Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

by amy on 22 January 2014

Restaurant-Style Mexican RiceConfession: I really like pre-seasoned rice/couscous mixes. They’re probably full of salt + preservatives, but I still love them. Especially Rice-A-Roni, which I could eat by the bucketful. The other night, I planned to make a delicious dinner: Slow-Cooker Barbacoa Beef tacos, homemade mexican-seasoned black beans, and, WAIT, WHERE’S THE RICE-A-RONI?! I foolishly had forgotten to buy some, + the baby was in the middle of her long afternoon nap, so there was no way for me to run to the grocery to get some.

Alright, I thought. I have plenty of ingredients in this house. Surely I can muster up something? I knew I had plain long-grain white rice, plus tons of seasonings available. A quick google search revealed this Restauant-Style Mexican Rice, which looked delicious, + I had all the necessary ingredients. So, I said a prayer to the rice gods, + gave it a try. And y’all, it was SO good. My husband, a huge rice lover, couldn’t believe that I had made such a delicious, authentic-tasting mexican rice. AND NOT FROM A BOX MIX! It’s a perfect combination of savory, tomato-y, garlicky, bright flavors – all of the seasonings work beautifully together, and the result truly tastes like something you’d get at your favorite mexican restaurant.

Now, am I going to give up my beloved Rice-A-Roni? No way. But I *will* definitely be making this delicious + super-easy-to-make rice again – it’s too good not to!

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

serves 4, adapted from Favorite Family Recipes


3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice + stir occasionally until rice begins to lightly brown.

Add the garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, + paprika to the rice, + stir until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, + cilantro. Bring the mix to a boil then turn the heat to low, cover + simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through + the the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat + fluff with a fork.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar January 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

I looooove Mexican rice! This sounds super!

2 Leah | So, How's It Taste? January 22, 2014 at 11:33 am

I love Mexican rice, too, but have never been able to duplicate it at home. Gotta try this one! Love that you’re a RAR girl, too! My guilty pleasure is their Four Cheese and I add chicken to it. I could eat the entire pan myself!

3 amy January 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

So glad you’re a rice-a-roni lover, too!!

4 natalie@thesweetslife January 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm

is it weird that i never would’ve guessed there is tomato sauce in there? LOVE making stuff from scratch and finding its just as good…even if you do return to rice-a-roni for ease and nostalgia :)

5 Kelly January 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm

This looks fantastic Amy! Hehe we are suckers for the boxed mexican rice too and I love that you made a scratch version :) It sounds delicious and easy to whip up – can’t wait to give it a try!

6 sarah k @ the pajama chef January 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

i love mexican rice! this version is a lot simpler than mine. will have to try both to compare! :)

7 angela@spinachtiger January 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm

What timing. I was just at Boca Loca and they served me about 3 cups of white rice next to my fish. So unappealing. They need to read your recipe. I said to Doug, they could at least season the rice and make it look better. (like yours).

8 Adri January 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Oh heck, who cares about the salt and preservatives-I love Rice-a-Roni! I just love how the rice absorbs all of the flavors of the seasoning and broth. And I love your Mexican Rice. This sounds great!

9 amy January 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Yay for another rice-a-roni fan! =)

10 Choc Chip Uru January 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm

My favourite rice in the world, full of flavour and colour my friend :D
Great job!


11 Anna (Hidden Ponies) January 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Haha, I loooove Rice-A-Roni, it was my meal request at every birthday as a kid :) Love your version too, even though I won’t be giving up my packages either ;)

12 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking January 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I’ve always wanted to know how to make proper Mexican rice! Love your recipe, Amy. Perfect for the side of any Mexican meal at home!

13 Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily January 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

HaaHaaa, I used to eat big bowls of Rice a Roni too :p So glad to have yummy home made recipes like this to count on in a fix.

14 Beth January 23, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I try not to eat boxed rice (for the very reasons you mentioned). This looks like the perfect compromise!

15 Derik January 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I never seem to make rice that tastes like the restaurant kind. Some good and some not…This looks just like the kind they serve as a side dish! Pinning this one for sure. :)

16 Jennie @themessybakerblog January 28, 2014 at 2:45 pm

*Hangs head in shame.* I love those dang boxes of rice and couscous. You’re not alone, my friend. I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and try this rice. My rice skills are horrible, which is why I like the boxed rice mixes.

17 Lesley Eats January 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Ah, I need to try this sometime (with veg stock) since all the premade stuff (and the stuff in the restaurants) has chicken stock!

18 Megan {Country Cleaver} January 31, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I know it’s only a side dish at restaurants, but I am so totally in heart with Mexican rice! I would eat it topped with beans and mole chicken every day if I could! This is on my to-make list!

19 amy February 1, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Mmmmm, now you have me craving mole chicken!

20 Sherri @ The Kitchen Prescription February 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I’m pinning and making this for our next Mexican night dinner. I’m a Rice-a-Roni addict too, but I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Thanks Amy

21 Kelsey M. Shepard February 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

I wanted a nice side dish to pair with a tasty Southwestern style salad and grilled chicken I was serving for dinner. My son suggested rice so I went in search of a Mexican rice recipe. I found one over at Favorite Family Recipes that looked and sounded perfect. I only adapted it a little bit by adding sautéed onions. The rice was subtle but delicious and we all loved it. This will be my go to Mexican rice recipe.

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