Mexican Rice - Two versions

I've been trying to find a Mexican rice recipe similar to what's found in Mexican restaurants, sort of dry and fluffly. Most of what I've found make gooey glop, mostly because they overload it with canned tomatoes.

So anyway here are two versions, but I like the first one so much I've never tried the second. The recipe has options for using real garlic or garlic salt, I've found I prefer the garlic salt. The recipe calls for sauteeing the rice in hot oil until "golden". The actual color is basically tan, and it's very easy to accidentally over-brown it so watch carefully especially as it starts to turn color. One bizarre aspect of this recipe is, the leftover rice is very good cold from the fridge. I don't mean it's okay when you're just too lazy to heat it up in the microwave, I mean it is REALLY GOOD cold.

Mexican Rice Version 1

Underneath the recipe is comments from other people on how to enhance it.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth


1) Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat (not too hot!) and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until just turning a light tan.

2) Stir in onions and cook until tender and the rice has deepened in color to a medium tan - this is the danger point, make sure it does not turn brown. Immediately stir in the garlic salt and cumin and cook for a minute, then stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth; this will halt the browning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes (at this point many recipes suggest taking off the heat but leaving covered for five or ten minutes). Fluff with a fork.

Comments from other people about this recipe:

a) Most people say the rice doesn't "puff" when cooking the oil, but it doesn't matter, just cook until golden.

b) Use about 1-1/2 tsp of a Taco Seasoning mix instead of the cumin. This person recommended the following homemade Taco Seasoning mix:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

c) Use minced fresh garlic instead of the garlic salt. Sautee after adding the onions. You will probably want to add salt, since you're replacing the garlic salt.

d) A person indicating they have background in Mexican cooking said this is very similar to what their mother made except use 1/8 cup of onion and 1/8 cup of chopped green pepper, and fresh garlic also; they recommended a specific Mexican spice mix that includes salt, so if you use a different mix it may be necessary to add salt.

Mexican Rice Version 2

This does use canned tomatoes but they are pureed with onions and only some of the mix is used. I still have concerns... but I've found several recipes that use this method, which appears to have originated with Cook's Illustrated.


1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower (or rendered lard)
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 to 2 chile peppers, such as jalapeño or serrano, seeded and minced
4 to 5 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Juice from 2 limes, plus additional wedges for serving


1) Place the tomatoes and onion in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer 2 cups of the tomato mixture to a medium saucepan. Stir in the chicken stock, salt, and cumin and bring liquid to a boil over medium heat.

2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is sizzling, add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently until lightly toasted and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the jalapeños and cook until they have softened, about 2 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

3) Pour the boiling tomato mixture over the rice and stir to combine. Turn heat to low and cook, covered, until liquid has evaporated and rice is done, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir the rice. Re-cover the pot and allow to rest undisturbed for an additional 10 minutes. Add cilantro and lime juice; fluff gently with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve with additional lime wedges.