Mexican Rice

July 16, 2023mayurisjikoni
Blog post

What is Mexican Rice?

As such traditional Mexican Cuisine didn’t feature rice on their menu. Corn was the staple at that time till the Spanish Colonizers introduced rice in Mexico around the 1520s.  It was prepared in a similar way to the Spanish Rice but instead of saffron, cumin and red chili were used. Thus the main difference in the rice is the colour, while Spanish rice is yellow, Mexican rice is orange reddish. These days Mexican rice is served as a side dish with tacos, enchiladas, quesadilla, chili con carne, as stuffing for burritos, with soups,etc. Main ingredients for a Mexican rice are onion, garlic and tomatoes.

This rice dish that I have prepared is more from the Tex-Mex Cuisine. Popularly known as red rice, arroz rojo, arroz mexicana or arroz a la mexicana. It is made from white rice, tomato, garlic and onion.


So when was the first time I ever tasted Mexican Rice? Well, when I was around 16 or 17 years old. At that time not all the world cuisines were as famous or well known as today. Every weekend my kaki (aunt) and I would go through our treasured Tarla Dalal recipes books to find a new recipe to try out. One of them was Mexican Rice. The recipe called for tomato sauce and that’s what we added, tomato sauce or ketchup! But now times have changed and we know better what ingredients to use. Some years ago I got the opportunity to taste Mexican rice at a Tex Mex restaurant in Orlando, am sure it was made with chicken stock. After returning from our trip, I started making some changes to the Tarla Dalal recipe and have perfected it to the way my family likes it.

How Is Mexican Rice made?

Actually, either long grain or medium grain rice is first stir fried in oil to make it a bit brownish and crunchy. Then its cooked with stock, usually chicken stock, vegetables till done. I tried that style and the family didn’t like the texture of the rice. So now I just make it without stir frying the rice.  Usually, I tend to make it with leftover plain rice but its also possible to make it as a one pot dish using uncooked rice. As to the vegetables to use, the choice is really yours. My choice of vegetables are cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic, tomato, tomato salsa, red kidney beans and sometimes sweet pepper.

How To Serve Mexican Rice?

Since I tend to add a lot of vegetables to the Mexican Rice, my family enjoys its more as a main meal than a side dish. We usually enjoy it with some plain yogurt and sometimes with nachos on the side. To make it extra special for my kids, I would sometimes add tiny cubes of cheddar cheese. You can serve it as a side dish with any other Mexican dish like tacos, enchiladas, quesadilla, etc.

Other Rice Dishes You May Want to Try Out

Lemon rice or Chitranna as it is known in Kannada, is the easiest but yummiest rice dish. With spices and lemon, this spicy tangy rice is best enjoyed with some some rice papad. Makes an excellent lunchbox or travel food option as it tastes equally good whether hot or cold. The other good thing about this rice dish it that you can use leftover plain rice.
Check out this recipe
Spinach Rice is a healthy, tasty and easy rice recipe. An excellent way to get the family to enjoy spinach. Add vegetables of your choice and make it into a meal with some plain yogurt, papad and pickle or salad on the side. I actually use up leftover rice to make this Indian style Spinach Rice.
Check out this recipe
Mujaddara is an inexpensive, gluten free, vegan, healthy, flavorful and filling main dish. The main flavour of this rice dish comes from the caramelized onions. It is usually served with a salad and some yogurt, hummus or tahini sauce.
Check out this recipe
Vangi Bath/Eggplant Rice, Maharashtrian Style is a flavourful, filling,easy to make, one pot rice dish that is best enjoyed with some raita (yogurt relish), salad and papad.
Check out this recipe
Mushroom Egg Fried Rice is an easy to make, flavourful, tasty mushroom rice with eggs. Instead of the usual style of adding scrambled eggs to the rice, raw beaten eggs are added at the final stage of cooking. This way the vegetables and rice all get coated with egg.
Check out this recipe
Vegetable Pulao is a one pot, delicious,aromatic and a filling rice dish. It is a popular Indian Cuisine recipe which every household has its own version of this easy recipe.
Check out this recipe
Tawa pulao is a flavourful, delicious and easy to make rice dish. I purposely make more of the Pav Bhaji, bhaji so that I can make this tawa pulao. Served with some yogurt, yogurt drink and papad along with chopped onions, it makes a perfect lazy day meal. 
Check out this recipe
Most satisfying and filling meal which is not only aromatic but very flavourful and delicious.Ideal Sunday lunch meal.
Check out this recipe
Spicy Rice, Mango and Coconut Salad, is a healthy, filling and very tasty salad with some tropical flavours. With all the flavourful ingredients mixed together you definitely will not miss a salad dressing.
Check out this recipe

Sharing This Recipe With Sunday Funday Group

For this Sunday theme, Sue who blogs at Palatable Pastime suggested we make Rice Side Dishes. Rice should be featured in the side dish so it could be an actual rice dish, a salad or even a dessert. I chose to update my Vegetarian Style Mexican Rice.

First published this post on 10/06/2012. Republishing it on 16/07/2023 with better write up, photos and a video.

Check Out What Rice Side Dishes Fellow Members Of Sunday Funday Have Made

Ingredients Required For Mexican Rice

  • Rice, preferably long or medium grain. Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet. Can also use leftover rice.
  • Onion sliced either white, yellow or red.
  • Garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • Paprika powder or Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • Red Chilli Powder or cayenne, add according to your taste
  • Dried Oregano – use Mexican oregano if available.
  • Cumin powder – roast cumin till it begins to crackle, and then grind into a powder
  • Coriander Powder – roast coriander seeds till they begin to crackle. Cool and then grind into a powder.
  • Carrots, peeled and grated
  • Cabbage, finely chopped or use a mandolin
  • Cooked Red Kidney Beans or use Black Beans. Use canned, fresh, or soak the dried ones overnight and cook in a pressure cooker the next day.
  • Fresh Coriander or Cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Salt
  • Chopped Tomatoes – I do not remove the skin or seeds.
  • Smooth Tomato Salsa Sauce or fresh tomato puree
  • Sweet Pepper or Bell Pepper, any colour of your choice, diced
  • Oil – use any odourless oil. I use either sunflower or olive oil.
  • Water – to cook the rice if you’re not using leftover rice.

Dietary Tips:

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
  • For Satvik option omit onion and garlic

mexican rice 3

mexican rice 1

mexican rice 7

mexican rice 2

mexican rice 4

mexican rice 5

Watch How To Make Mexican Rice



Restaurant style, vegetarian Mexican Style Rice, loaded with vegetables. Homemade is million times better as you can add a variety of veggies and its so flavourful.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Light Meal, Main Course, Rice Dish
Cuisine Mexican, TexMex
Servings 4 Servings



  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil


  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 large onion peeled and sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 cup cooked red or black beans
  • ½ cup fresh coriander/cilantro chopped
  • ½ cup bell pepper, any colour diced
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp paprika/kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ cup fresh salsa sauce or thick tomato puree
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder



    • Rinse the rice in water several times.
    • Add 2 cups of water and let the rice soak for 15-20 minutes.
    • Add the rice along with the water into a saucepan. Add salt and oil.
    •  Cook over medium heat till the rice is done. Don’t overcook it.
    • Spread out the cooked rice in a plate or tray for it to cool down completely.


    • Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
    • Add the onion and stir fry it till it becomes soft and translucent.
    • Add garlic paste and saute for a few seconds
    • Add paprika powder or Kashmiri red chili powder and give it a quick stir.
    •  Immediately add the cabbage and carrot.
    • Add salt and mix well.
    • Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the vegetables cook for 3-4 minutes.
    • Add the chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, kidney beans, cumin powder,coriander powder, oregano and the tomato or salsa sauce.
    • Mix well. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
    • Add rice and coriander. Mix it gently.
    • Serve Mexican rice with your favorite Mexican dish or on its own.


    • Add vegetables of your choice.
    • Add chopped spring onion for added flavour.
    • For fresh tomato puree, cook 2-3 chopped tomatoes in a pan till they become soft. Puree them in a blender.
    • Can use fresh red kidney beans, tinned or if using dried ones you need to soak the beans overnight in warm water. Next day drain out the water, add the beans to a pan or pressure cooker with enough water and some salt. Cook till done. If using a pressure cooker, let it cook for 4 – 6 whistles.
    • Ideal rice dish for parties as you can prepare the plain rice a day ahead. Cook the vegetables and add the rice.
    Keyword all in one meal, easy recipe, gluten free, healthy meal, homemade, vegan, vegetarian

    Pin for Later:

    A little request:

    If you do try this recipe then please either

    • add a comment below,
    • send a picture to my email
    •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
    • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962




    • Shobha Keshwani

      July 12, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      5 stars
      The Mexican rice looks so yummy with all the veggies and beans. Quite filling one pot meal like our Indian pulao.

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 12, 2020 at 2:54 pm

        Thanks Shobha and that’s true, its filling too.

    • Archana

      July 13, 2020 at 7:20 pm

      5 stars
      Ages ago I had made what I read as Mexican rice. The girls were like fekti hai. Now after reading your recipe I know I had done just that! Will definitely try this rice sometime during the week.

    • Priya

      July 14, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      5 stars
      Mexican rice looks colorful. I have made it once using leftover rice. Love the simple flavors. Very inviting

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 14, 2020 at 8:45 pm

        Thank you so much Priya.

    • Chef Mireille

      July 15, 2020 at 7:24 pm

      5 stars
      This bright and colorful rice was so inviting I couldn’t wait to make it and I was not disappointed. It was as delicious as it looks! Thanks for such a great recipe!

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm

        Thank you so much Mireille for trying out the recipe. Am so glad you liked it.

    • Jayashree T.Rao

      July 16, 2020 at 9:44 am

      5 stars
      Love to make Mexican rice, it is flavoursome and enjoyed at home. The bowl looks so inviting.

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 16, 2020 at 2:11 pm

        Thank you so much Jayashree.

    • Wendy Klik

      July 16, 2023 at 7:23 am

      I often serve Mexican Rice as a side to my dinner but yours looks hearty enough to be enjoyed as a complete meal.

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 16, 2023 at 3:31 pm

        Thanks Wendy, we do enjoy it on its own sometimes.

    • Karen’s Kitchen Stories

      July 16, 2023 at 2:32 pm

      It’s amazing how foods traveled back and forth from the western and eastern hemispheres. Where would a lot of dishes be without tomatoes and chillies for example? This sounds amazing and I love all of the spices.

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 16, 2023 at 3:30 pm

        Thank you so much Karen. Yes cannot imagine Indian Cuisine without tomatoes and chillies. The Portuguese introduced it in India along with potato.So much similarity in some of the spices used by both Indian and Mexican cuisines.

    • Sneha Datar

      July 23, 2023 at 7:09 am

      This Mexican rice looks absolutely delicious!!!

      1. mayurisjikoni

        July 23, 2023 at 4:47 pm

        Thank you so much.

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Previous Post Next Post

    Example Colors

    %d bloggers like this: