Mexican Rice (using brown rice!)

For a while now we have been replacing white rice with brown rice and wheat bread with white bread… and so forth. The only thing about brown rice is that unless you know how to cook it, it comes out tasting like cardboard or as feeling like you have small rocks in your teeth. I like my rice puffy and soft.

mexican rice using brown rice //

So after months of trying to perfect mexican rice using brown rice, this is what I did, and it worked! It’s delish! I can’t even tell I’m eating brown rice.

What you need:

1 1/2 c Brown rice

3-4 c water

2TBS Olive oil

1/2 can of tomato sauce (about 4 oz)

dash of salt

dash of pepper

2-3 garlic cloves

a few onion slices


1. Soak the rice in a bowl of water for about 15 minutes. This first step is SO important and has made all the difference in the rice coming out puffy and soft, instead of crunchy!


2. Meanwhile saute your garlic (minced) and onion slices in the olive oil on a low heat. Stir around for a few minutes and then turn off heat until the rice has soaked for the right amount of time. You don’t want to brown the garlic or onion too much, just a little. Enough to flavor the oil.


3. Once rice has finished soaking for fifteen minutes or so, drain and then pour into the pan with the garlic and onion. Fry the rice on a low to medium heat, stirring frequently. You want to brown the rice as evenly as possible without burning. The time you spend here will depend on a few things, your stovetop (electric or gas) and maybe even your climate. I live in hot, humid Texas and cook on a gas stove and I spend about 4-5 minute here on a medium heat.


4. Once rice has browned (as seen above), pour in three cups of water. Keep another cup of water close by. As the rice cooks you might need to add it in.


5. Pour in your tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until completely dissolved.

Some other optional things you can add at this point: frozen or fresh chopped vegetables, a dash of cumin and garlic salt. 


6. Let rice simmer for about thirty minutes, but watch closely as the time may vary for you. Your rice may also need more water, if it looks crunchy and not soft and puffy. Don’t be afraid to use a little more water in this case. On a low simmer your rice will just soak it up and puff up nice and soft.

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  1. 1
    Belle says:

    Love this recipe!!!! Got to try it tonight :) Did you know that soaking brown rice (for up to 12 hours) germinates the seed and makes the nutrients more accessible to the human body?

    My husband also discovered that you can add some worchestershire/olive oil/garlic to the soaking liquid (and cook it in it too) and then the rice will be absolutely tasty to the max.

    I’m loving your recent posts! Keep it coming.

  2. 2
    fernanda says:

    you can chop carrots to add to it and green peas too, to make it more Mexican! taste good!
    fernanda recently posted..Pechos llenos, brazos vacíos.My Profile

  3. 3
    Kathleen says:

    We made the switch to mostly eating brown rice and had the same issue with taste…UNTIL…I started adding in chicken bouillon to the water. Now we love it. You break up the bouillon before the water starts to boil. Then add rice and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Comes out wonderful! My husband was not a fan until then. Now he loves it. We will have to try to Mexican rice sometime.

  4. 4
    stephanie rose says:

    I use chicken broth instead of water and i add some cooked chopped bacon to it. Really yummy! i love all these ideas that ill have to try :-)

  5. 5
    rhonda hendricks says:

    Mine has been simmering for probably an hour and still isn’t quite soft enough. I also cook with gas (it’s new to me!) and I think it’s taking longer b/c on low, it only really simmers in the middle of the pan & not on the rice that’s on the edges. Our new house has gas stove & this is pretty annoying to me. I always heard gas was better to cook with! Rant over :)

  6. 6
    Kris says:

    So glad to find this. I was surprised when I saw the name of the website after googling brown Mexican rice as I know your work from the baby loss community for years. Really excited to see you outside of those forums. It is a reminder that there is a life outside and after our losses and that we can connect with each other
    One thought, I used a white rice recipe for this originally that called for kosher salt, chicken broth, cumin and chopped cilantro, and I added in a few dashes of chili powder. It was good enough for my uber picky 3 year old to eat and ask me to make again so you might try adding those ingredients as well. Coming from Cali (now transplanted to Florida) I love my Mexican rice and this was as close to restaurant flavor as I have achieved. I guess for those that are vegetarian you could try the no chicken chicken broth or a vegetable broth. Next step adding carrots and corn to make it even more authentic.
    Thanks again, so great to find this website.

  7. 7
    Amanda says:

    Can I use instant brown rice? And if so will that change any of the cooking instructions above?


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