This homemade Mexican rice recipe, aka Arroz Mexicano, is a staple in Hispanic cooking and the ideal side dish to virtually any meal. Plus, you likely have the ingredients needed to make it on-hand at all times!

Mexican Rice (Arroz Mexicano)

Where Did This Recipe Come From?

My mom makes the most amazing Mexican rice. And she learned from the best … my grandma! My mother’s recipe is in the Muy Bueno cookbook, and now I’d like to share it here with you here. 

This side dish is one of the first recipes my mother learned to cook when she was a little girl. It is a staple in most Mexican kitchens and has such a wonderful aroma while it’s simmering. 

One of the best things about this homemade Mexican rice is that it pairs perfectly with nearly any dish, especially enchiladas, tacos, chiles rellenos, and soup. It also refrigerates well, making it great for meal-prepping and batch cooking. 

Even better, you only need a handful of pantry staple ingredients to make this arroz Mexicano recipe, most (or all) of which I’d bet you have stocked more often than not. So, what are you waiting for? Learn how to make this easy Mexican rice recipe, and give it a try today!

ingredients to make Mexican rice measured in bowls

Key Ingredients

  • olive oil (or another light-tasting oil like avocado oil)
  • long-grain rice (white; not brown)
  • chopped yellow onion (white can also work in a pinch)
  • garlic cloves (or garlic powder, if necessary)
  • water (or water + unsalted chicken broth)
  • tomato sauce
  • bouillon cube (chicken or tomato)

How To Make It

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add rice. Stir until rice is slightly browned. Remove skillet from the heat, and add the onions and fresh garlic. Stir until onions are translucent.

toasting long grain rice in a skillet

Add water, chicken broth, tomato sauce, bouillon cube, and garlic powder. Stir, and let mixture come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir gently after 10 minutes, cover, and let simmer for another 10 minutes. (If adding canned or frozen vegetables, add them during the last 10 minutes.)

adding water to a skillet with toasted rice for this Mexican rice recipe

After the final 10 minutes of cooking, turn the heat off, fluff rice with a fork, and cover again for another 3 to 5 minutes so liquid can finish absorbing. Serve warm with some chopped cilantro, and enjoy!

cooked Mexican rice in a skillet on a marble countertop

Watch and Learn

In this video my mom shares her secret tips. In the video she confesses that she had a few disasters while learning to make this dish. If you have ever tried to make Mexican rice you know that it can be challenging to make. I know I have had failed attempts with it being crunchy or sticky. But the trial-and-error process is all a part of the joy of cooking.

With this video and recipe you can now make perfect Mexican rice!

Tips and Variations

  • Use Mexican rice as a filling for a burrito, in a burrito bowl, or a as a classic Mexican side dish.
  • Add some frozen veggies like diced carrots, peas, and corn, if desired. Simply stir them in during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Turn this into a main course by mixing in your favorite protein like shredded chicken or ground beef.
  • Add some chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice before serving.

What To Serve with It

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions

  • Store leftover cooled Mexican rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Freeze this homemade Mexican rice in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat from chilled or frozen with a little water or chicken broth in the microwave or a pot on the stove for a couple minutes, stirring periodically, until it’s warmed through.

arroz Mexicano in Mexican brown pottery serving dish on a white doily

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add vegetables to this arroz Mexicano?

Yes! I like adding a frozen medley of carrots, corn, and peas, but fresh will also work. Avoid wet vegetables so that there’s not a lot of excess moisture in the cooked rice, which would make it gummy.

How can I make this Mexican rice spicy?
Feel free to add some red pepper flakes or diced green chiles like serranos or jalapeños! 

Can I use salsa instead of tomato sauce?

Sure thing! A popular brand is El Pato Hot Tomato Sauce.

What is the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican rice?

The term “Spanish rice” is not used by Mexicans; the dish is simply referred to as “arroz Mexicano” or “Mexican arroz” (“Mexican rice”). Spanish rice gets its yellow color from saffron. Mexican rice, meanwhile, takes on a unique color thanks to the inclusion of tomato sauce. Spanish rice tends to be more firm, whereas Mexican rice is softer.

More Mexican Side Dish Recipes To Try

Have you made this homemade Mexican rice recipe in your own kitchen? Please be sure to rate and review it below!

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Mexican Rice Arroz Mexicano

4.82 (11 ratings)
This easy side dish is one of the first recipes my mother learned to cook when she was a little girl. It is a staple in most Mexican kitchens, and has such a wonderful aroma while it’s cooking.

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add rice. Stir until rice is slightly browned. Remove skillet from the heat and add the onions and fresh garlic, if using. Stir until onions are translucent. (The pan is usually warm enough to cook the onions and fresh garlic, keeping them from burning.)
  • Add water, chicken broth, if using, tomato sauce, bouillon cube, and garlic powder, if using. Stir and let mixture come to a boil; lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir gently after 10 minutes, cover, and let simmer for another 10 minutes. (If adding canned or frozen vegetables add them during the last 10 minutes.)
  • After the final 10 minutes of cooking, turn heat off, fluff rice with a fork and cover again for another 3 to 5 minutes so liquid can finish absorbing.

Notes

  • 1 bouillon cube is the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of granulated bouillon.
  • You can use rice as a filling for a burrito bowl or a as a classic Mexican side dish. 
Calories: 112kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 527mg, Potassium: 138mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 44IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks / Video by Pure Cinematography
Originally published: October 2015. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.