tomorrow and not turn mushy. Thank you for such a simple recipe and one where brown rice could be substituted.

    1. Sheree Harris

      Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Just a follow up. The rice turned out perfectly. I had cooked it in an electric roaster so that may be why I had a variation in cooking. Have cooked since via stovetop and with white instant rice and it has also been perfect. We feed the homeless, and this recipe is simple and a favorite with them.

  12. Shauna Guymon

    Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I sauted the rice, some diced onion in the oil (I used butter) for about 5 minutes. Then added the spices and cooked another minute or two. Then I poured the liquid in, brought it to a boil, turned it down and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

  13. Joan Clark

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Just made this as side for tacos and it’s very good! Lessen salt by half..used parsley as one of those weirdos who thinks cilantro tastes like dish soap!! Added corn, peppers and fresh squeesed lime juice cuz had one on hand!! However fast and very good!! Thanks for recipe!!!!

  14. Darlene

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This was very good. I used 1 cup of regular rice and toasted it in the oil first. I also added about 2 Tbl spoons of enchilada sauce, since made enchiladas as well My husband loved it.

  15. Becky

    Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Good and fast! However, I used 1/2 of the salt and it was still a little salty for my taste. I’ll eliminate it next time and it will be perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Karen

    I went woth 10minute brown rice, I substituted chives for cilantro (used about a tablspoon) and instead of chicken broth I did 1/2 of the amount of water the rice boc called for and did the other 1/2 with tomato sauce. It was excellent with a bit of cracked seasalt.

  17. Derek Visser

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thank you very much! I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used Pace salsa and it turned out fantastic. I don’t normally think about rice being fantastic, but this recipe is. Thanks!

  18. Jenn

    Can you use uncooked rice instead of instant rice? I’m assuming the cook time would go up by a lot, but is that a problem?

  19. Julia

    Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Good recipe, except the amount of salt was too much for my family’so taste. I will use less next time. It may be due to the fact that I used bullion cubes for the broth.

  20. Sunny in California

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This is really good and tasty! I love restaurant red rice and have tried so many recipes over the years but never seem to get the right taste. The flavor & consistency are close enough that this is the recipe I intend to use from now on. I have a glass top stove so turning off the burner and leaving the pot on doesn’t work for me. I did have to add about 5 more minutes to the time and I added a 1/2 cup frozen yellow corn for color since I didn’t have cilantro on hand (but I definately will next time!)


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