Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

Mexican rice in a brown ceramic bowl with a wooden spoon on a cloth napkin with sprigs of cilantro.

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.

How to make easy Mexican rice

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.

2. Add garlic powder, cumin, salt, and cilantro to the pot. Stirring constantly, cook until spices become aromatic, about 1 minute.

3. Add tomato sauce and broth. Then turn up the heat to medium-high and bring it to boil.

3. Add rice and bring it back to a rolling boil.

4. Cover the pot and turn off the heat.

6. Let the pot stand for 5 minutes or until the tomato and chicken broth is absorbed by the rice. If the rice seems wet, place the pot back on the stove and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly.

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.

Is easy Mexican rice vegetarian?

Make this recipe vegetarian or vegan by using a vegetable broth instead of chicken stock or broth.

Is this gluten free?

This rice dish is also a naturally dairy free recipe if the vegetable or chicken stock or broth you’re using is gluten free.

Check the label to make sure it’s certified as gluten free.

Can you use long grain white rices?

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!

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

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!

 

More tips for cooking up restaurant style Mexican rice

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.

Here are a few Mexican recipes you'll adore:

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

Quick Horchata is made with rice milk

Pumpkin Smoothie for Dia de los Muertos – Day of Dead

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

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

Yield: 8 SERVINGS

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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:

Yield:

8

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

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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 🙂

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  9. MARION ANDERSON

    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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  13. Crystal @ MommyisaWino.com

    I needed a good Mexican Rice recipe as a side for a few dishes I’m making this month. I cannot wait to try it.

    Reply
  14. 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!!!!

    Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. 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!

    Reply
  17. 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.

    Reply
  18. 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!

    Reply
  19. 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?

    Reply
  20. 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.

    Reply
  21. 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!)

    Reply
  22. Kim Tracy Prince

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this last night – thank you for the recipe! My kids eat barely anything but they love Mexican rice so I decided to try making it myself. It was a big hit!

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Susan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating: 5 4 3 2 1