Mexican Restaurant Style Rice

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Mexican food. Me and my husband joke that I was probably Mexican in my previous life because I can eat Mexican food all day everyday without any need for anything else. (It’s only a half joke, sometimes I really believe it). There were weeks after I first got married where everyday for lunch I would just make tacos for myself with this rice recipe, homemade re-fried beans and Mexican cheese. I have, since then, decided to adopt a little bit of a healthier diet, but I still find myself coming back to this recipe whenever I want a quick Mexican fix. These days I find it really hard to justify going out to a restaurant when I can just make it at home myself. There was a time when I would order a vegetarian dish at a Mexican restaurant but be most excited for the side of rice and beans. Ever since I started making the rice and beans at home, I lost my desire to eat out. Having the ability to cook for yourself is so powerful. It is so hard to explain how lucky I feel when I can just make anything I want. The other part I love about making this rice at home is that I never have to wonder if it was made with chicken broth or not. I know 100% no questions asked that what I am making is vegetarian. The peace of mind that comes with that knowledge is indescribable.

This recipe in particular is super simple and easy to make. I made it up one day when I first got married as a spin-off of my Enchilada Sauce (Mexican Red Sauce) recipe. I was inspired after making that a few times and decided to apply what I learned from that to the rice and it turned out AMAZING. This rice goes great in any and all Mexican dishes. You can use it in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, as a side dish, in a burrito bowl, or in a Mexican casserole. Literally anywhere you can think of, this rice can be used. It’s that good. Sometimes I will just eat it plain by itself too, it has enough flavor to stand alone, but it’s not so overwhelming that it will not go great with other additions that would like to steal the focus. I highly recommend you give this a try. If you are anything like me, soon you too will no longer feel the need to eat outside. As an added bonus this recipe is inherently Vegan and Gluten-free. So it is very friendly to all sorts of dietary restrictions =). 

Let me walk you through how easy it is! 

First thing you need to start out with is your onion and garlic. 

Dice your onion into small pieces, and give your garlic a rough mince. It’s not so important that it be so uniform, so don’t stress out about it.

Next we want to heat up some oil into a medium-sized pot with a lid on medium/low heat. Once the oil is hot you can add the onions and garlic.

While the onions are cooking, measure out your rice. I used California White Basmati Rice.  

You don’t need to wash it as intensely as I do for my Perfect Basmati Rice with Jeera (Cumin) recipe, but you will still need to wash it. Fill the bowl up with water and move the rice around and drain it. Repeat this step 5-6 times. The water will not be clear yet, but that’s okay. We just want to wash away the majority of the starch.

By now your onions and garlic should have reached the point where they begin to get translucent.

Add the water, measured out to the amount you need to cook your rice. 

To the water, add your Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cube, tomato paste and chili powder. 

Bring the water to a boil, and stir it around until everything is dissolved (it should dissolve quickly). As soon as everything is dissolved, add your drained rice to the pot.

Since the water is already boiling hot, you do not need to wait to cover it. Cover it immediately and lower the heat to the lowest setting. Let it simmer like this for 20 minutes covered. After simmering for 20 minutes, remove it from the heat, and leave the cover on for an additional 10 minutes. 

After 10 minutes you can remove the lid and mix it around. It should look like this. Now you are done! You can use it immediately in another recipe, serve it as is, or store it in the fridge for later =).


I hope you give this recipe a try for yourself! Please be sure to let me know in the comments if you do! I would love to hear what you thought of it! Be sure to subscribe so that you can be notified when I post new recipes! (link in the sidebar). Follow me on Instagram @saltyoversweet and find me on Facebook (the link is in the sidebar).

Mexican Restaurant Style Rice
Serves 4
An Easy Vegan, Gluten-Free, Restaurant Style Mexican Rice that anybody can make at home =)
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1/2 - Large Onion or 1 small onion
  2. 2 - cloves of garlic
  3. 1 Tablespoon - neutral cooking oil
  4. 1 teaspoon - Tomato Paste
  5. 1 - Not Chik'n Bouillon Cube (see blog post)
  6. 1 Cup - California Basmati Rice
  7. 1 1/2 Cup - Water
  8. 1 teaspoon - Chili Powder
  1. Dice the onions into small pieces and mince the garlic roughly.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot on medium/low heat.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic.
  4. While the onions and garlic are cooking, measure out and wash the rice in a large bowl.
  5. Fill the bowl with water, move the rice around and drain. Repeat this step 5-6 times.
  6. The water will not be clear, that's okay. Most of the starch will be washed out, leave on the side drained until ready to use.
  7. Once the onions and garlic have begun to get translucent, add the water for cooking the rice and the tomato paste, chili powder and bouillon cube.
  8. Bring to a boil, while stirring to help dissolve the paste and cube.
  9. Once the water comes to a boil and the paste and cube have dissolved (which should have happened by now) add the rice and cover immediately.
  10. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and let it simmer like this covered for 20 minutes.
  11. After 20 minutes remove the pot from the heat and let it steam for 10 minutes before removing the lid.
  12. After 10 minutes you can remove the lid and mix with a spoon or fluff with a fork.
  13. The rice is ready to use however you wish =)
  14. Enjoy! =)
  1. *This recipe is inherently Vegan.
  2. *This recipe is inherently Gluten-Free.
  3. *This rice stores well in the fridge so you can make a bigger batch and use it for later if you want.
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