What Is Mexican Rice? (What It Is, What It’s For + More)

Cooking a delicious and healthy meal requires more time and effort than a lot of people can spare. Fortunately, Mexican rice provides a quick and satisfying solution to this problem.

If you’ve never heard of it before, you might be wondering what Mexican rice is and how you can incorporate Mexican rice into your diet. I looked into it, and here’s what I found!

What Is Mexican Rice?

Mexican rice is also known as Spanish rice, Mexican red rice, Istanboli Polo, and Spanish Rice de Mexico. Mexican rice is made with white rice, annatto, tomato paste, cumin, pepper, garlic, onion, and chili powder. Depending on the recipe you follow, Mexican rice can include meat, vegetables, and a whole host of other ingredients.

In case you’re interested to learn more about how to prepare Mexican rice and whether Mexican rice will suit your palate, keep reading!

What Is Mexican Rice Called?

Mexican rice is often referred to as Spanish rice and Mexican red rice in America. In Spain, Mexican rice is called ‘arroz rojo.’

Meanwhile, in Persian and Iranian cuisine, Mexican rice is referred to as Istanboli Polo. However, authentic Mexican rice is called Spanish Rice de Mexico.

Generally, the essence of Mexican rice is the same regardless of what it is called in different places.

What Is Mexican Rice Made Of?

Mexican rice can be made using a wide variety of ingredients.

However, the basic ingredients remain the same across recipes, namely long-grain rice, tomato sauce, oil, minced garlic, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and garlic pepper.

Usually, people put their twist on Mexican rice by mixing Mexican rice with their favorite meat and vegetables.

What Spices Are In Mexican Rice?

Spices are key to making successful Mexican rice, and some of the most vital spices in Mexican rice are garlic, chili powder, onion powder, saffron, and cumin.

Depending on the recipe you’re using, there could be more spices used to further elevate the taste of Mexican rice.

What Is Mexican Rice Seasoned With?

Typically, Mexican rice is seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chicken broth, saffron, and tomato paste.

What Is Mexican Rice Served With?

Mexican rice is often served with enchiladas, carne asada, and tacos. Nonetheless, Mexican rice can also be paired with a wide variety of vegetable and meat dishes.

Why Is Mexican Rice Orange?

Contrary to popular belief, Mexican rice is not orange because Mexican rice is cooked with tomato sauce or tomato paste.

To achieve the traditional orange color of Mexican rice, achiote spice is used. Depending on availability, you can ground the achiote spice yourself or buy achiote spice in the supermarket.

Achiote spice is also called annatto seeds and it comes from a tropical shrub called “the Lipstick tree.” Additionally, annatto is also an ingredient commonly used in yellow rice.

How Do You Make Mexican Rice?

To make Mexican rice, start by heating oil in a skillet and adding onion and garlic. After two to three minutes, add rice and stir until the grains are roasted.

Next, pour chicken broth and tomato sauce over the grains and let it simmer. Afterward, throw in the spices and vegetables you want to add like chili powder and corn.

Bring the Mexican rice to boil then cover the skillet with a lid. Lower the heat and let the rice cook for around sixteen to twenty minutes.

Once done, the Mexican rice can be topped with your preferred garnish and is ideally served hot.

How Do You Make Mexican White Rice?

How Do You Make Mexican White Rice?

Mexican White rice, also known as Arroz Blanco, is a colorless and subtly flavored variation of traditional Mexican rice.

To make Mexican white rice, you have to heat chicken broth until the chicken broth is steaming then season it with salt. In another pan, heat the oil and add onion and raw rice.

Afterward, throw in the garlic and stir for a couple of seconds. Before the grains turn brown, add the broth and lime juice. Cover the pan until the grains are cooked.

Is Mexican Rice Gluten-Free?

Mexican rice is typically gluten-free. However, it is possible to add gluten to Mexican rice by using gluten-containing ingredients like turmeric and paprika.

While seasonings don’t usually contain gluten, they could be contaminated when manufacturers mix them with wheat flour to prevent caking.

Always play it safe by checking the ingredients of each seasoning before using the seasoning to make Mexican rice.

Is Mexican Rice Brown Rice?

Mexican rice is typically made with white rice. However, it is possible to make Mexican rice using brown rice if you want your Mexican rice to be firmer and nutty in flavor.

Cooking Mexican rice with brown rice is similar to white rice. However, most people prefer to toast the brown rice in the oil longer to bring out the brown rice’s flavor better.

Is Mexican Rice Spicy?

Mexican rice has a bit of spice in it, but not enough to consider Mexican rice a spicy food.

If you prefer your Mexican rice spicy, just add more chili powder than the recommended amount. You may also add green chili and green pepper for enhanced spiciness.

What Is The Difference Between Mexican Rice And Spanish Rice?

While Mexican rice is also called Spanish rice and vice versa, these are two distinct dishes. However, Mexican rice and Spanish rice are virtually the same to many people.

There are only subtle differences between Mexican rice and Spanish rice, the main one being their texture.

Mexican rice tends to be softer and fluffier while Spanish rice tends to be firmer. Additionally, Mexican rice has a brighter orange color whereas Spanish rice has a stronger yellow hue.

Check out our related articles to learn what Minute Rice is, what milk rice is, and what milled rice is.


Mexican rice is a popular dish all over the world and is called by many names. Regardless of the recipe, you’re following, the essence of Mexican rice remains the same.

Typically, Mexican rice is made with white rice. Nonetheless, you can also use brown rice for a firmer texture.

Additionally, Mexican rice can be mixed with a wide array of meats and vegetables, and Mexican rice can also be served as the main dish or a side dish to other food.

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