Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice)

Arroz rojo, or Mexican red rice, is a versatile side dish that can also stand on its own as a main dish. It’s easy and flavourful.

arroz rojo recipe -Mexican red rice in a skillet
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What Is Arroz Rojo?

The name “arroz rojo” translates to “red rice,”, which is a staple in Mexican cuisine and a favourite among families. This recipe transforms simple ingredients like rice, tomato puree, and vegetables into a flavourful and colourful side dish that complements a wide range of main courses. 

Its vibrant colour comes from the tomato puree while the flavour comes from the combination of onions, garlic, cumin, and paprika. 

Whether you’re serving it alongside grilled meats, as part of a vegetarian feast, or as a hearty base for a burrito bowl, arroz rojo is a great addition to any meal (not just Mexican, by the way).

👉 If you’re looking for more dinner recipes, make sure to try my beef carne picada, Mexican chicken schnitzel, spiced Mexican tuna steak, or black beans, corn and avocado salad. You can find some Mexican appetizers here.

Arroz rojo on a plate with beef
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What You’ll Need

Here is what you’ll need to make arroz rojo recipe:

  • Rice: Long-grain white rice is preferred for its fluffy texture and ability to absorb the rich flavours of the tomato puree and spices. 
  • Flavour base: Olive oil adds a hint of richness, while the combination of garlic, onion, and carrots introduces depth and a touch of sweetness. 
  • Kick it up a notch: the spices—cumin, paprika, and black pepper—provide warmth and complexity. The jalapeño pepper allows you to adjust the heat level to your preference, making the dish customizable for different palates. 
  • Vegetable broth: you need the liquid to cook the rice but make it veggie or chicken broth for added flavour and depth.

You can tweak the recipe based on what you have on hand and your dietary needs. You can add extra vegetables, corn, beans or peas. 

arroz rojo ingredients
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How To Make Arroz Rojo

  • Prep the rice: Start by thoroughly rinsing your rice under cold water to remove excess starch, which helps achieve that perfectly fluffy texture.
  • Sauté the base: Heat olive oil in a skillet, then sauté onion, garlic, and rice until the rice takes on a golden hue and the onion is translucent. This step not only cooks the rice but also layers in flavour right from the start.
  • Add veggies: Stir in the tomato puree, diced carrots, and salt, cooking for a couple of minutes to deepen the flavours.
  • Simmer the flavours: Pour in the vegetable broth along with your spices and jalapeño. After bringing it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover it, and let it simmer quietly. The rice will absorb all those gorgeous flavours and the liquid, becoming tender and delicious.
  • Rest and Serve: Once the rice is cooked, give it a few minutes to rest, still covered. This step allows the rice to finish steaming. Fluff it up with a fork, garnish it with fresh cilantro, and it’s ready to impress at the dinner table.
how to make arroz rojo collage image of steps
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arroz rojo recipe -Mexican red rice in a skillet
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Recipe Tips

  • Adjust the amount of jalapeño pepper according to your preferred level of spiciness.
  • You can substitute vegetable broth with chicken broth if desired.
  • Feel free to add other vegetables like peas or bell peppers for extra flavour and texture.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled or halved depending on your serving needs.
  • Rinse the rice before cooking to remove excess starch and achieve fluffier grains.
  • Use a skillet or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid to ensure even cooking and to prevent steam from escaping.
  • Allow the rice to rest after cooking to allow the flavours to meld and the rice to become tender.
  • Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences. You can add more spices or herbs to enhance the flavour.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the rice as a side dish with grilled meats, braised stews like this carne picada or spiced tomato chicken meatballs, roasted vegetables, or alongside another favourite Mexican-inspired main course or tacos. It’s also great in tacos or as a base of a healthy Tex Mex bowl. 

If I have leftover Mexican rice, I often have it with a fried egg and salsa in the morning for breakfast.

arroz rojo (mexican red rice)
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More Rice Recipes

Full Recipe 

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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arroz rojo recipe featurre
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Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Print Pin Save
5 from 4 votes
Calories: 230kcal
Learn how to make arroz rojo, or Mexican red rice, a versatile, healthy and flavourful side dish. 


  • 1 cup long-grain white rice rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 3/4 cups cups vegetable broth + 3/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and either chopped or left whole
  • coriander/cilantro fresh for garnish


  • Wash the rice under cold water 3-4 times and strain. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic and rice. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the rice is slightly golden. Stir constantly to prevent rice from burning.
  • Add the tomato puree, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook for 2 minutes, allowing it to caramelize slightly.
  • Add the vegetable broth, cumin, paprika, black pepper and jalapeños, stir and cover the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Once the mixture is boiling, stir again one more time.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Avoid removing the lid or stirring the rice during this time.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove the skillet from heat and let it sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve hot.


Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?
 Yes, you can substitute white rice with brown rice, but note that the cooking time will be much longer.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
While the rice is best served fresh, you can prepare the ingredients in advance and cook the rice just before serving. Reheating leftover rice may result in a slightly different texture. Plus, you can’t store cooked rice for very long in the fridge.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten-free as long as the vegetable broth and tomato puree used do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. Always double-check the labels of packaged ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free or make your homemade versions.
Can I use different types of rice?
While this recipe specifically calls for long-grain white rice, you can experiment with other types of rice such as basmati or jasmine. Keep in mind that different rice varieties may require adjustments in cooking times and liquid ratios.


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 722mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3142IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords: red rice, Mexican red rice, Mexican rice, rice side dish
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookedandloved or tag #cookedandloved
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Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this rice with our tacos last night and it was amazing! So easy to make and so flavorful!

  2. 5 stars
    Enjoyed this with dinner last night and it was a savory success! Quick, easy and delicious and paired perfectly with dinner!

  3. 5 stars
    The flavors were amazing and the vibrant red color added a pop to the meal. The recipe was easy to follow and the end result was so delicious. I can’t wait to make it again!

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