Mexican red rice (arroz rojo) is the ultimate side dish for all your Mexican cuisine.
It’s easy, flavorful, and you can make it all in one pot!
Known as arroz rojo in Spanish, Mexican red rice is full of spicy tomato goodness.
Whip up a fluffy batch for enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, and all your favorite Mexican chicken recipes.
Whether you’re hosting Taco Tuesday or need a simple side, Mexican red rice is the dish you need.
So what are you waiting for? Throw on a pot, it’s fiesta time!
Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)
When it comes to homestyle Mexican meals, Mexican red rice is an absolute must.
This authentic side dish is a popular staple that gets served with everything.
Needless to say, no meal is truly complete without it!
It’s fluffy, light, aromatic, and packed with the wonderful flavor of tomatoes.
It starts by toasting the rice with garlic and onions so everything gets nice and fragrant.
Then add the chicken broth, mix in the tomato paste, and toss in your chili pepper.
Now, you can kick back with your favorite traditional Mexican cocktail while the stove does all the work.
The spice level is pretty subtle, but you can toss in another serrano pepper to take the heat up a notch if you like.
Whatever you do, don’t call it Spanish rice!
Spanish rice requires saffron whereas Mexican red rice is all about the tomato.
Try it in a burrito or pair it with your protein of choice.
Barbacoa, carne asada, and pollo all taste better with some Mexican red rice on the side.
- Vegetable Oil – You’ll need a splash to saute the onions and garlic until tender.
- Long-Grain White Rice – Long-grain rice is more fluffy and less sticky than short-grain rice. Any variety will do.
- Onion – White or yellow onions are best.
- Garlic – Fresh is best to make it more aromatic. But you could use garlic powder too.
- Chicken Broth – So you can cook the rice. You can use water, but it won’t have as much flavor.
- Tomato Paste – For a deeper, richer tomato flavor.
- Salt – It just wouldn’t be right without it!
- Serrano Chili – Spice things up with a fresh serrano chili pepper. For a higher Scoville level, go with habanero. To dial it back, jalapenos are a better choice.
- Fresh Cilantro – It adds a burst of freshness to the final plate.
Tips for the Best Mexican Red Rice
- Rinse your rice. It’s the secret to getting the perfect fluffy rice! To rinse, place the rice in a bowl and fill it with water. Massage the rice, rinse, and repeat until the water is no longer cloudy.
- Use a rice cooker or an Instant Pot. Your rice will cook to perfection every single time. Plus, you won’t have to worry about it boiling over on the stove.
- Go with long-grain rice. Other varieties are starchy and will clump together.
- Kick up the heat with more peppers. For some Mexican food lovers, the spicier the better. So add another serrano or two.
- Make it vegetarian with veggie Bouillon. It’s vegetarian-friendly and more condensed than broth so it will add a ton of flavor.
- Add spices. For a more complex dish, give it a dash of cumin or chipotle powder.
How to Store and Reheat
Have some leftover rice? Excellent!
You can store it in the fridge for 3-4 days. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container for maximum freshness.
I tend to make leftovers on purpose so I can whip up quick rice, bean, and cheese burritos whenever I’m ravished.
Or, I’ll heat it up as a side to go with sheet pan fajitas.
Speaking of reheating, you can plop it in the microwave.
Be sure it’s in a microwave-safe container and reheat it for 1 minute or until thoroughly warm.
You can also reheat it on the stove. You’ll want to add a splash of stock to the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t burn.
Continue to stir the rice until it’s ready.
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