Mexican Yellow Rice: The Heart of Traditional Mexican Cuisine

Give a bowl of Mexican red rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to make his own Mexican red rice and you will feed him for life.

Mexican Yellow Rice, also known as Spanish Rice or Red Rice (Spanish: Arroz Rojo), is a Mexican side dish or an ingredient in other dishes. It’s made with white rice, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, sweetpeas, and a few spices. The name Spanish Rice is only used in the United States and did not originate in Spain.

Venture into the realm of Mexican Yellow Rice, a dish celebrated both as a delightful side and as a key ingredient in numerous Mexican recipes. Known variably as Spanish Rice or Arroz Rojo, this dish exhibits the culinary flexibility and flavor complexity inherent to Mexican cuisine. Its components, including white rice, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, sweet peas, and a medley of spices, combine to create a gastronomic masterpiece.

Interestingly, the term “Spanish Rice” is a moniker predominantly used within the United States. While it might suggest a connection to Spain, the origins of this name lie elsewhere. This term has been widely adopted across the U.S. due to its ease of recognition, despite the dish’s roots being firmly planted in Mexican culinary traditions.

The process of creating Mexican Yellow Rice involves more than just mixing ingredients. It’s about understanding and respecting each component, appreciating the unique flavors and textures that each brings to the table. The resulting dish, whether served alone or as part of a larger meal, represents a piece of Mexico’s rich culinary tapestry. From its vibrant color to its robust flavor profile, Mexican Yellow Rice truly stands as a testament to the country’s diverse and delicious cuisine.

Embracing Variety: Different Ways to Prepare Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice, a versatile and wholesome one-pot meal, offers a variety of preparation methods. You have the flexibility to choose between cooking it in a Dutch Oven, as traditionally done, or using a Pressure Cooker, Crockpot, or Rice Steamer. This gives you the opportunity to adapt the cooking process according to your available tools and personal preferences.

Enchiladas with Mexican Yellow Rice
Enchiladas with Mexican Yellow Rice and Refried Beans

When using a crockpot or rice steamer, there’s an extra step that can elevate your dish. Consider browning your rice and sautéing your carrots and garlic in a separate pan before transferring them into the crockpot or steamer. This pre-cooking process enriches the flavor profile of your Spanish Rice. Yet, if you’re using a Dutch Oven or most modern pressure cookers, you can seamlessly perform the browning and sautéing stages in the same pot, thereby preserving the released flavors and simplifying the process.

Spanish Rice truly shines with its adaptability, welcoming the inclusion of various other vegetables like corn, peas, and onions. Usually, you’ll find it served alongside refried beans, adding a layer of complementary texture and flavor. Moreover, it makes a hearty accompaniment to many Mexican main dishes, including carne asada, picadillo, tacos, and many more, further demonstrating its integral role in Mexican cuisine.

Safeguarding the Freshness: Best Practices for Storing Red Rice

Begin the storage process of your leftover Red Rice by transferring it into an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Taking care to limit the rice’s exposure to air is crucial to preserve its freshness. Once safely enclosed, place the container or bag in the refrigerator. Properly stored, your Red Rice can maintain its quality for up to five days, ensuring you can continue to enjoy this delightful dish throughout the week.

If you have a larger quantity of leftover Red Rice or you wish to preserve it for a longer duration, consider freezing as an effective option. Transfer your leftover Mexican Yellow Rice into freezer-friendly containers or bags and place them in the freezer. This method extends the life of your rice, allowing you to store it for up to six months without compromising its taste and texture.

When it’s time to reheat your stored Red Rice, either the microwave or stovetop serves as a viable method. To prevent your rice from drying out during the reheating process, incorporate a handy trick. Simply add 1-2 teaspoons of water into the rice before heating it up. This little addition of moisture will ensure your Red Rice retains its original texture and deliciousness, making it just as enjoyable as when freshly cooked.

Tracing Back the Roots: The Intriguing History of Arroz Rojo

Interestingly, rice, a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine, is not a native crop to Mexico. This grain made its way into the region during the Age of Discovery, a historical period characterized by extensive overseas exploration. During this era, Spanish explorers and traders traveled far and wide, bringing back a wealth of goods, foods, and cultural influences to their home countries, including the novel grain of rice to the Americas.

On the other hand, one of the critical components of Arroz Rojo, the tomato, finds its roots deep within Mexican soil. Mexico prides itself as the birthplace of the tomato, making it an integral part of the country’s culinary landscape. Consequently, the arrival of rice to Mexico sparked a unique culinary innovation.

With the arrival of rice and the presence of native tomatoes, Mexico found itself at the forefront of creating a unique, mouth-watering tomato-flavored rice dish. Thus, Arroz Rojo, or Red Rice, was born, perfectly embodying the fusion of foreign influence and local ingredients. Today, this delightful dish continues to hold a cherished place in Mexican cuisine, reminding us of a flavorful legacy traced back to the Age of Discovery.

Delving into Durango: A Spotlight on Mexico’s Historic City

Victoria de Durango stands as the official name of this Mexican city, yet it frequently goes by simpler monikers: the City of Durango or Durango City. Nestled in Mexico, Durango carries the distinction of being the capital city of its namesake state. Its importance stretches far beyond just political and administrative roles, as Durango represents a vital hub of culture, history, and architecture.

Durango, Mexico
Durango, Mexico

An essential element that distinguishes Durango is its historic center. This core part of the city is a reflection of a rich past, encapsulated in the form of stunning colonial architecture. Walking through Durango’s center, one can appreciate the physical remnants of times gone by, beautifully preserved in stone and mortar.

Moreover, the city is renowned for its significant buildings reflecting the Mexican baroque style. This architectural aesthetic, characterized by its grandeur and intricate detailing, lends an air of charm and sophistication to the city. Durango’s baroque structures, along with its colonial ones, weave together to form a unique architectural tapestry that continues to captivate residents and visitors alike.

Durango Uncovered: A Journey through the City’s Rich History

Long before Durango became the city we know today, the area served as a significant cultural corridor. Dating back to the pre-historic period, it acted as a conduit facilitating the exchange of influences between the north and south, specifically between the Aridoamerican and Mesoamerican peoples. Around 2,000 years ago, the Nahoa people, a nomadic tribe from the north, are believed to have first settled in the area, marking the start of Durango’s long history.

The formation of the modern city of Durango traces its roots back to July 8, 1563. Francisco de Ibarra, an explorer and silver miner, established a small mining town, marking the birth of Durango. Throughout the 18th century, the city experienced a period of significant prosperity and influence, primarily due to mining operations in the nearby Sierra Madre Occidental. This economic boom led to the construction of numerous grand colonial-era buildings within the city center, structures that continue to grace the cityscape to this day.

In a testament to its rich historical and cultural heritage, Durango was recognized as a World Heritage site in 2010. The city forms a part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a historic trade route that played a crucial role in the cultural and commercial exchange between the Spanish and Mesoamerican civilizations. This recognition reaffirms Durango’s place in the annals of history, not just as a mining town, but as a vibrant crossroads of cultures and eras.

Exploring Durango: The Allure of Tourism in Mexico’s Historic City

Durango, a state known for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes, offers a spectacular array of experiences for visitors. With mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, and desert areas, Durango is a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Over the years, these striking natural features have not only attracted tourists but also caught the eye of Hollywood movie producers. As a result, many films have chosen this diverse landscape as their backdrop, bringing a touch of cinematic glamour to the state.

Accommodation options in Durango are just as diverse as its landscapes. Ranging from historic boutique hotels that echo the grandeur of the past, to rural cabins nestled within the forests offering breathtaking views over rivers and valleys, Durango caters to every type of traveler. These unique lodging experiences allow visitors to immerse themselves in the local scenery and enjoy a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Besides its natural beauty and accommodation options, Durango is also recognized for its vibrant traditional fairs and festivals. The locals, known for their friendly and accommodating demeanor, eagerly participate in these cultural events, infusing them with color and vivacity. One of the standout celebrations is the Durango National Fair held in July, commemorating the founding of the capital city, Victoria de Durango. This annual event serves as a rich cultural immersion for tourists, adding another dimension to the Durango experience.

A Taste of Durango: Delving into the Region’s Signature Cuisine

The culinary identity of Durango, like its history, is a blend of various cultural influences. Interestingly, the region’s cuisine saw a significant transformation with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Along with establishing Durango and commencing the conquest of the northern territory, these explorers also introduced new food staples. Rice, a variety of vegetables, and the first herds of animals were all brought to Durango by these settlers, leaving an indelible mark on the local culinary landscape.

Among the numerous dishes that constitute Durango’s gastronomic repertoire, the “Yellow Rice” stands out. This particular dish is renowned throughout the region and beyond, particularly for its unique flavor profile. It has been adapted and reimagined over time but has always remained a local favorite.

The popularity of the “Yellow Rice” underscores Durango’s culinary tradition. This dish, along with others, reflects the region’s history of cultural exchange and adaptation. Indeed, each bite into a dish from Durango’s cuisine is not just a gastronomic delight, but also a taste of the region’s rich and varied past.

Restaurante Esquilón
Hidalgo 411, Zona Centro, 34000 Durango, Dgo., Mexico
Telephone: +52 618 811 1632

Restaurante Esquilón
Restaurante Esquilón

El Esquilón offers a variety of flavors, aromas, and colors of their ancestral roots. The restaurant’s emblem is a replica of the Esquilón de San José, better known as the Bell of Dolores, rung by the priest Miguel Hidalgo to call for the struggle of Independence.

Mastering Mexican Yellow Rice: A Simple and Tasty Recipe

Creating this Mexican Yellow Rice recipe is a straightforward process that guarantees delightful results. First, in a Dutch Oven, you initiate the process by browning the rice and sautéing bell peppers and garlic. The warmth and flavors unleashed in this step form the base of this scrumptious dish.

Next, you add the fresh tomatoes and a blend of spices into the mix. After 20 minutes of cooking, the ingredients meld together to produce a dish that is not only easy and quick to make but also incredibly delicious. This Mexican Yellow Rice recipe, with its simplicity and burst of flavors, certainly encapsulates the charm of Durango’s beloved cuisine.

Gathering Your Essentials for Spanish Rice

Welcome to your culinary adventure of crafting Spanish Rice. With the right essentials at hand, we’re set to create a dish that exudes vibrant flavors and traditions. Having your ingredients prepared and within reach makes the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable. So, gather your cooking tools, clear your kitchen counter, and prepare your senses for an exciting journey into the heart of Spanish cooking.

Ingredients for Mexican Yellow Rice
Ingredients for Mexican Yellow Rice

Equipment Needed:

  • 1 Skillet
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Cutting Board

Ingredients Needed

How to Cook Red Rice

Time needed: 25 minutes

How to Cook Arroz Rojo

  1. Heat the Pan

    In a large pan with a lid, heat the butter on medium-high heat until shimmering.

  2. Sauté the Onion

    Add the diced onion and cook for about 30-seconds.

  3. Brown the Rice

    Add rice and cook until lightly toasted, then add garlic and reduce heat to medium.

  4. Add the Spice

    Stir in the tomato sauce and the spices and mix well to coat the rice.

  5. Add the Broth

    Add the broth, mix well, and make sure the rice is settled into an even layer in the pan.

  6. Cook the Rice

    Bring the pan of rice to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover and cook for 15 minutes.

  7. Add the Carrots

    Add diced carrots and cover the pan and cook for 5 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

  8. Add the Peas

    Add the peas, cover, and cook for an additional minute.

  9. Fluff the Rice

    Uncover, fluff the rice with a fork, and mix to combine.

  10. Garnish and Serve

    Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

Mexican Yellow Rice goes well as a side dish to Green Chillie Chicken Enchiladas and Refried Beans.

If you liked this dish please Rate This Recipe and leave a comment.

Mexican Yellow Rice Recipe

Mexican Yellow Rice Recipe

Recipe Author | Captain Cook
Mexican Yellow Rice makes a great side and has a big punch of flavor. Cooked with carrots and sweetpeas and spiced with turmeric, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cilantro.

Please Rate this Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 12 servings
Calories 388 kcal



  • In a large skillet heat the butter on medium-high heat until shimmering.
    ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Add the diced onion and cook for about 30-seconds.
    2 tbsp yellow onion
  • Add rice and cook until lightly toasted, then add garlic and reduce heat to medium.
    2 cup white rice, 2 cloves garlic
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and the spices and mix well to coat the rice.
    8 oz tomato sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp sweet paprika, ¼ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Add the broth, mix well, and make sure the rice is settled into an even layer in the pan.
    4 cup chicken broth
  • Bring the pan of rice to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add diced carrots and cover the pan and cook for 5 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
    ½ cup carrot
  • Add the peas, cover, and cook for an additional minute.
    ½ cup peas
  • Uncover, fluff the rice with a fork, and mix to combine.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.
    1 tbsp dried cilantro


Serving: 1cupCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 9gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 529mgPotassium: 256mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 411IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Dinner, Grains, Lunch
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Complementary Dishes: Enhance Your Mexican Yellow Rice Experience

As we explore the rich and vibrant world of Mexican cuisine, it’s worth noting that the beauty of Mexican Yellow Rice lies not only in its unique taste but also in its versatility. This dish pairs wonderfully with a variety of recipes that further elevate your culinary experience. The following suggestions are a blend of traditional favorites and innovative combinations that beautifully complement the Mexican Yellow Rice.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
These Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are made with tortillas that are stuffed with chicken, cheese, green chile enchilada sauce, sour cream, and green chilies.
Check out this recipe
Green Chili Enchiladas with Mexican Yellow Rice and Refried Beans
Easy Refried Beans Recipe
Frijoles Refritos or Refried Beans are a tasty side dish to almost any meal. It can be served with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, or almost anything.
Check out this recipe
Refried Beans

Having explored these suggested recipes, you can see how each dish adds its own flavor and character to your meal, creating a comprehensive Mexican feast. Pairing these recipes with Mexican Yellow Rice offers a delightful blend of tastes and textures, enhancing the overall dining experience. Remember, the beauty of cooking lies in experimentation. So, don’t hesitate to try different combinations and find your perfect pairing. Enjoy your culinary journey as you dive deeper into the exciting flavors of Mexican cuisine.

Photo Credits:

  • By Taste The World Cookbook – Copyright 2022 All rights reserved.
  • By Restaurante Esquilón – By
  • By Microstar – File:Panoramica plaza de armas Durango.jpg, por Sozi (CC-BY-2.0)File:Catedral Basílica Menor de La Purísima.JPG, por Fernandocasas (CC-BY-SA-3.0)File:A lo alto, Quinta del Aguacate.JPG, por MohamedPulido (CC-BY-SA-3.0)File:ES la salvacion.JPG, por Lalomen96 (CC-BY-SA-3.0)File:Palacio Municipal Durango.JPG, por MohamedPulido (CC-BY-SA-3.0)File:Torre del Templo de San Agustín.JPG, por MohamedPulido (CC-BY-SA-3.0)File:AnalcoDurango013.jpg, por Thelmadatter (CC-BY-SA-4.0), CC BY-SA 4.0,
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5 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Captain Cook
Captain Cook
If you strip away the labels and isms and meta tags, what are you left with? Are you strong and free enough as an individual to survive the loss of all those crutches and maintain reason and meaning? Can you use the power of thought and choice to walk the road of life?
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