Light Lunches · Main Meals · Vegan

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

This restaurant-style red rice is filling, healthy and packed full of flavour. It’s a must try for anyone who loves Mexican food!

Recipe originally posted July 2013, recipe and photographs updated May 2021.

This rice recipe holds a special place in my heart, it’s a dish that’s enjoyable as an accompaniment to many of our favourite Mexican foods.

I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve made this rice over the years since I first shared the recipe in 2013. It’s a staple savoury recipe in my house and is the perfect side dish to any Mexican dinner: used to fill a burrito or served with enchiladas and fajitas.

We love it served in tortilla wraps with Mexican-style roasted vegetables with vegan soya and chive dip or drizzled with piri piri mayonnaise. Or grab a pack of tortilla chips and scoop the rice up along with some tomato salsa!

I often make this rice for dinner but if we happen to have any leftover rice then I’ll take a portion for lunch at work. I love it served both warm straight from the pot or cold. When you let it cool down and eat the next day I find the flavours have developed more and the rice is even tastier!

Vegetable wise I’ve always added chopped bell peppers to my Mexican rice. I like using two different coloured peppers and usually go for a red and a yellow bell pepper. You can use whichever colour peppers you like or even add different vegetables like sweetcorn or peas, it’s really up to you what you choose to put in!

So to make this tasty rice you’ll start by sautéing diced onion with garlic, chopped bell peppers and some salt and pepper for about 5 minutes until softened. Add a combination of spices (cumin, cilantro/coriander, smoked paprika and chilli powder) and toast those off with a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée. Add the rice and stock and simmer the rice on the stove top or braise it in the oven for 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Once the rice is cooked, squeeze the juice of a lime over the rice, give it a quick stir and add any extra seasoning if needed and leave the rice to sit and infuse.

Serve the rice hot or cold with a garnish of lime wedges and some chopped cilantro/coriander or parlsey.

Forget the bland and stodgy packet of microwave Mexican rice and make your own, you won’t regret it once you’ve tasted my recipe!

(Serves 4-6)


2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 red or white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cilantro/coriander

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes or powder (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato purée

450g (2 cups) long grain rice

900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock (I use vegetable stock to ensure this rice is vegan)

Juice of 1 lime, plus more lime wedges to serve


  1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and peppers for 5 minutes until they’re starting to soften slightly. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the spices (cumin, cilantro/coriander, paprika and chilli) and toast for a minute fragrant. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further minute.
  3. Now add the rice and cook for another couple of minutes to toast slightly making sure it doesn’t catch too much on the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and bring up to the boil – at this point stir the rice with a fork opposed to a spoon.
  4. Once boiling, either simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy or alternatively you can braise the rice in the oven for the same amount of time at 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
  5. Take off the heat and add the lime juice and mix through the rice. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed and then cover and allow the flavours in the rice to infuse for 5-10 minutes before serving, then serve the rice warm or cold. Garnish the plate of rice with lime edges and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro/coriander or parsley if desired. The rice once cooled completely to room temperature will store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Don’t reheat rice more than once.

I recently made a rice dish inspired by this rice recipe. My take on a Nando’s Spicy Rice adds a slightly different combination of spices – chilli flakes, cumin, smoked paprika and turmeric.

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