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!”


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


  • 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


  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, 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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  • Hi Jenn,
    can I make this recipe using cauliflower rice?


    • — Lisa on August 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it will work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
      • Reply
      • I definitely will let you know how it goes!

        Thank you 😊

        • — Lisa on August 15, 2022
        • Reply
      • Can l use jasmine rice instead of the Uncle Ben’s?

        • — Aracelis on March 19, 2023
        • Reply
        • Sure, just keep in mind the rice-to-water ratio and cook time may be a little different, so follow the instructions on the box. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on March 20, 2023
          • Reply
  • 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
      • have made this and loved the idea of swapping out the peas for black beans, same amount or should I up it a little>

        • — Carol on February 18, 2023
        • Reply
        • I’d stick with the same amount (but it certainly won’t hurt if you add a little more).

          • — Jenn on February 19, 2023
          • 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!

    • 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!) 🙂

  • Can I use tomato sauce if I don’t have paste?

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

      • 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!

        • 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, 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
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • 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
        • Reply
        • I’m planning the same for tomorrow night!

          • — Priya on January 25, 2024
          • Reply
  • Yum!!! Followed exactly. Came out great.

  • 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.

  • Absolutely delicious and not too fiddly

  • Hi Jenn,

    Can this recipe be doubled easily?

    Thank you!

  • Recipe was super easy and turned out so well! This is my new “go to” Mexican rice!

  • Loved this. Will make again!

  • Great recipe! We served with the Street-Stle Shrimp Tacos and our guests raved about the dinner. Don’t skip the peas!

  • 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

  • Any tips for making this in a rice cooker?

    • — Marybeth Fiden
    • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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 🙂

  • This rice is fantastic. I did not use peas (not a fan).

  • 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.

  • My rice turned out mushy but it was still delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • 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👍🏻

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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
      • Reply
    • I used to be in that club too, beginning in early childhood. Fast forward many years, and I married into a South Texas Mexican-American family. My mother in law used cilantro in many of her dishes and not wanting to risk being rude, I ate soap flavored food at many family meals until one day I realized the food didn’t taste like soap!
      Upon reading a scientific article 20+ years ago, I realized that some people, including me, have a reaction to an enzyme present in both cilantro and ANTS, which would explain why I remember, as a young child, telling my mom that certain foods “taste like ants smell.” This sounded like total nonsense to my mom at the time. What I learned from said article, is that the soapy taste some of us experience is nature’s way of warning us that we shouldn’t eat certain “poisonous” foods (or ants). Upon repeated exposure, our brain learns that cilantro is not poisoning us and the soap flavor disappears. I’m living proof, though I thought I’d be eating soap flavored food the rest of my life in an attempt to be polite. Now, however, cilantro is my very favorite herb…by far!

      • — Lollipop on November 19, 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.

    • Hi Tracy, No need to rinse the rice. 🙂

  • 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!

  • Loved it! Made it with your Beef Enchiladas and it was a perfect combination. Loved the peas in the recipe!

  • 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.

  • 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
    • 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!

      • Thanks so much, Jenn! I sure appreciate you getting back with me!

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

    • Reply
  • Another great keeper. Excellent with the Beef Enchiladas!

  • made this for my family and it was a hit… thank you.
    m. s

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

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

    • Hi Cari, It’s actually Analon and I believe it’s 5 quarts.

  • I must say this Mexican rice was as good or better than I have ever had at a Mexican restaurant.

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

  • Would this recipe work well with Basmati Rice?

    • Sure (although use the amount of liquid called for on the basmati rice package). Hope you enjoy!

  • 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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