Spanish rice, also known as Mexican rice, red rice, or arroz rojo, is a Mexican side dish made from long-grain white rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc. Authentic Mexican rice is made by sautéing rice in a skillet with oil or fat until it is colored golden brown, like rice pilaf. Water, chicken stock or chicken broth is then added, along with tomatoes in the form of fresh tomatoes, a can of tomatoes, or tomato sauce. ~adapted from Wikipedia Note for Mexican Rice Recipe for Stovetop or Rice Cooker: If you substitute brown rice, you'll still want to do the rice browning step.)
My son is an excellent cook and Mexican food is his thing. Living in La Quinta, CA, he knows his way around spicy food and Mexican restaurants. I love everything he cooks, but he has the best Mexican rice recipe. It is a simple recipe for flavorful rice, without the thick tomato base, chunks of green chilies, or bell pepper often found in traditional Mexican rice. It is the perfect Mexican rice like you'd find at your favorite Mexican restaurant, alongside an order of refried beans or black beans. It is the perfect side dish.
My son gave me his easy Mexican rice recipe years ago, and I have made it on a nearly weekly basis since then, to rave reviews. I probably changed it a bit, but only thing I remember for certain is the secret ingredient. That ingredient is one of just three ingredients in this great recipe, Mexican Rice Recipe for Stovetop or Rice Cooker.
First, what is the secret ingredient?
I describe it as the secret ingredient. Most of the work is done for you. Let's break it down.
- The tomato in the bouillon eliminates the need for fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato juice.
- The chicken flavor in the bouillon eliminates the need for chicken stock, chicken broth, or vegetable broth.
- The spice in the bouillon eliminates the need for garlic clove, garlic powder, minced garlic, chili powder, or cayenne pepper.
If you can't find Tomato Bouillon With Chicken Flavor at your local grocery store near the other bouillons, look for it in the Hispanic food aisle. It is also available online.
- Vegetable or olive oil
- Brown Jasmine rice or equivalent. How much rice you'll need depends on the number of servings. I use ½ cup for two servings and 1 cup for four servings. Sometimes I make extra so I will have leftovers for breakfast, crisped up with an over easy egg on top.
- Tomato bouillon with Chicken Flavor (see Secret Ingredient above)
- White Onion (optional) This one is totally a matter of personal preference. I love onion in everything except desserts, but some do not. If you decide to add it be sure to dice it fairly small. It just eats better with the rice this way.
- Rice. There are so many types of rice available. Choose what you like best. At the moment we are trying to avoid simple carbohydrates so we use a brown rice in place of white rice. The biggest difference is the texture. Brown Jasmine gives us the best of both.
(See recipe card for quantities.)
Instructions for Stovetop:
- Heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the uncooked rice.
- Stir until the rice becomes lightly golden brown and fragrant.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the tomato bouillon to the rice. Stir to mix well.
- Add the hot water to the pot and stir well. The water should be over the top of the rice. If not, you might need a smaller saucepan with a lid.
- Cover and cook over low heat until the water is all evaporated and the rice is cooked through. Cooking time is about 16-20 minutes. You still want a little body to the nice, not mushy.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 5-7 minutes uncovered. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Instructions for Rice Cooker:
- Measure the amount of rice needed for the number of servings you want.
- Add the oil to a small skillet over medium heat. Add the rice and cook until the rice is golden brown and fragrant. Add the tomato bouillon and stir until combined.
- Add the toasted rice to the rice cooker bowl followed by the water. If you are adding onions, do it now.
- Put the lid on the rice cooker bowl and push the lever to turn on the rice cooker.
- It will take about 15 minutes for four servings to cook in the rice cooker. Remove the rice bowl from the cooker and let it sit for 5 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork.
Serving Suggestions for Mexican Rice Recipe for Stovetop or Rice Cooker
- It is a great side dish with any Tex-Mex entree.
- In addition to being a delicious side dish, it is perfect stuffed into a burrito or atop a crunchy tostada.
- Serve as a standalone meal of beans and rice, this rice.
- Served leftover, for breakfast with a poached or fried egg on top.
- As a main dish, served the best way, all by itself with a dollop of sour cream and some salsa.
- For crispy rice, add a tablespoon of butter to a non-stick pan, and sauté the cooked rice until a crispy crust forms. Don't stir too much while getting it crispy.
- I like my Mexican rice served with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice, a dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema, and a little coarsely ground black pepper. Slices of avocado makes a great addition to the plate. The best part is the Mexican rice tastes great with very little effort. Spanish rice, also known as Mexican rice, red rice, or arroz rojo, is a Mexican side dish or an ingredient in other dishes made from long grain white rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc. Authentic Mexican rice is made by sautéing rice in a skillet with oil or fat until it is colored golden brown, like rice pilaf. Water, chicken stock or chicken broth is then added, along with tomatoes in the form of fresh tomatoes, a can of tomatoes, or tomato sauce. ~adapted from Wikipedia (Note about my Mexican Rice Recipe for Stovetop or Rice Cooker: If you substitute brown rice, you'll still want to do the rice browning step.) This simple recipe makes the best Mexican rice.
Rice Cooking Methods:
There are many way to cook rice. Here is my 2 cents worth, based solely on personal preference.
- Rice Cooker: For me, this is the best method. It is fast, reliable, and does not require a lot of attention. It is sort of a set-it-and-forget-it deal. As long as you remember the ratio of cups of rice to cups of water (1 to 1.5) and the capacity of your rice cooker, it's easy. Most rice cookers have a keep warm setting so even if the rice cooks faster than the rest of the meal, it will wait for the cook to catch up. Rice cookers are durable. In my lifetime, and I am old, I have owned just two.
- Stovetop: Cooking rice on the stovetop is my second favorite way to cook rice. Sorry to mention age again, but I am just keeping it real. You have to pay attention to rice that is cooking on the stovetop. If you beam off, your rice will burn. The best way to cook rice on the stovetop is to turn it off shortly before it is completely cooked, leave the lid on, and let it finish off the heat. I have to set a timer to make this happen. I think cooking rice on the stovetop using this method yields the best rice. It does not dry out and fluffs nicely with a fork. It does cool quickly though, so timing it with the rest of the meal is important.
- Instant Pot: I am sorry but I do not care for this at all. I know there are legions of Instant Pot and pressure cooker fans, myself included, but for rice, I take a pass. Instant Pot Mexican rice is not for me. I know it can be done. I have tried and do not care to invest anymore time on it. For braver souls, I recommend Instant Pot Rice by Amy and Jack.
- Microwave: I will admit that I have not tried cooking rice in the microwave. I still haven't gotten over my attempt to boil eggs in the microwave in the 1970's. But Steamy Kitchen can teach you a lot about cooking rice in the microwave.
- Oven Baked: Confession, I have not tried this method for cooking rice except for rice casseroles with other ingredients. My Fennel and Leek Casserole is a great baked rice recipe. If you want to bake your rice, Spend with Pennies will teach you everything you need to know about it.
This concludes my information on methods to cook rice. I am sure someone, somewhere has cooked rice in a homemade aluminum foil oven using just the heat from the sun, or some guy has cooked it under the hood of a big block Chevy traveling Route 66, but I have no resources for that.
- I use brown Jasmine rice when I have it on hand. It is flavorful and fragrant. Basmati rice works equally well. It stays a bit firmer than long-grain rice which helps keep the grains separate. Any plain white rice or brown rice will work.
- Toasting the uncooked rice in oil brings out its nutty flavor and also improves the texture.
- Fluff the rice with a fork after cooking instead of stirring. It helps separate the rice before serving.
Mexican Rice Recipe for Stovetop or Rice Cooker
- Rice cooker / rice maker / rice steamer I like the large Aroma rice cooker and Zojirushi 3 cup rice cooker.
- Measuring cup
- Large skillet. for stovetop cooking.
- Small skillet for browning the rice
- 1 TBS vegetable oil use olive oil if preferred
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
- 2 TBS Tomato bouillon with Chicken Flavor
- 1 ½ cups very hot water
- Heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the uncooked rice. Stir until the rice becomes lightly golden brown.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the tomato bouillon to the rice. Stir to mix well. Add the hot water to the pot and stir well. Cover and cook over low heat until the water is all evaporated and the rice is cooked through. About 16-20 minutes. You still want a little body to the nice, not mushy. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5-7 minutes uncovered. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
If you like this rice recipe you might also like my Creamy Parmesan Rice Recipe Copycat.