Mexican Rice – baked and stovetop tender and amazingly delicious rice recipe that’s perfect for entertaining or for regular days. It tastes even better than those you pay at restaurants. Minimal prep time with optimal results – comes in 2 methods for your convenience!
Before Cinco de Mayo celebration comes rolling in, I want to make sure that I’ve updated this blog post for your convenience. 🙂 The month of May tends to be a busier one for me in preparation for Cinco de Mayo Celebration (usually at my son’s school), Mother’s Day and my birth month (ssshh).
Mexican Rice happens to be one my favorite rice recipes. It is so flavorful even without the add-ins. Whenever I have people coming over unannounced, I usually serve them with this Mexican Rice as the ingredients are all pantry staples, and it comes together sooo easily. You can leave it there unattended as it cooks (no stirring required) as you prepare the main dish or the other sides.
Is There A Difference Between Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice?
Mexican Rice is a common side dish in Northern Mexico and is also popular in some parts of the world, especially in the Southwestern U.S. It also goes by other names such as Red Rice or Arroz Rojo. And then you add Spanish Rice to the list. Yes, Mexican rice and Spanish rice are basically the same dish, although this recipe here is technically not part of Spanish cuisine. In fact, Spain’s popular rice dish is known as Paella, which uses saffron as its base, giving that distinct yellow color.
The reason probably why Mexican rice is also called Spanish rice is because it was the Spaniards who introduced rice to Mexico. Another theory is that the Mexican speaks the Spanish language, which is why it’s easily tied into this dish.
Although this dish looks like a fiesta of complex flavors, it’s actually super easy to make. you only need a handful of ingredients that you might already have in your pantry or fridge. Here’s everything you need for this amazing Mexican Rice:
- Cooking oil – is flavorless, but you can also opt to use flavored oils like olive oil
- Long grain rice – I used basmati for this recipe which is totally delicious, especially when you know how to cook it.
- Onion – This veggie is great served fresh with its tangy flavor. I personally love it slightly caramelized for a bit of sweetness. Here’s a quick how to cut onions guide to make the job easier
- Garlic – Whether you use it fresh, dried, or powdered, this gives your whole dish a mouthwatering aroma. Check this how to mince garlic guide to help out
- Paprika – has a pungent taste because of its pepper origins, also with a hint of sweetness from bell peppers.
- Cumin – has an earthy, pungent, and mildly bitter taste but makes any dish flavorful
- Chicken Bullion – A concentrate of flavor you can find in most supermarkets. get your preferred flavor for a richer and more flavorful broth.
- Salt – A basic ingredient that intensifies all other flavors. it’s also used for preserving, brining, or simply as a light garnish.
- Chili – Give your dish a kick of heat with these peppers. I always like the tingling sensation it leaves in my mouth. You can also use minced jalapenos for a hotter flavor.
- Tomato Sauce – Sweet and fresh flavors of tomato in a thick mixture perfect for many starchy dishes.
- Chicken Broth – Basically the water where the chicken was boiled and simmered. It has a lot of flavor and it’s also filled with oils and collagen.
- Parsley – This distinct herb is the perfect garnish and tastes great.
How To Make Mexican Rice
Ever since I discovered how to make rice in the oven, my life could not be any better. I can whip up rice for 100 people in a heartbeat without any worries. The perfect entertainment food!
But Mexican Rice works perfectly either baked or on the stovetop. But if you are one of those few who prefer it the traditional way and letting the natural break down all those wonderful flavors, then that’s fine, too.
You can go the easiest route by throwing everything in the baking pan and baking for about 55-60 minutes.
However, there is a slight difference in taste between the two. Most people don’t notice it at all because the negligible difference is overshadowed by the ease and convenience of the latter. Minimal prep work is always appreciated, especially for weekdays in my neck of the woods. 😉
- Brown the rice: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and brown, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 minutes. (Photos 1 and 2)
- Add the flavorful ingredients: Next, Add the onions and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion becomes soft and translucent. Season with paprika, cumin, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Add in the jalapenos or chili powder. (Photo 3)
- Cook stirring until fragrant for about 3o seconds. (Photo 4)
- Mix in the sauce: Pour the tomato sauce and chicken broth into a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat to low. Cover saucepan and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. about 15-18 minutes (Photos 5 and 6)
- Cool it down: Remove pan from heat, Let it sit covered for about 5 minutes. Then, Fluff rice with a fork or serving spoon.
- Serve it up: Garnish with parsley and serve.
Now don’t wait ’til May before you try either one of these methods in preparing Mexican Rice. Trust me, it’ll be your new favorite rice recipe to make. And it makes a wonderful and easy dish to feed a crowd!
Can I Use Brown Rice?
Yes, you can. If you want a healthier alternative to this dish, using brown rice is certainly the way to go. Just a heads up, though, that brown rice cooks longer than white rice. Since I haven’t made it myself, you can start adding extra 10 minutes in the cooking time, do a quick check and just go from there. One of our readers here also suggested adjusting the broth amount. For the oven-baked rice, add about another 1/2 cup of broth.
Tips and Tricks
Remember these few important rules when making Mexican Rice on a stovetop.
- First, please do not skip browning or toasting the rice in fat or cooking oil, as it adds that nutty toasted flavor.
- Second, bring the rice to boiling point before lowering the heat to simmer. If you reduce the heat right after you add the tomato sauce and broth, you will have underdone rice.
- And lastly, avoid opening the lid during cooking as it will allow the steam to escape resulting in unevenly cooked rice.
What To Pair With Mexican Rice
Did I not tell you how versatile this rice dish is? You can pair it with almost anything (I like it with grilled meat the most). Pairing Mexican Rice with classic Mexican recipes like Burritos, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Taquitos, and Chicken Fajitas are the obvious favorite options. Or you can eat it straight up! It makes a wonderful meal on its own.
This post was first published on May 2014 and has been updated with new photos and additional cooking methods.
Oven Baked Mexican Rice
- 3 cups or 600 g rice , (I used Basmati)
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 14 oz can tomatoes sauce
- ½ cup or 8 fl oz cooking oil
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon
- 2 tsp or 11.8 g salt
- 1 tbsp or 6.90 g paprika
- 1 tbsp or 9.84 g garlic powder
- 4 cups or 946 ml chicken broth or water
- 1 tsp or 2.33 g white or black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp or 3.05 cumin spice
- 3/4 tsp or 2.03 chili spice or 1 minced jalapeño pepper , optional, omit if cooking for kids
Stovetop Mexican Rice
- ¼ cup or 2 fl oz cooking oil
- 2 cups or 400 g long grain rice , (I used Basmati)
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 2 tsp or 5.60 g minced garlic
- 1 tsp or 6.90 g paprika
- 1 ½ tsp or 3.05 g cumin
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon (replace with salt about ½ teaspoon)
- 1 tsp or 5.90 g salt
- ½ tsp or 1.16 g freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ tsp chili or minced jalapenos (optional)
- 8 oz tomatoes sauce
- 4 cups or 946 ml chicken broth or water
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley , for garnishing
Baked Mexican Rice
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃. Rinse rice thoroughly in water.
- In a baking pan or oven-proof skillet, combine all ingredients and stir so that everything is fully combined.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil paper.
- Gently place it in the oven and let it bake for about an hour.
- Remove carefully from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the aluminum foil. Fluff rice with a fork and mix evenly. Serve warm
Stovetop Mexican Rice
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and toast the rice, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
- Next, add onions and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Season with paprika, cumin, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Add the jalapenos or chili powder if using. Stir for about 30 seconds.
- Pour tomato sauce and chicken broth into the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat to low, cover saucepan, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, for 15-18 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, let it sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluff rice with a fork or serving spoon.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
Tips & Notes:
- There are two ways of baking Mexican Rice. (1) You can start by sautéing the onion, garlic, rice, and jalapenos on the stove before placing them in the baking pan. Or (2), you can go the easiest route by throwing everything in the pan and bake for about 55-60 minutes.
- Make sure you use a tight-fitting lid to cover the rice. Based on my experience of using aluminum paper with the lid. The best one is the one that comes with the pan (a matching set) or just use strong aluminum paper. You may have to double it to ensure it is perfectly cooked.
- At no point while the rice is cooking should you uncover the pan and or stir the rice.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.