Easy Mexican Tomato Rice Recipe (or is it Spanish rice?)
Calling all cuisine experts out there with a question -"What EXACTLY is the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican Rice?". I get all sorts of different answers but nothing conclusive since many such rice recipes claiming to be "Spanish" or "Mexican" inter-lap so much that I find it personally as one! One of the resources said that while Mexican rice uses tomato sauce to create that beautiful color, the Spanish version uses saffron as a coloring agent. But I haven't seen anything to substantiate that. Wikipedia finishes it off simply by saying that they are just the same. If you know better - please do drop me an explanation in the comment section :)
Easy Mexican Tomato Rice Recipe (or is it Spanish rice?)
I saw this recipe in a show called America's Test Kitchen and have made it more or less the same from what I could remember from the show. This recipe is another of the go to meals, especially in the evenings when I am energy drained and tired to cook. Its pretty quick and looks impressive.  I guess this is one variety rice which every region has added its own twist and spin. Every country seems to have their own Tomato Rice. This is a very simple version where you can add more vegetables you like or have on hand. I kept it simple.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 2 people
  • 1 cup long grain rice, soaked in water for 10 minutes (I use Basmati Rice)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno chile (remove ribs and seeds if you can't handle the heat)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • salt to taste
  • few sprigs of cilantro to serve
  • juice of 1 small lime (optional)
1. Process the tomatoes and onion in a processor until pureed.
2. It should give you about 1 cup worth of puree. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat 1 tsp oil (you can use upto 1 tbsp). Add the drained rice to the oil and saute until rice is golden and translucent.
4. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for another 1 minute.
5. Add the pureed tomatoes, 1 cup of vegetable stock along with tomato paste and salt. Depending on the rice quality you might need 1/2 or 1 cup more of water. I use totally 2 cups of 1 cup of Basmati rice to get that perfect cooked yet separate rice texture instead of mushy.
6. Close with a tight fitting lid and cook for 10-15 minutes (stirring halfway), or until the rice is tender and cooked completely.
Garnish with cilantro and squeeze lime juice (if using) You can otherwise serve lime wedges to be squeezed on individual plates as per taste. Easy Mexican Tomato Rice Recipe (or is it Spanish rice?)

Leave a Reply

I love to hear from you! I read each and every comment, and will get back as soon as I am able to.
Did you try this recipe? Please share your feedback!
Upload Your Recipe Photos

4 Member Reviews

By Jasmine on Nov 13, 2013

It was really amazing, the tangy taste is still there in my mouth. I love mexican dishes. This was very helpful, thank you!


By Aaron on Apr 19, 2011

Very easy and successful, although the instructions could be a bit more specific. For example, at what heat are you supposed to simmer everything until the rice is tender? I obviously had it too high and it ended up being a little burnt at the bottom. It didn't affect the flavor, however, and added a small bit of a pleasant, crunchy texture. Also, two tomatoes and a SMALL onion (vs the medium specified in this recipe) produced way more than "about a cup" of puree. I still used it all, with no negative consequences.

Read All 4 Reviews →


By j on Mar 19, 2016

where did the ingredient list go?

We are fixing some code in the background. Will be up in a bit...sorry about that. --DK

By Mexican Food Recipes Written In Spanish - Food Recipe on Nov 7, 2014

[...] Easy mexican tomato rice recipe | mexican food recipes This mexican rice (or is it spanish rice?) recipe is immensely simple, takes a jiffy to cook with minimal ingredients. excellent side for other mexican dishes.. [...]

By Mexican Food Recipes In Spanish Language - Food Recipe on Oct 19, 2014

[...] Easy mexican tomato rice recipe | mexican food recipes This mexican rice (or is it spanish rice?) recipe is immensely simple, takes a jiffy to cook with minimal ingredients. excellent side for other mexican dishes.. None found. Meet The Author : tdnams [...]

By Sarah on Sep 12, 2014

This looks wonderful. I often make something like this when I'm making tacos, as a side or to put in them, but I improvise and my results have been hit and miss. I'm excited to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!!!

By Sandya on Sep 3, 2014

A small doubt! Why tomato paste ? Anyhow you are using tomato puree , arent both same?

Tomato paste provides a more concentrated tomato flavor than just puree. --DK

By Sandya on Sep 3, 2014

Small doubt ! Anyways you are using tomato puree , then why again tomato paste? Arent both same?

By Weekly Menu {4/27-5/3} + Meal Planning Tip #2 on Apr 27, 2014

[...] Thursday Photo Credit [...]

By asha on Mar 31, 2014

Made it sometime back. My family loved it. Have made it many times since and it is now an entry in my recipe book. Thanks a ton.

By 25 New Ways to Spice Up Rice on Mar 6, 2014

[...] use up some produce before it goes bad? Add whatever veggies you have in your fridge to this basic Tomato Rice dish, and you’ve got a full meal. You can easily adjust the spice level of this recipe by [...]

By GeorgeJ on Jan 3, 2014

Spanish Rice In parts of Mexico and New Mexico Spanish Rice is a common dish. Since the peoples of the New World did not have easy access to saffron or pimenton (smoked Paprika), they really didnt use it. However, the local people knew the Spanish ate a rice dish that was red. So they substituted tomato for the colour and called it Spanish rice because that is what they thought ther were making. In recent times, people not knowing the history of the this rice dish they found in the Mexico and South West United States, called it Mexican rice, because those were the people who made it.

By GeorgeJ on Jan 3, 2014

Rice Mexico City is built on the old Meztica city the Spanish conquered which was and still is surrounded by 800 islands that grow much of the fresh food for Mexico city. Since the Spanish Pacific fleet sailed and traded regularly between Acapulco, Mexico and Cebu, Philippines, the chili pepper was taken to Asia and rice was brought back to Mexico among other things (which was later traded into Europe via the Hapsburg empire who the Spanish were part of).

By GeorgeJ on Jan 3, 2014

Saffron Comments on the "comments" Saffron is from Iran-Persia originally. Traded in the Mediterranean by ocean bound traders (eg Phoenician, Createan, Greeks and Carthaginians for millennia). The Spanish use it because they learned to cultivate alot of it on the Iberian Peninsula.

By Mexico es bueno | Life and Other Miracles on Jun 22, 2013

[...] Mexican Rice (this is actually a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, my most favorite cooking show. However, I found it on a website, so I’ve linked to there, since not all of the ATK recipes are available on their website. I HIGHLY recommend buying one or all of their cookbooks. Every single thing recipe I’ve made has been delicious.) [...]

By Bored with potatos, why not rice? | On to the plate on May 16, 2013

[...] Easy Mexican Rice by Chef in You [...]

By Frances on Apr 19, 2013

I did not grow up eating rice but more potatoes - German descendent. But potatoes are originally from the Andes. Traveling through central and South America I was surprised by all the varieties of rice and various grains used in the cooking. It is all very regional for instance Saffron is expensive in north Ecuador bit relatively cheap in the coastal region where you will find it in many dishes. This rice dish sounds delicious with all of its spices and the tomatoes. You can find this dish in many areas of the world made with different varieties rice and grains like quinoa. Basmati and Jasmine are my two favorite rice varieties.

By Jane on Apr 19, 2013

I have cooked this rice probably 20 times now but rather than serving as a side dish I do it with a mexican style chicken. This beautiful rice just adds to the flavour. We practically live off of rice - it accompanies most of our meals and this is another great variation to have instead of plain old boiled! Thanks so much!!! :-P

By Mexican Rice | Recipe Investigator on Jan 21, 2013

[...] http://chefinyou.com/2010/08/mexican-rice-recipe/      Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. By Recipe [...]

By drbmsharma on Jun 30, 2012

i have no words. it is phenomenal. Sir or Madam or both or whoever is hosting these recipies, you are motivating someone on earth to enjoy these foods..Love to You. All the Best to you for your wonderful health and life and time. regards.

By ashishtrivedi on Apr 25, 2012

:-P wow chef i learn mexican rice

By Bianca D on Feb 20, 2012

The origin of tomato rice may well remain a bit of a mystery. While tomatoes originated in South America - suggesting that it's more likely for tomato rice to have first been prepared in Mexico, rice was first farmed in the region of Thailand, about 4000 BC! It's no stretch to get that the Spaniards got their first tomatoes when they crossed the Atlantic and encountered the Americas, but how did the rice get to Mexico and/or Spain from Thailand!? Saffron is from Greece, and since there's a long tradition of paella in Spain, perhaps the Spaniards came across rice via Arabia, considering that is how many spices and other interesting ingredients made their way to the Old World.

By neha on Feb 13, 2012

wow its so simple to cook and so very appetizing....

By anne kyeremateng on Jan 17, 2012

in Ghana, this is known as JOLLOF. where the rice is cooked in gravy(fried onion till lightly brown, add blended tomatoes which contains pepper,garlic,ginger,etc.) cook gravy till well done, season to taste and add chicken stock plus veggies such as carrots,green pepper, green beans etc.add veggies when rice is almost cooked so veggies r not mushy. very tasty n can be eaten with fried ripe plantain. yum yum yum.......

By Mar on Nov 22, 2011


By Mar on Nov 22, 2011

mexicans i know frequently use anchiote in the rice to make it yellowy red. tomatoes too, obviously, but anchiote is a little like saffron as far as color.

By julia on Oct 21, 2011

Well, my andalusian grandmother (and all my friends down there neither) would never have used basmati. the type of rice they use is similar to aborio, but shorter and there is not so much starch in it. they dont like the rice "creamy". there are at least two (main) ways to prepare rice in the south of spain: one dish is made with either saffron or - more common, as it is much cheaper - with "colorante", which is a artificial coulourant. this type is uses for paella-like dishes and is mostly served with chunks of chicken and/or fish/seafood (depending on the place you live in). the other type is made with chopped onions, garlic, often chopped tomatoes and sometimes green long peppers and is rather being served as a side dish with pollo con ajo or chuletitas.

By Helen on Aug 30, 2011

I made this with chicken broth & added frozen veggies while cooking...it was so yummy!!!

By Tried & Tasted – Chef In You Roundup | DesiFood Buzz - Exclusive indian food recipes straight from Indian kitchen. on Jul 15, 2011

[...] of Easy Cooking tried Easy Cauliflower Curry from here..10)Yummy4tummy tried Mexican Rice from here..11)Gayathri of Gayathri's Cook Spot tried Chocolate Fudge from here..12)Umm Mymoonha of Taste Of [...]

By Mexican recepies | Purepassionbykym on Jun 1, 2011

[...] Easy Mexican Tomato Rice Recipe | Mexican food recipes | Chef In YouCalling all cuisine experts out there with a question -”What EXACTLY is the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican Rice?”. I get all sorts of different answers but nothing conclusive since many such rice recipes claiming to be “Spanish” … ,came out really well….thanx for so well explaned recepies… [...]

By Mexican Fiesta Night « Yummy 4 Tummy on Oct 15, 2010

[...] I am going to cook tonight I really meant it. As soon as I went home, I just started preparing the Mexican rice from her blog and it was so easy to make. Thanks DK it is a lovely recipe …V and I simply enjoyed [...]

By anshula on Sep 27, 2010

:-o ,came out really well....thanx for so well explaned recepies

By c-g on Sep 24, 2010

@christine, FYI: Mexican rice was NOT invented by American packaged food companies. This is a common recipe that you can find in the most remote rural places of Mexico and I'm sure it has been there prior to the Wal-Mart era. We need to make a correction to wikipedia, saying that a mexican rice is the same as a spanish rice recipe, is like saying that hot-dogs served at the oktoberfest are the same hot-dogs served in the 4th of July. The spanish version is more expensive (and may bring cultural differences) because the saffron is really expensive: 1 gr of saffron (at 10%) cost you the same of 4 kg of pure tomato.

By christine on Sep 9, 2010

I am from a Catalan family and while living in Spain never had a dish similar to this. Spaniards do not make rice as a side dish. I would venture that to Spaniards, Spanish Rice is really paella, and Mexican rice was invented by American packaged food companies.

By shona on Sep 3, 2010

i made this dish .... it was wow!!! every1 loved it. :wink: :-| :-P

By Scott on Aug 29, 2010

I made this last night for my family. It was very good. It will replace my previous Mexican rice recipe that I was tinkering with to increase the tomato flavor, The pureed tomatoes and onions add great flavor. The puree measured 1.5 cups so I only needed to add an additional cup of stock.

By Alejandro on Aug 28, 2010

Real Mexican Rice, here you go: Add one roma tomato, 1/4 white onion, spring of cilantro, small piece of celery, one garlic clove and add a dash of water to blender and belnd all ingredients. In a skillet add some veg oil, add 1 cup of rice until golden, then add tomato puree and stir slowly and add two cups of chicken stock, add kosher salt to taste, bring to a boil, then lower heat and close with a tight fitting lid and cook for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy real mexican rice!

By Alex on Aug 22, 2010

This rice reminds me of my mom's, so yummy. I really don't know much about Spanish cooking, but what I do know is Mexican Rice is all about that wonderful tomato taste. Thanks for sharing :-o

By Orzo and Rice Pilaf with Pignoli and Parmesan Cheese | HealthyLifestyleForU.com on Aug 22, 2010

[...] Salad – One Perfect BiteShrimp Risotto – Coco CooksSpanish Rice – Taste TemptersMexican Rice – Chef in YouPaella Rice Salad – Eclectic RecipesRadish Rice -Aayi’s RecipesZesty Rice and Barley [...]

By Vidya on Aug 16, 2010

Hey this is a yummy recipe! It didn't take much time to cook either. Thanks a bunch for sharing this. I am all smiles :)

By Siri on Aug 10, 2010

Love the color. looks so pretty :). :) Hugs, Siri :-D

By Tweets that mention Easy Mexican Tomato Rice Recipe | Mexican food recipes | Chef In You -- Topsy.com on Aug 9, 2010

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D_K, D_K. D_K said: Simple and quick to put together yet tastes delicious.One of my 'go to' meals when I am too tired during evening... http://fb.me/DmeL4cYE [...]