Mexican Rice is a perfect compliment to any South-of-the-Border menu items. It’s easy to make and can be as spicy as you like. And it’s made in one skillet for easy cleanup.
If you are ever looking for a tasty side dish to go with spicy Mexican food, this is it. I’ve recently made this a couple of times to go along with some delicious tamales.
Now I’m not a tamale maker myself, but have discovered a fabulous frozen tamale made by the Texas Tamale Company. Just place the frozen tamales into a steamer basket and steam for 15 minutes and you’ve got spicy good tamales in minutes. Look for these in your grocer’s frozen food section…they are packaged in a cloth bag containing a dozen tamales.
You can also serve the Mexican rice with tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, carne asada, and refried beans. Anytime that Mexican cuisine is on the menu.
Ingredients For Mexican Rice
First off, the rice to use is long-grain white rice and I recommend using basmati or jasmine. These cook fast and are less starchy so the grains stay separated and easy to fluff up. They also cook in about 15 minutes. You could use brown rice but that takes much longer to cook.
The remaining ingredients are canola oil (vegetable oil), minced garlic, diced onion, chicken broth, minced jalapeno pepper, salt, cumin, cilantro, and a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes. And, it all gets cooked in one skillet.
The chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth or caldo de tomate. If you are unfamiliar with caldo de tomate, it is tomato bouillon and can usually be found in the Mexican food aisle of your grocery store. Using it will give your rice an orange color and a more distinct tomato flavor.
The garlic, onion, and especially the cumin give the Mexican rice its great flavors. For the spice, I use one good-sized jalapeno pepper. If you like it spicier, you could add another jalapeno, chili powder, or even a bit of cayenne pepper if desired.
Give the dish a taste once it is about done to fine-tune the flavor. I added a bit more cumin, (1/2 tsp.), and a pinch more salt. The canned tomatoes I used were “no salt added.”
Step By Step Cooking Process
Start with a good-sized, high-sided skillet and add the canola oil and onion. Cook on medium-low for 3 or 4 minutes for them to become opaque. Raise the temperature to medium heat and add the rice and stir it around and allow the grains to become translucent and slightly brown. This will take another 5 or 6 minutes.
Next, add the jalapeno and cook for a couple of minutes then add the garlic. Stir that in and it will become fragrant in about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, salt, and cumin. (Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth or tomato bouillon instead of chicken broth). Bring that to a slight boil, then turn the heat down to simmer, covered for 15 to 18 minutes. Check the progress after 12 minutes or so to make sure it is simmering and you have enough liquid to cook the rice. Right near the end of cooking, I added 2 or 3 tablespoons of water since the broth had nearly evaporated or had been absorbed.
Taste the rice and add salt and more cumin if needed. Then remove the skillet from the heat and cover to rest for 10 minutes. After that, you can fluff the rice with a fork, sprinkle it with some chopped cilantro and serve.
Extra cilantro and some lime wedges can be served on the side.
Ideas for Leftover Rice
Since this recipe makes enough Mexican rice for 4 people, we always have leftovers. So here are some thoughts on how to use them. Or, just incorporate this recipe to make the following dishes.
- Add some protein like ground meats or black beans and make a main course meal out of the rice dish.
- Make burritos by mixing in black beans, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or cheese. Wrap it in a flour tortilla with a dash more hot sauce.
- Stuffed Bell Peppers. Add some cooked ground beef or chicken and mix in some melty cheese like queso quesadilla or mild cheddar.
- Make some Stuffed Pepper Soup using this recipe, (link opens in a new tab), from Spend with Pennies as a guide.
- Make burrito bowls having rice in the bottom and top with fresh tomatoes, pico de gallo, black beans, avocado, and cheese
- Leftover rice can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop by adding a bit more broth or water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the rice get fried before the liquid is added?
By frying the rice, it gets slightly toasted and this will cook some of the starches it contains. This will result in less sticky and more fluffy rice.
What is the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican rice?
Mexican rice normally has a more reddish-orange color due to the tomato products used, (arroz rojo which is red rice). Spanish rice has a yellow appearance due to the saffron which is normally added.
What causes mushy rice?
Mushy rice is usually caused by overcooking. The rice absorbs too much water making it sticky and mushy. To prevent this, it is a good idea to check the doneness of the rice when it is nearing completion.
Try this easy Mexican rice recipe and I hope it reminds you of your favorite Mexican restaurant. Its a great side dish to any of your favorite Mexican recipes. And it would be perfect for Taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo.
How To Make Homemade Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup fine diced onion, (1/2 yellow onion)
- 1 cup long grain white rice like basmati or jasmine, uncooked
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 ounces size
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and more for serving
- Use a large, high sided skillet on medium low heat and add the vegetable oil and onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they become opaque.
- Turn your stove to medium to medium-high heat and add the uncooked rice stirring occasionally until the rice begins to brown and toast, 5 to 7 minutes. Then stir in the jalapeno pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Next, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, salt and cumin and turn up the heat to get to boiling. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 15 to 18 minutes until the rice is tender. Check the skillet after 12 minutes to make sure you have a simmer and to make sure there is enough liquid to cook the rice. You may have to add 2 or 3 tablespoons more broth, (or water).
- Taste the rice and add salt or cumin as desired. Remove from the heat and keep covered 10 minutes to rest. Then use a fork to fluff the rice and then add the chopped cilantro and serve right away. Serve with more chopped cilantro and lime wedges if desired.
- Make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth or tomato bouillon rather than chicken broth.
- Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove in a saucepan by adding a bit more broth or water.