Mexican Rice Pilaf


My family loves Mexican food so this easy Mexican rice makes a regular appearance at our dinner table. It’s not really authentic — true Mexican rice is more complicated and time-consuming to make — but it’s delicious and my kids claim it tastes just like the rice served at their favorite Mexican restaurant. That’s authentic enough for me! I typically serve it with my Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, Peruvian Chicken, or Chicken Chili.


Begin by finely chopping the onion and mincing the jalapeño pepper. To keep the rice on the mild side, I cut the flesh of the jalapeño pepper away from the seeds and stem, leaving the spiciest part of the pepper behind. If you think you might like more heat, I recommend holding onto the seeds and adding them at the end to taste.


When handling jalapeño peppers, be sure to keep your hands away from your eyes and wash your hands immediately afterwards so the juices don’t irritate your skin.


Cook the minced jalapeño and chopped onions in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.


Add the rice, tomato paste and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is evenly coated with oil, 2-3 minutes.


Add the water and seasoning and bring to a boil.


Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender, then stir in the peas, cilantro and fresh lime juice.


Serve with lime wedges.


Mexican Rice Pilaf

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups enriched parboiled long grain rice, such as Uncle Ben's Original
  • 3-1/3 cups low sodium chicken broth (see note*)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomato paste, garlic and rice; cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin; turn the heat up and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the peas, cilantro and lime juice and fluff the rice with a fork to mix. Let the rice sit for a few moments to "dry out" and lose that wet, just-steamed texture. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime if necessary.
  6. *Note: Some rice brands will require a little less or a little more liquid; check the package for specific instructions.
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  • Lynn

    Think we could make it with quinoa? One if my kids has a rice allergy, thanks.

    • Jenn

      Hi Lynn, Absolutely. You’ll just have to adjust the quantities a bit. For the broth, I typically use 1-2/3 cup liquid for every 1 cup quinoa; so, if my math is right, you’d need about 2-1/2 cups. I’d also reduce the tomato paste to 1 tablespoon, the salt to 3/4 teaspoon, and the chili powder and cumin to 1/4 teaspoon each. Please let me know how it comes out!

  • Janice M

    I would like to see every recipe list the nutrition values.

  • Amy

    Glad to have this recipe—I was looking for one like this last week. I try this one next time. Thanks.

  • Marji

    Thank you, this recipe is all win. I used 2ish cups of basmati rice and the entire can of tomato paste (I have exceeded my life-time limit of sacrificial half-used tomato paste cans), eye-balled the chili powder and cumin def more than double and I scorched the bottom of the pot, but in this house, that charred bit is a bonus that the kids fight over, so all win. Next time I’m going to use two jalapenos, but that’s just our preference, otherwise, all win. Thanks for sharing your talent.

    • Jenn

      So glad you enjoyed, Marji. You’re right, this recipe can definitely handle two jalapeños. I considered it but decided to keep it mild for my kids. Also, you can avoid the half-used can of tomato paste dilemma by buying tomato paste in a tube.

  • Alex Nihmey

    Made this the other night, it was delicious! It beats all other Mexican rice recipes I have tried. I have to say I love all your recipes, most of them are becoming staples in our house! Thank you for sharing.

  • Karen

    Made this with your chicken enchiladas for dinner last night and both were a hit. Best Mexican rice I’ve tried and so easy. Thank u!!

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