AUTHENTIC MEXICAN RICE
This Mexican Rice rivals any restaurant, is so easy to make at home and the perfect side for all your Mexican dishes! It’s light, fluffy, and infused with perfect spice and flavor. The key to great and authentic Mexican Rice is basmati rice, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. For a change, try adding black beans or grilled corn. Perfect by itself, or layered in tacos, burritos, enchiladas. Olé!
Oh Mexican Rice, how do I love thee?! Let me count the ways! Just like Homemade Salsa, Salsa Verde, Guacamole or Pico de Gallo are served on the side of every Mexican meal, Authentic Mexican Rice is perfect all by itself, or on a plate alongside Burritos, Fajitas, Enchiladas and Tacos. All too often, homemade versions are either bland, dry or mushy. Not this Authentic Mexican Rice! It's filled with the perfect blend of spices and fresh vegetables that bring it to life!
WHAT IS THE BEST RICE FOR AUTHENTIC MEXICAN RICE?
I highly recommend basmati rice for this easy Authentic Mexican Rice recipe. Basmati boasts a light and nutty flavor, and basmati grains are long and slender - they cook up like other white rices but they cook up much lighter and fluffier. The individual grains remain distinct when cooked, rather than sticking together, which means no more sticky, clumpy or mushy rice! Basmati rice also reheats like a dream, staying as fluffy as when you originally made it. Perfect to make ahead for Mexican feasts or taco parties.
The secret to basmati rice is to rinse and drain the rice thoroughly before you start. This is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice and keep your rice from getting clumpy and mushy. To rinse the rice, place uncooked rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse under cool running water until the water runs clear. Let it drain well, and you're all set to cook!
DO I NEED TO SAUTE THE RICE?
YES! You want to start by sautéing the onions with the rice for 3-5 minutes - you want the rice to start to toast before adding the jalapenos and other vegetables, and continue to saute until the rice is toasted and the vegetables are tender. Toasting the rice with the onions and vegetables not only infuses it with those flavors, but helps develop the wonderfully nutty flavor. Toasting the rice helps the grains keep some of the texture after they are cooked. Note that this is NOT like toasting bread - it won't be dark when toasted. We're just looking for some of the moisture to "toast" out of the rice indicating that the flavor is developing - the rice will take on a slightly golden hue.
STIR IN THE REMAINING INGREDIENTS.
Once your rice is toasted, now is the time to stir in all of the remaining ingredients - tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes (SO GOOD IN THIS!), chicken broth, chopped green chilies and all of the seasonings.
Bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the liquid evaporates and the rice is tender. Give it a stir every 5 minutes to keep everything from sticking to the bottom of the pan - keep the pan covered in between stirring!
Remove from heat and cover again, let it sit for 10 minutes. The rice may still seem wet, but the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes after it's removed from the heat and will absorb most of the liquid. If liquid evaporates before the rice is done, add a little more chicken broth or hot water.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CORIANDER AND FRESH CILANTRO?
You will note that we use both coriander and cilantro in this Authentic Mexican Rice recipe. Although both come from the cilantro plant, dried or ground coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and tastes sweet, warm and toasty. Fresh cilantro adds the fresh, fruity punch that Mexican food is famous for.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top to add a wonderful, fresh and bright pop of flavor. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve warm!
HOW DO I REHEAT RICE?
To prevent leftover rice from being dry and flavorless, add a little bit of water and reheat it in the microwave. You can also reheat rice in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter and water. Make sure to reheat it thoroughly before serving.
2 cups basmati rice (well rinsed and drained)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1, 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers (seeded, deveined, minced)
1 red bell pepper
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes (well drained)
½ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons mild chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp EACH: ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika
1/4 tsp EACH: ground coriander, salt
finely chopped cilantro
fresh lime wedges
fresh lime juice
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. Place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and rice and sauté for 3 minutes then add jalapenos and sauté until rice is toasted, approximately 2-3 more minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
3. Stir in all remaining ingredients (except for cilantro and lime juice garnish). Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. Simmer 12-15 minutes, or until water is evaporated and rice is tender, stirring once at 8 minutes and replacing lid.
4. Once water is evaporated, remove from heat, stir, cover and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
5. Add cilantro and lime juice if desired and fluff with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt or lime juice if desired.
YIELD: 8-10 servings
Use basmati rice for best results. Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice is located with all the other rice varieties at your grocery store.
Rinse and drain rice thoroughly. This is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice so it doesn’t cook up sticky and mushy. To rinse, place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
Sauté Rice until toasted. After toasting your rice, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s toasted evenly, we are just looking for some of the rice to be toasted indicating that that the flavor is developed.
If liquid evaporates before rice is done, then add just a little liquid, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once liquid is gone.
If rice is still wet, don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the 10 minutes while it is steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.
Cilantro to taste. You will notice I use both coriander and cilantro in this Mexican Rice recipe but they actually taste different even though they both come from the cilantro plant. Dried/ground coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and tastes sweet, warm and toasty while whereas cilantro adds the fresh, fruity citrus punch. If you don’t have coriander on hand you can omit it, I just think it adds a little “something-something” special.
LAZY DAY EASY MEXICAN RICE
To eliminate all chopping and make this rice strictly “dump and run” you can use the following substitutions:
· Substitute onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
· Substitute garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
· Substitute jalapeno with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Mexican Rice & Vegetables
You can add any sorts of veggies to your Mexican Rice. Often Mexican Rice is served with carrots, corn and peas. Add 1-2 cups veggies depending on your personal preference.
Mexican Rice & Corn: Grilled corn is absolutely the BEST in Authentic Mexican Rice! Simply cut off the cob and add to your rice before serving. If using canned corn, rinse, drain and add to pot with chicken broth.
Mexican Rice & Black Beans: Rinse and drain beans well then add to the pot when you add the chicken broth. Black beans add nice texture and flavor!
Mexican Rice & Carrots: If using fresh carrots, dice them and add to the pot when you add the jalapenos so that the carrot pieces cook up tender.
Mexican Rice with Peas: Use thawed, frozen, petite peas (never canned!) and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let sit 10 minutes.
Mexican Rice with Mixed Vegetables: Like the peas, if you use frozen, corn or carrots, stir them into your rice after it has cooked and let the pot covered for 10 minutes. You can even buy frozen mixed vegetables with corn, peas and carrots for an easy option.
Originally posted April 2010, revised and reposted May 2019.
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