Easy & Authentic Restaurant Style Mexican Rice Recipe (ready in 25 min)

4.84 from 266 votes

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This Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice is the perfect side dish for your next Mexican feast. With just a few ingredients, it’s easy to make and ready in less than 30 minutes. It is a perfect addition to any meal!

Authentic Restaurant Style Mexican Rice served with salsa and chips

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice

This Mexican Rice is slightly on the dry side, which is just how Mexican restaurants serve their sides of rice.

It isn’t wet, clumpy, or sticky like some homemade Mexican rice recipes can be. A good Mexican Rice has the perfect texture and is rich in flavor. That is exactly what the result will be when you make this easy Mexican rice recipe.

You can make this Mexican Rice recipe in bulk and freeze it for up to three months without losing freshness. This is great if you want to save money by buying your ingredients in bulk, or trying out a new recipe but want to make a manageable amount.

If you’re looking for a recipe to pair with our Mexican Rice, we recommend our Grilled Steak Tacos and Hatch Chiles Rellenos, but it goes as a great and easy side dish for just about anything.

Mexican Rice vs Spanish Rice

Have you wondered what the difference is between Mexican rice and Spanish rice? The terms are both used to describe the same basic dish.

Most Spanish rice and Mexican rice recipes have the same ingredients – rice, a tomato based sauce, garlic, and chicken broth.

There can be some minor variations in the seasonings used and additions made to the dish, like onions and peppers. Most restaurants call this dish Mexican rice on their menus.

Recipe Tips

The secret to a delicious Mexican rice is all in the way you cook it. Here are a few tips and tricks to get it right every time:

  • If you want to rinse the rice beforehand, rinse the rice through a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases). Allow rice to drain off a little before sautéing. If you rinse the rice, reduce the broth amount by four ounces (or ½ cup).
  • Mexican rice needs to be fried in oil and browned BEFORE you add the chicken broth and tomato sauce. As a result, the rice really absorbs the flavors, yet has the perfect, tender consistency.
  • Mix in the chopped cilantro after cooking. If you add it before, the cilantro gets brown in color and wilted. When you toss it in after, it stays bright and fresh.
  • Use this stove top method. I have tried different methods in my rice cooker, but it just doesn’t turn out the same.
  • For a spicier taste, your favorite medium or hot salsa can replace the tomato sauce.
  • Long grain white rice is the best rice to use for this dish.
A plate of enchiladas with Mexican rice topped with cilantro and refried beans on the side

Is Mexican Rice Gluten Free?

Yes! This Mexican Rice recipe can easily be made gluten free. Use a gluten free chicken broth, like Swanson’s Chicken Broth, for gluten free Mexican Rice. Most chicken broths are GF but always check the labels to be sure.

Mexican Rice and Beans

What about the beans? Mexican Rice and Beans are a match made in heaven! This recipe goes hand in hand with our Restaurant Style Refried Beans. Also, be sure to include our Best Guacamole EVER, and our fresh Homemade Salsa.

With all of these recipes combined, you will have 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 Favorite Family Recipes.

Our Mom is what you would call a Mexican food addict, she would eat it for every meal if she had the choice. Because of this, we learned at an early age how to make all different kinds of Mexican dishes. So as we got older and more adventurous, our Mexican food recipe collection grew even more.

Popular Additions

This rice is great as-is. We like to keep it simple and add as few ingredients as possible, but many people like to add more veggies to the mix. A lot of Mexican-style restaurants will also add veggies. Here are some of the popular add-ins:

  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Green chiles
  • Lime juice
A square white dish filled with restaurant style Mexican rice

What to pair with Mexican Rice

Oh, the delicious possibilities are endless! This Mexican Rice tastes so good with any burrito, taco, chimichanga, enchilada, quesadilla, taquito, or flauta you can think of. Here are a few of our favorite Mexican recipes to get the wheels turning. Try one of these or add it to your own favorite Mexican dish.

A Mexican dinner setting consisting of enchiladas with rice and beans on the side and chips and salsa

How To Store and Re-Heat Leftovers

We will often double this recipe just so we can have easy leftovers. It re-heats great! Simply place the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days.

You can even freeze your Mexican rice by placing the cooled rice in a zip-top freezer bag and laying flat in the freezer. You can freeze it for up to three months without losing freshness.

To re-heat, just cover and place thawed rice in the microwave for a minute at a time until heated through. Fluff rice with a fork and add a teaspoon of water at a time as needed.

Mexican Rice Recipe Reviews

My husband is very picky about his Mexican rice, and his love for this dish makes it a staple on the family menu plan. In addition to his five-star review, we’ve received many rave reviews from people who have made and loved this rice recipe. You can read them all in the comments below, however here are few of our favorites:

“I’ve made this about five times now and I love it! The last two times I was out of tomato sauce so I substituted half a cup of Chipotle Lime Salsa (Aldi brand). Wow! This made it even better. I love how easy it is to make and how beautiful it looks and smells when the time is up and you lift the lid.” – Ed

“This is EXACTLY the rice I have been spending YEARS trying to figure out. Everything was absolutely perfect. Flavor, texture, color, all completely spot on! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! You really just upped my taco game!” – Elizabeth

“I am a Puerto Rican woman married to a hard core Mexican man. I’ve 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. It 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.” – Patty

We are so happy to see this has become a family favorite for so many!

Mexican Rice in a serving bowl with a side of chips and salsa.

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice

4.84 from 266 votes
Our Restaurant Style Mexican Rice rivals anything you can get in a restaurant. It has the perfect consistency and just the right amount of seasoning.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
0 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 6



  • Stove Top
  • Large Sauce Pan



  • Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the rice and gently stir until rice begins to lightly brown. Add the garlic, salt, and cumin and stir the rice until it looks golden.
    White rice being browned in a pot to make Mexican rice
  • Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Bring the mix to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. 
    Mexican Rice bing cooked in a pot with a lid
  • Remove from heat and fluff with a fork, then stir in chopped cilantro.
    Mexican rice in a pot after being seasoned with spices and cilantro

Nutrition Information

Calories: 183kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 545mgPotassium: 156mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 102IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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  1. 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!

  2. 5 stars
    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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

      2. Brown rice has half the glycemic index than white. As a diabetic, this means that it takes longer for the carbs to turn into sugar in the body, so I try to eat brown rice instead of white rice. Nutritionally, brown rice has more oomph than white rice.

  4. 5 stars
    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!

  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. 5 stars
    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!

  7. 5 stars
    -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!

        1. I’m like Hannah in not knowing what you in America call “tomato sauce” in a can. I live in Australia and we don’t get tomato “sauce” in a can only a bottle same with tomato “ketchup” or tomato “puree” in a can. So with these choices what would you suggest I use as I’d really prefer to make this rice rather than the bought packet Mexican stuff we have here in Oz.

          1. Probably the closest thing you have there in Aus is the tomato puree. You don’t want the tomato “paste” as that will be too thick. Think slightly thicker than tomato JUICE (or V8 juice). If that is what the puree is like, then go with the puree. If not, go ahead and use tomato juice instead. Hope this helps!

  8. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 5 stars
      I used brown basmati rice. The rice package required more liquid for cooking and a longer cooking time, so I just added more chicken broth and left it simmering for 45 minutes. Turned out DELICIOUS.

  9. 5 stars
    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!

    1. I have a friend who makes hers almost exactly as you. Only two differences is she rinsed the starch off her rice prior to sauteing and instead of plain tomato sauce she uses a Mexican brand. El Pato in the yellow 7 3/4 oz can has chiles in it for some heat, not too much because even I can eat it???? Del Fuerte is another brand of Mexican tomato sauce, no chiles but w/ onion & garlic powder & a little cayenne…not much though.
      Great recipe!!

        1. 5 stars
          I’ve made this three times, the first time as written, second and third time doubled. For some reason, this last time it’s so wet!! Don’t know what I did differently :/ Anyway, when it works, it’s great! Thank you!

          1. I don’t know why it would be wet… ? It very well could have been the type or even brand of rice. Try rinsing it next time until the water is clear and then add less water when cooking. That should make it nice and dry!

      1. Yes, the el pato gives it a great flavor!!! I brown jasmine rice in oil, put it in the rice cooker and for 1 cup of rice I do 2/3 cup of el pato or a little more if you want more spice, I do this in a 2 cup measuring cup and fill it up the rest of the way with water and 2 heaping teaspoons of the Mexican powdered chicken bouillon. Mix it up and pour into the rice cooker with the rice, stir and set it to cook. Its yummy!!!

      1. 4 stars
        I think I understand what you mean but most Mexican restaurants don’t make a hot spicy or even a wet gumbo style rice to go with their dishes. I bet it went great with your fajitas the next day, didn’t it?

          1. 5 stars
            I have been looking for a recipe for Mexican rice that is like restaurant rice. I believe this is it! I made it for the first time tonite and this wilnow l be my go to recipe

          2. Hi Pat! I’m so happy you liked this recipe! We are glad that your search for restaurant Mexican rice is over and that you can continue to enjoy this recipe 🙂

    1. 5 stars
      We’ve been using your Mexican Rice recipe for 5 year’s now and it is still a fav with the entire family.

      1. Wow, we are so excited that this has been your go-to for so long! Thanks for coming back to let us know how much you have enjoyed it! 😀