Mexican Rice

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This Mexican Rice recipe has been a family favorite for years! In fact, it is one of the first recipes I posted here and one of the first recipes my husband taught me to make when we got together.

Mexican Rice

I’ve seen this recipeĀ discussed in online communities and while everyone said it was delicious some insisted it should be called Spanish Rice instead of Mexican Rice. If you have time to kill, feel free to google the difference, everyone has an opinion and everyone insists they are right.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe my husband grew up eating. When I started making it I removed the oil and started measuring the ingredients. At the time we lived in the South where Tex-Mex reigns. You can add optional veggies like onion, peas and carrots. I usually leave them out due to forgetfulness and ease.

I love adding cilantro though! Some people hate cilantro and that’s OK, it doesn’t need it.

When we started eating plant-based, I started making this with brown rice. It takes about 40 minutes to cook brown rice. Lately I’ve been making it with white rice because it cooks in only 20 minutes!

Mexican Rice

This recipe can be made with basic pantry staples and can serve 4 generously as a side dish. I’ll warn you though, if there is a little left it is really hard to save the leftovers without eating it straight from the skillet.

I love using it to meal prep because it reheats so well! I eat it plain with beans, in Taco Salads, Burritos and just about anything else you can think of.

Mexican Rice

Plant-Based Mexican Rice


  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of short grain brown rice (or use long grain white rice for a quicker recipe)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce (you can make do with 6 oz if you need the extra 2 for Lentil Tacos)
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • handful of chopped cilantro, optional


  1. Dump all of the ingredients except cilantro (is you are using it) into a skillet and turn on medium heat.
  2. Cover skillet with a lid and set timer for 45 minutes. OR, if using long grain white rice, cook for 20 minutes.
  3. When timer beeps give the rice a good stir. If liquid remains remove lid and let the rice cook a few more minutes to allow liquid to evaporate.

If using cilantro toss it on top and cover with the lid for a few moments.


This Mexican Rice is the perfect side dish to tacos, but can also be used in a Bean and Grain Bowl, burritos, or Taco Salad.

If you are looking for more delicious Mexican inspired recipes take a look at my Mexican Food Page or my Pinterest Board for Plant-Based Mexican Food.

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  1. That would be great with pinto beans added in as well!

    • This with beans is basically my Mexican Casserole recipe. I always eat leftover straight out of the skillet, they never make it to the fridge! šŸ™‚

  2. This is my kind of recipe……..simple, nutritious and cheap! Do you know if it would work in a rice cooker??

    • I haven’t made it in a Rice Cooker but I think someone has. Let me know how it turns out, just adapt the liquid to suit your rice cookers directions.

  3. Two questions: 1) Is there a preferential rice brand? 2) has any one tested it out in rice cooker, and what where your results, and what size and brand of rice did you use? Thank you! Sounds delicious and no guilt compared to the oil fried one…,happy happy joy joy

    • Hi Indi,
      I love Lundberg organic short grain brown rice. I buy it in bulk at Costco. It has a great flavor! Short grain brown rice i my favorite!

      I don’t have a rice cooker but I have an Instant Pot! I make this in my Instant Pot and cook it on manual (high pressure) for 23 minutes.

      • Janine Tacey says:

        I’m trying this in my IP today. Thanks!

      • i tried it in the instant pot, but the recipe has too much water – not sure what the adjustment is, but please be warned – at 23 minutes brown rice is swimming in water!

        • Yes, this recipe is not written for the Instant Pot. When making it on the stove, the water evaporates. Since the Instant Pot is sealed, it takes much less water. I usually use 1 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice when cooking in the Instant Pot.
          Also, if you allow the pot to release pressure naturally, then open, more of the water will be absorbed. After opening the lid, give it a stir and let it set 10-15 minutes and even making it as written, most of the water will be absorbed.

          • Going to make this rice in my ipot tonight! Would the changes be to only use 1 1/2 cups of water? Also, if using white rice…what would be the ipot time? Thank you!!

          • Yes, I would use 1 1/2 cups of water. You don’t need the full amount since it won’t evaporate like it does on the stove. Also, don’t stir the tomato sauce in, stir everything else, then pour the tomato sauce and let it sit on the top. I would cook it for 5 minutes, let the pressure come down naturally for about 10, then release the pressure and give it a stir. If there is extra liquid, it will absorb in a few minutes.

  4. Kelly Elder says:

    Could you use Minute brown rice and only cook for ten minutes? Sounds like best of both worlds.

What do YOU think?