Restaurant Style Mexican Rice

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice from #mexicanrice #rice #mexicanfoodThis is a delicious and simple recipe for Mexican rice that rivals anything you can get in a restaurant (and FAR better than anything you can make from a box). I have tried different methods in my rice cooker, but cooking it over the stove is so much better. This Mexican rice is slightly on the dry side, like in restaurants (which is exactly how I like it). It doesn’t turn out wet, clumpy and sticky like some homemade Mexican rice recipes can be. The rice really absorbs the flavors yet has the perfect consistency. Really– you can’t lose.
My husband is very picky about his Mexican rice, they had a family friend growing up that made the most amazing and authentic Mexican food… he was skeptical that this rice would be as good as his friends’ Mexican rice… but to his pleasant surprise this was JUST as good (if not better)!  He actually said it is his new favorite way to make it and we have made it several times since.
This recipe goes hand in hand with our restaurant style refried beans HERE. With both of these recipes combined, you have all your sides covered for your next big fiesta! Your friends will think you had it all catered in from your favorite Mexican joint. We have tons of great Mexican recipes here on FavFamilyRecipes… if you want to browse them ALL, click HERE!

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ c. tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and gently stir until rice begins to lightly brown.
  3. Add the garlic, salt, and cumin and stir the rice til it looks golden.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cilantro and turn the heat up to medium high.
  5. Bring the mix to a boil then turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid.
  6. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Serves 4.


  1. This recipe was amazing! I made it tonight and it was delicious with our fajitas. I have to admit, I sucked at cooking until my husband brought home your book from Deseret Book and now I am making delicious meals daily! He is a happy hubby now! Keep the recipes coming!

  2. I am a puertorican woman married to a hard core mexican man. I have tried just about every recipe available for this rice and it never quite worked. I made this today and IT’S PERFECT!! This is the way my MIL makes it. This is as authentic as it can get! Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the recipe I will make my family from now on.

  3. -My 12 year old son AKA the pickiest eater in the entire universe “This is the BEST Mexican rice I’ve had in a long time! Save the recipe!”

    Thank you! He wanted to go out for Mexican rice and refried beans. I found your recipe and whipped it up in 20 minutes , warmed up a can of beans and scored some awesome mom points!

  4. I made this rice and it was FABOULOUS! I have never been able to replicate mexican rice like a restaurant and my husband and I loved this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Looks amazing! I’d like to make it for an upcoming party. What is your advice about making it ahead of time and re-heating?

  6. This was a really good basic Mexican rice recipe. I have been searching for one and this is the one I will bookmark for later. Thank you!

  7. I loved the flavor of this recipe, but I tried it with brown rice (simmering for 45 min) and didn’t like the texture. I think I’ll splurge and do the long grain white rice next time!

    • I’m not sure as to why you say “splurge”, but I guessing it is because you think brown rice has less calories than white. If it will make you feel any better, that’s actually not true! White rice has less calories than brown rice does because it’s been milled down. The plus side of brown rice though is that it does have more nutrients! Just thought I’d let you know so you can feel better about eating a bowl of this amazing rice!

      • Thank you, Adrian. I was referring to what we are hearing all the time about brown rice being a healthier choice than white rice. I definitely prefer white rice in this recipe. Thank you for visiting our site!

  8. I just tried this recipe last night & it was awesome! Best Mexican rice recipe I’ve tried yet. I used brown rice & loved it.
    Thank you!

  9. This looks like a great recipe! We’re grilling carne asada and I wanted to try a new recipe for Spanish rice so yours is it. Can’t wait to taste it!

  10. I made this the other night with enchiladas. I’ve been wanting to make mexican rice for a long time but never have. So glad I found your recipe first, it was everything I was looking for. I did fry some onion in a bit of oil first before adding the rice, added a touch of taco seasoning instead of salt, and added a few chopped baby tomatoes :)

    It was beyond perfect. Thank you!

  11. In your recipe when you say heat the oil on medium heat and add the rice.. do you mean cooked or uncooked rice? I would love to make this tonight!

  12. My kids love Mexican restaurants rice. I tired you recipe the other night and they say it beats all of their former favorites.

  13. I have been using this recipe for many years and take it to Mexican themed parties. I took it to a party recently and it was a hit and my friends thought our Mexican friend had made it. Best compliment ever. I have never tried adding cilantro. I will have to try that. :-)

  14. Ok so i followed this recipe’s instructions fairly well except that I used a rice cooker – that’s right! And it turned out amazing! I still dry toasted the rice in the hot rice cooker and mixed in oil to let it heat, then garlic and dry herbs, then liquid and cilantro and set it – 20 minutes later I had Mexican rice that guests were raving about. It was almost a letdown when I explained that I used a rice cooker, but I’m very proud of it too! Thank you so much!

  15. I am going to be making this tonight. Could I stir in some canned veggies like peas and carrots? The last few times I went to a Mexican restaurant there were peas and/or carrots in it. And if so when would be the ideal time to stir them in? Thank you for a simple and delicious recipe!

    • You could definitely try it! I am sure it wouldn’t hurt. If it were ME, I wouldn’t do canned. I would do frozen, saute them separately and stir them in at the end…

  16. try switching the tomato sauce for the Mexican hot tomato sauce and only use a 1/4 cup of it . while the rice is browning put the HOT TOMATO sauce and half of a onion. brown the rice. when it comes to add chicken broth. that’s where you get all the flavor. trust me i’m 100% Mexicana from San Diego I grew up cooking from 7 of my tias and nana cooking constantly. I post my recipes on pintrest all the time I make dinners for my Caucasian husband because he LOVES Mexican food. I make it most of the time because w live in florida. there is close to none authentic Mexican restaurants. love your recipes ladies!! keep up the Great work!!

    • Thank you so much for your advice! I will DEFINITELY be doing that next time I make this! What is the link to your Pinterest page? I would love to try your recipes!

      • its Ashley slager. I don’t have a blog up. im not that special lol but for the larger batches of rice use the 1/4 cup for smaller use 1 tablespoon. i eye ball it only because it is spicy. you can get it at Wal-Mart in the Hispanic isle. Its called “Conchita tomato sauce salsa de tomate” :)

  17. This recipe looked so delicious. I decided to make it tonight and it smelled sooo bad. I could not eat it. Also, there was not enough liquid and the rice didn’t fully cook. Not sure why though, followed the instructions exactly. :/

  18. Can I blend tomatoes for my tomato sauce? Having people over for dinner tonight, making fajitas. Was looking for a simple easy recipe for Mexican rice.

  19. I just tried this recipe tonight and it was GREAT!! It’s just what I have been looking for. We had this with fajitas and it was better than at a Mexican restaurant. I have put this into my recipe book and will most definitely be making it for every mexican meal! Thank you!

  20. I made this recipe tonight. It was so easy and awesome!!! Very close to my favorite Mexican restaurant. Better than any packaged rice you buy at the store. Other than the cumin I had everything on hand. Used the dried cilantro and it tasted really good. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing.

  21. We made this last night as a side dish, and everyone loved it. We are thinking about trying it with a little bit of salsa for a little extra oomph, but it was just like the rice that I’m used to getting at some of my favorite Mexican restaurants!!

  22. Can you use instant white rice? If so should I cook it before or cook it like the recipe says? Also I have rice a roni..would the rice from that work? Thank you!!

  23. Turned out perfect! Great recipe. I used a big nonstick frying pan with a lid. When it was time to let it steam I put a piece of foil on top of the pan and then put the lid on top. That helps every piece of rice to get done perfectly. <3

    • Thanks for the tip! I always have trouble getting the rice to cook evenly – never thought of this before!

  24. Who needs a box of Spanish rice with a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce when you can make this recipe from scratch? It was easy and tasted totally authentic. Loved it!

  25. Made chicken lime taco meat in the crock pot. We ate the shredded chicken over this rice. Was wonderful. Added some black beans and corn to the rice.

  26. For those wanting to use brown rice, I tried this with Trader Joe’s quick cooking brown basmati and it was perfect. I just shortened up the cooking time to correspond with the package directions.

  27. Just wanted to say that this mexican rice recipe is the one I have been looking for forever! It complemented black beans perfectly for delicious vegetarian burritos. Thanks so much for putting this out there.

    • So glad to hear that you liked it!!! We are SO picky about our rice so this is the only recipe we use… you must have great taste 😉

    • We haven’t tried it with basmati rice before so I’m not sure what to tell you! If you try it let us know how it works out!

  28. I have made numerous attempts at restaurant style Mexican rice, plenty of Mexican friend’s have tried explaining how to make it, tried numerous recipes online and those pre-made boxes like rice-a-roni. I finally just drew the conclusion that you cannot be a white girl and make it right, it’s against the laws of nature or something. BUT SUCCESS! With your recipe! My son even told me it’s better than the local restaurants rice, which means I can absolutely die happy now. Thank you.

  29. I have made this about 4 times and it is so delicious. Twice it was perfect but twice, including tonight, for some reason it was so crunchy. Am I doing something wrong in the beginning steps? Maybe I need to cook it longer at the front end? I never time it until the simmer time, I just go by the color of the rice in the beginning so maybe you can guide me in the right direction. :) because I love this recipe! Thanks.

    • I would say maybe go on a lower heat for longer to get the rice cooked through when you are first stir-frying the rice. You don’t want it to brown up too fast or the inside of the rice won’t get cooked through all the way. Let me know if this helps!

  30. The key is the chicken broth if you can get it. One thing I always add…pick up some chili powder and mix it in with the sauce/broth mixture for a little kick…I also chop up 1/2 green and 1/2 Red Bell pepper, and a can of Vegal. Or sometimes just a can of corn and peas.

  31. This looks delicious, I’m in Australia can you clarify the tomatoe sauce, is it tomatoe purée or is it tomatoe paste sauce?

      • can i say that i use regular short grain rice,i dont like long grain,it has a dif taste and doesnt hold together good,its calrose brand been using it for years,also i add small diced amounts of onion and cumin,just a shake.also i use diced tomatos w/liquid,no cilantro,i do add crumbled bacon up into it oh so good,and black this is my version.thank you.

  32. This rice ROCKS the taste buds! It is outstanding! Made a triple batch to go with the cheater restaurant beans on this blog (which are also to die for delicious) . I was hosting a huge family bbq of carne asada, the were no leftovers on the rice, they were THAT good. I like my mexi rice dry too :-)

  33. By “Large Saucepan” do you mean the 4-quart size? Does that seem large for a cup of rice or is a smaller size, like a 2 or 3-qt., acceptable? Thanks!

  34. I’m planning a family reunion for 100 people. We’ve got an award-winning Texas smoked beef brisket, and I would love to experiment with this recipe to complement that.

    How would I scale this up for 100 servings? I might need to do several batches in order to fit everything into the pot. Any hints or tips?

  35. Made this as part of our dinner tonight, it was very yummy and so easy to make! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  36. This is amazing! I like it even more than getting it at a restaurant. I added some chili powder and cayenne because we like it a little spicy. I also tried it with half the oil and it still worked out great. Thanks!

  37. I modified this recipe enough to use instant rice and it was wonderful! Made this and the “cheater beans” to go with homemade taquitos for church supper. Both recipes were a big hit! I liked that they were delicious and oh so easy! These are now my “go to” recipes when fixing Mexican food. Thanks so much!

  38. Made this tonight, and it was SCRUMPTIOUS! We also do not like the wet style rice. This is a keeper for sure! Thanks! Making more for the freezer tomorrow!

  39. Thank you for this simple recipe. My mom (who is Mexican) totally approved. ; ) Thanks to you, my first attempt at making this sort of rice was a success!

  40. Hello! I used your recipe a few months ago, and it was loved in my house! Now I’m making it again tonight because I’ve got lots of fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro!

  41. I love your recipe. Thank you for posting, I now know how to make Mexican-style rice. Loved it!

    I made this 4 times already, super simple and delish.


    • PS: I didn’t have tomato sauce handy but I do have spaghetti sauce so I used about 2-3 Tbs. And it worked just fine!!


  42. This is THE BEST rice recipe ever, since discovering this recipe i make it all the time … comes out PERFECT every single time … I do not vary from the recipe whatsoever … Thanks so much for this TERRIFIC recipe ….. :-)

  43. Love this recipe! But I have a big family and I need to make a bigger batch. Shud I just double or triple up on all the ingredients?!

  44. I tried this recipe today and it turned out GREAT! I’m definitely sticking to this for our “Taco Tuesday’s”. Fresh cilantro gives that bright flavor and instead of original tomato sauce, I kicked it up with Mexican tomato sauce which is spicy. Yummo!

    Thanks Again

  45. Wow! Made this as a side with dinner tonight and it was perfect- just like our favorite Mexican restaurant! Thank you for sharing!

  46. Second time is the charm I hope! The first time I used brown rice and followed the recipe to the “T.” However, it came out mostly hard with a few mushy pieces of rice…rather odd! I could not figure out what the problem was.

    This time, I am using long grain white rice. Timer has 19 minutes to go on setting “1” on my electric stove top. Smells so good…praying it will taste the same!

    • Brown rice takes MUCH MUCH MUCH longer to cook. You would definitely have to alter the recipe if using brown rice. So sorry it didn’t turn out!

  47. Delicious !!! I can’t say that enough. I also made your refried beans recipe and they were perfect. Thanks for sharing the recipe

  48. Tried this in the crockpot. Cut down the broth to 3 1/4 cups, but it was too mushy. Will try 2 1/2 cups of broth next time. Here is what I did for my Arroz con pollo. Browned the rice, then dumped everything into the microwave and gave it a good stir. Added in 4 skinless chicken breasts and pushed them into the mixture. Cooked on low for approximately 5 hours, came out really good, just the rice was a bit mushy.

  49. Just made your recipe have been trying many to find the right one!!! Oh my gosh you are awesome it turned out amazing. I followed all the beginning directions and then once it was all in the skillet I dumped into my rice cooker and hit start. It came out so delicious just like the restaurants. Thank you!!!

    • Thanks Amanda! I’m so glad you liked it! This is one of our most popular recipes because it turns out great every time.

  50. I live in Japan and Mexican food is pretty much non-existing, even in Tokyo. You can get some odd ground meat tacos, but no burritos, refried beans, or Mexican rice. So, I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Do you know an authentic recipe for “refried” beans? 😀

    Also, is the chicken broth necessary? Of course it adds more flavor, but is it authentic , like cumin?


    • You could just do water, but I like it better with the chicken broth. As far as being authentic, either way would work.

  51. Hello! I live in Singapore but from San Diego, CA so my husband and I know goooooood mexican food. I made burritos tonight using your rice recipe and they turned out absolutely amazing! My husband said he used to date a Mexican girl and my rice was better than hers, so thank you!! Singapore has a ton of amazing cuisines, but sadly Mexican is not one of them, but now we can have delicious burritos whenever we want. Woot woot!!!

    • WooHoo!!! Score! Very flattered that this rice turned out better than his old girlfriends 😉 haha! So glad you will be able to have your Mexican food in Singapore! Thanks for the nice comment!

  52. This isn’t of course ‘home made’ style but I guess that’s why it’s titled ‘restaurant’ style. Home made is with fresh tomatoes, garlic, small slice of brown onion, blended. No cumin or cilantro. chicken broth, kosher salt. Same steps as above.

  53. Best rice recipe ever! It tastes just like my childhood. I grew up in San Diego near the Mexican border, so I can proudly say I am a Mexican food-aholic.

    I added one small white onion minced, a can of Hunt’s roasted garlic tomato sauce, Swanson’s chicken STOCK. It was delicious! Thanks so much for sharing!

  54. I’m going to save this recipe! I loved how it turned out and I’ve been trying different spanish rice recipes but this is the BEST so far!! Thank you for posting this recipe.

    • I’m so happy you like it! This is one of our most popular recipes. It turns out great every time. Thank you!

  55. I made this last night for a big family dinner by tripling it. Came out really well. I’m always so scared to make rice in a pot as opposed to the rice cooker. this was such a winner. Everyone loved it! thank you so much!

  56. I just made a double batch of this rice to serve with 8 can taco soup. its a winner! Wow. Yummy. Easy. Inexpensive. Its the tri-fecta for a perfect mid week family meal. Thank you!

  57. I’ve made this half dozen times now and it’s a family favorite. And we know our Mexican food here in Texas. Excellent recipe! Thanks.

    • I’m sorry, instant rice will not work for this recipe. But you could season your rice with some of the same spices once it is done cooking, or even substitute out half of the water for tomato sauce when you cook the rice. It just won’t have the same consistency as mexican rice but the flavor will still be good.


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