Mexican Rice – Grandma’s Secret Recipe

Glorious grains of Long Grain Rice toasted to perfection and bursting with robust flavor of savory tomatoes, onion, garlic, chicken stock, peas, and carrots. Each modest ingredient providing added complexity to otherwise simple dish. Well prepared Mexican Rice is more more than a side dish when you add patience, care and good ingredients. True Slow Food.

My grandma’s secret technique for making Mexican Rice is simple but very unique. No oil is used when toasting/browning the rice. Rather the rice goes into a dry pan over Medium-Low Heat and get slowly heated stirring all the while. As the rice gets hotter it goes from opaque to chalky white and then slowly starts to toast and brown. This recipe requires the person toasting the rice to be ever present, stirring constantly or shaking the pan as the rice becomes hotter and starts to brown. The process takes 18 to 20 minutes. Browning the rice adds a flavor dimension of “nuttiness” to the final dish. It also causes the grains of rice to burst as they absorb the savory liquid. Each grain of rice becoming light, fluffy, and full of flavor.

My earliest memories of helping mom in the kitchen was the job of stirring the rice in the big cast iron pan as it browned. She would call on me when she needed to tend to all the other dishes she would be making that was part of our meal. I also learned valuable lesson; “always wear shoes in the kitchen.” Nothing hurts more than grains of hot rice jumping from the pan as I stirred with a wooden spoon and landing on the top of my bare-feet! The job of browning the rice is where I learned patience as a kid. Do not be tempted to turn up the heat to make the process go faster. The rice can go from not brown to burnt in a flash. Not good thing.

The ingredients for Mexican Rice are readily available in all grocery stores and are inexpensive. Leftovers can be frozen, thawed, and reheated with great results!

The full instructional video for Mexican Rice is at the bottom of this blog post. Please visit my YouTube Channel and “LIKE” and “SUBSCRIBE” for this and more cooking and baking videos!

Equipment: (Shop my Amazon Page for Ingredients & Equipment)

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Cutting Board
  • Chefs Knife
  • 3-1/2 Quart Sauté Pan with Lid 
  • Wooden Spatula
  • Heat Resistant Rubber Spatula

Mexican Rice:

  • 2 cups Long Grain Rice
  • 2 cups White Onion (1/4-inch diced)
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced fine)
  • 14.5 oz. Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 2-1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Peas (Fresh or Frozen)
  • 1 cup Carrots (peeled, 1/4-inch diced)
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Rendered Chicken, Pork, or Beef Fat can substitute)
  1. Place the sauté pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the rice to the saute pan and let the pan slowly heat up.
  2. Stirring the pan of rice every 30 seconds. The rice will become whiter before it starts to brown as it heats up. Stir the rice constantly to get even browning. This will take 18 to 20 minutes. The final color should be a golden brown and the rice will take on a nutty smell and will smoke slightly. Note: Adjust or remove the pan of rice from the heat if the rice brown to quickly.
  3. Once the rice is browned add the onions to the rice and stir to combine. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Stir and cooking for another 30 seconds.
  5. To the toasted rice add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  6. Cook and stir the toasted rice, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste for 5 to 6 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced and thicken.
  7. Add the salt and black pepper and stir to combine.
  8. Add the peas and carrots and stir to combine.
  9. Add the chicken stock and extra virgin olive oil and stir to combine.
  10. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a full boil
  11. Once the rice has come to a full boil. Give the rice a stir and reduce to low heat.
  12. Cover the pan with the lid.
  13. Cook the Mexican Rice for 20 minutes on low heat. Do not open the lid during this time.
  14. After 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice rest with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  15. After 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
  16. Enjoy!

9 thoughts on “Mexican Rice – Grandma’s Secret Recipe

  1. Brian

    What do you think happened? I followed the recipe precisely, but without the peas. It took more like 30 min to toast the rice to the color in the video, I think my burner was just a bit too low. When finished after 30 min (20 min on low and 10 min covered on no heat), the rice came out partially cooked, some rice was cooked through, but about 25% of the rice was still hard and had a bite to it. Any thoughts on adjustments I can make? Thank you 🙂

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Brian, It is nice to meet you. One of the variables we contend with cooking is the level of heat our stoves produce. From what you described with browning the rice and the results you had at the end of the cooking time it sounds like the stove temperature could have been slightly higher. If you find the rice has not cooked through you can always return the pan to the stove and conintue to heat the rice until it is fully cooked. Add chicken stock if needed to complete the cooking process. I appreciate you taking the time to share your expereine making the Mexican Rice recipe. It is helpful to have these experiences shared with our fellow community members. Please let me know if you should have any other questions I can help you with. Thank you.

  2. Martha Julian

    OK. I just made your mexican rice recipe exactly as it is written. OMGoooodness, is it ever the most delicious rice I’ve ever made! I’m still working on that outragiously delicious challah. It’s absolutely heavenly, but it doesn’t look like the one you make in your video. I’ll get there eventually. Thank you so much for your recipes, videos and your blog. You really do set the bar pretty high. But you’re making me a rock star at home and at church! Next step:Binge-watch your Youtube Channel:)

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Martha, Congratulations on your success making the Mexican Rice! 🎉 It is so wonderful to hear of your experience with the Challah recipe also. Your family and friends are so lucky to have you cooking and baking for them. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me and the Just One Bite, Please? community. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Katanahamon

    Another beautiful recipe! A safety net tip..put a large, thick glass or ceramic bowl in the fridge to chill. If your rice starts to burn, or at the end to stop the cooking, just pull out the bowl, throw the rice in and stir vigorously to cool it quickly.

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