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Spicy Mexican Rice is made with your choice of brown (our favorite) or white rice and flavored with onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, tomatoes, and spices. We cook the rice in broth for extra flavor then stir in some corn, cilantro, and lime juice at the end. It’s an incredibly zesty and delicious side dish that’s perfect for all your Mexican meals.
Complete the meal with Mexican pork carnitas and corn salsa. And don’t forget about treating yourself to a fizzy lime margarita!
This recipe was originally published in 2014. We've updated the post with some new photos, more information, and an easier-to-follow recipe.
Spicy Mexican Rice
This is the spicy Mexican rice recipe that we've been making for years. You'll find that it's really versatile and has a wonderful flavor that goes well with so many different mains. It is perfectly spicy without being overly hot. Or you can even omit the jalapeño for a mild version.
It's packed full of sweet and crunchy corn kernels, carrots, and peppers. There's so much flavor here that sometimes we eat this on its own as a one-pot dinner. Or you can go authentic and serve it with some beans Mexican BBQ chicken.
How to make Mexican rice without tomato sauce
We make Mexican rice without tomato sauce as we’ve found that cooking rice in tomato sauce makes it feel heavier and mutes the other flavors. To keep this whole grain spicy Mexican rice light and fresh tasting, we use whole, chopped tomatoes instead.
- Start by sautéing the veggies in a little oil. Once they’re soft, add the cumin and garlic to the pot. The cumin will become extra fragrant after a minute of cooking.
- Now pour the stock, rice, chopped tomatoes, jalapeño, and salt into the pot and bring it to a simmer.
- Let the rice cook for 40 minutes before you remove the pot from the heat.
- Once the rice is tender, stir in the corn, cilantro, and lime juice.
Onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, and tomato – we use these Mexican vegetables to add flavor and texture to the rice.
Cumin and salt – Cumin adds a wonderful, Mexican flavor to the rice and salt enhances all the other flavors.
Stock – chicken or vegetable stock both work well. Beef stock can be used for an even richer flavor.
Rice – We love using brown rice to turn this into whole grain spicy Mexican rice; The chewier texture works perfectly with the other flavors. But if you love white rice, that works deliciously well, too.
Jalapeño pepper – Adds the spice to this spicy Mexican rice. You can omit the seeds or use less of the pepper for a more mild heat level.
Corn – Frozen corn works great in this recipe. You can also use fresh corn, but you’ll want to add it to the pot about 15 minutes before the rice finishes cooking.
Cilantro and lime juice – Both add a wonderful fresh and bright flavor to the rice.
Variations to try
This is a really flexible recipe, so if you’re not a fan of one of the veggies (cilantro, perhaps?) you can simply omit it. Here are a few ways that we like to switch up this spicy Mexican rice recipe:
- Add cubes of chicken when you add the rice and broth to the pot.
- Put some shrimp on top of the rice 5 minutes before the rice finishes cooking.
- Stir some black beans into the rice after it’s cooked. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to the sautéed veggies to give the rice a brighter red color.
How to store leftover Mexican rice last?
Store leftover rice in a sealed container in your fridge and eat it within 4-5 days. It reheats well so this is a perfect recipe for meal prep!
Can I freeze Mexican rice?
Yes! You can freeze rice for up to a month. We love using these reusable Stasher freezer bags for just about everything in our freezer, including this Mexican rice.
How spicy is this rice?
That’s up to you! If you use the whole jalapeño pepper (seeds and all) it will pack quite the punch. If you discard the seeds or use only a little of the spicy pepper if will be tamer. Or you can skip the jalapeño altogether for mild Mexican rice.
What to serve with spicy Mexican rice
We love to serve Mexican rice with an easy to make protein (like our baked chicken thighs or juicy baked pork chops or vegetarian sofritas) and a simple green salad. But you can easily turn this into a Mexican feast:
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 small onion (minced)
- 1 medium red pepper (minced)
- 1 medium carrot (minced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (see notes)
- 2 cups brown rice (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large tomatoes (diced)
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper (minced (see notes))
- 1 cup frozen corn
- ½ cup cilantro (minced)
- 2 tablespoon lime juice (fresh is best)
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and carrot and cook until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin and let them cook for 1 minute.1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 small onion, 1 medium red pepper, 1 medium carrot, 4 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Add the stock, rice, salt, tomatoes, and jalapeño pepper and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender.3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, 2 cups brown rice, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 large tomatoes, 1 medium jalapeño pepper
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the corn, cilantro, and lime juice.1 cup frozen corn, ½ cup cilantro, 2 tablespoon lime juice
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.