Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice)

Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice) – made with ingredients from your well-stocked pantry and a few fresh ingredients elevates your Mexican mains any day of the week! You’ll find no sodium-laden bouillon in this healthier, gluten-free rice dish. Add some rotisserie chicken for a quick arroz con pollo, add to a burrito bowl, or top with an egg for a hearty breakfast…

Arroz rojo with carrots and peas close up in a cazuela.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Arroz Rojo

Rice is not native to Mexico. It was brought to Mexico during the Spanish invasion in the 1500s.

Often called “Spanish rice” in the US, it hardly resembles the delicate saffron flavor of Spanish rice. At its most basic, Mexican rice is white rice browned in fat (often lard in Mexico) and flavored with tomato and broth.

In southern Mexico, you are more likely to find just plain white rice, and in northern Mexico, Mexican rice is flavored rice, but both are referred to as “arroz.”

We’ve all spurned the ubiquitous red rice on a Mexican-American combo plate right? Well, maybe you love it, but I leave most of it behind on the plate. Often bland or too salty, and frequently containing frozen and soggy vegetables, it just isn’t appealing. Just SAD.

The key to fluffy rice is in the proportion of liquid to rice. See your package instructions for quantity of liquid to 1 cup rice. THIS IS KEY!

~~ Tamara Andersen

Taking my cue from traditional cooking methods, the rice is rinsed well to remove excess starch, then toasted in a bit of healthy coconut or olive oil prior to beginning to layer flavors.

My well-stocked pantry always contains ground cumin – a “go to” for Mexican cooking. Garlic is a must, as is some finely chopped onion or shallot. All 3 ingredients get sautéed for a couple of minutes prior to adding the liquid.

❓ FAQ

How much liquid should I use?

The key to fluffy rice is in the proportion of liquid to rice. See your package instructions for quantity of liquid to 1 cup rice. THIS IS KEY! I almost always use basmati, and while many cooks insist the ratio should be 1:1.5, I get perfectly fluffy rice with 1:2. I do cut it to 1:1.5 for jasmine rice.

What kind of chile should I use?

We like a bit of heat in our Mexican Red Rice, and there are several ways you can achieve that heat:

🍲Variations

  • Add 1 mashed chipotle chile with 1 teaspoon adobo +/- with the liquid (my preference).
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon +/- ground chipotle or ancho powder.
  • Add a finely minced serrano, jalapeño, or Hatch green chile.
  • Conversely, you can omit entirely if you can’t handle the heat, but you lose the flavor too!
Mexican Red Rice in a terra cotta cazuela.

📋 Ingredients for Mexican Red Rice

  • long grain rice (see Tips below)
  • oil – I like refined coconut or olive oil
  • small onion or large shallot
  • ground cumin
  • chipotle with adobo – You can substitute some finely minced jalapeño or 1/2 teaspoon of red chile powder. (See Tips below).
  • tomato paste
  • liquid – You can use broth/stock or water.
  • carrot – A small dice gets them done more quickly. I cook them with the rice.
  • green peas – If I’m using fresh English peas, I cook them with the rice. If I’m using frozen peas, I add them during the last 5 minutes, or I steam them separately. I hate shriveled green peas.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • cilantro

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

🔪 Instructions

  1. Sauté rice and aromatics – To a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil and rice. Sauté until fragrant. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, and stir an additional 1-2 minutes.
  2. Prepare the liquid – Whisk the mashed chipotle and adobo, tomato paste, and broth or water to a total of 2 cups (or as per rice package). Add to the saucepan.
  3. Cook the rice – Add the diced carrots and peas (unless you’re amazing and add them steamed at the end!). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover. Cook 15 minutes (or as per package). Resist the urge to lift the lid!
  4. Serve the rice – Remove from heat until ready to fluff and serve. If you’ve steamed your peas, add them at this time. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. Serve.

💭 Tips

When adding other liquids or very moisture-laden ingredients, it is important to include them in the liquid ratio. For example: My Mexican Cilantro Rice includes an entire bunch of cilantro. Cilantro is mostly water. I process it with some of the liquid, spoon it into a 2 cup measure, and then top it off with the appropriate amount of liquid. I get great results every time!

The peas – If I have the time (and presence of mind), I will quickly steam the peas and add them when I fluff before serving. This avoids little shriveled green peas!

The “heat” – We like a bit of heat in our red rice. I prefer chipotle with its adobo. Proceed cautiously as it is quite hot! If I don’t have it, I use ground chipotle or ancho chile. New Mexico red chile is good too. All of these options add to the red color of the rice. You may also use some finely chopped serrano, jalapeño, or Hatch green chile, but it’s not red. 😂

The rice – My basmati rice requires about 15 minutes once it comes to a boil. It is SO IMPORTANT to cover with a tight-fitting lid, lower the heat, and resist the urge to lift the lid. I cook on an induction stove, and turn it all the way down to 3 or 4 on a scale of 15. If dinner isn’t ready, I remove it from the heat, and don’t lift the lid. If you’re using a different kind of long grain rice, check the package for liquid amount and cooking time, then adjust accordingly.

🍚 Pairing Suggestions

As I mention in the introduction, adding some rotisserie chicken or topping with an egg turns this into a tasty, light meal…

This Mexican red rice is perfect alongside easy chamoy glazed salmon, grilled tajín chicken breasts, and healthy southwest stuffed peppers. For more ideas, see my Mexican category!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Mexican Red Rice in a white glazed cazuela on a grey background.

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo) is a super flavorful, easy, gluten free side dish to serve with your Mexican main dishes!
5 from 4 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 210 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • To a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil and rice. Sauté until fragrant.
    A sauce pan with rice and an orange spatula.
  • Add the onion, garlic, cumin, and stir an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Whisk the mashed chipotle and adobo, tomato paste, and broth to a total of 2 cups (or as per package).
  • Add the diced carrots and peas (unless you’re amazing and add them steamed at the end!). Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat. Cover. Cook 15 minutes (or as per package). Resist the urge to lift the lid!
  • Remove from heat until ready to fluff and serve. If you’ve steamed your peas, add them at this time.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. Serve.

Notes

This recipe calls for a ratio of rice to liquid of 1:2. I usually have basmati rice in my pantry. If you are using a rice that requires a different rice to liquid ratio, adjust the recipe accordingly. Similarly, check the cooking time on your rice. I cook basmati rice 15 minutes. I have used this Royal Basmati Rice. The ratio given is 1:2. Read your package because many will call for something different!
Thoroughly rinsing your rice removes excess starch, and that means your rice is more likely to have separate grains!

Nutrition

Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

Share this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24 Comments

  1. I was reading the ingredients and I selected x2 everything changed to double all the ingredients except for the broth/stock or water,it remained 2 cups, should it be 4 cups? I am not good at making rice and am hopeful this recipe will help me make a wonderful dish.

    1. Hi Molly! Yes, you want a total of 4 cups if you’re doubling the recipe. Because I didn’t put a specific amount of broth or stock, the app didn’t double it. The total of all liquids should be double the quantity of rice unless you’re using a different type of rice. If you are using a different type of rice, be sure to check the package for ratio of rice to liquid. I use basmati, and 1:2 works. Also, be sure to reduce the heat immediately after the liquid begins to boil. I keep mine on very low heat, and don’t lift the lid. Good luck!

  2. I’ve made this dish twice and love it, as a side and then as leftovers where I just scramble in an egg for breakfast. 1st time for me using chipotle and adabo – adds a fantastic layer of flavors.

  3. I know I will love your version of Mexican rice because this is very close to the Indian tomato rice. Full of flavor and each grain cooked to perfection!
    And I agree. Basmati is always 1 :2 . For that perfectly cooked long grain of delight.

    1. I find Mexican and Indian food have many common ingredients and flavors! I know you’re a basmati expert, so thanks for the confirmation!

  4. I could easily make this a meal even without adding the egg or chicken! I love that you toasted the rice and added the chipotle to really bump up the flavor. Going to try this the next time Mexican is on our menu!

  5. I am a fool for rice…and I know this would be perfectly up my alley. So perfect I think I might even make it for dinner…I LOVE a dish like this with a fried egg on top.

    I usually cook my rice in my Instant Pot; I made have to try that hmm? I’ll let you know how that goes; personally if I add peas to it after everything else has cooked, that’s about all the cooking they need for me; I like them almost raw!

    1. It does work in the Instant Pot! Haha. BTW, I’ve been known to just rinse frozen peas under water and toss them in at the end!

  6. This is one of my favorite dishes, but like you said, so often disappointing in restaurants. I can’t wait to make your version – it looks and sounds wonderful!! Welcome to Progressive Eats, so happy to have you join us!

  7. I’ve been searching for the perfect side dish for all the Tex-Mex entrees in my repertoire! You hit the nail on the head with this amazing Mexican Red Rice!!! Delicious!!

  8. I love your “system” for staging the various parts of this rice dish so each element is at its best. Plus you’ve taken account of people like me, with good intentions to steam the peas and carrots, but who often forget to do that:) So glad you’ve joined Progressive Eats.Look forward to more of your contributions.

    1. Thank you Laura! I approach my blog from my own experiences in the kitchen. Ideally, those peas aren’t shriveled, but they’re still tasty if they are. 😉 I’m so happy to be a part of a group of quality bloggers and wonderful women!