Mexican rice is probably one of the best versions of rice in the world.

It’s right up there with Hainanese chicken rice, fried rice, and paella.

Who doesn’t love Mexican rice? But did you know it’s super easy to make at home and way healthier than buying those bags of premade rice that account for 80% of your daily sodium (seriously, check the nutrition info on those bags). If you ever wanted to amp up taco night, mexican rice, refried beans, and homemade salsa are the low hanging fruit.

How to make Mexican rice

There’s two basic kinds of rice in the world: fluffy and pre-fried. Mexican rice is the pre-fried kind. To make Mexican rice, you:

  1. Fry your aromatics. For me, this is onions, but you can add garlic, fennel, whatever you like. Onions are essential though.
  2. Toast your rice and spices. Fry your rice until it becomes aromatic and translucent. Fry your dry spices now too, which is blooms them and enhances their flavors.
  3. Cook your tomato sauce and oregano. Frying tomato sauce caramelizes it and kills that sometimes sour tomato taste that not everyone loves. The more you dislike tomatoes, the more you should fry it, but don’t skip the tomatoes, because they add an essential umami layer of flavor.
  4. Add water, cook, and steam the rice. For perfect-almost-all-rices, add 1.25 cups of water for every cups of rice, bring to a boil, cook for 17-20 minutes (depending on how al dente you like your rice) then steam for 10.
  5. Fluff and serve. As soon as that last 10 minutes is up, fluff up the rice, then serve with your favorite Mexican sides.

how to make mexican rice |

Do you really need to fry rice?

Frying the rice is probably the most vital step here to getting that restaurant texture. Let it get really nutty and brown, it’ll improve the final dish.

Can you make Mexican rice without tomatoes?

I have a range of tomato sauce here, from 1/2 cup for those who don’t really like tomato sauce to 1 cup for those who do. 1 cup is better. If you really, really, really hate tomatoes, you can remove them, but the rice will not taste or look the same.

Mexican oregano vs regular oregano

Mexican oregano is actually a bit different than the usual stuff you find in the spice aisle. It’s actually a different plant altogether! Mexican oregano is indigenous to Mexico and has a more woodsy, citrus-lime earthy flavor compared to your typical oregano, which is Mediterranean oregano. You can find Mexican oregano in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store and if you can’t, you can sub regular oregano, but try and find some, it makes a difference. (Unless you already have regular oregano in your pantry, because nothing beats free).

mexican rice |

What’s the best rice to use for Mexican rice?

Mexican rice is best made with long grain rice. We just usually use jasmine, which isn’t all that authentic but I find it to be fluffier and moister. You can also use brown rice, which is inauthentic but doesn’t taste much different and it’s arguably healthier.

What to serve with Mexican Rice?

Here are some ideas:

Beef Barbacoa |


The Best Mexican Rice Recipe

Mexican rice is the perfect side or main for any Mexican or Southwestern recipe you can think of.
Serves 2
4.70 from 13 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (or up to 1 cup)
  • 1.25 cup water

Special Equipment

  • nonstick pan with a lid


  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add onions. Fry until onions are just translucent, about 3 minutes
    frying onions for mexican rice |
  • Add the rice, garlic, and cumin. Continue frying until rice is golden brown and nutty, about 2-3 minutes
    toasting rice for mexican rice |
  • Add tomato sauce and oregano. Stir until rice is evenly coated with tomato sauce.
    how to make mexican rice |
  • Add water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
    how to make mexican rice |
  • When the water has reached a boil, immediately cover with a lid and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Set a timer for 20 minutes and don't disturb or peek under the lid for any reason.
    mexican rice |
  • When the 20 minutes are up, remove from heat, continuing not to touch the lid, and let steam for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, fluff and serve.
    mexican rice |

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
The Best Mexican Rice Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 216 Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value*
Fat 3.9g6%
Cholesterol 0.01mg0%
Sodium 167mg7%
Potassium 195mg6%
Carbohydrates 40.7g14%
Fiber 1.6g7%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 4g8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Sarah says:

    Tried and will prepare again, simple and very delicious. Thanks!

  2. Brian Moore says:

    5 stars
    Had a Mexican friend show me this exact way to make rice forty years ago. When I was learning to cook. He had been employed as a cook so had no problem showing me some things. So grateful as this is a delicious addition to any Mexican meal.

  3. Becky says:

    5 stars
    I add cumin to give it that Mexican flavor. Cumin is a key spice if cooking anything Mexican. But basically, I make my the rice the same way. I also fry my tomato sauce with rice.

    1. Chris says:

      You add more cumin than recipe calls for?

  4. Grace says:

    Mexican rice does not always include cumin. It depends upon where a person grew up. Cumin can be quite strong and off-putting. In my opinion, go easy with it, if you have never used it in your food. Mike, your instructions are perfect. Thanks for spreading the word about Mexican rice.

  5. Frances says:

    4 stars
    I use chicken broth and a small amount of water when cooking my mexican rice. Frying the rice with all of the herbs along with the tomato sauce and onions makes all the difference in the world. I myself am mexican and was taught how too cook the traditional way. Wouldn’t change it for world ?

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