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Authentic Mexican Rice

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Authentic Mexican Rice or Arroz Rojo, is made with a simple blended sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, and garlic. This rice is a staple side dish in Mexican cuisine.

Overhead view of Mexican Red Rice in a white dish with a gold spoon.

Mexican Rice or Arroz Rojo, is one of those simple recipes, but can take some practice to perfect it. I have some tips that I’ve learned to help you succeed in making this recipe.

If you want to try a white rice recipe, this one is called Arroz Primavera.


The ingredients to make Mexican Rice are simple. You’ll need garlic, onion, water, chicken bouillon, tomatoes, oil, and rice.

Ingredients for Mexican Rice, (garlic, onion, water, oil, chicken bouillon, tomatoes, and long grain rice.)

Tomato Sauce

I call this the essential Mexican sauce. It’s the same blended sauce that is used for Fideo, Albondigas, and Lentejas. This is the recipe my Mother in law shared with me, but I’ll provide some substitutions as well.

Roma Tomatoes- This is the method I use most and prefer. It’s just 2 roma tomatoes, sliced in half, and quarter of a white onion, and 2 garlic cloves. I also add a Tablespoon of chicken bouillon or use Chicken Broth.

*Note- If the bouillon or stock you are using is low in sodium, you might need to add additional salt to season the rice. 

Tomato, onion, garlic, and chicken bouillon in a blender.

Canned Tomato Sauce-  If you don’t have Roma tomatoes, then you can use 1/4 cup of canned tomato sauce. Blend the tomato sauce with the onions, garlic, and bouillon.

Tomato Bouillon- I’ve never made Mexican rice with tomato bouillon, so I can’t comment on the taste of it, but I’ve seen it used often in rice recipes. Just replace the tomatoes with the bouillon and omit salt if the bouillon has salt.

How to Make Mexican Rice

The cooking technique is what makes a really good Mexican rice. Here are my best tips:

Toast the Rice- Use a pan with a lid. Add your rinsed/drained rice to a pan over medium heat with oil and sauté until lightly browned. I’ve had the best result with long grain white rice.

Liquid to Rice Ratio- Use 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of liquid. However if your rice is older, then you’ll need closer to 2 cups of liquid. If you add too much liquid you can remove the lid at the end and keep the heat on low to evaporate the extra liquid.

Don’t touch it! Once you add the tomato mixture to the rice, stir it, place the lid on, lower the heat, and walk away!

Mexican rice with blended fresh tomatoes in a skillet.

The key to perfect rice is to not mess with it once it starts cooking. So leave the lid on for 12 minutes under a gentle simmer. Then remove the pan from the heat and keep the lid on for another 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.

Troubleshooting Tips

If the rice is undercooked, add some water and turn the heat back up to low for a few minutes with the lid on. Check again for doneness.

If there is too much liquid, remove the lid and turn the heat to low to evaporate the excess liquid. Keep an eye on it, since the rice can burn on the bottom if the heat is too hot.

Mexican Rice in a white dish.

Here are some recipes to serve with Mexican Rice:

Red rice in a white serving dish.

Authentic Mexican Rice Recipe

Authentic Mexican Rice or Arroz Rojo, is made with a simple blended sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, and garlic.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 5


  • 1 Cup Long Grain Rice (rinsed well and set aside to drain)
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes (cut in half)
  • ¼ Medium White Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves whole
  • ¼ cup Chicken or vegetable broth or use Chicken Bouillon and water
  • ¼ tsp Salt Depending on the bouillon or broth you are using, you may need more or less salt. Taste the mixture before cooking the rice.


  • Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer under cold water for about 30 seconds. Set aside to drain. You want to drain as much water as you can.
  • In a blender add tomatoes, onion, garlic, chicken bouillon and water, or use chicken broth, and blend till pureed. (Use vegetable broth for vegetarian)
    You'll want to end up with 1.5 cups of liquid for 1 cup of rice. Add additional water or broth if needed to reach 1.5 cups after blending.
  • In a pot with a lid, add oil over medium heat. Add rice and continuing stirring to toast rice until lightly browned. Pour in blended sauce, (be careful because it will splatter), stir well, and turn heat to medium low. Once rice is simmering place lid and allow rice to simmer for 12 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat and keep lid on for another 10 minutes. Then remove and fluff rice with a fork and serve.



If the bouillon or stock you are using is low in sodium, you might need to add additional salt to season the rice. 
Leftovers can be stored up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1gCalories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 132mgPotassium: 122mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 207IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword Arroz Rojo, Authentic Mexican Rice, Mexican Rice
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    1. If you want to make sure it’s gluten free, use homemade or store bought broth. Typically, boullion cubes are not gluten free (Knorr is the commonly used brand) — if you have certified GF cubes, then you’re good. Source, I’m Mexican and have Celiac disease.

    1. Hi Jennifer- 5 minutes should still be ok for white rice. I haven’t tested it yet, tho. If you are using brown rice, then you’ll need to cook for at least 20 minutes. Just be sure there is at least a 1:1 ratio of rice to liquid/sauce in the instant pot. Let me know how it turns out!

    1. Hi Lisa- 1 cup of dried rice will yield about 3 cups of cooked rice. Depending on what you are serving it with, this can be enough for 5-7 servings.

        1. Hi Stephanie- You’ll want 3 cups of liquid total. So after blending the tomatoes, onion, and garlic add enough water to reach 3 cups of liquid for 2 cups of rice.

  1. Perfect Mexican rice recipe! Will use over and over. I doubled the ingredients, and had a little over 3 cups of sauce, which was perfect.