Mexican Rice

July 5, 2019

A perfect authentic Mexican Rice recipe! Never soggy, light and fluffy and deliciously flavorful, plus it’s super easy to make and also the perfect compliment to just about any Mexican entree. Just don’t forget to pair with refried beans or black beans of course!

Bowl full of Mexican Rice garnished with cilantro.

My Favorite Mexican Rice Recipe!

Over the years I’ve tried countless recipes for Mexican rice and this one is easily my favorite. I’ve tried using tomato sauce, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, but the rice always ends up mushy and sticky.

I think the key to the best authentic Mexican rice is using Caldo de Tomate (you can find it in the Latin section of the grocery store). It’s a tomato powder with added flavors). And now I add in one roma tomato for that fresh flavor too! If found you can sneak in just one without getting soggy rice.

I’ve probably made this rice 100 times. It’s just as good as what you’ll get at your favorite Mexican restaurant!

It’s a regular in our home and actually one of my kids favorite foods. Once you try it chances are it will become a staple recipe in your home too!

What do You Serve with It?

It’s the perfect side to Chicken Enchiladas, Grilled Chicken Street Tacos or Ground Beef Tacos, Chimichangas, Chicken Fajitas, and Quesadillas!

This homemade Mexican rice is delicious in burritos too or even add it to a tostada or salad. It goes with just about anything.

Ingredients needed to make Mexican Rice shown here.

Mexican Rice Ingredients:

  • Olive oil – a little is used to saute the rice. Vegetable oil works great too.
  • Long grain white rice – I’ve also made this with Jasmine rice and it tastes delicious.
  • Garlic – originally I made this with garlic powder but of course fresh garlic is even better!
  • Water – for even more flavor you could try unsalted vegetable broth.
  • Roma tomato – if you don’t have one on hand this can be made without, just increase water to 2 cups total.
  • Caldo de Tomate – I like the new Natural one that’s MSG free. Find it near the other latin ingredients at the store.
  • Onion powder, Chili Powder and Pepper – these spices add extra background flavor. Sometimes I’ll even add a little cumin too.

Finely chopped tomatoes and garlic on a cutting board with a knife on the side.

How to Make Mexican Rice:

  • Whisk together warm water, minced tomato, Caldo de Tomate, onion powder, chili powder, and black pepper. Set aside.

Showing how to make mexican rice. Mixing liquid ingredients and seasonings in a liquid measuring cup.

  • Heat olive oil in a medium non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and saute until opaque and lightly golden, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

Sautéing rice in a saucepan.

  • Pour water mixture in (careful, it will steam and sputter!). Stir once to level out rice (water should simmer right away if not bring it up to a simmer).

Adding liquid mixture to sautéed rice in saucepan.

  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Mexican rice after it has cooked.

  • Remove from heat, fluff with a fork. Cover and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Mexican rice in a saucepan once finished.

Can I Double or Halve the Recipe?

Yes you can double this recipe or halve the recipe. The key is using a pot to fit the volume. For double use a medium pot, for half use a small pot. Cook time will still be about the same.

How to Get the Perfect Texture of Rice?

I’ve found that the 1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp is the perfect amount of water here. Keep in mind though the way the lid fits on your pot and even your altitude could make a difference, so if you find your rice has a little excess liquid then next time reduce by 2 Tbsp, or if it doesn’t seem tender all the way through add a few extra tablespoons water the next time.

Close up of mexican rice in a bowl.

Tips for the Best Mexican Rice:

  • Saute rice first for added flavor.
  • Don’t uncover during cooking or the steam will escape and texture won’t be the same.
  • Cook over low heat otherwise bottom layer will burn.
  • Allow the rice to rest for a few minutes before serving it. This will make it extra fluffy and will ensure that every last bit of water is soaked up.
  • This Mexican rice is best enjoyed warm. It can sit covered for about 30 minutes once cooked.
  • Save leftovers, it keeps will refrigerated for a few days.

How to Make it Spicy?

Want a little kick? Add a minced jalapeno or serrano pepper in when sautéing the garlic. Or stir a 1/4 –  1/2 tsp cayenne pepper in with the water mixture.

How to Reheat Rice?

To prevent leftover rice from drying out, I recommend reheating it in the microwave with a little water spritzed over. You can also reheat rice in a skillet with a few tablespoons of water.

Mexican rice in a white serving bowl set over a wooden plate.

More Mexican Side Recipes You’ll Love:

Authentic Mexican Rice

4.73 from 18 votes

Easy Mexican rice that tastes just like what you'll find at Mexican restaurants. Great flavor, good texture and a recipe the whole family can agree on. Perfect side dish to all your favorite Mexican foods! Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Servings: 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 medium roma tomato, minced (heaping 1/3 cup)
  • 2 1/2 tsp Caldo de Tomate*
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (1 tsp)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together warm water, minced tomato, Caldo de Tomate, onion powder, chili powder, and black pepper. Set aside.

  2. Heat olive oil in a medium non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and saute until opaque and lightly golden, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

  3. Pour water mixture in (careful, it will steam and sputter!). Stir once to level out rice (water should simmer right away if not bring it up to a simmer).

  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes (you'll notice water bubbles stop coming to the surface).

  5. Remove from heat, fluff rice with a fork. Cover with lid and allow to rest 5 minutes off heat. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

  • I recommend Knorr Selects brand without MSG.
  • To prevent leftover rice from drying out, I recommend reheating it in the microwave spritzed or drizzled with a little water. You can also reheat rice in a skillet with 1 - 2 Tbsp of water.
  • Recipe has been updated, see notes below recipe for changes.
Nutrition Facts
Authentic Mexican Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 205 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Sodium 250mg11%
Potassium 53mg2%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 50IU1%
Calcium 17mg2%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Mexican Rice
Author: Jaclyn
Recipe originally shared April 2012. Photos have been updated and recipe has been updated to include a fresh tomato and fresh garlic.

Originally recipe listed 2 cups water and no tomato. And 1/2 tsp garlic powder in place of fresh garlic.

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136 Comments

  • Carley S

    I also agree that this recipe was extremely bland. It was disappointing because it was my first attempt since buying the Caldo de Tomate. It was also a titch too wet, even following the instructions making sure there aren’t anymore bubbles coming up. I’m going to try another recipe.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      If you are looking to boost flavor you can try adding 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (sauté 2 minutes before adding rice to sauté) and use 2 – 3 garlic cloves. And I will be honest the regular (not natural) Caldo de Tomato has more flavor but it does have added MSG so I opt for the natural. Then as far as moisture goes it sounds like it maybe needed to cook a little longer or rest a little longer. Sorry it didn’t turn out how you were hoping but with a few modifications I think it could be what you want :).

  • Doris

    This comment is for Susan who said the rice was bland. I will tell you how I made mine and maybe this will help. You have to toast rice in olive oil then add your garlic ( fresh and I use 2 cloves). i also add a small diced yellow onion. I do not use water… I use chicken broth. I did add the fresh plum tomato plus the Calde de Tomato. It was the best rice I have ever had bar none! I always make adjustments to suit my personal tastes but Jaclyn’s recipe is very good .

  • Susan

    While I appreciate the attempt of this author, this rice was extremely bland. I followed the recipe exactly. I also used 1 clove fresh garlic and 1 plum tomato. I tried to remedy it once it was nearly finished by adding 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp Caldo con savor de pollo (chicken broth). Nothing could save it. I’m not sure what other ingredient it was missing. Our Mexican restaurants serve rice that looks like this and has very mild flavor but the taste is completely different. I’ve tried multiple times to conjure up a recipe similar and thought I’d found it but it doesn’t seem to be the case. 😩

  • Naomi B.

    Another great recipe, Jacklyn! My son liked this better than my other Mexican Rice recipe and this has become the standard for us. One quick thing I wanted to add is that I normally double the recipe and freeze half. It warms up fantastic in the way you told us to rewarm AND saves a whole lot of time!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’d recommend buying it online, I haven’t been able to find a good substitute that doesn’t make the rice soggy.

    • Doris

      Calde de tomato is in Walmart. If you have a Walmart in your area it’s on the shelves. I have it in my pantry. Look in Hispanic section.