3/10/21

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice

A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

My family LOVES to eat at our local Mexican restaurant. They will choose going there (or getting take-out in these Covid days) over any other restaurant 9 out of 10 times. And the thing that every single one of us makes sure to order each time?

The rice.

I don’t even know what you should call it. It’s not Spanish Rice. And for some reason I feel odd calling it 'Mexican Rice'. Maybe because I think we only call it that because Mexican restaurants here in America all pretty-much make it.

I bet if you went to Mexico and ordered 'Mexican Rice' they’d be like… que? 

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into coming up with this recipe. My family will eagerly tell you about all the failed attempts I made to get to this one best version. Baby Boy is such a Mexican rice connoisseur and down-right snob about it, he won’t even bother to taste it if it’s doesn’t “look right”. 

I knew I was on to something when I set the first batch of this on the table and they all made the right noises. There were a lot of mmmmmms and ooooooooos and I noticed they piled hefty servings onto their plates. 

Then Baby Boy took a bite and said THIS IS IT and I literally got up and danced a little jig! Seriously, this one perfect recipe is the result of at least 20 batches that didn’t hit the mark, so this was a big deal for me!

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

I don’t care for the random frozen vegetables you find in the rice at some restaurants. And Husband REALLY doesn’t like it so I never considered using them. Also, I can’t imagine frozen English peas and carrot cubes get used too much in authentic Mexican rice dishes. 

I personally like finely diced sautéed onions in this but the fam says it’s a no-go so I don’t cook it that way. Plus, then it really does start to lean toward Spanish rice. 

My Mexican Rice is a very simple dish with only a few ingredients, but I think two things really give it that little je ne sais quoi (sorry, I don’t know the Spanish equivalent to that phrase or I would try to be clever here): sautéing the rice and the use of olive oil.

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

Sautéing the rice really develops the flavor and brings out an almost nuttiness to it. I think (though I could be wrong because I have nothing to back this up with) by browning it a bit, the rice grains hold their shape better and have a better texture in the finished dish.

I’ve sautéed the rice in butter, canola oil and olive oil and the rice done with olive oil is hands-down the best. Now, that being said, I buy the mildest olive oil available because I love to cook with it a lot and don’t want to overpower the flavors of the dish with a super-strong olive oil. I’ll mention this in the recipe notes but if your olive oil is strongly flavored, consider using half olive oil and half butter or canola oil.

Speaking of olive oil… there is a little shop here in Lexington, SC called The Classy Cruet that specializes in it. I popped in there one day to kill some time while Baby Girl was finishing up at the shop next door and legit fell in love. With olive oil. Crazy, right??

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

There is so much I didn’t know about olive oil. Well, I mean, I knew enough to know the $5.99 bottle at TJ Maxx is usually crappy and that extra virgin has a low smoke point but that’s about it. I tended not to cook a lot of dishes with it (other than Italian) because most that I’d used over the years were very strong and not always complimentary to what I was cooking.

I asked if there was a very mild flavored olive oil (because they were so nice and I kinda felt like I should buy something after wandering around so long 😬). Thirty minutes and two shopping bags full later, I was armed with Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a whole bunch of other stuff (highly recommend the garlic infused olive oil – major time saver when I don’t want to peel and chop fresh garlic and amazing to brush steaks with before grilling).

The Arbequina is one of their mild olive oils and the one that I use in this recipe (selection varies depending on olive harvest times – I hear the Picual is good too). I just popped over to The Classy Cruet website and see that they ship! Y’all should treat yourself to some good olive oil! These gals know their stuff and I must say, I am genuinely in love with this Arbequina. 

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

NOTES ABOUT MAKING MEXICAN RESTAURANT-STYLE RICE 

  • When I have it, I use taco sauce instead of tomato sauce. I save the pouches that come in taco kits for this precise reason and sometimes I luck up and find a bottle of it at the grocery store. Each works perfectly fine and there isn’t a huge amount either way, but I do like the little something-something the rice gets from the taco sauce (I’m talking about the Old El Paso or Ortega stuff – nothing fancy or thick).
  • I have not tried this with salsa or rotel so I can’t tell you if they would be good substitutes for the tomato sauce or taco sauce.
  • Use a mild flavored olive oil (see above). If your olive oil is pretty strong (meaning when you cook with it you can really taste and smell it), consider using half olive oil and half butter or canola oil.
  • You can substitute butter or another vegetable oil for the olive oil but I’ve found that olive oil really makes the rice taste like it does at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
  • Be sure not to break the grains of rice when sautéing it – I usually use a rubber spatula to move the rice around the bottom of the pan.
  • The best advice I can give you about cooking rice is to 1) use precise measurements, 2) leave it alone as much as possible and 3) only use a fork to stir it. You’ll need to stir it occasionally to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan but don’t overwork the rice.

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!

mexican, restaurant, style, rice, take out, easy, simple, quick, olive oil, taco sauce, how to, best, tex-mex, san jose
side dishes, rice
mexican
Yield: 8 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice

Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice

A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or taco sauce (see notes)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a shallow 3-quart saucepan (or medium skillet with tight-fitting lid) over medium heat. Add rice then gently sauté for about 5 minutes or until rice is slightly browned and fragrant.
  2. Add garlic then continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce or taco sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper then stir well. Bring to a gentle boil then cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to low or medium-low (wherever your dial gives you a gentle simmer) then cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir rice occasionally with a fork to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan but don’t overwork the rice. Don’t stir the rice or open the lid the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  5. Remove from heat then let rice rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork then serve.

Notes:

When I have it, I use taco sauce instead of tomato sauce. I save the pouches that come in taco kits for this precise reason and sometimes I luck up and find a bottle of it at the grocery store. Each works perfectly fine and there isn’t a huge amount either way, but I do like the little something-something the rice gets from the taco sauce (I’m talking about the Old El Paso or Ortega stuff – nothing fancy or thick).

I have not tried this with salsa or rotel so I can’t tell you if they would be good substitutes for the tomato sauce or taco sauce.

Use a mild flavored olive oil. If your olive oil is pretty strong (meaning when you cook with it you can really taste and smell it), consider using half olive oil and half butter or canola oil.

You can substitute butter or another vegetable oil for the olive oil but I’ve found that olive oil really makes the rice taste like it does at our favorite Mexican restaurant. 

Be sure not to break the grains of rice when sautéing it – I usually use a rubber spatula to move the rice around the bottom of the pan.

Calories

123.45

Fat (grams)

7.16

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.98

Carbs (grams)

12.78

Fiber (grams)

0.34

Net carbs

12.44

Sugar (grams)

0.85

Protein (grams)

2.08

Sodium (milligrams)

763.42

Cholesterol (grams)

2.49
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Mexican Restaurant-Style Rice! A simple recipe with just a few ingredients just like the rice at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a perfect side dish to serve at home with your favorite Mexican recipes!


13 comments:

  1. I love Mexican food, music, now that being said I have been looking for a recipe that I have eaten only a few times.
    I don't normally beg for anything, however, please put out a recipe of (please Lord let me spell this right) "loco polo" or so I have been told that it roughly means "crazy chicken". I do know that it uses a creamy goats cheese sauce. Could you please post the recipe?! ��

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  2. This is similar to the way I make my rice, except I don't stir it while it's cooking. When I can see the little pockets of space on top of the rice (I have glass lids), I turn the heat off and let it sit. I think adding in the taco sauce to take up some of the water is great - you can make some awesome flavored rice this way!

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  3. Thank you for doing this!! I have always wanted to be able to make this at home!

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  4. All I need now is some chicken and cheese sauce ;)
    Thanks for sharing and going through 20 batches to get it right! I'm not really picky, but I pick out the chunks of carrots and peas at restaurants; just doesn't seem right.

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  5. I have used both taco salsa and rotelo in my rice and the only difference, to me, is that the taco salsa is milder and the rotelo tomatoes is hotter, I am not a fan of the heat, but love the taste that salsa gives it ...and thats the way I make it, its great every time....

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  6. This is how I make Mexican Rice too. Sauteing in olive oil really is the key! Apparently it's also an excellent method if you want to reduce the glycemic index of rice - saute in olive oil before boiling, refrigerate overnight, and eat it the next day (not sure of the chemical reason why the refrigeration step further reduces the GI load, but apparently it does).

    I use jarred salsa, because I'm lazy and it tastes good lol, but I will try taco sauce next time.

    Thank you for a lovely website! I've made several of your recipes and they're always a hit. Your Southern custard-style mac and cheese is next on my list.

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  7. Really good using enchilada sauce in place of the plain tomato sauce. Gives it the little extra "restaurant" edge.








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    Replies
    1. I would never think of upstaging you, as you are one of my fav recipe sites to go to, however, I do toast the rice with olive oil and use Calde de Tomato , a chicken /tomato flavored boullion. It is in the Hispanic section at Walmart or pretty much any grocery store today. I do add the onion sauteed with the garlic. I add low sodium chicken broth and some cumin, about half a teaspoon of that... very little salt as you know the bouillion has this in it. I do add one large chopped fine Roma tomato to all. Love your recipes and make your shrimp and grits all the time!

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    2. I am TOTALLY going to try that bullion!

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  8. Until I lived in Point Pleasant Beach NJ and started selling fish off the boat to Joe Leone Deli I didn't know anything about any oil olive or corn. I learned a lot there. Imported oil in casks you brought your own containers to fill. Quite an experience

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  9. I can tell you how to make authentic mexican rice. My husband is mexican

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  10. I can tell you how to make authentic mexican rice. My husband is mexican

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  11. I make mine the same, except I add Cumin. Sometimes I'll use Bouillon in place of the broth, depending on what I have on hand.

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Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy