Mexican rice is a delicious and easy side dish to accompany tacos, fill burritos, or otherwise enhance your Mexican style meal. This dish is a great way to cook rice, perfect for a quick and easy dinner!
Serve it alongside Chicken Street Tacos and Instant Pot Refried Beans for a super tasty dinner.
At a Mexican restaurant, the side of rice and beans is pretty standard, right?
And when you’re there, it might not seem like such a big deal, what with the frosty margarita, the sizzling fajitas, and the salsa picante.
But when you get home…?
When you get home and want to make Mexican food yourself, well, the rice matters. It matters big time.
How many times have you wondered how they make that rice? Or rather how you can make that rice yourself at home? Mexican Rice is just the ticket.
Why Make This
This Mexican Rice is very versatile; it’s great as a side dish, but can also make a frugal, meatless main dish, like beans and rice.
It’s easy. This is an easy rice pilaf that will astonish you at its simplicity. Promise.
This Mexican rice recipe is the simplest version you can make, using only a handful of ingredients.
oil – You’ll need just a bit of oil to fry the dry, uncooked rice. This helps it create that pilaf-style texture.
rice – Use long-grain, white rice for the best results, though read the notes if you’d like to use brown rice.
tomato sauce – Tomato sauce is what makes red rice red.
liquid – You can use chicken stock or broth, vegetable broth, or water. The recipe’s pretty forgiving.
seasonings – Salt and pepper are sufficient, but you can also use Taco Seasoning Mix for a spicier kick. You can also add ground cumin, dried oregano, or ground coriander if you like. Feel free to embellish it by adding chopped onion, garlic, or lemon pepper.
- Heat the oil in a pan with a lid. Once it is shimmering, add the rice, and cook, stirring until the rice has turned white and even a bit brown in spots. (If you wanted to add chopped onion, now would be the time to do so.)
- Once the rice is whitish-brown, add the tomato sauce. It may splatter a bit when you pour it in, so be careful. Stir the tomato sauce around in the rice quickly and then add the chicken broth or stock. If you wanted to add cumin, now would be the time to do so. You don’t want to release too much starch in the rice, so don’t stir too much, just enough to combine the rice, tomato sauce, and chicken broth well.
- Allow this mixture to come to a regular simmer. Once it is bubbling well, cover it with the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Set the timer for 15 minutes and allow the rice to cook. While it’s simmering, the rice will absorb all or most of the liquid. You may need to cook it as long as 20 minutes to get to this point.
- When the rice appears “dry”, it’s done. Fun fact: Mexican rice is called sopa seca in Spanish: dry soup. Fluff the rice with a fork and mix in any tomato sauce that may have risen to the top. Season the rice to taste with salt and pepper.
The rice is ready to serve. It is good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, making it a great meal prep base for packing lunches.
Traditional Spanish rice is more along the lines of what you’d find in paella. It’s a pilaf cooked with similar basics like rice and tomatoes, but Spanish rice will contain saffron, whereas Mexican rice does not.
Mexican rice is great as a side dish alongside grilled meats, tacos, and fajitas. It also serves as a great burrito filling or a base for burrito bowls.
You can prepare this recipe with brown rice but the final product will have a much softer, mushier, texture. If you want to use the whole grain, be sure to increase your cooking time to 40 to 45 minutes instead of the recommended 15 to 20.
Yes! Using the pressure cooker to prepare this rice is a nice way to free up more room on the stove. See the recipe notes below for full instructions.
Knowing how much it costs you to prepare a recipe can help you decide if it’s the type of recipe to make regularly or one you might want to save for special occasions. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how this recipe pencils out.
- oil – $0.20
- rice – $0.35
- tomato sauce – $0.88
- broth – $1.99
- seasonings – $0.05
While your prices may vary depending on where you shop, you can expect to pay somewhere around $3.47/batch.
How to Save More
Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:
- Buy in bulk. I know that Costco is the best place to buy ingredients in bulk, like brown rice or chicken stock, when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where. If you don’t think you’ll eat through a ten pound bag of rice too quickly, split the purchase with a friend or store the extra in the freezer to extend its shelf life. Yes shopping at Costco can save you money, if done right.
- Make my own stock. Homemade chicken stock and Vegetable Broth are so easy to make and practically free if you’re already trimming vegetables, roasting a chicken, or buying a rotisserie chicken. Extract all the flavor from the bones and vegetable waste before you toss them.
More Great Mexican Foods
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- 2 tablespoon neutral oil
- 2 cup long grain white rice uncooked
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 4 cup chicken stock
- black pepper
To prepare the rice in a pan on the stove top:
- In a large sauté pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until rice turns white and very lightly brown. Remove from heat and stir in tomato sauce. Be careful of splatters. Stir well. Stir in chicken broth and return to heat. Bring to bubbling.
- Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
- Continue to cook on low for about five minutes to remove any extra liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
To prepare this recipe in the electric pressure cooker:
- Heat the oil in the pot on sauté. Add the rice and continue cooking, stirring, until the rice turns white and very lightly brown.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and only 1 ½ cups chicken broth. Stir gently to combine.
- Cover and secure the lid. Turn the pressure valve on. Hit the manual button and cook for 4 minutes.
- When the timer beeps, allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure valve. Once all the pressure has escaped, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
This post was originally published on May 30, 2014. It has been updated for content and clarity.
So yummy! This is now our go to Mexican rice recipe! Thanks so much!
Woohoo! Glad to hear you found success!
I love flavoured rice, never made it with tomato. I think I will be cooking Mexican these weekend.
Is the amount of liquid in the pressure cooker version correct? Seems way off for 2 cups of rice.
When I make plain rice in the pressure cooker I use a 1 to 1 ratio, for example, 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water. Accounting for the 1 cup of tomato sauce and the 1 1/2 cups of broth for this recipe, it’s actually on the “more than needed” side.
I use your yellow rice recipe with taco seasoning (both from your cookbook) for my Mexican rice. So good!
Glad you enjoy them!
We were fortunate to receive some homemade tamales from a dear friend, and the rice recipiyou shared is cooking as I write, so looking forward to the lunch we are going to have. Thank you so much!
Yummy! What a great friend!
This looks so good and so easy I can’t wait to try it. Is there a way to share this on FB?
You can simply copy and paste this link onto your wall: http://lifeasmom.com/ultimate-recipe-swap-mexican-food/
Thanks for sharing!
Jessica I make something similar. Next time substitute the cup of tomato sauce with a cup of salsa. Yum! It’s even good cold. I do the same thing. Use leftovers in burritos etc.
Just made this, finished it off in the oven instead of on the stove. added onions and cilantro. Yummy- thank you!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Can this be frozen or will it have a weird texture?
I have never tried. We usually eat leftovers the next day — if there are any. But, I’ve had readers say it freezes fine.
This recipe looks great 🙂 Could you please tell me what is in the tomato sauce? I’m in Australia – what we call tomato sauce Americans call ketchup. So I’m not sure what I should use.
Definitely a good question. It’s more like a tomato purée that’s been thinned down a bit. Nothing much added except maybe salt, pepper.
This looks like a great recipe, one small catch, my husband is allergic to tomatoes, any suggestions for a possible substitute? Would apple sauce or puréed carrots work? Absolutely loving the website, it’s given me loads of ideas for dinners and make ahead tips, cheers!
I would probably use chicken broth instead.
Fab, I’ll give that a go 🙂
Jessica (and others who’ve made this), do you rinse the rice before cooking it? I just made this to go with your bean recipe (which I made with black beans – it tastes great!), but the rice turned out really gloppy, and I wonder if it’s the extra starch. I used plain ol’ long grain white rice. One difference, that could have made a difference, is that I used a low, wide pot instead of a saute pan. My saute pan doesn’t have a lid; the pot did.
I don’t rinse the rice. I’ve found that when I did, it made it gloppy. Did you saute the rice in oil until it was started to brown lightly? That usually helps it not be sticky. (I use a low wide pan with a lid, so I think that part was fine.)