Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice (Arroz Rojo)

Mexican rice in a white bowl with a wooden spoon.

Arroz Rojo

Restaurant-style Mexican Rice is easy to make and the best side dish, along with Green Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice, for all of your favorite Mexican recipes. This Mexican Rice recipe makes perfectly seasoned rice in just 30 minutes.

Mexican Red Rice

There are a few common names for Mexican Rice, including:

  • Mexican Red Rice
  • Arroz Rojo
  • Arroz Mexicano
Carne asada platter with steak, rice and pico de gallo.

Spanish Rice vs Mexican Rice

Spanish rice and Mexican rice are two different rice dishes. Spanish rice is firmer and is made utilizing saffron. Mexican rice, on the other hand, is softer and features cumin in place of the saffron. Read more about the differences between the two.

Glass bowls of various ingredients to make Mexican rice.

Ingredients

Here are a few key ingredients required to make this recipe. For the full list of ingredients, reference the recipe card below.

Basmati Long Grain Rice – long grain rice has less starch and is drier than other varieties. Do not sub in other varieties or you won’t get the texture and flavor you’re looking for.

Tomato Bouillon – This provides a ton of tomato flavor, but if you can’t find it no worries. Just sub in regular chicken bouillon instead.

Diced Tomatoes – For an extra layer of flavor use canning tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes or even Rotel. Sadly, I accidentally left them out of this photo shoot. Try not to pull a “Darcey” and forget them.

Whip up a batch to serve alongside Carne Picada, Camarónes a la Diabla, Achiote Chicken, Taco recipes and Carne asada.

Rice in a silver pot next to small bowls of ingredients.

How To Make

Only a few short steps stand between you and restaurant-style Mexican rice. This only highlights the key steps. For the full list of instructions reference the recipe card below.

Rinsing – Place the rice in a mesh sieve and place under cold running water until the water runs clear. This removes the excess starch from the rice and is a key element to getting “non-mushy” rice. It will take approx. 2-3 minutes of rinsing. Drain well.

Sauté Sauté the onions, jalapeños, garlic and rice for a few minutes to soften the vegetables and toast the rice. 

Cooking – Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for 12-15 minutes until the rice is tender. 

Patiently Wait – Let the rice sit for 10 minutes after removing from the heat.

Serve – Fluff the rice with a fork, then gently fold in the chopped cilantro before serving.

Silver pan full of red rice with a fork in the middle.

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure to fluff the rice with a fork after cooking (don’t stir) to ensure a nice consistency.
  • Throw in a few chopped jalapeño or serrano peppers for added heat.
  • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for a vegetarian rice dish.
  • For maximum nutrition, use Instant Pot Bone Broth in place of store bought chicken broth.
  • Don’t have broth on hand? Here’s substitute for beef broth and chicken broth substitute lists, if you need some ideas.

Rinse the Rice

Do not skip or rush rinsing the rice. It will drastically affect the final outcome of the recipe in a negative way. Rinsing the rice removes all the starch thereby making it less likely to be mushy and clumpy. It will take about 2-3 minutes to properly rinse the rice.

You can also soak the rice for an hour, as shown in this Fried Brown Rice recipe.

Rice in a sieve ready to be rinsed.

Serving Suggestions

There’s a plethora of ways to serve red rice, including:

  • Serve As A Side Dish – fajitas, tacos, burritos and chicken enchiladas
  • Use As A Filling – add to burritos or stuffed peppers
  • Make A Bowl – add your favorite protein and vegetables to make a Chipotle-style bowl

Mexican Rice and Beans

Who doesn’t love some rice and beans. Rice and beans are a staple side dish at taquerias.  Here are a few bean recipes to consider adding:

Close up of refried beans in a white bowl topped with jalapenos, cheese and cilantro.

Mexican Recipes

Mexican rice can be served with the same things that can be served with tacos. Here are a few of our favorite plates to serve this flavorful rice, or even Simple Peruvian Rice, with:

Arroz rojo in a white bowl.

Storage and Re-heating

Refrigerate – after cooling, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 4-5 days.

Freeze – after cooling, transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Reheat – add to a microwave safe container with a few tsp of chicken broth or water and heat for 1 minute. Stir and repeat in 30 second increments until warmed through out.

Drink Pairings

When enjoying Mexican dishes or celebrating Cinco de Mayo, we always reach for a Mexican drink like a MicheladaMango Michelada or Margarita.

Mexican rice in a white bowl with a wooden spoon.

Mexican Rice (Arroz Rojo)

Restaurant-style Mexican Rice recipe is easy to make and the best side dish for all of your favorite Mexican recipes. This recipe makes perfectly seasoned rice in just 30 minutes. Whip up a batch to serve alongside Taco recipes and Carne asada Recipes.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 213kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $7

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeded and deveined) ((Omit if you don't want spice))
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained ((*Note 1))
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • low sodium, chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained ((*Note 2))
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato bouillon with chicken flavor ((*Note 3))
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp salt

Garnishes (Optional)

  • chopped cilantro
  • lime juice

Instructions

PREP THE RICE

  • Place the rice in a mesh sieve and place under cold running water until the water runs clear. This removes the excess starch. It will take approx. 2-3 minutes. Drain well.

MAKE THE MEXICAN RICE:

  • Pre-heat the oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, jalapeños (if using) and rice and sauté for approx. 5 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients (except for the garnishes) and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 12-15 minutes, stirring just once at the halfway mark.
  • Remove from the heat and let sit with the cover still on for 10 minutes.
  • Add cilantro and lime juice, if desired, and fluff with a fork. Taste and add extra salt, if needed.

Notes

Note 1 – Basmati rice is the best, by far, to use in this recipe. Other varietals won’t have the ideal texture.
Note 2 – For an extra kick of flavor, use fire roasted tomatoes or Rotel.
Note 3 – Replace with chicken bouillon, if desired. Although the tomato color and flavor won’t be as intense.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 0.01mg | Sodium: 354mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
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