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Make Your Own Restaurant-Worthy Mexican Rice With This Recipe

Once you learn how to make Mexican rice it should be a staple on your plate every time you make Mexican food.

Flavorsome and fluffy, you can have it on the side with some dip and tortilla chips.

You can even use Mexican rice to fill out your wraps alongside some familiar fillings, topped up with guacamole and sour cream.

Make Your Own Restaurant-Worthy Mexican Rice With This Recipe

Even when you don’t use it as an accompaniment to other Mexican dishes, Mexican rice is a great, easy simple dish to make and is super rewarding.

If you have ever made paella or a simple risotto, you should be familiar with creating a dish like Mexican rice.

The concept and cooking method is quite similar, you fry off some rice until golden and then use a liquid like a stock or some wine for the rice to absorb and gain in volume.

Throw in some spices and some seasoning at the same time and you can quickly have a flavorful side dish. 

Quick Answer: Why Is Mexican Rice Such A Great Side Dish?

Mexican rice may seem tricky the first time as you will simply be used to cooking rice in water until nice and fluffy.

However, if you have made paella before you will know the process of frying the rice in oil first and then adding stock to be absorbed.

The flavors are key and, in this case, tomato sauce, chicken stock, cumin, and minced garlic provide a tasty profile for your race.

Try not to be tempted to open the lid too often when the rice is cooking as you want to trap the heat in for the rice to fluffen up properly.

Once the Mexican rice is cooked, fluffed up, and full of flavor, it can sit on a plate alongside several Mexican dishes.

Do not expect the rice to absorb more sauce as it is already at capacity yet it provides a more subtle, nutty flavor that works well with other dishes.

Try it alongside Burritos, Quesadillas, or Enchiladas, you can even put the rice into the wrap as another filling.

Mexican rice also works well alongside portions of Taco Casserole and Chicken Tacos.

Mains With Mexican Rice As A Side – Quick Comparison

Mexican rice obviously goes well with a lot of Mexican dishes.

You may even be tempted to accompany your Burrito, Quesadilla, or Enchilada fillings with some rice too.

As the Mexican rice has absorbed a lot of sauce and oil, it struggles to take in any additional sauce as typical boiled rice does.

However, if you just want another texture then it goes really well alongside Taco Casserole and Chicken Tacos. 

RecipeTotal Preparation Time
Burritos30 minutes
Taco Casserole40 minutes
Chicken Tacos30 minutes
Quesadillas25 minutes
Steak Enchiladas20 minutes

The Recipe For Mexican Rice

If you have ever cooked seasoned rice before then a dish of Mexican rice should seem pretty straightforward.

You will appreciate having to fry the white rice in oil to turn it golden brown and ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

There is also a sauce made from tomato sauce, chicken stock and cumin which is then absorbed by the rice to create flavorful grains.

Chopped cilantro also holds it together and introduces another color to the mix.


  • Three tbsp cooking oil
  • Cup white rice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ cup tomato sauce/passata
  • 14oz chicken stock (400ml)
  • Three tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Tsp minced garlic


  1. Heat your three tablespoons of cooking oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat
  2. Add the cup of white rice and stir until the rice changes color to light brown
  3. Add in the salt, minced garlic, and cumin then stir until the rice appears golden brown
  4. Slowly add the chicken stock and wear gloves as there may be steam 
  5. Add the chopped cilantro and tomato sauce then turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mix to a boil while stirring
  6. Once the mix has reached a boil , turn the heat down to low, cover the saucepan with a lid then simmer for between 20 and 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
  7. Once the moisture has been absorbed by the rice it should be done and you can remove it from the heat
  8. Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve

Mains With Mexican Rice As A Side


Total Calories (per 100g): 220

Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Burritos go sensationally well with Mexican rice, you can either bulk it up with some or use it as an accompaniment with some salad and sour cream.

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet pan over a medium heat and then drain away any excess fat.

Stir in some taco seasoning then remove the contents of the pan into a bowl and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Cook a can of refried beans in a saucepan over a medium-low heat until they are fully heated through.

Divide the beans and ground beef mix between your tortillas and smother them with grated cheese. 

Wrap the tortillas by folding the sides and ends over the filling then roll them up.

Brown the burritos in some oil in the same skillet over a medium-high heat.

Be careful to remove them from the pan and serve immediately with some Mexican rice, sour cream, and salsa.

Taco Casserole

Total Calories (per 100g): 175

Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Many casserole dishes come with an accompanying dish and Mexican rice really does complement a Taco Casserole.

Get the sour cream out of the fridge and allow it to get to room temperature as you do not want it to curdle in the oven which you should preheat to 350°F (180°C).

Cook the ground beef with onions until cooked through then drain any excess fat.

Add around three-quarters of a cup of water with some taco seasoning and bring it all to the boil. Lower the heat then simmer for five minutes before removing from the heat.

In a casserole dish, spread some refried beans to create an even later at the bottom then spread the room temperature sour cream over the top.

Cover the beans and sour cream with the ground beef mix then cover it all with some grated cheese.

You could refrigerate it to cook later on or bake uncovered for around 15 minutes, by which time the cheese should have melted.

Top with some green onions 

Chicken Tacos

Total Calories (per 100g): 230

Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Chicken tacos are such a healthy, tasty meal that you may find yourself going back to it over and over again.

Mexican rice works really well to provide a different, but still authentically Mexican, taste alongside it.

Create a spice mix in a bowl with cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper to sprinkle over your boneless and skinless chicken thighs.

Heat some canola oil in a large skillet pan over a medium-high heat and batch cook the chicken thighs under cooked through and golden brown.

If you want to be sure, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature is at least 165°F.

Once the chicken thighs have cooked, dice them up and place them in some mini tortilla wraps.

Typically, you can accompany the diced chicken thighs with some pico de gallo, avocado slices, cilantro leaves, then drizzle over some freshly squeezed lime juice.

Either have your Mexican rice on the side or feel free to put some into the tortilla wraps. 


Total Calories (per 100g): 306

Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Whether you want to make it a chicken, beef, or vegetable quesadilla, any variety will go really well with Mexican rice. 

First, make your Mexican spice mix or salt, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, and cumin.

You can create this in bulk and then bring it out for other tasty recipes such as tacos, enchiladas, or burritos.

Fry up either your meat or vegetables (peppers, onion, and sweetcorn work really well) and then set aside.

Open up a tortilla wrap and cover half of it with grated cheese then place your filling on top and cover with even more cheese to glue it all together.

Fold over the remaining half of the tortilla wrap and place on a dry skillet pan over a low to medium heat then cover with a lid.

Once brown underneath, flip it over and cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown.

Cut the quesadilla and serve with some Mexican rice, you may also want to dip it in some salsa or sour cream. 

Steak Enchiladas

Total Calories (per 100g): 187

Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes

If you have cooked a steak and do not know what to do with it then chop it into strips and have it in an enchilada. 

Heat up your leftover steak strips and dice up some vegetables then heat them up on the stove or in a microwaveable dish.

Meanwhile, heat up some cooking oil over a medium heat and place a tortilla in the pan to then add beans, steak strips, vegetables, cheese, and either plain rice or Mexican rice.

Place another tortilla on top and cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown then carefully flip it over.

Once both sides are equally golden brown, cut it however you want to and serve with Mexican rice, guacamole, and sour cream.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Freeze Leftover Mexican Rice?

Thankfully, this recipe for Mexican rice freezes exceptionally well so you may be tempted to double up the portion.

Like any cooked rice, you will be expected to let it cool down before storing it.

You can either use an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer-safe bag with the air squeezed out.

Portion out the cooked and cooled Mexican rice and then put it into the container and label it with the day’s date, do not forget to lay it flat in the freezer though it can be stood up once it freezes.

The rice has to be thawed out before being cooked so you can leave it in the fridge in the morning to be ready for the evening.

Alternatively, leave the container of frozen rice in the fridge overnight and it should be ready the next day.

When you are ready to cook it, you can nuke it in the microwave or cook it on the stove in a pan for a few minutes.

What Is The Difference Between Spanish Rice And Mexican Rice?

Some elements of Spanish and Mexican cooking may seem similar yet there are differences between their interpretations of rice.

You may note that Spanish rice, such as the type used in paella fares better in a dish that needs a sizable cooking time and the grains are firmer with a more pungent aroma.

In comparison, Mexican rice can be seen as softer, with a more delicate texture and milder aroma.

However, if you were to look at both in a nutritional sense they would seem largely similar.

Why Is Rice Fried First In Mexican Rice?

The main reason that rice is fried at the very start when creating Mexican rice is to add a coating of oil.

The coating actively prevents the rice grains from sticking to the pan and together during the simmering process.

As the rice grains brown, they should give off a nutty aroma which will remain when the rice is finally cooked.

The initial frying of the rice adds a complexity to the flavor which complements the sauce that each grain absorbs.

Why Does My Mexican Rice End Up Being Sticky?

If your Mexican rice resembles a bowl of East Asian sticky rice then you will have likely missed out on an important part of the cooking process.

This begins right at the start when the rice grains are fried in oil.

While it may seem inconsequential the first time you create Mexican rice, the oil provides a different layer.

Without this frying, the rice remains starchy which aids it in sticking together rather than separating and seeming fluffy.

Make Your Own Restaurant-Worthy Mexican Rice With This Recipe

If you have been to a Mexican restaurant, Mexican rice as a side goes well with so many dishes. Here’s how to make tasty restaurant-worthy Mexican rice at home.


  • Pick a recipe from the list above
  • Click the recipe name and visit the website
  • Collect the ingredients and cook the food
  • Enjoy – don’t forget to leave a review

Recipe Video

Jess Smith

Tel U

Saturday 20th of August 2022

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