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Mexican Rice Pilaf

5 stars based on 21 votes

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 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

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 white 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 253
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 43 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Sodium: 491 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I’ve made this several times and my family loves It! I find cutting the chicken broth back to 2 1/3 cups works best for ne using Uncle Ben’s rice.

    - Kathryn on September 14, 2017 Reply
  • Hi, I wonder if this can be made in a rice cooker? Only way I r ever managed to not bungle rice cooking 😩

    - Alison on September 1, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Alison, I haven’t worked with a rice cooker, but I think that would work. You’d probably need to saute the jalapeño and onions on the stove first as the recipe directs. Also, I’m not certain if the amount of liquid would differ at all with a rice cooker, so just make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions. I’d love to hear how it turns out in a rice cooker!

      - Jenn on September 1, 2017 Reply
  • Any chance this could be made ahead and reheated, covered in the oven before serving to guests?

    - Diane on June 26, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Diane, it can definitely be made ahead and reheated. I would typically reheat something like this in the microwave, but as long as it’s tightly covered, I guess you could reheat it in the oven. Just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

      - Jenn on June 26, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was so easy to make and delicious. We love rice and peas so this was perfect.

    - Barbara on April 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Jen you are the best. This was really good. I used brown rice and cooked it for 45 minutes instead of 20. I also used corn instead of peas. Thank you.

    - Stacy on April 3, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    We loved it! I’ve tried many recipes on your site and the family has loved them all. I used Uncle Ben’s rice but it was to much broth so I had to cook it longer. Next time maybe less broth and will add more if I need to.

    - Kathryn on March 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I followed this recipe 100% and it was delicious. Usually I like to bake my rice in the oven to prevent it from being soggy. I decided to try it the way the recipe suggested. The rice was moist but not soggy. The spices made it very aromatic and tasty!

    - Karen on February 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is delicious. Family really liked

    - Margaret Higgins on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I’ve finally found a Mexican rice recipe that I love! We like to eat carnitas or fajitas and this goes very well as a side dish. Delicious!

    - Esty on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I’ve tossed out my old recipe for Mexican rice and replaced it with this one! Super flavorful and easy. I had company so I made two cups rice. I didn’t change anything else and it was perfect : )

    - Yvonne on June 28, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Would it be possible to use a rice cooker with this recipe? Thanks!

    - Jane on June 5, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Jane, I’m not an expert with a rice cooker, but I think that would work. You’d probably need to saute the jalapeño and onions on the stove top first as the recipe directs. Also, I’m not sure if the amount of liquid would differ at all with a rice cooker, so just make certain to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

      - Jenn on June 6, 2016 Reply
      • Thanks Jenn. Also, just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your recipes. Everything I’ve tried has been terrific. Keep up the great work!

        - Jane on June 6, 2016 Reply
  • We all hate cilantro in my family ( think Ivory Soap). Can I just leave it out or should I substitute something else?

    - Lisa Ring on May 26, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Lisa, It’s perfectly fine to leave it out. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on May 26, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Easy to make and delicious. I realized I didn’t have peas so I substituted frozen diced carrots and corn. Turned out great.

    - Jill on May 24, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This rice recepe is wonderful! I used brown rice (didn’t have white rice) , it came out delicious. The family loved it. Thank you for posting this recepe. This one is a keeper!

    - Alla on May 9, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Perfect! just the way it is. My picky eaters even loved it. Made it for Cinco de Mayo and it was a HIT!

    - ARLENE on May 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was the best Mexican rice it turned out perfect!

    - Amy on April 30, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Is there any way I can substitute the packaged par boiled rice for a regular rice (like the kinds used for your perfect basmati and the basmati with the dried fruit.) Or can I parboil the regular rice to be like how I would get it already packaged? Does that make sense? Many thanks in advance.

    - Karen on March 12, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Karen, You can just use standard white rice here. Sorry if the mention of parboiled rice confused you- I’ve updated the recipe!

      - Jenn on March 14, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Could this recipe be made with brown rice and vegetable broth?


    - Mariana on March 6, 2016 Reply
    • Yes and yes! Hope you enjoy-

      - Jenn on March 7, 2016 Reply
  • I am finding difficulty printing out your recipes….sorry I’m old school!….:)

    - Marlene Butler on February 25, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Marlene, Are you clicking on the print tab at the top of the recipe?

      - Jenn on February 25, 2016 Reply
  • Hello! Can I substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock? I am cooking for a non-meat eating crowd, and want to be sure it’s going to turn out delicious before I try the recipe. Thanks!

    - Cheryl Bonifant on January 16, 2016 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on January 16, 2016 Reply
  • Hi. Would you suggest basmati or jasmine rice as an alternative for long grain rice in the pilaf? Nicole

    - Nicole on January 14, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Nicole, You could easily use either of those– just look at the package as you may need to adjust the cooking time for the rice.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • Looks great! Would brown rice be a good sub here, or do you think the tomato paste etc would overcook due to the longer cooking time of brown rice?

    - Erika on October 25, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Erika, I think brown rice would work well. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on October 25, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and used the whole pepper. Delicious!

    - L Gordon on August 26, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Could this be made ahead and reheated for dinner?

    - Mary on August 24, 2015 Reply
    • Absolutely 🙂

      - Jenn on August 24, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Think it would be ok to double, even triple the recipe? I’m having a party with about 18. Thanks for the delicious recipes!

    - Jamie on August 5, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Jamie, I’d say double it — somehow tripling recipes never works out! Or you could make two double batches in separate pots.

      - Jenn on August 5, 2015 Reply
      • Will do. Thanks a bunch

        - Jamie on August 5, 2015 Reply
  • how long do you parboil the rice?

    - Cheryl on August 1, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, There is no need to parboil the rice.

      - Jenn on August 3, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this last night for our Mexican dinner, we had a few extra people that I didn’t plan for so needed extra bulk!

    This was so simple to make and tasted really good. So glad I’m finding use for all my farm grown cilantro too!!

    - Ruth on July 23, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was lovely. To start with, I followed your recipe completely – no changes – and I rate the recipe a definite “5.” 🙂 However, to make use of some other ingredients I wanted to use up, I stirred in: pre-cooked Quinoa, Haricot Beans, Lentils and Spinach. This was served with your Peruvian Chicken and French Green Beans. These are the first three recipes I have ever followed from your website, and I am wowed by how delicious they all were! Thank you for your terrific work. Looking forward to trying some of your amazing looking desserts. 🙂 Bisous from Belgium!

    - Hannah, an Australian in Belgium on July 16, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this last night with chicken tacos. I also served a side of black beans. Made for a very full yummy plate. It’s a enjoyable side dish for all palates.

    - Tori on March 24, 2015 Reply
  • Regarding partially used cans of tomato paste: I measure out approximately 1 tablespoon portions, freeze them until firm, and keep the frozen paste in a freezer bag in the freezer. When I need just a small amount of paste I use that rather than opening another can. The frozen tomato paste melts easily in a warm stew or soup or you can microwave it until it is soft.

    - Judy on February 5, 2015 Reply
  • Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video
    to ake your point. Yoou obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos too your weblog when you could
    be giving us somethkng informative to read?

    - on August 18, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was a big hit last night! Perfect with a grilled steak and sauteed spinach! You are my “go to” gal when it comes to finding new recipes!

    - Beth on August 7, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this tonight and it is a winner. Everyone loved it. No leftovers. I’ll make it again.

    - Suzan on July 8, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Very easy and tastes just like what you get in a Mexican restaurant. Really doesn’t have much heat with just the green parts of the jalapeno, so next time I will add some of the ribs and seeds. Otherwise perfect as is!

    - Sandy on July 5, 2014 Reply
  • 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!!

    - Karen on February 3, 2014 Reply
  • 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.

    - Alex Nihmey on January 29, 2014 Reply
  • 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.

    - Marji on January 24, 2014 Reply
    • 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.

      - Jenn on January 25, 2014 Reply
  • Glad to have this recipe—I was looking for one like this last week. I try this one next time. Thanks.

    - Amy on January 23, 2014 Reply
  • I would like to see every recipe list the nutrition values.

    - Janice M on January 23, 2014 Reply
  • Think we could make it with quinoa? One if my kids has a rice allergy, thanks.

    - Lynn on January 23, 2014 Reply
    • 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!

      - Jenn on January 23, 2014 Reply

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