Arroz rojo or Mexican red rice is one of the basic recipes of Mexican cuisine. It’s easy to master with my fail proof recipe. Let’s learn how to make this delicious vegan Mexican rice for all your favorite meals.
Amigos, this recipe is one you must master — and trust me it’s not hard at all.
This is the rice that you’ll be often served at Mexican restaurants. Sometimes it’s also referred to as arroz Mexicano, arroz a la Mexicana. Americans will sometimes refer to is as “Spanish rice”…which I don’t fully understand because it has nothing to do with Spain.
Vegan Mexican Rice
Ok amigos, you may be confused and think that Mexican rice is naturally vegan — but it’s not!
Mexican cooks often use chicken broth or chicken bouillon powder to flavor all sorts of Mexican foods. One of them being rice. So next time you go out to eat or at someone’s house always ask if they’ve used chicken broth.
This recipe is of course vegan because instead of the chicken broth or bouillon we’re going to be using vegetable or a vegan swap like Better Than Bouillon.
Ingredients You’ll Need
The ingredients list for this classic recipe are few and all common, easy to find.
- long grain rice or extra long grain rice
- vegetable oil
- roma tomatoes
- white onion
- garlic cloves
- vegetable broth
Other Ingredient Options
Sometimes I also like to add either a small can of vegetable mix consisting of carrots, peas and corn. Other times I’ll use frozen vegetables, or if I have neither then I’ll just make the rice as is. These options are your choice.
Additionally some people like to add a little bit of cilantro. I never do, but again it’s your choice.
Skip The Canned Tomatoes and Make Real Tomato Sauce for Your Rice
If you want the authentic flavors of true Mexican rice then skip the recipes that call for canned tomatoes or store bought tomato sauce. Real arroz rojo with fresh tomatoes!
The first step is to blend the tomatoes with garlic, onion and a bit of water. Blend until smooth to make the tomato sauce, then set aside.
Next you heat up some oil in a large pan then add the rice and toast until it begins to brown just a tad bit. Careful not to burn it.
Then pour in the freshly blended tomato sauce — careful as the heat will cause it to splatter. Stir until well combined and allow to simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken up.
Next you add the vegetable broth and allow it to come to a gentle boil. Then lower the heat to the low setting, place the lid on your pan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
After 15 minutes carefully uncover and use a fork to push an area of the rice aside. You want to check that the liquid has all been absorbed. If it hasn’t then cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Once the liquid has all been absorbed then turn off the heat, use the fork to gently mix and fluff the rice. Cover again, remove from the heat then allow to sit for another 10 minutes undisturbed.
Now you’re ready to serve as desired!
👩🍳 Nancy’s Tips
- What Kind of Rice is Best Always use extra long grain rice for Mexican arroz. Long grain rice is what’s traditional. This recipe is also specific to this rice. So please note that if you use a different kind, the liquid measurements and results won’t be the same.
- Leave it Alone It’s tempting, but leave the rice alone! If you keep opening the lid it won’t steam properly. Additionally if you keep stirring it then you’ll end up with unevenly cooked rice.
- Use a Fork NOT a Spoon Using a spoon smooches the individual grains of rice and it’ll end up being mushy.
- What Does Arroz Mean in Spanish It simple means rice.
- Broth or Bouillon You can choose to use either. If you make your own broth then go ahead and use it. I mostly mix the bouillon power with water to create my broth. It’s completely up to you. Check the links to the ingredients below for a quick purchase.
- What if You Don’t Have Fresh Tomatoes Ok so the traditional method is always fresh tomatoes. But in a pinch you could use one and a quarter cup of tomato sauce. Instead of blending the onion and garlic, just finely chop them and add them to the pan when toasting the rice.
- Don’t Burn The Rice Make sure you’re keeping a constant eye on the rice when you’re toasting it, so as not to burn it. Additionally don’t turn up the heat too high when cooking it.
Instant Pot Mexican Rice
Ok amigos if you want to you could totally make this arroz in your Instant Pot or any brand of electric pressure cooker.
You would still blend the sauce just like in the regular recipe. Then you’d set your pressure cooker to the Saute function and heat the oil then add the rice and toast until slightly golden. Then you’d pour in the blended tomato sauce, veggies if using, and vegetable broth.
The cooking function you’d need to select would be Pressure Cook and set it to Low Pressure then set the timer to 11 minutes. You could do a quick release, fluff the rice and let it sit until ready to serve.
How to Make Arroz Rojo
Making Mexican arroz is incredibly easy. Check out the recipe below and do make sure to read through all of the tips to make sure you make fail proof rice every time!
Arroz Rojo | Vegan Mexican Rice
- large pan with a lid
- Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Measure out 1 ¼ cups of the tomato sauce and set aside.
- In a large pan heat the oil over medium low heat, then add the oil and the rice. Cook the rice until it's toasted and begins to slightly turn golden. Then quickly add the blended tomato sauce, stir and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or just until the sauce begins to thicken up
- Pour in the vegetable broth and veggies if using, mix to well combine. Allow to come to a soft boil then cover with the lid, lower the heat to low and cook over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. (Mine usually takes about 17 minutes.)
- Use a fork to gently push some rice aside and check to see that all of the liquid has been absorbed. If so use a fork to stir and fluff the rice then remove from heat, cover again and let it sit 10 more minutes then fluff again and serve as desired.
Instant Pot Mexican Rice Instructions
- Make the tomato sauce just like above and measure out and set aside.
- Set the pressure cooker to Sauté, once warm add the oil then add the rice and toast until it begins to turn slightly golden. Pour in the tomato sauce, allow to cook for 5 minutes before adding the vegetables (if using) and the vegetable broth.
- Cancel sauté function, secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Set the valve to Sealing then choose Pressure Cook to Low Pressure and time to 11 minutes. Allow to come to pressure and cook and timer to go off.
- After timer has gone off let sit for 5 minutes then carefully do a quick release buy moving valve to Venting. Allow for the pressure pin to drop before attempting to open the Instant Pot.
- Use a fork to fluff the rice, then leave to sit for 8 minutes before serving as desired.
How to Serve Mexican Arroz Rojo
This rice makes a delicious side dish, you can use it as a stuffing for tacos or burritos, or you can even make a Mexican themed fried rice. It’s also delicious with a fried egg on top for breakfast. Another of my favorite ways to eat is is drizzled with homemade vegan crema, refried beans and a nopal fried liked a steak — so yummy!
Below are some great dishes to serve your arroz with.