This Mexican Rice rivals any restaurant, is so easy to make at home and the perfect addicting side for all your Mexican dishes!
This Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice is truly the best Mexican rice I’ve ever devoured – restaurant or homemade. It’s light, fluffy, infused with flavor and the answer to the dreaded question “What should I make?” when it comes to sides. This rice is already easy but I’ve also included alternate “lazy day” instructions with ZERO chopping to make this truly the easiest and tastiest Mexican rice!
With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, I thought it was time for the best Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice!
Oh Mexican Rice, how do I love thee?! Mexican Rice is a staple with every Mexican meal from Burritos, to Carnitas, to Fajitas, to Enchiladas to Shrimp Tacos. All too often, however, homemade versions are either bland, dry or mushy. Not this Mexican Rice!
This easy Mexican Rice is soooooo good, I couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pot – and neither could Patrick. It is just the right consistency, flavorful without tasting overpowering and tastes like it came straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant. I guarantee you will be want to serve this Mexican rice with everything or nothing because it is addicting all on it’s own!
WHAT RICE IS BEST FOR MEXICAN RICE?
I highly recommend basmati rice for this easy Mexican Rice recipe for the same reasons I raved about it in my Greek Lemon Rice. Not only does basmati boasts a light nutty flavor but basmati grains are long and slender like other white rices but they cook up lighter and fluffier. The individual grains remain distinct when cooked instead of sticking together which means no more clumpy or mushy rice! Basmati Rice also reheats beautiful because of the distinctive grains so the rice remains just as fluffy on day 2!
How to make Mexican Rice
Although Mexican Rice is very easy to make there are a few TIPS AND TRICKS to make the best Mexican rice:
Rinse and drain rice thoroughly. This is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice so it doesn’t cook up sticky and mushy. To rinse, place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
Use basmati rice for best results. Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice is located with all the other rice varieties at your grocery store.
Sauté Rice until toasted. We start by sautéing our onions with our rice for 3 minutes then add our jalapenos and sauté until the rice is toasted. Toasting the rice with the onions and jalapenos not only infuses it with those flavors but helps develop the wonderfully nutty flavor. More importantly, toasting the rice helps the grains keep some of their texture after they are cooked. After toasting your rice, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s toasted evenly, we are just looking for some of the rice to be toasted indicating that that the flavor is developed.
Stir in all remaining Rice ingredients. Next, we stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato bouillon cubes, chopped green chilies and all of our seasonings.
Tomato bullion cubes! Tomato bouillon are the secret ingredient to this Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice and are what turns the rice into that characteristic orange color. Tomato bouillon cubes or powder can be found in almost every grocery store for about $2. They are located either next to the chicken bouillon (where I found mine) or in the Mexican food aisle.
Boil until water evaporates. Next, bring the contents to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. Simmer 12-15 minutes, or until water is evaporated and rice is tender, stirring once at 8 minutes and replacing lid. Once the water is evaporated, the rice still might seem “wet” but this will take care of itself when we replace the lid and let it sit for 10 minutes.
If liquid evaporates before rice is done, then add just a little liquid, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once liquid is gone.
If rice is still wet, don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the 10 minutes while it is steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.
Add lime juice to taste. Lime is optional but it adds a wonderful fresh, bright pop. You can also omit the lime and let each person customize their own rice if they prefer.
Cilantro to taste. You will notice we use both coriander and cilantro in this Mexican Rice recipe but they actually taste different even though they both come from the cilantro plant. Dried/ground coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and tastes sweet, warm and toasty while whereas cilantro adds the fresh, fruity citrus punch. If you don’t have coriander on hand you can omit it, I just think it adds a little “something-something” special
EASY MEXICAN RICE
Often, I am lazy when it comes to sides, so if you want to eliminate all chopping and make this rice strictly “dump and run” you can use the following substitutions:
- Substitute the chopped onion with 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.
- Substitute minced garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Substitute minced jalapenos with pinch-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Mexican rice and beans
You can play around with this Mexican Rice recipe to make it your own whether it’s adding more or less jalapenos, tomato bouillon, cilantro, lime or adding in any sort of veggies.
You can easily turn this Mexican Rice into Mexican Rice and Beans, just like I do with my Cilantro Lime Rice with Black Beans recipe. Simply rinse and drain your beans thoroughly and add them to the pot when you add the chicken broth and simmer away! You can also add any sorts of veggies to your Mexican Rice. Often Mexican Rice is served with carrots, corn and peas. You will want anywhere from 1-2 cups veggies depending on your personal preference.
- Mexican Rice with Carrots: If using fresh carrots, dice them and add to the pot when you add the jalapenos.
- Mexican Rice with Corn: If using canned corn, rinse, drain and add to pot with chicken broth.
- Mexican Rice with Peas: Use thawed, frozen, petite peas (never canned!) and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let sit 10 minutes.
- Mexican Rice with Frozen Mixed Vegetables: Like the peas, if you use frozen, corn or carrots, stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let the pot sit 10 minutes. You can even buy frozen mixed vegetables with corn, peas and carrots for the easiest option.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH EASY MEXICAN RICE?
There are so many main dish Mexican staples that all need this Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice! I could list everything in my Mexican Recipes Section, but I’ll spare you and let you look at the photo index yourself. Here are just a few of my favs that pair beautifully with this Mexican Rice:
- Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
- Best Carne Asada
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
- Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken
- Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
- Baja Fish Tacos
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