This vibrant one-pot spicy Mexican rice is quick and easy to make with mainly pantry ingredients. It is a colorful and delicious side dish that goes well with a wide range of Mexican meals as well as with various meat, fish and seafood dishes. 

Front view Mexican rice with tomatoes sweet peppers and ham in a sunflower plate

This Mexican rice recipe might not be completely authentic, but it definitely has Mexican inspired flavors. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s very quick and easy to make, all in one pan, and most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry. I have decided to add various veggies and even some slices of ham for extra flavor.

Which ingredients to use

Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

This Mexican spicy rice is packed with flavor and healthy vegetables. There are a few basic ingredients you will need to make Mexican rice, but you can add various additional products of your choice according to what you have at home. It’s a great dish to make using left over vegetables and proteins. So here is what you need to make this spicy Mexican rice recipe:

  • Rice: I prefer to use long grain white rice for this dish. You could use long brown rice and even Basmati rice if you prefer.
  • Tomato sauce: There is no Mexican rice without adding tomatoes. I have used both tomato puree and fresh Roma tomatoes for the sauce.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: Cook the rice in chicken or vegetable broth for extra flavor. Alternatively use water with some salt.
  • Garlic and onions: Adding garlic and onions provides so much extra flavor to this dish.

Optional ingredients

  • Vegetables: For this recipe I have added carrots, sweet yellow bell pepper and peas. Feel free to add any extra vegetables that you have at home or that you prefer, like beans or corn.
  • Protein: I have added some slices of cooked ham to create extra flavor.


It is a spicy Mexican rice meal, so add enough chilli flakes to give it some heat. Use ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to finish off this dish.

Top view Mexican rice with tomatoes sweet peppers and ham in a sunflower plate a blue table

How to make Mexican rice with tomatoes

Glaze the chopped onion, garlic, sweet peppers and carrots for a few minutes in olive oil. You can of course use any other type of cooking oil. When the veggies start to soften, add the rice and stir frequently until the rice gets lightly toasted. At this point, it will already smell delicious.

I like to fry the spices for a few minutes before adding any liquid. Frying them in oil first releases the rich flavors of the spices and adds to the aroma of the final dish. For this recipe I have used cumin, spicy smoked paprika and red chilli flakes because this dish should have a good punch.

Instructions to prepare mexican rice

Add the diced Roma tomatoes to the mixture in the pan. I prefer to use Roma tomatoes since these ones are also used as a base for tomato sauce. They are very rich in flavor and don’t have as much liquid as other types. Also add the tomato sauce or tomato puree. Stir in the sliced ham and frozen peas. Leave the ham out if you’re going for the vegetarian version.

And finally pour the chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a full vegetarian alternative) in to the pan. I have used one cup of rice and one and a half cup of broth. Depending on the type of rice, you will need to add more or less. Same for the cooking time. I leave this rice cooking for 15 minutes and let it rest for another 15 minutes, after which the rice is perfectly cooked and still has a bit of a bite.

Finish off by seasoning with extra salt and pepper, according to taste. You can also add additional chillis to the dish, depending how you like your level of spiciness.

Instructions how to prepare Mexican Rice

Useful tips and Tricks

  • Cooking the rice: Depending on the type of rice, the cooking time as well as the amount of liquid to add will vary. Check on the packet for the cooking instructions.
  • Cook the rice covered: The amount of rice, liquid and cooking time as mentioned in this recipe requires cooking the rice covered with a lid. Do not lift the lid during the cooking time. The rice will steam and absorb all the liquid. No need to drain the liquid after cooking.
  • How long can you store Mexican spicy rice? After cooking, put the rice in a sealed container and keep for maximum 2 days in the fridge.
  • Can you freeze this rice recipe? Yes, you can freeze this rice. Put everything in a container or plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Close up view of Mexican rice with tomatoes ham peas and peppers

How to serve

Mexican rice can be served as a side dish with multiple Mexican dishes. It goes well with tacos, enchiladas, any meat dishes and can even be used as a filling for burritos or eaten with these delicious oven baked nachos.

It goes well as a side dish for a barbecue to be served with grilled fish or meat like these grilled chicken skewers. Add some freshness with theses delicious salads; mango salsa, tomato and onion salsa or shaved fennel salad.

Depending on the amount of extra veggies and protein, this one pot spicy Mexican rice can also be eaten as a light meal. Add some bacon, chicken or chorizo. Chorizo is often used with Spanish rice, and will work great with this Mexican version too.

Mexican rice bowl with slices of jalapeno peppers on a sunflower plate
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5 from 5 votes

Easy Mexican rice with tomatoes and sweet pepper

One pot Mexican rice is easy to make with pantry ingredients. It is a delicious side dish for a wide range of Mexican meals.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Resting time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2
Author: Sabine


  • 1 cup (or 175 g) rice long grain
  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 sweet yellow pepper diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup carrots diced
  • ½ cup cooked ham diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika spicy
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add carrots and sweet pepper and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add rice to the mixture and stir frequently for 2 minutes until rice is slightly toasted. Add spices and fry for 2 more minutes.
  • Stir in tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and chicken broth and let it simmer on low heat while adding the frozen peas and ham. Stir one more time and cover with a lid.
  • Leave it to simmer on very low heat until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Depending on the type of rice this will be around 13 minutes. When all the liquid is absorbed, take off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes without taking off the lid.
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