I think that Mexican meals can be some of the hardest to plan.  Of course, most people love Mexican food, myself included – spicy hot food with melted cheese, warm tortillas, yummy beans and peppers – what’s not to love?  Aside from chips and salsa, I usually have a hard time thinking of what else to serve as side dishes.  I am crazy about the standard refried beans and rice served on the side of almost every entree in a Mexican restaurant.  However, I had never found a recipe for making Mexican rice at home that even came close to what I was looking for…until now.  This version is exactly the right side for a wonderful Mexican meal.  I served it with refried beans as well and felt like I was in a restaurant!  I will be making this again and again and again.  I think the tomato and onion puree used in cooking the rice really helps impart both color and flavor to the rice.  It may seem like a fair amount of work for a side dish (or at least quite a few dishes) but it is definitely worth it, in my opinion.

Recipe Rewind: tried and true favorites I’ve made recently
Roasted Tomato Soup 

Mexican Rice
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 medium white onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
3 medium jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and move a rack to the middle position.  Process tomatoes and onions in the food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary.  Transfer the mixture a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess or add water so that the volume equals 2 cups).   

Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium; add the garlic and minced jalapenos; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan an transfer to the oven; bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

Stir in cilantro (if desired) and serve with lime wedges.  

Source: adapted from Dinner and Dessert, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, September 2004

  • This looks really good! I love Mexican food and over the past year have tried to find different dishes – not your typical enchiladas, tacos, etc. I have a ton of non-Americanized, more traditoinal Mexican recipes in my blog if you ever need ideas!

  • ¡Olé! :-D

  • I’ve been searching for a Mexican rice recipe that my family loves. I’ll have to give this one a try!

  • Delicious! Now I’m craving refried beans and homemade tortillas. Thanks for sharing!

  • This looks just like the rice my favorite Mexican place serves! yum!

  • Erin

    I’m so glad you liked it! I’m actually making it for dinner tonight :)

  • awwww, this is awesome-annie! i have been looking for an organic/natural way to do this and i think i can with this recipe. thanks for sharing!

  • This looks wonderful!!! :)

  • I love the CI recipe for Mexican Rice – its perfect every time!

  • We had fajitas last night, I wish we would of made this rice to go with! Next time!

  • I love Mexican Rice. Your recipe looks fab.

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  • Totally what I have been looking for.

    Got a good refried bean recipe?

  • Annie

    Not yet! I haven’t tried to make these myself yet – opening the can is just so easy :) I do plan to give it a shot though, and Pioneer Woman’s recipe will be the one I try because she hasn’t steered me wrong yet. So I would start there!
    :) Annie

  • genie

    How many servings in this recipe?

  • That mexican rice looks good.

  • Annie

    Hi Genie,
    I believe the recipe yields about 4-6 servings.
    :) Annie

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  • Chelsea

    I made this-it was great! Thanks for the recipe

  • Linda Bass Newton

    I am so excited to find your website! Everything looks so delicious, and it’s all my favorite foods. Do you have a cookbook out? Can’t wait to start trying your recipes.

    New West Gal

  • Annie

    Hi Linda,
    Glad you like the blog! I don’t have a cookbook out, but maybe someday. That would be a dream come true!

  • eileenrn

    I made the rice and chicken fajitas last night. They were a big hit with little remaining for today. I am glad I found your site and will be using more recipes. Thanks.

  • Ok, so I tried to make this again last night with ripe summer tomatoes, and the recipe came out amazing this time around. I’m going to edit my blog post on Friday, since the recipe worked :) . Totally have no idea what went wrong the first time, but it SO was not bland this time! :)

  • Annie

    Yay! Glad it worked out this time :) I make it all the time and it’s always good, so hopefully that was just a fluke!

  • Kathleen

    Just made this last night. It was great ~ tons of flavor. Love your site :-)

  • Maggie

    Hi annie! i love how you make mexican food too!
    and this rice looks exactly like the one my mom and grandma make :) , i’d love to give you some mexican recipes for you to try, they arent as hard as many people think! and they taste amazinggggg! i hope your doing well! have a great week :)

  • I got this recipe from your website a few months ago and have been making it ever since! You’re right…it’s the closest to restaurant rice I’ve been able to get. Plus, it turns out perfect EVERY time I make it…and I make it often. Actually, I think it’s even better than restaurant rice. Thanks so much for posting it! :)

  • Emily

    I made this rice last night for dinner (along with your delicious recipe for taquitos) and I just wanted to thank you for posting this awesome recipe. I’ve been trying for quite some time to find a recipe for Mexican rice that is close to the rice my ex-boyfriend’s mother made (they were from Mexico) and this was pretty much perfect! The time spent making it was definitely well worth it!!!

  • Gina McGuire

    Hi Annie! Um, totally obsessed with your blog…
    If I double this recipe do I change cook-time?

    Congrats on the new babe!

  • Annie

    Hmm…you know, I’m not totally sure. I think I have doubled it before without changing the time but I’m not positive. I’d just try it and see I guess! I’m actually getting ready to make it right now. How funny!

  • Nicole

    can you cook this the night before and reheat?

  • Annie


  • Nicole


  • LS

    Hi Annie!
    I just wanted to let you (and other readers) know that I took some serious liberties with this recipe and it was still unbelieveably delicious. My changes were motived by a lack of oven (ugh) and minimal groceries post vacation. I made the following modifications:
    -Halved the recipe and divided into ramekins (for the toaster oven hehe)
    -Subbed a hefty dollup of tomato paste thinned with water for the tomato
    -Subbed brown for white rice and upped cook time to 40 minutes

    I just finished up the leftovers and it reheated quite nicely. I can’t wait to make the real version once my oven is fixed. Thanks so much!

  • Jenn

    Made this last night and it turned out great! Thanks for a great recipe :)

  • YES! This rice is great! Definitely tastes like the rice served at restaurants that I love. I’ve tried so many recipes trying to get this result and this is definitely, by far, the best. I also like that it spends most of the time in the oven, handy if you have other things going on the stove for taco night! I also likes that it makes so much. It makes 12 servings so we’ll be able to stretch the pot I made tonight into 3 meals by freezing the leftovers into 2-cup portions. Awesome! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • MrMe

    Looks very good, although this recipe is not true Mexican. I’ll do this tonight.

  • em

    i used this, but tweaked up the ingredients a little and cooked the rice on the stove and it turned out really good!

  • April Nelson

    I have made this 3 times in the past week. The only changes I made were to use a can of tomatoes/green chilies since I didn’t have fresh tomatoes and the last time I added corn. The most AMAZING rice I’ve had in a long time. Thank you so so much!