Liven up plain white rice with deliciously easy restaurant-style Mexican rice. Its aromatic Mexican-style base with the traditional addition of mixed vegetables will have you going back for seconds! Use it alone as a side dish for your favorite Mexican dishes or in place of white rice in burrito wraps or bowls for extra flavor.
⏲️ Time needed
Prep will only take about 5 minutes, and cook time, including browning the rice, will be about 25-30 minutes. You can shave off a few minutes by chopping the onion and garlic while the rice is browning, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the rice.
- long-grain white rice
- bouillon or soup base
- tomato sauce
- frozen mixed vegetables
🌾 Adaptations for dietary restrictions
Vegetarian Adaptation: Use vegetable soup base or Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base (affiliate link) for the soup base/bouillon. The No Chicken Base is the closest flavor to real chicken soup base that I have found, and it really enhances my vegetarian dishes. It has a shiny paste-like appearance and is what is shown in the photo below (top center). A beef version (affiliate link) is also available.
Gluten-free: Some bouillon contains wheat or rye. Check your labels or buy certified GF bouillon.
Gather your ingredients: oil, long-grain white rice, garlic, onion, cumin, bouillon or soup base, tomato sauce, water, and frozen mixed vegetables (I used peas and carrots, but you can use whatever blend you like best).
In a mesh strainer, rinse the rice until the water runs clear and drain well. In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the rice, and cook until the rice starts to appear somewhat glossy.
Once browned, add garlic, onion, cumin, bouillon or soup base, and tomato sauce.
Stir to mix, and add water and frozen vegetables, and mix again.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes.
🌾 What is the best kind of rice for Mexican rice?
Long grain white rice is ideal for Mexican rice. Rinsing it takes care of any extra starch, and it fluffs nicely after cooking. Basmati rice is also a good choice, as basmati rice grains tend to cook individually and fluff nicely without much stickiness.
✖️➗ Can I double or half the recipe?
Absolutely! You can use our adjustable servings in the recipe card to get the exact amounts of each ingredient for the number of servings you prefer.
🌮 What should I serve with Mexican rice?
Try Mexican rice with all your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas, as a filling in burritos, and as a base for serving stews like Ropa Vieja or Carne Guisada for the Instant Pot. It’s especially good in place of white rice in Tex-Mex Beef Casserole (which is also a great way to use up leftover Carne Guisada).
⏰ Can I make Mexican rice ahead?
I like to cook the rice right before serving if possible, but you can cut your last minute prep but chopping the vegetables and storing them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. The rice can be rinsed ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator after draining. You can combine each of the following groups of ingredients in the same container to save space in the refrigerator:
- chopped onion, minced garlic, and mixed vegetables
- bouillon or soup base and tomato sauce (and the water if desired)
In a large skillet heat oil and add rice to brown slightly.
Add the prepared vegetables, the cumin, the tomato sauce and soup base, and the water and stir gently until well mixed.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed, about 25 to 30 minutes (the additional time assumes your ingredients are cold; adjust as necessary). Fluff and serve.
❄️ Can I freeze Mexican rice?
Rice freezes well and will last for several months if it is stored in airtight containers. Be sure to cool the rice first, and do not pack it down in containers.
♨️ Why do I have to cook the rice in oil first?
The quick sauté in oil helps the rice to come out fluffy without the grains sticking together. It also adds flavor to the finished product, to a lesser degree but similar to the way browning the flour or making a slow roux adds flavor to Creole dishes.
🍅 Can I substitute salsa for the tomato sauce?
Yes, you can use salsa instead of tomato sauce. Salsa with a good bit of liquid will be best since the tomato sauce contributes liquid as well as flavor. If you make this substitution, keep an eye on the rice as it cooks so that if the amount of liquid needs adjusting you can either add water or uncover the rice to let steam escape.
🌶️ Can I make it spicier?
Absolutely! Add chopped fresh jalapeno pepper or red chili to the ingredients when you add the mixed vegetables or include a few dashes of hot sauce when you add the liquid.
Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
- 4 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 ½ cups water
- ⅔ cup frozen mixed vegetables
- In a mesh strainer, rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain well.
- In a large skillet heat oil and add rice. Cook until the rice starts to appear somewhat glossy.
- Once browned, add garlic, onion, cumin, bouillon, and tomato sauce and stir to mix.
- Add water and frozen vegetables and stir gently.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes.
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