This easy, Authentic Mexican Rice is made with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, peas, and more! A fragrant, flavorful side dish that’s a must-have with any Mexican main course.
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Perfect Mexican Rice, Made from Scratch
Everyone loves classic Mexican rice, with its medley of veggies, light tomato-and-garlic seasoning, and versatile flavor. It goes with any Mexican meal you can think of, from a plate of chicken enchiladas to bold beef barbacoa. Lots of quick, boxed varieties are available, but if you would like to make some from scratch, that’s totally doable, even on a busy weeknight. In fact, this recipe is so simple, you may skip the boxed versions completely once you try it!
So if there’s a meal you’re making that goes with rice, consider upgrading ordinary white rice to a pot of fluffy, colorful Mexican rice, complete with savory onion and garlic, tomatoes, carrots, and peas. It’s a healthy, piquant swap that your family will love.
What’s the Difference Between Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice?
While Spanish rice and Mexican rice are very similar, they do have a couple of differences. Mexican rice is usually a bit softer and “melt in your mouth,” although of course, this depends on the recipe! But the main difference is that Spanish rice often includes saffron for extra fragrance and a bright yellow color.
What Is Mexican Rice Made Of?
Mexican rice made from scratch is a super-comforting, mild-but-zesty dish that everyone will love. And for the cook, there’s a lot to love here, too – the ingredients and the cooking method are so simple!
- Onion: Chop the onion up into a small dice. White onion is fine, or you could use yellow, red, etc.
- Garlic: Minced or pressed.
- Tomatoes: I use Roma tomatoes, but any kind will work.
- Salt: For extra flavor, you can use tomato bouillon or chicken bouillon instead of plain salt.
- Oil: Olive oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil, canola – whatever you like.
- Rice: For this recipe, go for a long-grain white rice.
- Carrot: Dice up one carrot.
- Peas: Frozen are fine. If you want to save time, you can leave out the fresh carrot, and substitute frozen peas and carrots.
- Chicken Broth: Or vegetable broth.
How to Make This Dish
To make Mexican rice, you’ll first need to blend up the onions with the garlic and tomatoes. This makes a saucy condiment somewhat like sofrito, to flavor and color the rice. Then you’ll need to par-cook the rice, add the other ingredients, and let it get tender and fluffy. Here’s the rundown:
- Make the Tomato Sauce. Using a food processor or blender, puree the onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt, and water. Once the mixture is smooth, set it aside.
- Saute the Rice. Set a large saucepan or pot (one that has a good, tight-fitting lid) over medium heat. Pour the oil into the saucepan, and let that heat up. Next, add the rice, and saute the rice a little until it changes from a translucent color to white.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients and Bring to a Boil. Pour/scrape the pureed tomato mixture into the saucepan with the rice, and stir. Let this cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes. Then add the carrots, peas and broth. Bring everything to a boil, and let it boil for just one minute.
- Simmer the Rice. Once the rice has boiled for one minute, turn down the heat to medium-low and cover the saucepan. Simmer the rice for 20 minutes – it is helpful to use a timer so that you don’t overcook the rice. Be sure not to uncover the rice while it simmers.
- Rest the Rice and then Serve. Take the simmered rice off of the heat, and let it rest for 5 minutes with the lid on the saucepan. After five minutes, remove the lid, and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve with your favorite dishes.
Tips for Perfectly-Cooked Mexican Rice
Everyone has their own tips for making perfect rice, and for this recipe, I definitely have a few myself. These are my best pieces of advice for cooking authentic, homemade Mexican rice to perfection.
- 1-Minute Boil: Get your rice up to a boil, then boil for only 1 minute. From there, it’s important to reduce the heat and just let the rice simmer for the remaining cook time.
- No Stirring: Another important thing to remember is not to stir the rice once it’s simmering. Just leave the lid on, and let it finish out its 20-minute cook time. This will keep your rice from getting gummy and mushy.
- Check for Doneness: Taste a couple pieces of rice to check for doneness. If your rice is not quite cooked, pour half a cup of water over it, without stirring. Replace the lid, and continue cooking over medium-low heat for an additional 10 minutes to let the rice absorb the rest of the water and steam.
Authentic Mexican rice goes with any Mexican meal, and with a lot of other things, too – scrambled eggs, baked chicken, steak bites, you name it. I like to serve it with something cheesy or saucy, like one of these easy dishes:
- Pico de Gallo Chicken: A winning combo of juicy chicken breast, taco seasoning, fresh pico, and cheese makes this easy Pico de Gallo Chicken a family favorite. You’ve got to try it!
- Chile Rellenos: Also known as Rajas con Crema, Chile Rellenos are stuffed poblano peppers with chicken and cheese, in an unbelievable creamy poblano sauce. This dish just cries out for some good rice to go with it, so try making it alongside your homemade Mexican rice!
- Beans: A big, warming pot of Charro Beans is the ultimate cold-weather dinner. You’ll love this bold and meaty dish, filled with sausage, chorizo, tomatoes, spices, and tender beans. Or, switch it up and serve this rice with some Homemade Refried Beans.
- Vegetables: How about a big batch of Calabacitas (Mexican squash)? It pairs perfect with this Mexican rice! But if you aren’t feeling squash, this Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites) or Mexican Street Corn (Elote).
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Reheat in the microwave, or in a covered skillet over medium-low heat. You may want to sprinkle a bit of water or broth over the rice before reheating.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can definitely freeze Mexican rice! One of the easiest ways to do it is to spread out the rice on a tray or plate and stick it in the freezer until it’s good and cold. Then transfer to a freezer bag, mark with the date, and store in your freezer for up to three months. Reheat directly from frozen.
Authentic Mexican Rice
- ⅓ cup chopped white onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 1 carrot, diced (into the size of peas)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Add the onion, garlic, tomato, salt and water to a blender or food processor. Blend till smooth and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir until it changes from a translucent color to white.
- Pour the pureed mixture over the hot rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the carrots, peas and broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, but no longer. Then place the lid on the pan and turn the heat down to a simmer (medium low). Cook for 20 minutes. (Do not lift the lid during this time.)
- Remove from the heat and let rice sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- It is important to leave the lid on and do NOT stir the rice after the first minute of boiling. This will prevent your rice from getting gummy and mushy.
- Get your rice up to a boil, then boil for only 1 minute. Reduce the rice to a simmer (medium low) and place the lid on the pan. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you don’t over cook your rice.
- Taste a couple pieces of rice to check for doneness. If your rice is not quite cooked, pour ½ cup water into the rice without stirring, replace the lid and continue cooking over medium low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
- If you want extra flavor in your rice, replace the salt with tomato or chicken bouillon.
- You can sub a cup of frozen vegetables instead of the carrots and peas if you prefer.
More Flavorful Rice Dishes
- Sweet Corn Risotto
- Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Dirty Rice
- Arroz Blanco (Puerto Rican White Rice)
- Easy Red Beans and Rice
- Crockpot Chicken and Rice
- Arroz Con Leche
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