This Mexican rice recipe makes the perfect side dish for tacos, burritos, chicken, and even burgers. Make some delicious, fluffy Mexican red rice for dinner tonight – it’s easy!
Difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice
Although many people associate the two, there is a significant difference between an authentic Mexican rice recipe and a Spanish one.
Most notably, the difference lies in their appearance.
You see, the Spanish version is not red rice at all. Rather, it’s yellow in color, with the yellow hue coming from the use of saffron in the dish.
In comparison, Mexican red rice gets its color from fresh tomatoes.
From Spanish, the term arroz rojo literally translates in English to red rice.
Actually, there are several different variations of Mexican rice.
For example, in Mexico, the authentic rice dish is made with fresh plum tomatoes, and onion and jalapeno are always included. The cooking technique to make it is similar to risotto.
Rather than allowing the rice to steam like you would for my cilantro lime rice recipe, authentic arroz rojo requires constant stirring throughout the entire cooking process.
How to make this version of red rice:
To shorten the prep for this recipe, instead of using fresh plum tomatoes, I use tomato paste. Because it’s nothing more than concentrated tomatoes, it isn’t necessary to use fresh ones.
As a result, you have great flavor, plus the red color you want, but the process is much quicker!
Also, rather than making a risotto style dish like you would for authentic arroz rojo, we’re steaming the Mexican rice.
- Sauté the vegetables.
Place a large pot over medium-high heat and get it really hot before you add any oil. After a minute or two, go ahead and add the oil. After a minute or so, the oil will begin to shimmer. At that point, add the onion, carrot, and garlic.
Using this technique ensures that the veggies sauté rather than steam, and it also produces the best flavor.
- Add the spices, tomato paste, and rice. You want to add the spices first, then the tomato paste. After a couple of minutes, add your dry rice to the pan so that the grains toast in the oil a bit.
- Deglaze the pot. After the rice cooks a few minutes, you’ll notice specks of brown on the bottom of the pot. The culinary name for this is “fond” and it is where much of flavor in the red rice comes from! Add some chicken stock to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Simmer and serve! Bring the contents of the pot to a full boil. Then, immediately reduce the temperature to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook until the rice is tender.
Watch me make the Mexican rice recipe, below!
Mexican Red Rice
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion chopped (3/4 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 carrot shredded (3/4 cup)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 jalapeño pepper (optional) (See Note 2) seeded and diced
- 1 cup long grain white rice (rinsed, See Note 1)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the carrot and sauté for 2 minutes more.
- Add the cumin, salt, pepper, tomato paste and jalapeño. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, scraping bottom of pan and browned bits. Add the rice and sauté for several minutes.
- Pour chicken stock into pot and stir to mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
- Turn off heat and allow to rest 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork and serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
- A tip I'll share with you is to rinse the rice to remove all starch, it tends to make the rice clumpy, and we want light and fluffy.
- Diced jalapeño is also added in the recipe, but was omitted because I didn't have one on hand. #CoronaQuarantine