Fluffy, beautifully seasoned Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo). Truly like what you get at restaurants! www.recipetineats.com
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4.97 from 32 votes

Mexican Red Rice

Fluffy, beautifully seasoned Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo). With a whisper of coriander / cilantro flavour, this is tasty enough to eat plain. The key to fluffy rice is the right water to rice ratio, and don't use too much tomato paste otherwise the liquid gets too thick = gluggy rice. Makes just over 3 cups, once fluffed. Scale up recipe by using slider on Servings. See AUTHENTICITY note below. Recipe VIDEO below.
Prep Time3 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time18 mins
Servings: 4
Calories: 247kcal
Author: Nagi


  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 small white onion , finely chopped
  • 1 cup white rice , long grain, uncooked (Note 1)
  • 1 3/4 cups / 435 ml chicken or vegetable broth (Note 2)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper , whole (optional)
  • 1 sprig coriander / cilantro

Optional garnish:

  • Finely chopped coriander / cilantro leaves


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir briefly, then add onion. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes until translucent (not browned / golden).
  • Add rice, broth, salt and tomato paste. Stir until tomato paste is dissolved.
  • Plonk in jalapeno and coriander. Cover, bring to simmer, then lower heat to low so the water is simmering gently.
  • Cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed (tilt pot to check).
  • Remove from heat, leave lid on and rest for 10 minutes (KEY STEP). The residual liquid on the surface of the rice will get absorbed and rice will go from sticky to fluffy.
  • Fluff with fork then serve! (Optional: garnish with extra coriander)


1. RICE: Long grain rice will give you the fluffiest rice. Jasmine and basmati rice will produce similar fluffiness but will have a different fragrance because of the rice flavour. Medium grain will also be pretty fluffy. Short grain will be a bit sticky, but not gluggy, still very good. Risotto and paella rice are not suitable for this. For brown rice, cook for 35 - 40 minutes on low.
2. BROTH: You can also use water plus 1 bouillon cube, crumbled (vegetable or chicken is best). To reduce overall sodium, use low sodium broth and skip the salt.
3. AUTHENTICITY: As with all traditional dishes, there are many ways Arroz Rojo is made in Mexico the authentic way. Typically, the common ingredient that I do not use is to puree really ripe, fresh tomatoes and often you see it made with tomato bouillon cubes rather than liquid stock which I don't see here in Australia. Truly great, intensely tomatoey tomatoes are not easy to come by for normal folks like myself. And while there are versions made with tomato puree (i.e. pureed tomato, thinner than tomato paste), I find that tomato paste works better to colour and flavour the broth while keeping it really thin and thus allowing for the rice to cook really evenly and come out fluffy. Also the slight acidity of tomato paste is a great touch of freshness.
So this version Arroz Rojo is one that is doable for normal folk like myself that yields a rice that looks and tastes like the real deal - and it's easier too, no pureeing tomatoes! :) 
4. This recipe replaced an old recipe I published years ago called Mexican "Fried Rice" made by frying cooked rice with enchilada sauce, spice flavourings, beans and corns. I didn't think anyone was using that recipe but I've had a couple of requests for it, so here it is!
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings. 


Serving: 129g | Calories: 247kcal