Mexican Rice

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Looking for a flavorful side dish to complement your favorite Mexican meals? Try this easy-to-make Mexican rice recipe featuring long-grain rice cooked in a tomato-based broth with onions, garlic, and spices.

Wooden spoon in a pot of Mexican rice.

If you’re a fan of homemade Mexican food, a good Mexican rice recipe is a must. Often referred to as Spanish rice or “arroz rojo,” this classic dish features long-grain rice simmered in a tomato-infused broth, seasoned with onions, garlic, cumin, and chili powder — lending it that iconic reddish-orange color. While my version might not be 100% traditional, my kids swear it’s just as delicious as the rice from our favorite local Mexican spot. It’s my go-to side for dishes like beef enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, beef tacos, chicken fajitas, and carne asada.

“Hubby said, “do not change a thing!” So excited that this can be frozen and ready in an instant. Just perfect for Cinco de Mayo—or any day!”

Karen

What You’ll Need To Make Mexican Rice

ingredients to make Mexican rice

  • Onion, Jalapeño Pepper, and Garlic: The base aromatics that provide depth and a hint of spice to the rice.
  • Tomato Paste: Adds a concentrated tomato flavor and rich color, essential for that signature Mexican rice taste.
  • Rice: White long grain rice is preferred because it cooks up fluffier and less sticky than shorter grains, ensuring each grain remains distinct and absorbs the flavorful broth without becoming mushy.
  • Chicken Broth: Used instead of water to cook the rice, it enriches the dish with more flavor.
  • Chili Powder and Cumin: These spices are key for adding the warm, smoky notes characteristic of Mexican cuisine.
  • Frozen Peas: Add a pop of sweetness and color, making the dish more vibrant and balanced.
  • Cilantro: Brings freshness and a bright note to finish the dish.
  • Fresh Lime Juice: A splash brightens up all the flavors.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

Pro Tip: 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.

cooking the onion and jalapeno in oil

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

adding the rice and tomato paste

Add the seasoning.

sautéed rice with seasoning

Then add the chicken broth.

Chicken broth pouring into a pot of rice.

Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.

tender Mexican rice in pot after cooking

Add the peas, cilantro, and fresh lime juice.

adding the peas and lime

Stir to combine, then serve the dish with lime wedges.

Mexican rice in pot

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Mexican rice be frozen for later use?

Absolutely! Mexican rice freezes beautifully. Just place it in an airtight container or spread it out in a flat layer inside sealable plastic bags—this method saves space in your freezer. It can be stored like this for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, there’s no need to thaw; simply reheat it directly from frozen in the microwave, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to help rehydrate and prevent it from drying out.

Can Mexican rice be made ahead of time?

Yes, Mexican rice is a great candidate for making ahead of time. Prepare it as you would normally, let it cool completely, then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will keep well for 3 to 5 days. When you’re ready to serve it, reheat it on the stove over low heat with a splash of water or broth to keep it moist, or microwave it, covered, with a little added water to refresh its texture.

Why is my Mexican rice mushy?

Mushy rice often results from too much liquid or overcooking. It’s important to use the correct ratio of liquid to rice, and different brands require a little less or a little more liquid, which is why I recommend checking the package for specific cooking instructions. It’s also important to use long grain rice because it contains less starch compared to short grain varieties. Long grain rice tends to remain separate and fluffy after cooking, rather than clumping together, which is key for the perfect texture in Mexican rice. Ensuring that you’re using the right type of rice and adjusting the liquid according to the brand’s instructions can help prevent your rice from becoming mushy.

Wooden spoon in a pot of Mexican rice.

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Video Tutorial

Mexican Rice

Looking for a flavorful side dish to complement your favorite Mexican meals? Try this easy-to-make Mexican rice recipe featuring long-grain rice cooked in a tomato-based broth with onions, garlic, and spices.

Servings: 6
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Instructions

  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. Make-Ahead/Freezing Instructions: Mexican rice can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve it, reheat it on the stove over low heat with a splash of water or broth to keep it moist, or microwave it, covered, with a little added water to refresh its texture. This rice can also 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.) If reheating in the microwave, there is no need to thaw before serving; simply remove it from the freezer and reheat in the microwave with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

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

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, Edamam.com. 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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Comments

  • This turned out so great! It tastes just like the Mexican restaurant I’ve been going to since childhood. I didn’t have peas on hand, but I will definitely add them next time, that would have been a nice touch of sweetness.

    • — Carly on May 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Amanda, Thanks for your feedback and I’m sorry you’re seeing too many ads! I know from being on other websites how frustrating it can be. If you’d like, you can install an adblocker on whatever browser you use. I tried it and it really works! You still see some unobtrusive ads, but it’s a much better experience. It will also eliminate annoying ads on all websites you visit — not just mine. The only downside is that it blocks the videos too, and unfortunately, there is no way around that.

    Another option is to view the recipe as if you were going to print it. That will remove all the ads. So, you’d go through the process of preparing to print a recipe and just view it that way. Hope those options help!

    • — Jenn on May 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • I also made this to go along with the beef enchiladas, I was a bit concerned because whenever I have done Mexican Rice, in the past it has failed. I cut the recipe in half but it worked out perfect. Of course I did it exactly as you posted in the recipe. Why would I change anything..sheer perfection, as always. You truly are the best!

    • — Connie on May 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • Excellent!!
    I did not have tomato paste on hand so I used mild taco sauce instead which added a nice savory touch.

    • — Leah Schmucker on April 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • Fabulous side dish. I was eating leftovers cold out of the fridge the next day!

    • — Colleen on April 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’m going to make this for a girls weekend. Instead of peas could I use black beans? Has anyone tried this?

    • — Kathy on March 20, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure! I’ve never used them, but others can weigh in if they have.

      • — Jenn on March 20, 2024
      • Reply
  • Have been looking for a tasty mexican rice recipe and this one is the best I have found

    My family loved it!

    • — Janice Armour on February 22, 2024
    • Reply
  • Thank you for another flavorful dish.

    • — SeeWee on February 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • Excellent and easy to make. I used 1.5 cups pre-rinsed basmati rice with 3 cups of chicken broth. I used a little too much jalapeño seeds but it was still good! Served with chicken thighs.

    • — Annie on October 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • My family LOVED this recipe. The rice was bold and flavorful.

    • — RJ Sparks on October 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Anyone else’s rice was soggy? Not sure what I did wrong.

    • — EZ on October 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Looking forward to trying this. Can it be made in a rice cooker?

    • — Judy on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Judy, It really depends on your rice cooker – if it has a sauté function, it will work.

      • — Jenn on September 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious and easy to make. Even better the next day. This recipe is a staple in our house.

    • — Helena on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • How big is a serving?

    • — Helen on June 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Helen, I’d guesstimate a serving would be about 3/4 cup.

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2023
      • Reply
    • Hi Jen, this is my go to recipe for Mexican rice. I’ve also adapted it to use with cauliflower rice rice to accommodate our low carb lifestyle and its is great both ways! Thanks for another great recipe

      • — Dawn on August 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • Another great recipe to add to my menu!! Loved it! Thank you again for such easy and delicious recipes!!

    • — Kari on May 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I would like to make this with brown rice next time. What modifications would I make? Thanks!

    • — Monica on May 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it, Monica! If you’d like to use brown rice, I’d make the recipe as directed, but once you add the rice, follow the instructions on the box for how long it should be cooked along with the chicken broth, etc. Please LMK how it turns out with brown rice!

      • — Jenn on May 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Wow, will definitely be making this again. Absolutely delicious, followed recipe and paired it with the beef enchiladas. Cinco de Mayo could not have been better.

    • — Eileen on May 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • This dish was delicious, I didn’t have any jalapeños or peas and it was still turned out great.

    • — Sue on May 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, first time visitor here, and I loved this recipe. I knocked the fluid down to 3 cups, but otherwise made it as written. It was a big hit with our holiday crowd here. I particularly liked the heat and eye appeal. I was skeptical of the peas – but they’re a keeper!

    I wouldn’t suggest you change anything, but I found frying the uncooked rice with the tomato paste and garlic a bit odd. I may change things around process-wise and see if there’s any difference. Less caramelization of the paste, more toastiness to the rice. Nonetheless, I leave this comment because I’m a foodie, not a critic. This recipe is a great base for experimentation, and I’m going to forward it to several friends because of this. Thanks a lot!

    • — Jon Richt on May 5, 2023
    • Reply
    • That’s one of the things I love about Jenn’s recipes! They’re so versatile!

      • — Frenchiecookingmama on September 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • I love your recipes and have passed your information on to a number of friends. However is there any way that the potassium levels in your recipes can be included as my husband is now on a low potassium diet. I am sure this would be more than helpful to many with kidney disease and to their families. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes over the years.

    • — Rose Marie on May 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Rose, I use an online tool called Edamam to calculate nutritional information for my recipes. Unfortunately, if I included all the different nutritional requests that I get from readers on various diets, it would take up too much space on the site–I’m sorry! If you ever have a question about a specific recipe, Edamam is free to use (and does include the values for potassium), so feel free to plug the recipe ingredients in and you’ll know whether or not it will work for you. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hubby said, “do not change a thing!” So excited that this can be frozen and ready in an instant. Just perfect for Cinco de Mayo – or any day!

    • — Karen on April 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • I married into a Mexican family. They all make Mexican rice by first browning the rice in oil, adding the onion and garlic to sauce and then mixing in the other ingredients. The heat is an addition on the side, such as pica de gallo.
    Your recipe sounds delicious and I will try it your way.
    Joanna

    • — Joanna Evans on April 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • So I have never been able to make good mexican rice, can make a gnarly fried rice, but for some reasom struggled w Mexican rice. I didnt have peas, cilantro or lime juice (substituted lemon juice) and did not have onion. Also used sliced jalapenos in the jar… still the best rice I have ever made!!! So stinking good, thank you!

    • — Beckie on April 28, 2023
    • Reply
    • Everything I try from your recipes turns out great!
      This was delicious and that’s even after I forgot lime juice at end. Not sure the peas add much, but made this recipe as written.
      Thanks Jenn, I’ll enjoy this tomorrow on Cinco de mayo

      • — Bruce Ruberti on May 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is the most flavorful Mexican Rice recipe. I’m planning on making it for a Mexican-themed shower for 40 people. The seasonings are great. Another score for Jenn!

    • — Peggy on April 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • This rice was flavorful but very gummy. How can I prevent that in the future? How long should it sit with the lid off?

    • — Debbie Krakower on February 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, I’m sorry it came out gummy for you! It doesn’t have anything to do with how long the lid is off before serving. Rather, it sounds like you may have used too much broth; some rice brands will require a little less or a little more liquid; check the package for specific instructions next time you make this.

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • Everyone at family dinner loved this rice!
    I substituted pickled jalapeños for the fresh and veggie broth for the chicken broth.
    It’s a keeper!

    • — Sue Aylesworth on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • What is the best size slow cooker to make the traditional 10 serving recipe? I have a large oval and a slightly smaller round crock pot- thank you

    • — Laura Kasinski on October 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, I would guess that you’ll probably need a 4 to 5-quart-sized slow cooker. If you’ve made rice in a slow cooker successfully, I’d say go for it, but keep in mind that I’ve never cooked rice in one. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was nice, but a little lacking in seasoning and salt. Maybe adding chorizo next time will help. Great texture though.

    • — Nicky on September 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made a double recipe to take to a ten year vacation anniversary gathering. I used basmati rice and it was super!! Thought we’d have leftovers for home…not so much!

    • — Pat on August 20, 2022
    • Reply

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