The BEST, truly authentic Mexican rice is so easy to make, and a necessary side dish for all of your favorite Mexican recipes.

Having learned how to make this Mexican rice from locals in Puebla, Mexico, I can promise this recipe is the real deal!  Don’t miss my other popular Mexican recipes including Carne Asada Tacos, Esquites, and Chiles Relleño.

Authentic Mexican rice with carrots and peas, served in a bowl.

We never enjoy “Taco Tuesdays” without a side of this easy Mexican Rice that I learned to make while living in Puebla, Mexico during a college internship.

I was there with my husband, and we taught workshops to locals in the area that were interested in starting a small business. We met many amazing people while living there, including a chef who attended one of our workshops. I asked him if he’d teach me the right way to make a few authentic dishes, and he invited is into his home for a day.

We cooked up a storm, and I took detailed notes as we cooked this rice together, along with mole poblano, red and green salsas, and pozole

Ingredients Needed:

  • Long Grain White Rice: Washing the rice is crucial to remove the outer starch, allowing the rice to cook fluffy. If you’d like to use Brown Rice, increase liquid by ½ cup and cook for 40 minutes, following the same resting instructions.
  • Oil: Canola or vegetable oil, for toasting the rice.
  • Onion: a small piece, finely chopped.
  • Garlic: one or two small cloves, minced.
  • Tomato Sauce: I used this because it’s fast and easy, but for a more authentic version, add 1-2 fresh tomatoes to a blender with the onion and garlic, and blend before adding to the rice.
  • Tomato Bouillon: granules or cubes, found in the Mexican aisle or online. This adds color and flavor to the rice. If you can’t find it, substitute chicken Bouillon.
  • Water: Or use chicken broth, if you omit the Tomato Bouillon.
  • Salt.
  • Peas and Carrots: optional.
  • Serrano peppers: It’s optional to add 1-2 on top of the rice while it cooks, to add extra flavor (it wont make the rice “spicy”.
The ingredients needed to make Mexican Rice.

How to make Mexican Rice:

1. Wash and Toast the rice:  Add rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse it until the water runs clear. Sauté the rice in hot oil in a saucepan until golden brown.

2. Add remaining ingredients: Add tomato sauce, garlic, and diced onion to the pan. Stir in tomato bullion, salt, carrots, peas, and water. 

3. Simmer: Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Four process photos for making Mexican rice, with instructions on each photo.

Pro Tips:

  • Rinse the rice. Take an extra second to rinse your rice with water to remove the starch film on the surface that can cause the rice to clump together.
  • Toast the rice. When you add the rice to the oil, toast it really well! This extra step takes a few minutes, but it adds really great flavor to the rice.
  • The trick to get that great color and flavor: Tomato bullion cubes add great flavor, and they’re what makes the rice turn that perfect orange color that you’re looking for. It should be easy to find at your local grocery store. I buy mine at Walmart, in the Mexican food aisle. You could also buy them from Amazon. They look like this. If you can’t find them, substitute chicken broth for the water in this recipe.
  • Rest and Fluff. It’s crucial to give the rice time to rest after cooking, before serving, and to only gently fluff it with a work (don’t “stir” it). This will make the difference between wet, clumpy and mush rice, and fluffy rice.
  • Instant Pot Mexican Rice: If you own an instant pot, I’ve adapted this recipe for Instant pot Mexican rice.

Serve Mexican Rice with:

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Recipe

Mexican Rice with peas and carrots, served in a large bowl, with a spoon.
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 35 minutes
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Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice *
  • 1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic , minced
  • 1/4 medium onion , finely diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce , or 2 pureed tomatoes*
  • 2 teaspoons tomato bouillon granulated, or cubes*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 carrot , diced
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1-3 whole serrano peppers , optional

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the rice and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly golden brown all over (about 10 minutes).
  • Add tomato sauce, garlic, and diced onion to the pan. Stir. Add tomato bullion, salt, carrots, peas, and water (and serrano peppers, if using. They add a little flavor, but not spice.).
  • Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Notes

Rice: Washing the rice is crucial to remove the outer starch, allowing the rice to cook fluffy. If you’d like to use Brown Rice, increase liquid by ½ cup and cook for 40 minutes, following the same resting instructions.
Tomato Sauce: I used this because it’s fast and easy, but for a more authentic version, add 1-2 fresh tomatoes to a blender with the onion and garlic, and blend before adding to the rice.
Tomato Bouillon: granules or cubes, found in the Mexican aisle or online. This adds color and flavor to the rice. If you can’t find it, substitute chicken Bouillon.
Serrano peppers: It’s optional to add 1-2 on top of the rice while it cooks, to add extra flavor (it wont make the rice “spicy”.
Instant Pot Mexican Rice: If you own an instant pot, I’ve adapted this recipe for Instant pot Mexican rice.
Serve as a side with any number of my favorite Mexican recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSodium: 394mgPotassium: 164mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1865IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 0.7mg

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I originally shared this recipe September 2011. Last updated May 2021.

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Process photos by Nikole of The Travel Palate.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious thank you for the recipe. I doubled it and used 2 teaspoons of chicken and 1 teaspoon of smoked chipotle jarred better than bouillon because that is what I have on hand.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this numerous times and for my surf and turf burritos there doesn’t exist a better base rice recipe. I do have to cut back on any additional salt, brown the garlic onions and peppers before cooking the rice and and in dark chili powder and add 9 peppers for some real kick.

  3. 4 stars
    I have never made Mexican rice before, but this recipe looked good. Everything cooked great and looked wonderful. I think that it needs Cumin and a little more salt. That seemed to step the flavor up a lot as it was just bland until I did that. Otherwise I thought it was very good.

  4. 5 stars
    This worked out well. I used organic tomato paste with water because that’s what I had. I stir fried onion first in olive oil, then added cooked rice, garlic, salt, tomato paste and water. I didn’t cook it very long after that, only a few minutes. I didn’t use the other veggies. I used a little less oil than called for.

  5. 5 stars
    Holy Forking Shirtballs!!! So yummy!!! I didn’t have enough coconut oil so I made up the difference with avocado oil. I don’t think my family is going to notice its beans.

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