Restaurant-style Mexican rice flavored with tomato paste, carrots, onion, and garlic. Perfect for serving alongside enchiladas, tacos, or beans.
Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

In case you’re wondering how old I was when I learned to make rice……now. It was now.

Rice is tricky, you guys!!!!

Add too much water or cook too long and it’s like mush. Do the opposite and it’s like eating tiny grains of small rocks. I even tried using my Instant Pot for a while and it’s really good for stickier kinds of rice, but not so great if you want a drier fluffy rice.

So now, at the age of 33, I’m finally tackling learning to make rice on the stovetop. Ahem. It’s about time.

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

One of my favorite rice dishes is the red rice you get as a side at Mexican restaurants. It’s packed full of flavor and is the perfect accompaniment to any Mexican meal. My mom used to make a version from a packet when I was growing up, but this homemade version is just as easy and much more delicious.

It’s from the Nopalito cookbook, which is one of my favorite references for authentic Mexican cooking. This is a great reminder to cook more from it!

The recipe starts by having you saute the uncooked rice in oil on the stovetop until golden. This essentially toasts the rice, giving it extra flavor, but also helps to prevent the grains from sticking together as they cook. Next, add in onion, carrots, and garlic, followed by a massive amount of tomato paste. These help to give the rice a really rich flavor and a gorgeous color. Finally, add water and steam the rice.

We love this with quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos….if the food has even a hint of Mexican flair to it, I’ll use it as an excuse to make this!

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice
Restaurant-style Mexican rice flavored with tomato paste, carrots, onion, and garlic. Perfect for serving alongside enchiladas, tacos, or beans.
Yield: 6-8 servings
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • ¾ cup finely chopped white onion
  • ¾ cup finely diced carrot
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add in the rice and saute, stirring constantly, until the grains are golden, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it is completely incorporated with the rice.
  2. Add in the water and salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring every two minutes. Cover the pot and decrease the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Season to taste with salt, if needed.
Recipe from Nopalito


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2 Responses to Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

  1. Pam says:

    Now I’m craving Mexican for lunch! It looks tasty and perfectly cooked.

  2. I got a good chuckle reading your post because rice can be so fickle! I have tried a similar version of this which also calls for you to rinse the rice beforehand and it works perfectly each and every time. Yours looks delicious!

    P.S. I have one pot and one burner and one lid and I have to use all three to make rice. If I change any of them out, it’s all over.

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