Cooking restaurant-style Mexican red rice at home is so easy. It only requires a few basic ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. It is delicious, made in one pot, and is done in 30 minutes. You could not ask for anything more delicious.
You will be making this authentic Mexican red rice (arrozo rojo) all the time once you find out how flavorful and easy it is to make. The red tomato sauce & aromatics are the flavor punch that sets this over the top.
It is the best side dish to serve with tacos, enchiladas, tamales, or quesadillas. Enjoy some chips & watermelon salsa as an appetizer while you are cooking. This recipe will go great with the following recipes:
- SPICY JALAPENO BASIL MOSCOW MULE
- MEXICAN WATERMELON CUCUMBER SALAD
- SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
- TEQUILA SUNRISE COCKTAIL (with a twist)
What Makes Mexican Rice Authentic
There are many versions of what people think is considered authentic when it comes to Mexican food and rice is one of those dishes that surely has many recipes out there considered "authentic". Having grown up in California, I have eaten a fair share of rice dishes but all my friends with Mexican heritage swear by this recipe also.
They also all agree that Mexican rice never has cilantro, corn, or chunks of tomatoes in it. They also agree that using long-grain rice and chicken broth is a must.
Ingredients for Homemade Mexican Rice
Here is everything you need to make Mexican rice at home. This recipe is gluten-free and made without any dairy or butter, like other recipes.
Long-grain rice is what is recommended. Other types of rice do not work with the broth-to-rice ratio.
- Long grain white rice - the rice to broth ratio works best with long grain or basmati rice (do NOT substitute with any other type of rice)
- Chicken Broth - for savory flavor to cook for an authentic restaurant copycat recipe (do not use just water, you can use vegetable broth instead for vegan/vegetarian)
- Tomato sauce - gives the Mexican rice a red color plus adds acidity and flavor.
- Cumin - the sweet, smoky, and warm flavor.
- Garlic - pungent aromatic a classic in Mexican cooking.
- Dried Minced Onion - for flavor without big chunks of onion.
- Vegetable Oil - for toasting the rice and spices which makes this the best recipe.
How to Make Mexican Red Rice
This is a quick and easy recipe to make restaurant-style Mexican rice. It only takes about 5 minutes to get this rice ready in the pot.
TOP TIP: Toasting the rice and the spices is the most important step. This sets the recipe apart from others. DO NOT skip these steps. Then let it simmer until it is tender and fluffy.
- Saute the rice in oil to bring out a nutty flavor
- Add the spices and brown those with the rice before adding the liquid
- Simmer slowly in the broth to flavor every grain
- Add tomato sauce for some acidity and for that orange-red color we all recognize
1 - Toast the Rice
First, add the vegetable oil to a large saucepot and bring it to medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir to toast /fry some of the grains.
Some will become white as they heat up and a few will become a bit brown as they toast. This is what you want to see.
2 - Toast the Spices
Next, add the minced onion, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir and toast for a minute to really get the spices mixed with the warm rice and hot oil. You should be able to smell the spices and the onions as they release their own oils.
3 - Add the Broth & Tomato Sauce
Once all the dry ingredients are combined add the broth (water/bouillon combination) and the tomato sauce. Stir to combine and bring to a slow boil.
Like my recipe for chicken broth rice, the salty/savory liquid is key to making a flavorful rice.
4 - Simmer the Mexican Rice
Once everything comes to a slow boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. Stir a few times during the cooking process but try to not remove the lid which lets out the heat or stir too often, which breaks up the rice grains and can make it mushy.
How to Tell When Mexican Rice is Ready
The rice will be ready once all of the liquid has been absorbed. The Mexican rice should have a lovely orange color. When taste-tested it should be soft and tender. The rice should not be crunchy or hard.
Look at all those wonderful rice grains and that orange-red color. This is what Mexican rice should be. Make sure you save this recipe on Pinterest.
Recipe Ideas for Mexican Rice
This savory rice recipe is made in chicken broth with some tomato sauce. Those flavors combine into a great rice side dish that is good to add to other recipes. Stir Mexican rice into seasoned ground beef, onions, & peppers for a base as a casserole.
This Mexican rice recipe is great also for burritos. Use it in my recipe for a super Carnitas Burrito along with beans, cheese, & all your favorites.
Storing & Reheating
This rice stores well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a container with a lid. To reheat, warm in the microwave with a drizzle of water to freshen it up.
This makes a lot of rice. As a side dish, it makes enough for about 10 people. If using it in a Mexican rice bowl as a base, it is good for 6 servings.
I do NOT recommend doubling this recipe. The ratios do not cook the rice correctly for some reason. For other rice recipes, follow my tips for how much rice to make per person.
Product Recommendations for this Recipe:
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If your red rice turned out soggy, wet, or creamy - the broth-to-rice ratio is off. Make sure you follow the quantities exactly. And 100% make sure you saute the rice first in the vegetable oil.
It may also be that the wrong type of rice was used. Long-grain rice is key to making it correctly. Short-grain rice will be creamy & starchy (ie like risotto which is a no-no).
Most recipes like this one are gluten-free. All ingredients in this recipe are safe for those with celiac disease or are gluten-sensitive.
Easy Restaurant Style Mexican Red Rice
- 2 TB vegetable oil
- 1 & ½ C long-grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ TB minced dry onion
- 3 C chicken broth OR vegetable broth works too
- ½ C tomato sauce
- Heat oil on medium-high in a large saucepan. Add rice and saute to brown and toast the grains. Some should be slightly brown and others white as they heat.
- Add the garlic, cumin, and dry onion. Stir to saute and toast the spices along with the rice for about a minute.
- Add in the broth and stir. Next, add the tomato sauce and stir.
- Bring to a boil and then turn down to low. Put the lid on your saucepan and continue to cook on a very slow simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Try and only remove the lid and stir 1-2x during the 20 minute cooking time.
- When done, fluff with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl.
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