Mexican Rice

How to make a big skillet of easy, homemade Mexican Rice for serving alongside (or inside!) tacos, fajitas, quesadillas and more. It's studded with small bits of poblano, onion and corn and seasoned with cumin, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Impromptu taco party, comin' up now! Or make it ahead of time, that totally works.

Mexican Rice ♥, an easy addition to taco parties, fajita nights or easy lunch-time quesadillas. Vegan.

Taco Rice, Made from Scratch On the Stove in One Skillet. Whole Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Easy DIY, No Need for a Seasoning Packet. Great for Meal Prep. Potluck & Party Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

How to Host a Casual Taco Party.

True story.

One night we were making tacos and just on a whim, wondered out loud if some good friends might want to join us.

Why not ask?!

Turns out, our friends were on their way to dinner and on the spot did a 180 to head our way instead.

Twenty minutes later, we were opening "cuatro cervesas, por favor" and an impromptu taco party was in full swing.

And that's the thing about hands-on, made-to-taste tacos, right? The party makes itself!

Every since our Mexican meal prep project we called Deep Mexico a few years back, I've been filling in the empty spots in a Taco Party Menu. I'm getting close!

We love-love-love having people over for tacos! Maybe our fun will inspire you, too?!

Unlike our impromptu taco party, maybe the second-best thing about a Taco Party (the tacos come first, LOL) is that soooo many of the extra sides and condiments either should or may be made ahead of time, that means that's there's little "cooking" per se right before serving, just reheating.

Just set out the starters, prep for the drinks and set up a buffet line. You're halfway to fun!

And you don't have to make it all yourself! Ask for help, all these recipes are super-easy. Better still, the grocery store can fill in for guacamole, salsas, etc.

Mexican Rice ♥, an easy addition to taco parties, fajita nights or easy lunch-time quesadillas. Vegan.

My Taco Party Menu, Yours Too?

* should be made a day or two ahead of time
** may be made a day or two ahead of time
*** best made same day

I'm still working on this!

Tortilla Chips &
** Best Quick Tomato Salsa (Red Salsa)
*** My Guacamole

* Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos or
*** Beef Tacos with Avocado, Cucumber, Mango Salsa
with Warm Tortillas

* Quick Jalapeño Pickles
* Lime Crema
* Spiced Pickled Red Onions

** Mexican Rice
(recipe below)
** Mexican Cauliflower "Rice"

*** Pinto Bean Salad or
*** Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
* Creamy Slow Cooker Beans

* Tres Leches Cake or
*** Easy Margarita Pie or
* Mexican Mango Trifle (Ante de Mango) or
*** Mexican Fruit Salad

Mexican Rice ♥, an easy addition to taco parties, fajita nights or easy lunch-time quesadillas. Vegan.

About This Recipe

  • Mexican Rice is side dish of rice cooked with finely chopped vegetables, tomato and seasoning. It's cooked in a skillet on the stove and may be either served immediately or made ahead of time and reheated. Mexican Rice may be stuffed into tacos along with taco meat and beans.
  • The distinctive ingredients are the rice, the tomato and the cumin seasoning.
  • ingredients = rice + poblano + onion + fresh or frozen corn + garlic + tomato sauce + tomato paste + cumin + salt + cilantro
  • It takes about 20 minutes to start Mexican Rice, then it finishes on the stove unattended for about 15 minutes.
  • Mexican Rice is quite pretty, thanks to the colors of the poblano, corn and cilantro.
  • Mexican Rice makes more than 6 cups of cooked rice, a serving is a half cup.

What's In Mexican Rice? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Rice White rice works well here, be sure to rinse the rice well to remove some starch.
  • Vegetables I love how the rice texture is broken up by small bites of poblano, onion and corn.
  • Tomato Sauce & Tomato Paste So good! The tomato sauce and tomato paste add pretty color and also just great tomato-y flavor.
  • Seasoning Technically, I suppose, Mexican Rice is seasoned with cumin and salt. But really, the rice, the poblano, the onion, the tomato sauce and tomato paste are part of the recipe's DIY "seasoning packet".
Mexican Rice ♥, an easy addition to taco parties, fajita nights or easy lunch-time quesadillas. Vegan.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Why rinse the rice? Just like with How to Cook White Rice, this recipe specifies rinsing the rice before cooking. This washes off some of the rice's starch, letting the rice grains remain separate and distinct while cooking. No sticky rice! In contrast, you wouldn't want to rinse rice for making risotto because for risotto, you want the rice to thicken and hang onto its starch like the wonderful Cauliflower Risotto and Asparagus Risotto.

  • How to rinse the rice? It's easy! Measure the rice into a colander or a wire mesh strainer or something similar. Then just hold the container under the faucet and let cold water run through the rice for a minute or so, sending the starch down the drain. To use less water, fill a bowl with clean water and lower the container into the bowl, swishing the rice to release the starch.

  • Is Mexican Rice "spicy"? A Bit, Yes. Know this, my husband is very sensitive to chile heat and he has no problems with this rice. That said, the poblano and white onion do create a bit of "spiciness". If that's a worry, two ideas. First, use less poblano or substitute a green pepper or just skip the poblano entirely. Second, switch to a yellow onion that's less "hot" than a white onion. Also good to know, the heat comes through more obviously when the rice is served on its own. Once it's tucked into a taco, the not-much-heat becomes even-less noticeable.

  • How about adding some beans? Great idea! Unless you're serving something like Creamy Slow Cooker Beans on their own, beans really do add. Best canned bean choices? Think black beans, kidney beans or pinto beans, you'll want to rinse them before adding to the skillet.

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for simple Mexican Rice hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Mexican Rice ♥, an easy addition to taco parties, fajita nights or easy lunch-time quesadillas. Vegan.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 35 minutes
Makes 6-1/2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or another cooking oil
  • 1-1/2 cup (300g) white rice, rinsed well under running water
  • 1 large poblano (100g), diced small
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large white onion (100g) or another onion, diced small
  • 1 ear fresh corn, kernels sliced off (100g) or frozen corn
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (227g) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (32g) tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups water

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, optional but fresh-tasting

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil until shimmery on medium heat. Add the rinsed rice and stir to coat the rice grains with oil. Let the rice begin to cook and turn color, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Stir in the poblano, onion, corn and garlic as they're prepped.

Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, cumin and salt.

Stir in the water, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice absorbs the water and is fully cooked.

Stir in most of the cilantro. If you like, sprinkle the top with what's left for a simple garnish.

Serve immediately while hot or refrigerate to reheat for serving later.

TIMING TIP After the rice is cooked, it'll "hold" on the stove for a good half hour or longer, just keep the heat on low.

MAKE-AHEAD TIP Straight off the stove, Mexican Rice is moist with distinct rice grains. If made ahead of time, the rice will continue to absorb liquid; to reheat, you'll need to add additional water to re-moisten the rice. This will change the balance of seasoning:liquid so be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning. More cumin? More salt? Both are helpful.

ALANNA's TIPS Fresh corn is especially good here, How to Cut Corn Off the Cob, Keeping All Ten Fingers, Capturing Every Delicious Kernel and Every Drop of Sweet Corn "Milk". But I also use frozen corn, especially Trader's Joe's frozen Roasted Corn. Please note the specific amount of tomato sauce, just 8 ounces. At least in the U.S., the typical can of tomato sauce is almost double that. I do find 8-ounce cans in some supermarkets but of course, you can also use about half the larger can too. But you don't want to just throw in the whole larger can: sure, ask me how I know. In turn, even a small can of tomato paste is more than the 2 tablespoons called for here. But good news, leftover tomato paste freezes beautifully, see How to Freeze Tomato Paste. No need to waste what's left! And then you have it on hand the next time a recipe uses a small amount. Win! Prefer something lower carb? I've got you covered, just make Mexican Cauliflower "Rice".

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 1/2 cup): 119 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 108mg Sodium; 22g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 3 & blue 3 & purple 3 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 7 tablespoons (2g protein).

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~ poblano recipes ~
~ corn recipes ~

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.