This Easy Homemade Mexican Rice, or Spanish Rice, with its bold Mexican flavors, will make your taste buds do a salsa dance, which makes it a perfect side dish for your Mexican dinner.
I love bold flavors but don’t want to spend hours slaving over the stove. I want the recipe to be simple, quick and easy. That’s why I love this Mexican Rice recipe. It is fast, easy and flavorful!
My Mexican Rice recipe is probably more similar to Pioneer Woman’s Mexican Rice recipe than an authentic Mexican Rice recipe. However, if you are looking for a lower carb version, then you may want to try my Mexican Cauliflower Rice recipe.
Table of Contents
Probably it is more accurate to say that it is similar to a Tex-Mex restaurant-style Mexican Rice. Instead of adding tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato bullion, I use red salsa and a can of diced tomatoes and chilies, like Rotel. This gives it a bolder, spicier flavor to match the other flavors of Tex-Mex style foods.
Usually, you will see enchiladas, chicken fajitas, Chicken Empanadas, or other Mexican main dishes served with sides of Mexican Rice and beans. Then the meal would be topped off with Mexican Rice Pudding or another Mexican dessert.
This Easy Homemade Mexican Rice is made with Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and chilies and red salsa instead of tomato sauce.
What is The Difference Between Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice?
Both Spanish rice and Mexican Rice are very similar in that they both have onions and garlic. However, Spanish rice uses saffron and Mexican rice uses cumin. That is the biggest difference.
However, even though technically they are different, here in Texas, Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice often mean the same thing, which is the rice at the local Mexican restaurant.
How To Make Mexican Rice?
- A good quality sauté pan. You need a good quality, nonstick sauté pan that is large and deep.
- Wooden Spoon. This is a standard kitchen essential and is necessary for this recipe, as well as many others. You will find that you use it all the time.
- Serving Bowl. This classic white serving bowl is perfect for any occasion and any food, from pasta, to salad to rice.
To make Mexican Rice you will need the following ingredients, which are shown in the photo below as step 1.
Long Grain White Rice. I use long-grain white rice, and every local restaurant I have seen also uses white rice. You can use brown rice. However, you will need to increase the broth by a half cup. Also, the taste is nuttier and the texture of brown rice is different.
Onion. I use a white onion but you could use a yellow onion, sweet onion, or Vidalia onion.
Jalapenos. This is totally optional based on how spicy you like your rice. If you don’t want it spicy at all then leave the jalapenos out. Otherwise, you can add one, two, or three jalapenos depending on how spicy you want it. Also, leaving the seeds in makes the jalapenos spicier. So if you want to reduce the spicy heat level, remove the seeds from the jalapeno(s) before adding them to the rice. For myself, I used 1 jalapeno and removed the seeds.
Garlic. I used about a tablespoon of minced garlic, which would be equal to about 3 cloves of garlic.
Red Salsa. This is what makes this Mexican Rice different than most standard recipes. Instead of tomato sauce or tomato paste, I use salsa. Like the Jalapenos, you can adjust the amount of salsa as well as the spice level. This ingredient probably has the biggest impact on how spicy the Mexican rice will be, so choose your salsa carefully. I used a medium level heat the last time I made it and it gave the rice a pretty good kick. The next time I make it, I will probably use mild salsa. Whether you use mild, medium or hot, it is up to you which one to use depending on how spicy you want your rice to be.
Diced Tomatoes and Chilies. I always have a can of diced tomatoes and chilies, like Rotel, in the pantry. If you can’t find it, then use a can of diced tomatoes and a small can of green chilies, and you are good. Another option would be to increase the amount of jalapeno’s and skip the green chilies. Again, these are options you have depending on availability near you.
Chicken or vegetable broth. I like to use a low-sodium chicken broth for extra flavor. However, if you want to make it vegetarian or vegan, you can use vegetable broth or water instead.
Cumin. This spice gives the Mexican Rice that Mexican flavor. If you don’t have it, you can use taco seasoning instead. If you use the taco seasoning, I recommend eliminating the salt because both the chicken broth and taco seasoning already have quite a bit of salt.
Oil, Salt, and Pepper. You can use vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. See my notes above for the cumin regarding adjusting the amount of salt.
Step By Step Instructions.
The photo above shows the step by step images of how to make Mexican Rice.
Step 2. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat, add oil, chopped onions, and jalapenos. Cook until softened. Then add minced garlic and cook for one minute.
Step 3. Add the uncooked long-grain white rice to the pan and brown the rice with the onions for about 5 minutes.
Step 4. Add the diced tomatoes and chilies.
Step 5. Add the salsa and chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper.
Step 6. Bring the rice to a boil and then lower the heat to low heat, cover, and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t stir. Just let it simmer on low for 20 minutes. The rice will absorb the broth while it cooks.
Step 7. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer the rice to a serving dish. Enjoy!
What To Serve with Mexican Rice
Beef Tips And Rice – While not Mexican Food, I love serving Beef Tips And Rice with this Mexican Rice recipe instead of regular rice to give it even more flavor.
Ground Beef Tacos – Easy and tasty ground beef tacos for a delicious Mexican food dinner.
Picadillo Con Papas – A hearty meat and potatoes Mexican or Tex Mex main dish.
Easy Enchiladas Suizas – Creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy, these white chicken enchiladas are made with sour cream, mozzarella cheese, salsa verde, chicken, and corn tortillas, and are out-of-this-world delicious!
Cheese Enchiladas with a Red Chipotle Sauce – Enchiladas Rojas de Queso, or Cheese Enchiladas with a Red Chipotle Sauce, have a delicious, robust spicy flavor.
Mexican Street Corn Salad – is deconstructed Elote or Mexican Street Corn, a popular Mexican street food, served in a bowl, instead of as corn on the cob, and covered with a fantastic chili lime cream sauce and cotija cheese.
Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce – by Grumpy’s Honeybunch -are made with flour tortillas dipped in a homemade enchilada sauce, filled with cheese, then rolled up and topped with more sauce and cheese!
Easy Taco Pie – by Life Tastes Good -is an easy and budget-friendly recipe perfect for even the busiest nights of the week! Refried beans and seasoned ground beef sandwiched between 2 large flour tortillas is topped with shredded cheese and fresh vegetables to create a Mexican inspired dish the whole family will love!
Fry Bread Tacos by Love Bakes Good Cakes -easy recipe for Fry Bread Tacos (aka Navajo Tacos). Quick and simple bread dough is quickly fried and then topped with your favorite taco toppings!
Shrimp Tacos – by Pinch and Swirl – lightly charred corn tortillas cradle tender shrimp with a crisp salt and pepper crust, topped with crunchy cabbage and radish slaw then finished with creamy spicy shrimp taco sauce and a scattering of fresh cilantro.
Instant Pot Red Chile Pork Tamales – by Cooking with Curls – Make Instant Pot Red Chile Pork Tamales in the easiest way possible while still staying true to the original recipes that have been handed down for generations.
Make this Mexican rice recipe and be sure to come back and leave a comment as to how you like them.
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Easy Homemade Mexican Rice (or Spanish Rice)
- In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat, add oil, chopped onions, and jalapenos. Cook until softened. Then add minced garlic and cook for one minute.
- Add the uncooked long-grain white rice to the pan and brown the rice with the onions for about 5 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and chilies.
- Add the salsa, chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Bring the rice to a boil and then lower the heat to low heat, cover, and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. Don't stir. Just let it simmer on low for 20 minutes. The rice will absorb the broth while it cooks.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer the rice to a serving dish. Enjoy!
- To save time, heat the Pot and oil while you prep ingredients.
- Put your pot or dutch oven on the stove and heat it to medium low heat. When hot, add the oil and let it eat.
- Finish prepping your ingredients while the oil heats.
- Chopping Onions. I recommend chopping the onions very small. You could even say dice the onions.
- Ensure oil is hot. When you add the diced onions, the oil in the pan should be hot. Don’t add the onions until the pan and oil are hot.
- Soften, not brown Onions. Then cook the onions for about 5 minutes. The goal is to soften the onions, not to brown or caramelize the onions. So that does not take as long.
- The Type of Rice Matters. I used a grocery store generic long grain white rice. If you change the type of rice, for example use short grain white, brown or wild rice, it can change the cook time, and the amount of water needed, etc., and you will need to adjust accordingly. Read the label on the rice for instructions for your type of rice, and follow those for the best results.
- DO NOT DRAIN THE ROTEL! I know every other recipe that uses Ro*Tel calls for draining it, but not this recipe. We want to include the liquid in the Ro*tel in this rice recipe. If you do drain the Ro*Tel, then add another 10 ounces of water or broth.
- Cover the Pot. Don’t forget to cover the pot. If you leave it uncovered, liquid will evaporate more quickly, and could cause the rice to be too dry.