Easy Mexican rice recipe that's the perfect side dish to your barbecue. This restaurant-style Mexican rice is so simple and feeds a crowd.
This post has been sponsored by MAGGI®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you have been a long-time reader of Unicorns in the Kitchen, you know we have many rice recipes that are perfect for any meal. From saffron rice to pressure cooker brown rice and dill rice, you can make rice in lots of different ways that make ideal side dishes for your meals. This restaurant-style Mexican rice is a delicious side dish for your summer grilling. This rice is made with MAGGI® Chicken Bouillon, which is a flavor base that can be used in different recipes. You can also earn $1 Cash Back on (1) MAGGI® Granulated Chicken Bouillon (found in the international aisle!).
What is Mexican rice?
Mexican rice, or arroz rojo, is a common Mexican side dish that's traditionally made by sautéing white rice in oil until golden brown and then cooking in chicken stock with tomatoes or tomato sauce. This type of rice is a usually served alongside enchiladas or other Mexican dishes at restaurants.
What is the difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice?
Even though arroz rojo is also known as Spanish rice, it's not a common Spanish dish. Spanish rice is usually yellow and made with saffron whereas Mexican rice is red since it's made with tomatoes.
Which rice is best for Mexican rice?
Long grain white rice such as basmati work best for this Mexican rice recipe as they don't stick to each other and make a fluffier rice dish. It's best to rinse the rice a few times before cooking it to get rid of the excess starch that would make the rice sticky.
Homemade Mexican rice ingredients
The ingredients you need for this recipe are very simple, and you probably already have them in your pantry:
- MAGGI® Chicken Bouillon: the delicious flavor will enhance your dishes. This bouillon is also available in dissoluble tablets and is very easy to use.
- Oil: I usually use olive oil for cooking but you can also use vegetable oil or canola.
- Long grain rice: Basmati works well in this recipe.
- Garlic: a few cloves of garlic give such nice flavor to this side dish.
- Salt, cumin and chili powder
- Tomato sauce: I prefer using tomato sauce instead of chopped tomatoes because it combines better with rice.
How to make restaurant style Mexican rice
Start by rinsing the rice a few times. Heat some oil in a large sauce pan and once it's shimmering (not smoking), add the rice and start sautéing it until it's golden brown—stirring it occasionally. Next, add garlic, salt, cumin, and chili powder, and cook for a few more minutes.
Add in the tomato sauce, water, and MAGGI® Chicken Bouillon. Bring it to simmer and cover with a lid. Cook on medium-low for about 20 minutes until the water is almost completely evaporated. Lift the lid and let the rice cook for another 2-3 minutes until the water is fully evaporated. Turn the heat off and cover the sauce pan with the lid again. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then fluff it using a fork.
How to make pressure cooker Mexican rice
Press the "sauté" button and pour the oil into the pressure cooker. Saute rice for a few minutes, stirring frequently until it's golden brown. Add garlic, salt, cumin, and chili powder, and cook for one more minute. Add in tomato sauce and water, stir, and lock the lid. Make sure the valve is on "sealing". Press "cancel" and then press "manual" or "pressure cook." Set the timer for 4 minutes and wait for the rice to cook. Do a natural release for 10 minutes and then a quick release. Open the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
Mexican brown rice
It's very easy to make Mexican rice using brown rice. Follow the steps as mentioned in the recipe and simply increase the amount of water from 3.5 cups to 4 cups since brown rice requires more liquid to cook.
What to serve with easy Mexican rice
This easy Mexican rice recipe is the perfect side dish for many Mexican dishes, especially grilled dishes during summer. I love serving homemade Mexican rice with grilled chicken or shrimp. The flavors pair perfectly and everyone loves it.
Can I freeze arroz rojo?
Yes! Arroz rojo freezes beautifully and you can make a batch and freeze half to use later. To do so, once the rice is fully cool, transfer it into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To use, simply transfer it to a bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes until fully thawed. You can also thaw it in a sauce pan over medium heat, make sure to stir it frequently.
Notes and tips to make this rice recipe
- It's common to add diced jalapenos, chopped carrots and green peas to this Mexican rice. If doing so, add them after you've toasted the rice.
- Make sure you rinse the rice a few times before you start cooking. By rinsing the rice, you get rid of the excess starch which will help the rice become fluffier.
- It's important that you toast the rice long enough that it releases its aroma and the grains become golden a bit. This will make the rice more aromatic and flavorful.
- Why is my rice mushy? If you haven't taken the time to toast the rice in oil properly, it might result in mushy rice. Browning the rice will help it keep its shape.
Mexican Rice Recipe (Arroz Rojo)
- 1 tbsp MAGGI® Chicken Bouillon
- 1 ½ cup long grain white rice such as basmati
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 3 ½ cup water
- Rinse the rice a few times to get rid of excess starch.
- Heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
- Saute rice in the oil until it's golden brown and toasted.
- Add in the minced garlic, salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add water, tomato sauce and MAGGI® Chicken Bouillon. Stir and bring it to simmer.
- Cover with a lid and cook on medium low until most of the water is evaporated, about 20 minutes.
- Uncover and cook until the water is fully evaporated.
- Turn the heat off and cover the sauce pan with the lid again. Let it sit for 10 miutes.
- Fluff Mexican rice using a fork. Serve with grilled chicken.
- Always rinse the rice a few times to make sure there is no extra starch in the grains.
- Make sure the rice is toasted very well and the color of the grains is golden brown. This will make the rice fluffy and will avoid being mushy.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze Mexican rice in the a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- If using brown rice, add ½ cup more water while cooking since brown rice need more liquid for cooking.