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 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 35 mins
Add to Meal Plan

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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Have you tried this recipe?! 

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

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

This post contains affiliate links. I love sharing my favorite products and cooking tools with you guys!

Process photos by Nikole of The Travel Palate.

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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. 1 star
    It lacked flavor. I used Roma tomato’s rather than sauce so maybe that was the issue. The rice was cooked perfectly but I had to add several spices to get that authentic flavor.

  2. I haven’t made this yet, but I just had to comment that I know you’re from my neck of the woods because of the H-E-B brand of tomato sauce in the “Ingredients” photo! 🙂 I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

  3. This rice came out so crunchy and inedible that it was thrown away. The flavors were great (I substituted lard for oil) and authentic, but it doesn’t matter if the rice is crunchy and can’t be salvaged. In Colorado, 2 parts liquid, 1 part rice usually works great… not sure where this took a left turn….

  4. This was the perfect rice. I just did not add Peas and chilies. We do not like those items. Huge hit… improvised a bit. But, basically went by your measurements. Bravo!!!

  5. Close, but not the authentic Cocina Mexicana rice I was looking for. The rice needed 15-18 minutes on medium heat to get a nice golden brown. This extra time would also help to cook the rice. I know better than to just drop the bouillon cube into the pan, but I didn’t dissolve it first in the water, and that was a big mistake. The rice was cooked nicely after 20 minutes on low heat. I think it was just missing some earthy spices like cumin, cilantro seeds, chili powder, etc. Had plenty of salt from the 1/4tps and the bullion cube.

    1. I agree about extra time for golden brown, did not want high heat/smoke. I was using Safrito and not sure of substitute because Safrito said “ generous Tbl spoon per serving. My Mexican friend that brought me Tamales could not respond

  6. I’d like to toast cumin seeds along with the rice, and add a Goldilocks amount of chopped cilantro (leaves and stems). A shallot instead of onion. I use chicken broth or bouillon + water. For tomato sauce, I like to use passata. Maybe more garlic, and definitely 2 whole serranos. I’d like to finish with lime zest and/or lime juice, unless you think that’s gilding the lily. What say you, Lauren?

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