Mexican white rice (arroz blanco) is a classic side dish that will complement all of your favorite Mexican meals. This Mexican rice uses pantry staples and is sure to please even the pickiest eaters!
Authentic Mexican white rice (arroz blanco) is one of the most straightforward ways of making Mexican-style rice. While the process is similar to that of Mexican red rice or arroz verde, Mexican white rice is easier since there is no sauce used to give the rice color or flavor. Here, the rice is simply fried with diced onion and garlic in oil, then cooked in chicken broth with cubed vegetables. So, with just a few pantry ingredients, you can be on your way to a flavorful and simple Mexican-style white rice.
What’s in Mexican white rice?
- Long-grain white rice: I use plain long-grain white rice
- Vegetable oil: I use canola, but you can use whatever mild flavored oil you like
- Onion: I use white because that’s what I usually have on hand!
- Chicken broth: store-bought or homemade is fine
- Mixed diced vegetables (optional)- I like to use mixed frozen vegetables (corn, carrots, peas) for this dish. But you could use fresh diced vegetables of your choice (diced squash, green beans, etc.)
Please check the recipe card for the ingredient quantities and process steps!
Substitutions and variations
Living in Mexico, I have run across a TON of different white rice variations. Some cooks add herbs like cilantro, parsley, or epazote for additional flavor. Others include whole serrano or jalapeño peppers and lime juice for a bit of a kick. When I want to mix things up, I make a cilantro lime white rice version! So feel free to experiment a bit!
I mentioned above that mixed-diced vegetables are optional. In fact, white rice with vegetables in Mexico goes by the name of “arroz primavera” or “spring rice.” Vegetable ideas include diced green beans, potatoes, carrots, summer squash, corn, and peas. Add your favorites or you can leave them out entirely!
For a vegan version of this rice, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
I make this dish with plain, long-grain white rice. This is the traditional kind of rice used in Mexico. I like this rice best because the grains cook up separately and avoid clumping together, which makes for a fluffy texture, perfect for soaking up sauces, or mixing with beans 🙂
Long-grain rice has less starch, which is what helps this dish achieve its characteristic texture. Here’s an article from The Kitchn that explains the difference between short-, medium-, and long-grain rice and how each type of rice is used best.
I have not tested this recipe with Basmati, Jasmine, or brown rice.
Frying the rice
Some cooks prefer to fry their rice only until the grains start to become translucent. This helps the rice keep its pure white color. I don’t mind a bit of color and tend to fry my rice until it just starts to turn golden. Really, it’s a matter of preference, so decide what you like best!
How to make Mexican white rice step-by-step
I am going to walk you through the traditional method that I learned from my mother-in-law. She taught me this method for making Mexican red rice and I have used the same techniques for this recipe. This method also closely follows the process outlined by Diana Kennedy in her recipe for Arroz Blanco in El Arte de la Cocina Mexicana. Although there are other ways to make Mexican rice, I find this method to be the most consistent for me.
For the full process, please check the recipe card!
Soak the rice
First, cover the rice with hot water and soak it for about 15 minutes. Drain in a fine-meshed colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Allow it to dry a bit in the colander while you work on the next step.
Fry the rice in hot oil
The next step is important and in my experience helps to give the rice its classic texture. Fry the rice in hot oil at medium-high heat until it just starts to change color. If you want pure white rice, only fry until the rice becomes translucent. I spread the rice in a thin layer in the hot oil and scrape it from the bottom, turning the rice once or twice during this step. You don’t want to overwork the rice. My mother-in-law insists that the rice should not be moved too often, otherwise it will become mushy.
Add liquid gradually
Once the rice has started to turn golden (or the grain has become translucent, depending on your preference), reduce the heat to medium. Add half of the broth to the pan and gently stir to incorporate. Allow the rice to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the rest of the broth, salt, and vegetables (if using). Again, gently stir to incorporate.
In the US, most rice I have cooked uses a liquid-to-rice ratio of 2:1. This recipe uses 3 parts liquid to 1 part rice. Because of this ratio, the rice is cooked uncovered and only allowed to steam covered for the last few minutes.
You can gently scrape the rice from the bottom of the pan and turn it as the rice cooks. You don’t want to stir vigorously or move the rice too much. Scraping from the bottom of the pan ensures that the rice isn’t burning and allows the grains to cook evenly. Once little holes start to appear in the surface of the rice, I remove the rice from the heat, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and a lid (or aluminum foil). I let the rice rest for about 5 minutes and then check it for doneness.
The cooked rice should be soft, but each grain should be separated and not clumped together. If the rice is still hard, you can sprinkle a bit of broth over the top, cover, and allow it to rest a bit more until softened.
FAQs and Tips
What pan should I use to make Mexican white rice?
If you have read my other Mexican rice posts, you will know that I like to make my rice in a specific pan. I have found that the type of pan used is important. I typically make this rice in a stainless-steel skillet, about 12 inches wide with side walls about 3 inches high. If I am making significantly more rice, I use a large paellera (the pan used to make paella) or a traditional clay cazuela.
You don’t want a deep saucepan or a skillet that is too shallow or wide. A pot that is too deep will leave mushy rice at the bottom and won’t give you the room you need to carefully scrape and turn the rice. A skillet that is too shallow or wide will allow the liquid to cook off too quickly, resulting in rice that is underdone. I use a flat, wooden spatula to work the rice in the pan as it cooks.
You may need to experiment a bit with the pans you have to find the one that works best for you!
What’s the difference between Mexican white rice and regular white rice?
Mexican white rice tends to be flavored with garlic and onion. Regular white rice is often just flavored with butter and salt.
The cooking method used for Mexican rice is also different. Traditionally, the rice is cooked uncovered which requires a liquid-to-rice ratio of 3 parts liquid to 1 part rice.
Regular white rice is steamed covered and uses only 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice.
What type of rice is used in Mexico?
Long-grain rice is what is most commonly used in Mexico. This type of rice has less starch, so the grains cook up separately, remaining soft, but not clumped together.
What can I use this rice for?
This rice is so versatile, it can be used for a variety of meals! Use it as a filling for burritos or Mexican-inspired rice bowls. We use this as a side dish to saucy mains like albondigas (Mexican meatballs), mole verde with chicken, or enchiladas suizas rojas.
Where does Mexican rice come from?
Rice isn’t native to Mexico. It was brought to Mexico via the Philippines during Spanish rule. And ever since, rice has become a staple for Mexican cooking!
Is Mexican white rice healthy?
Yes! White rice gets a bad rap, but it isn’t as unhealthy as people may think. White rice is lower in certain nutrients when compared to brown rice, but that doesn’t necessarily make it an unhealthy option. Here’s an article from EatingWell that sets the record straight.
Looking for other Mexican rice recipes? Check out the below:
This rice is a favorite with the whole family and it is the perfect side for your Mexican meals!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it becomes a favorite for your family!
I love to hear from you! Please leave a comment and a star-rating if you made this dish!
Source: Graciela Martinez, Morelos Mexico and Diana Kennedy El Arte de la Cocina Mexicana
Mexican White Rice (Arroz Mexicana)
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 medium white onion or half of a small one finely diced
- 1 clove garlic finely diced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup mixed, diced vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, Mexican squash, etc.), optional I use frozen mixed vegetables (mix of peas, corn, and carrots)
- Salt to taste
- Place rice in a bowl and cover with hot water for at least 15 minutes.1 cup long grain white rice
- Drain rice in a fine-meshed colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly and set aside. Allow to dry as you work on the next step.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy bottomed skillet until shimmering. I use a stainless steel skillet, about 12 inches in diameter with side walls about 3 inches high.1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Add rice, onion, and garlic and fry until the rice starts to turn golden, scraping rice from the bottom of the skillet and turning gently once or twice, about 5-7 minutes. If you prefer a more pure white color, fry only until the grain starts to become translucent.1/4 medium white onion or half of a small one, 1 clove garlic
- Reduce heat to medium, add 1 cup chicken broth to rice, stir to incorporate and simmer gently until the broth is almost absorbed, about 3-4 minutes. Ensure rice on bottom of pan is not burning by gently scraping the bottom of the pan and turning the rice ocassionally. Take care to not overwork the rice.3 cups chicken broth
- Add the remaining chicken broth, vegetables, and salt and continue allowing the rice to simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed and small holes appear in the top of the rice mixture, 15-20 minutes.1 cup mixed, diced vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, Mexican squash, etc.), optional, Salt to taste
- Remove from heat, cover with a clean kitchen towel and lid. Allow to steam another 5 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed.
- To check doneness, gently scrape the bottom of the pan and taste rice from the bottom. If the rice is soft, it is ready. If not, sprinkle with some additional broth and cover for a couple of additional minutes.
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