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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{ 26 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 😀
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.

22 Hannah June 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

I have tried several recipes for Mexican rice and yours is the winner! This rice is delicious – it will be a go-to recipe :) I used brown rice and it turned out great. Thank you for ending my search for a great Mexican rice recipe!!

23 amy June 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I am SO thrilled to hear that, Hannah! And I love your substitution of brown rice – I’ll have to try that next time!

24 Rebecca December 2, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Absolutely delicious! Thank you ! I added orzo pasta to make it more rice-a-roniish. Love that I have this to turn to when I forget to buy rice a roni

25 Amy December 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm

LOVE that you added orzo, Rebecca – brilliant! I’m stealing that idea next time. =)

26 Connie Cassidy August 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I was skeptical, but this was AMAZING! I just used it for this recipe (, which I originally made with the boxed stuff while we were living in a hotel for a month, waiting for a house to open up.


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