How to Make Authentic, Homemade Mexican Rice

Updated on February 21, 2020
paperfacets profile image

Ms. Venegas experiments with Mexican foods under the watchful critiques of her husband. The recipes need to pass a "when I was a kid" test.

Use a fork to fluff the rice.
Use a fork to fluff the rice.

When you have a Mexican entree, such as burritos, tacos, or enchiladas, the meal isn't complete without homemade Mexican red rice, or arroz rojo. Of course, you also need to have beans so that you can enjoy the requisite "rice and beans" on the side.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling lazy, I might want to skip either the beans or the Mexican rice. However, my husband, Ed, always objects. In his thinking, the two are simply two components of a single side dish: "rice and beans."

The directions I've provided here are for one cup of uncooked rice. This is my regular recipe, and I've never received any complaints. Add this authentic recipe to your Mexican food menu.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 23 min
Ready in: 38 min
Yields: 6 half-cup servings
The ingredients: long-grain white rice.
The ingredients: long-grain white rice.
More ingredients: garlic powder, tomato bouillon, saffron, onion, and cilantro.
More ingredients: garlic powder, tomato bouillon, saffron, onion, and cilantro.


  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or one clove garlic, minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • A few drops lemon
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon asafran/saffron (optional)

Ingredient Notes

In a pinch, because of time restraints, the recipe may only have the Knorr tomato, chicken bouillon, and garlic powder. Knorr includes monosodium glutamate (MSG). There is a version for leaving the Knorr out below.

Step 1: Begin Cooking the Rice

  1. In a medium pan over high heat, add rice, butter, and cooking oil.
  2. Stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, watch while the rice browns and turns opaque. This will add extra flavor.
  3. Add diced onion and garlic powder (or minced garlic). Cook until onion is soft.
  4. Add 2 cups chicken stock or water and bring to boil.

Step 2: Add Seasonings

  1. While the water boils to a medium simmer, add minced parsley (or cilantro), tomato bouillon, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a few drops of lemon, and optional asafran (saffron).
  2. The moment you get a boil, and can see a few grains of rice dancing up, turn heat to simmer and cover tightly. No peeking at this point.
  3. Cook as you would white rice. My stove allows for 23 minutes.
  4. When the buzzer rings, remove from heat and toss with a two-prong cooking fork so the rice gets fluffy in the rising steam.
  5. If the water is not absorbed leave on heat remove lid, toss rice with fork and gently let it dry for a moment.

Photo Guide

The secret to excellent Mexican rice is to brown the rice first.
The secret to excellent Mexican rice is to brown the rice first.
Cover the pot tightly once it boils and you see a few grains of rice peeking up.
Cover the pot tightly once it boils and you see a few grains of rice peeking up.
2 stars from 4 ratings of Mexican Red Rice
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 330
Calories from Fat81
% Daily Value *
Fat 9 g14%
Carbohydrates 9 g3%
Sugar 0 g
Protein 5 g10%
Sodium 455 mg19%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

How to Make Mexican Rice Using One Tomato

Some cooks prefer not to use the Knorr seasoning. If you have a big ripe tomato, try this for added flavor. Here's how to do it.

  1. Finely chop the tomato and add it, and its juices, into the rice as it is browning. The tomato should add a little more red color to the rice and a richer tomato flavor. In fact, as I am retired now, adding the tomato and using the Knorr as the salt is the routine.
  2. As you see browning on the bottom of the pan use a few tablespoons of water or broth to scrape up bits for more flavor.
  3. Once the tomato juices have cooked off, add the 2 cups water, then follow the directions above.

Rice and beans.
Rice and beans.

Serving Suggestions

If you want an easy refried bean recipe to serve with this rice, my recipe has cut all the steps to the bare minimum: How To Make Refried Pinto Beans.

The night I took the pictures for this article, I made a tortilla chicken casserole. This was a good way to use all the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Dinner was perfect, and there was enough to eat the next night. Hurray!

Red Rice Tips: Do's and Don'ts

Here are a few tips so you do not have to reinvent the whole cooking process.

  • Add a 1/4 cup of frozen mixed vegetables when adding water.
  • Do not use too much oil. It just weights the rice down and will not fluff.
  • I have not been able to get fluffy rice with tomato sauce.
  • Polished rice will not make good fluffy rice.
  • It is not called Spanish rice anymore.
  • If you find that you prefer lard for the more Mexican flavor, keep the block in the refrigerator and buy a new one after the date has past a few months. Lard has less saturated fat than butter. It is good in the refried beans, as well. You might be interested to read this article for more information about lard: Why lard’s healthier than you think.
  • For a vegan version, use one of the many non-hydrogenated oils, like sunflower, avocado, or grapeseed, with one crushed ripe tomato.

Mexican rice and beans served with tacos.
Mexican rice and beans served with tacos.

Do You Make Mexican Rice?

See results

© 2009 Sherry Venegas

Cooking Mexican Is Tasty—Always Include Mexican Rice and Beans

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      We like the combination of rice and beans too, but I had no idea traditional rice was not vegetarian. I always ask, when dining out, whether the beans are made with lard. Now I know to ask whether the rice is made with chicken broth. Thank you for sharing your recipe. It looks just like the rice and beans in our favorite Mexican restaurant, and now I'm hungry!

    • kevkev227 lm profile image

      kevkev227 lm 

      7 years ago

      This looks sooo good...we make Mexican food a lot at home, but we haven't been good about making the side dishes...maybe time to give it a try :)

    • intermarks profile image


      8 years ago

      At first from the name itself, Mexican Red Rice, it gives me the impression that it should be spicy, so, it is spicy? I do love spicy food, so can the tomato be substitute with chili?

    • CCGAL profile image


      8 years ago

      I do a Tex-Mex version of the red rice - I learned it off of a TV cooking show called Two Hot Tamales. It's almost exactly the same as yours, the only difference is I use a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes. I drain the tomatoes, and add enough water to get to the 2 cups per cup of rice ratio, and toss it all in the pot. My family prefers it made with brown rice, so when I do that I need a bit more water, and it comes out nuttier, but delicious. We love Mexican food and Tex-Mex here, so we eat a lot of it.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      We love Mexican rice and beans at our house and serve them up in homemade whole wheat tortillas, along with homemade pico de gallo and a nice salad. We have a lot of fun making the tortillas together.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @anonymous: Thank you Mayra for the Spanish correction. I actually do not know Spanish, at all.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sounds really good - I am looking forward to trying this and the shredded beef recipes. Thanks for sharing. P.S. It's "Panza LLena... ".

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've tried to make Mexican rice before a few times from scratch, and it never came out that good. I'm going to have to try the trick with the tomato boullion and see if that does it. Yours looks much better.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Your rice looks and sounds delicious! Unfortunately, I don't tolerate MSG, so I'll have to try your alternate method with the finely chopped tomato during the browning phase. I'm anxious to try that!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      @kerbev: This looks lovely, but if I cook rice for 20 minutes, instead of going fluffy, it all seems to congeal in a gooey mass - what's the secret of good rice cooking?


    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 years ago from La Verne, CA

      [in reply to Pukeko

      Hi Pukeko,

      Yes, chicken stock would be good to use instead of the water. Red rice is generally tomato based. Chop a tomato very fine and add it to the pot during the browning faze and a little minced onion too, if you like. I did that yesterday and I still got a fluffy rice which does not happen if you add tomato sauce with the water.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      [in reply to Pukeko] to my understanding bullion is just a faster way to make a meal taste like chicken, it also contains lots of salt. So i would suggest using chicken stock instead of water, but i dont know how that will affect the recipe. sorry i couldnt be more help just throwing things out there. =D


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)