Mexican Red Rice Recipe

Mexican rice (Spanish rice)

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
117 Calories
5g Fat
16g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 397mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 5mg 25%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 228mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe makes a rice dish similar to that served at Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in the United States. It has a red hue, thanks to the tomato puree, and although it's often referred to as Spanish rice, authentic Spanish rice includes saffron, which imparts a yellow color.

A version of the traditional and ubiquitous red rice with vegetables prepared all over Mexico, this recipe is basic, meaning it’s easy to make, and substitutions are simple if you don’t have all of the exact ingredients on hand. It is best to use long-grain white rice, and toasting it in the sautéed onion contributes another layer of flavor. Then garlic, chicken broth, and tomato puree are added, along with fresh parsley and chopped vegetables, such as carrots, peas, bell peppers, and green beans, if you like.

Serve this Mexican rice alongside tacos, enchiladas, or grilled chicken. You can also use it to fill burritos or stuffed peppers, or as the base of a rice bowl.


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  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1/4 medium onion, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade, canned, or made from bouillon cubes or powder

  • 1 cup tomato puree

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, optional

  • 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, bell pepper, and/or peas, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes until softened and translucent.

  3. Add the rice and continue sautéing, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the rice becomes a golden brown color. Do not allow the rice to burn.

  4. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.

  5. Take the pan off the heat; add the chicken broth and tomato puree, plus the parsley and vegetables if using. Stir, return the pan to the heat, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cover.

  6. Let simmer for 20 minutes without taking off the lid. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and carefully insert a spoon into the cooked rice. If the bottom of the pan is dry, your rice is done; if there is still some broth visible, allow it to cook for a few more minutes.

  7. Once the rice is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered and undisturbed, for another 10 minutes or so.

  8. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

  9. Serve with almost any savory Mexican dish and enjoy.

Recipe Variations

  • Canned chopped tomatoes with chiles or a jarred salsa can also be used.
  • For additional flavor, use a good-quality pork lard instead of the vegetable oil.
  • Add spices such as cumin, chili powder, paprika, or taco seasoning for more depth of flavor.
  • Top the rice with fresh cilantro or chopped green onions.


The tomato puree can be homemade, or you can use canned tomato sauce or other forms of canned tomatoes, such as diced, crushed, or whole (with the tomatoes broken up).

How to Store

The Mexican rice can be kept in the fridge for five to seven days in an airtight container; it can also be frozen for up to six months. Simply reheat in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop.