Mexican Rice

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Infused with garlic, onions and spices, this Mexican rice tastes just like the one from your favorite Mexican restaurant.

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 good enough for me! I typically serve it with my Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, Peruvian Chicken, or Chicken Chili.

What you’ll need to make Mexican Rice ingredients

How to make Mexican Rice

Begin by finely chopping the onion and mincing the jalapeño pepper. To keep the rice on the mild side, cut the flesh of the jalapeño pepper away from the seeds, ribs, 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 broth 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-from-Once-Upon-a-ChefYou may also like

Mexican Rice

Infused with garlic, onions and spices, this Mexican rice tastes just like the one from your favorite Mexican restaurant.

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
  • 1½ cups white long grain rice, such as Uncle Ben's Original
  • 3⅓ cups low sodium chicken broth (see note*)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • ¼ 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.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This rice can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. (Putting it in a flat layer in sealable plastic bags works well as it will take up less space in the freezer.) No need to thaw before reheating; remove it from the freezer and reheat in the microwave with 1 to 2 Tbsp. of water.

Nutrition Information

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  • 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

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Going to a Mexican party and I was asked to make black beans and rice. Can I simply add black beans to this recipe? Would I need to add additional liquid or seasoning? Looks delicious. Thx in advance.

    • — Debra Davis on July 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, assuming you’re using canned beans, I would just add them along with the peas, cilantro, and lime juice. (And you may want to just swap the peas for black beans). You shouldn’t need any additional seasoning. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on July 19, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen!
    I would need to leave out the garlic due to allergies, how much would that effect the taste? And would this pair well with your Moroccan spiced grilled chicken?
    Thanks so much, loving your new cookbook!

    • — Laurie S on May 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie, leaving out the garlic will have a bit of an impact on the taste but there are a lot of other seasonings and aromatics here, so it should still have plenty of flavor. Feel free to add just a little more onion if you’d like. And I’m not certain that this would pair perfectly with the Moroccan grilled chicken. You may want to try this instead. Hope you enjoy whatever you make!

      (And so glad you like the cookbook!) 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can I use tomato sauce if I don’t have paste?

    • — Antissia LeMalle on February 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • You can, but it won’t add as much tomato flavor.

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi, would pickled jalapeños work for this or would they spoil the taste in the recipe? I would like to use up my jar of them and am considering soaking them in water to dull down the pickled flavour but not sure it will be enough to give the same taste as your recipe. Thanks!

        • — Lindsey on June 9, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Lindsey, They will give the rice a slightly different flavor, but I think you can get away with it. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you use them!

          • — Jenn on June 9, 2022
          • Reply
  • Jenn, I always use the concentrated tomato paste in the tube, have never reduced the amount , and have had no problems. Can I do it in this recipe?

    • — Carol Winkelman on January 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 21, 2022
      • Reply
      • Followed recipe, upping the peas a little, for a WONDERFUL Mexican rice to go with the Peruvian Chicken. Perfect pairing. Made the day before and reheated in the microwave. Going to have left overs tonight with some grated cheddar cheese on top. Should be yummy

        • — Carol Winkelman on January 31, 2022
        • Reply
  • Yum!!! Followed exactly. Came out great.

    • — JR on December 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Makes a lot! Wonderful flavour to this rice. I made it ahead of time and just re-heated as suggested. Perfect side dish with the beef enchiladas and Jen’s amazing creme brulee. Perfect dinner party with a big jug of white sangria. We almost felt like we were in Mexico, feeling warm and sharing with good friends. Jen is my “go-to” party planner every time. This meal won rave reviews all around.

    • — Judi on November 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious and not too fiddly

    • — Meryl on November 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Can this recipe be doubled easily?

    Thank you!

    • — Michelle on September 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Recipe was super easy and turned out so well! This is my new “go to” Mexican rice!

    • — Terri on August 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved this. Will make again!

    • — Danielle on July 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe! We served with the Street-Stle Shrimp Tacos and our guests raved about the dinner. Don’t skip the peas!

    • — Carol on May 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was a big hit at my dinner table. I have served it twice, and both times, everyone liked it. I made it in my rice cooker the second time

    • — Christi on May 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Any tips for making this in a rice cooker?

    • — Marybeth Fiden on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Marybeth, I don’t have experience using 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. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2021
      • Reply
    • Hi Marybeth! I just tried this tonight in my rice cooker, and it turned out great. I have an Aroma brand 12-cup rice cooker with sauté then simmer feature. I followed the stove top directions by cooking the onion, etc. in the rice cooker pot on sauté, then when it was time to add the liquid broth and spices, I just started the white rice cooking cycle. I will say that the cooking time was longer than when I make plain white rice, but it was so fluffy and delicious!

      • — Christi on May 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • This rice dish has become a regular for me! So tasty and so easy! Quite often I use the spice flavours to mix up a wee rub and cook up either prawns or chicken as an addition.

    I honestly have never had an ‘off’ recipe with you Jenn, and I really appreciate how I can save my recipes on your site. So helpful! Thanks so much!

    • — Penelope on April 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this last night to go with the Peruvian chicken. Never having made Mexican rice except for out of the box I was not sure what to expect, and quite honestly was worried that it would lack flavor, but it was delicious!! My picky 2 year old took one bite and said “mmmmmm”. Subsequently proceeded to eat a larger portion than me! I followed the recipe to a T and it turned out perfect! Will definitely make this again 🙂

    • — Margaret on March 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This rice is fantastic. I did not use peas (not a fan).

    • — Grace on March 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the best Mexican rice ever – Great with beef enchiladas. I can also see adding some sautéed chopped Portuguese chorizos and some garlic shrimp to make a MacGuyver paella.

    • — Marilyn Segal on March 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • My rice turned out mushy but it was still delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

    • — Leo on February 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • I reduced the liquid to match what the rice package said (3 cups) but I had to cook it way longer and it was quite mushy. The flavor was excellent though. Not sure where I went wrong on the liquid/cooking.

    • — Donna on February 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Donna, Sorry you had a problem with this! Why did you cook the rice for extra time? Was it because there was excess water or because the rice was still too firm after 20 minutes?

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was a hit.
    Didn’t have chili powder so I added paprika and I didn’t have the lime but still delish!! It’s a make again👍🏻

    • — Lori on February 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Y’all. This Mexican rice is THE BEST. Like better than restaurant best. I will say that we omitted the jalapeño and peas (I don’t like spicy and my husband doesn’t like peas.) It also took us a little longer than stated, but that always happens when you’re following a recipe. My husband said “That’s the best Spanish rice I’ve had.” And we live in South Texas so that’s saying something. This will definitely be on the menu again!

    • — Heather on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This Mexican Rice is absolutely delicious! The only thing that I did differently from your recipe is leaving out the cilantro. I am in the club of people that cilantro tastes like soap, but hey Ina Garten is in the club so I have great company! 🤣 Thank you for another tested and perfected recipe.

    • — Lisa Vivion on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • I read a scientific article that said liking or hating cilantro is genetic. One can’t “learn” to like cilantro – it’s definitely in our genetic code! Thankfully, I absolutely love the fresh, clean taste of cilantro but my son says it tastes like dirt to him.

      • — Susan P. West Kelowna, BC Canada on January 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • Made this recipe to enjoy with your beef enchiladas. Used only a 1/2 of a jalapeño because that’s all I had. Kept rest of recipe the same. I was unsure if I should wash the rice beforehand but I decided not to & it turned out fine-but should I have washed it?!? 20mins was fine with the chicken broth as noted in your recipe.

    • — TracyV on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Tracy, No need to rinse the rice. 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • This rice turned out amazing! My mother in law is Dominican and has been making her mother’s rice recipe for 50+ years and it’s the best rice I’ve ever had. She has shown me several times how she makes it but when I make it it just never tastes the same. I think with this recipe I’ve gotten closer to it! It was so flavorful! Although it wasn’t my mother in laws rice it was still delicious and even she thought so! I will just follow this recipe from now on! Thank you for so many flavor filled recipes! Every one of your recipes that I’ve tried so far have come out fantastic and were loved by my family!

    • — Julie on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved it! Made it with your Beef Enchiladas and it was a perfect combination. Loved the peas in the recipe!

    • — Lisa on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this to accompany the Beef Enchiladas recipe found on this site. The rice was excellent, and it was very easy to double the recipe. The combination of seasonings was just right for me. Next time I’ll leave the seeds in to make it a little spicier for my daughter. It also reheated well with a bit of water to prevent it from burning.

    • — Deb on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I love your site and recipes! I am planning on making this Mexican rice and was wondering if I could make it a day ahead of time and if yes, what would be the best way to reheat? One more question: I’m getting ready to renovate my kitchen and love your counter tops! Would you mind letting me know what kind of counter tops they are? Love the tile back splash as well. Did you use a grey-ish grout? Thank you so very much in advance!
    Rebecca Peerless

    • — Rebecca Peerless on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, so glad you like the recipes! Yes, it’s fine to make this a day ahead and I’d just reheat it in the microwave. And my kitchen counters are Calacatta Gold Marble (That’s been honed). The tile backsplash is what I would call greige (a combination of gray and beige). Good luck with your kitchen renovation!

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks so much, Jenn! I sure appreciate you getting back with me!

        • — Rebecca A Peerless on February 6, 2021
        • Reply
  • This recipe is perfect! Just the right spiciness, rich flavor. I will make this again and again.

    • — PATRICIA KIRBY on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another great keeper. Excellent with the Beef Enchiladas!

    • — Wayne on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • made this for my family and it was a hit… thank you.
    m. s

    • — MASI SHOP on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hey Jen,

    I just made this for dinner tonight. It was delicious and so easy! I served it with sour cream and left over chicken. Only modifications I made were that I added an extra clove of garlic and added a bit of paprika to it. Many thanks to you for yet another great recipe that my husband and I both enjoy! (He is a picky eater.) 🙂 Definitely making it again.

    • — Swati on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious!!! Made it for dinner tonight with your “Savoury cornbread with cheddar & thyme” for our Mexican fiesta. Both recipes were devoured.
    Once again, thanks for providing delicious recipes.

    • — Nancy on December 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Amazing!! Every recipe I have made from your site has been delicious.
    Thank you for giving me the confidence I need to keep cooking yummy meals
    For my family!!!

    • — Claudia on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • 💓

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Could you please tell me what size pot your using here?
    And is it an All-Clad?
    Thank you

    • — Cari on November 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Cari, It’s actually Analon and I believe it’s 5 quarts.

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • I must say this Mexican rice was as good or better than I have ever had at a Mexican restaurant.

    • — Greg and Sherry Heiden on October 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn this rice was fantastic light and fluffy was surprised that it had peas in it that was a first we live in Petaluma California and as you might imagine Mexican food is very popular here. We just loved it. I make enchiladas often and mix it up all the time it is one of those things you can be very creative with. I wondered if you make homemade tortillas. If not, you must. They are out of this world. better than store-bought and very easy to make. Love to hear from you and I am still trying to get another test dish or two before your cutoff. Thanks again for all the great recipes. Greg and Sherry Heiden

    • — Greg and Sherry Heiden on October 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you liked this (and thanks for participating in the recipe testing)! I do have a homemade corn tortilla recipe here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • Would this recipe work well with Basmati Rice?

    • — Heather on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure (although use the amount of liquid called for on the basmati rice package). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • This dish was a hit as a side to my beef fajitas. I used concentrated tomato paste, so I cut that by half. I also cut the long grain rice to 1 cup and the chicken broth to 2 cups and omitted the peas. Everything else stayed the same since we like things spicy. After fluffing the rice and stirring in the lime and cilantro, I let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes or so (without the lid) to dry out a bit. This step is crucial and will keep the rice from being gummy. This will be in regular rotation at my house. Thanks for the recipe!

  • This was amazing. Made just as the recipe says (although I halved it as I was only feeding 3). Perfect amount, perfect flavor.

  • Super easy and delicious. Halved the recipe and was perfect for two. Served with Peruvian-Style Roasted Chicken recipe – I recommend! I used regular Jasmine rice, which is 1 part rice to 1.25 parts liquid. So basically, I used way less liquid.

  • Quick, easy, full of flavor and absolutely delicious! It quickly became my fave go to lunch dish, especially with paratha bread. Side note: the picture description above says “add the water and seasoning and bring to a boil” (not broth).

    • So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for pointing out that error (I just fixed it)! 🙂

  • This rice came out very sticky and when I looked at the ratio of rice-liquid with your basmati rice pilaf, there is almost one cup more liquid with the Mexican rice recipe (not including the tomato paste) compared to the basmati pilaf.
    I have used converted rice for years but never with this rice-liquid ratio.
    Is the Mexican rice supposed to be sticky like this.

    Im going to make the Mexican rice with the basmati ratio and let you know how it comes out!
    Be safe!

  • Could you tell me what brand of rice you usually use for this recipe. Can’t thank you enough for this site.

    • Hi Donna, I use Uncle Ben’s. Glad you like the site!

  • I made this rice many times, it became a staple in my house. Thank you Jen!

  • Would adjustments need to be made if using brown rice instead of white? If so, what? Thanks!!

    • Hi Susan, Yes you would definitely need to make adjustments to the amount of chicken broth and the cook time. I would follow the instructions on the package for liquid to rice ratio and cook time. Hope it turns out well!

  • This rice is so good that I often just eat it as a main dish instead of side. I just sprinkle a few pinches of shredded cheese on top and it can be delicious as a main course. I usually omit the peas at the end because I’m not a fan of them and I find it taste more authentic without. For years, I made a different spanish rice recipe to accompany my spanish dishes, but I’ve replaced it with this one instead because the taste is so much better. The blend of lime and cilantro in the dish is excellent!

  • Loved it! Easy to prepare and paired with the Chicken Enchiladas on your blog.

    • It was a hit, even with a couple picky eaters! I didn’t have peas but it was awesome without them! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Made this with Jen’s Stacked Beef Enchiladas and Cilantro Lime Sweet Corn recipes. This was perfect as is. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks!

  • Made this last night to take to a family taco dinner (along with your Chicken Quesadillas) and it was a big hit. Both dishes were prepared ahead of time, and reheated beautifully. One guest doesn’t care for the taste of peas, so I substituted a frozen Tex-Mex vegetable blend with corn, red & green bell peppers and onions. I also used a combination of cilantro and parsley instead of just cilantro, which can sometimes be overpowering. The flavor and texture of the dish was great, and the large jalapeno was just the right amount of heat. Will definitely make this one again!

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