Arroz Rojo Recipe: Easy and Authentic Mexican Rice

This arroz rojo (mexican red rice) is fluffy, delicious and loaded with Mexican flavors. Learn how easily make it at home with simple ingredients and enjoy it as a side dish for your favourite Mexican dishes!

Mexican red rice is an essential and budget-friendly side dish. You can find it almost in every plate served in my country, from the wonderful mole to the most simple huevito con arroz (fried eggs and rice).

Arroz Rojo on a turquoise deep plate.

Now, if you ever tried before to make mexican arroz rojo at home and ended with a mushy and bland dish, most likely is because you didn’t know the little secrets that us, mexicans, know from our childhood.

Well…actually there’s not real secrets, is just some simple steps that will help you to understand the process of cooking mexican rice and inspire you to do your own at home. After all, you only need a few minutes to have a big bowl of fragrant mexican red rice and use it in whatever your heart desires.

Mexican red rice on a white plate served with fried plantains.

Make it vegan

If you want a vegan version of this rice be sure to left out the chicken broth and replace it with vegetable stock.

Here is some quick veggie stock recipe: Bring to boil 1 lt of water, add 1 medium carrot, a stick of celery, a small onion and 1 ripe tomato; all cut in big chunks. Season with 2 bay leaves, a pinch of oregano and 1 garlic clove. Add a pinch of salt and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and keep it warm while proceeding with the recipe.

My mother’s tips & tricks

Those are the tricks my mom told me about making mexican rice. Of course, they’re just tips and recommendations, please take my advice with a grain of salt

RINSE THE RICE – Mi mother always told me to rinse thoroughly the rice because this will remove the powdery starch. If it is not removed it thickens the water and you get gluey/mushy rice.  This is the secret, my friends.

LET GRAINS TO DRY PERFECTLY – My mom used to put the rinsed rice on a plate and place it under the sun, in our patio. So, just place your rice in a colander to drain it;  then distribute onto a plate and let it dry completely.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT KIND OF RICE – Basmati and Jasmin are the most used type of rice when you live outside Mexico, but if you have any mexican brand available then you’re a lucky person! Use any long grain rice and avoid other types because they’re starchy and you’ll end with a mushy and sticky rice.

FRY THE RICE – Frying the rice make it reach this wonderful red/toasted color (hence the name: Arroz rojo). Yes, I know that is tempting to add just a bit of oil for a healthy version but, if you want real red mexican rice, you gonna have to fry it in a lot of oil. You can discard most of the oil anyway. So, lets forget for once about the calories and enjoy a traditional mexican rice as it is.

close-up for arroz rojo (mexican rice)

How To Make The Sauce

Use red tomatoes – If you want to achieve a brilliant red color on your arroz rojo, you have to use the most ripe tomatoes.

Make it fragrant! – Add a bit of fresh cilantro, it really makes the difference. But it’s completely optional, if you don’t like the taste don’t use it.

Use homemade chicken stock – My mom always made arroz rojo (red rice) when she also cooked caldo de pollo (chicken soup) or caldo de res (beef stew) and she will always use the broth to make this red rice. I know, you might want to make this rice for other uses so maybe you don’t have real chicken stock available, is ok, you can do it and use also powdered chicken stock. But, try it at least once with real homemade chicken broth and you’ll notice the difference.

Other spices – Some people like to use a little bit of cumin and pepper or also fresh chillies. I like to keep my rice as simple as possible, so is up to you if you want to add more spices.

Ingredients labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

Mexican rice trick and tips

  • No ripe tomatoes in season? Use canned tomatoes or use seasonings like this (not a big fan, but hey, sometimes you just need a little help :))
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a traditional mexican terracota pan available, use it! a cazuela de barro is optimal to make mexican red rice.
  • Make your vegan version by adding vegetable stock. It’s delicious!

How to enjoy arroz rojo

Mexican red rice is a perfect side dish for Adobo ribs, picadillo with potatoes, chicken with peanut sauce (encacahuatado) or chicken adobo, to name a few. But it also works wonder as a filler for chicken burritos or steak fajita tacos!

Watch How To Make It

Arroz Rojo (Mexican red rice)

Enjoy an authentic arroz rojo recipe. So flavored and fluffy that you'll like to eat it just plain. But you can also use it to make burritos, quesadillas, fried eggs and more.
PREP 5 minutes
COOK 17 minutes
TOTAL 22 minutes
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 2
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup (200 g) white rice (long grain)
  • 1 large (200 gr) ripe tomato (cut in quarters)
  • ½ medium (50 gr) white onion (cut in big chunks)
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
  • salt (as needed)

Instructions

  • Put rice in a colander and rinse for 2-3 minutes or until water comes out clear. Place rice on a plate and lets it dry completely.
  • Heat a good amount of oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add rice and fry, stirring constantly until rice get a nice golden color. Adjust the heat so the rice won't burn quickly.
  • While the rice is frying, pour ½ cup of chicken stock in a blender, add tomatoes, onions and garlic. Blend until smooth.
  • Discard almost all oil completely. Add the tomatoe sauce and let it flavour for 1 minute stirring constantly.
  • Add half a cup of chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered, until the rice is done (about 15-17 minutes). Do not stir rice.
  • If after 10-12 minutes you notice there's no more liquid and the rice is still undercook, add a little bit more of chicken stock pouring it around the frying pan edges.
  • Once is done, mix it a bit with a fork to separate the grains. Cover and let it sit for another 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition
Calories: 370kcal
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