How to make homemade Mexican rice with corn (also known as Spanish rice) filled with sweet kid-friendly vegetables that give it extra texture and a healthy boost. So easy to make and tastes like it came straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant. This is the best side dish for any Mexican entree.
Every day could be Taco Tuesday according to my kids. Whenever I ask what they want for dinner, the answer is always TACOS!
We've got a bunch of easy taco recipes I rotate but I wanted something a little more nutritious than chips and salsa to serve as a side dish on Mexican food night.
I love the Mexican rice (or Spanish rice if you prefer) side dish that comes with my enchiladas when we dine out.
Our favorite Mexican restaurant serves an amazing Mexican corn rice with sweet corn and onions mixed in. I love that little extra crunch with the hidden veggies!
I decided it would be easy enough to make a homemade version of the restaurant-style Mexican rice side dish.
How to Make Mexican Rice More Kid-Friendly
I think this is the best Mexican rice recipe for kids because it is filled with sweet veggies that are very kid-friendly and the rice is not too spicy.
A few things you should keep in mind if you are making this dish for kids is:
- Use their Favorite Vegetables: My kids and I love sweet red bell peppers, but you could easily swap it for green (or any other color) peppers, chopped tomatoes, bits of celery, fresh jalapeño, or whatever your family likes.
- Chop the Veggies Very Small: If you chop the veggies up finely enough, your kids will have a tough time picking them out of this colorful side dish. They'll blend right in with the rice grains.
- Be Mindful of the Spice: The recipe calls for a pinch of cayenne pepper for some heat but you can make this as spicy or as mild as you like. We love to slather ours with our favorite Mexican hot sauce Valentina and some fresh chopped green onions, but start on the mild side and work your way up as you kids get used to the recipe.
- Double the Corn: Sweet corn is almost always a popular veggie with kids. When in doubt, just add more corn to the rice. You can always work in a new veggie slowly once they love the recipe.
Ingredients You Need
This simple recipe only needs a few pantry ingredients you probably have on hand:
- Long Grain White Rice: We often use jasmine rice just because it is what I keep in the pantry.
- Chicken Broth or Stock
- Canned Tomato Sauce
- Frozen Corn: If you have fresh corn on the cob left over from a barbecue, you could use that, too.
- Red Bell Pepper: You can use any color bell pepper your kids love.
- Minced Garlic
- Canola Oil: You could also use olive oil or your favorite vegetable oil.
- Optional: Fresh green onions for serving.
This entire Mexican corn rice recipe cooks on the stovetop. Be sure you start with a skillet that is large enough to hold all the rice.
Soften the Vegetables
First, heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the chopped bell peppers and onions to the skillet and cook until the onions are translucent.
This helps make the vegetables even more palatable for kids, the tender veggies are easy to "hide" in the soft rice.
Toast the Rice
Add the white rice to the skillet and cook until the grains just begin to turn golden brown.
This step adds a lot of flavor to the rice grains and will help them to absorb all the flavors of the tomato sauce.
Build the Tomato Sauce
Now add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, and the seasonings to the dish. I use cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper for a little kick.
Stir it all together to combine.
Cover and Simmer
Cover the skillet and cook the Mexican rice for 30 - 40 minutes or until there is no more liquid left in the pan when you stir it.
Add the Corn
Reserve the sweet corn for the very end. If you cook it the entire time, it will overcook and get mushy.
When you add the corn at the end, it stays firm and sweet.
Stir the corn in and let it warm through for 3 - 5 minutes.
Then you can fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle chopped green onions over the top before serving if desired.
Make Ahead Tips
This fantastic side dish is the perfect make-ahead recipe for taco night!
You can make it in advance and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 - 5 days.
Simply reheat it in the microwave before serving.
You can also easily freeze this Mexican corn rice for later. Store it in an airtight container and freeze for 3 - 6 months.
Defrost it in the microwave and then heat it on HIGH to warm through.
For best results, sprinkle just a little bit of water over the rice before heating it in the microwave, this will help steam the rice and veggies and keep it from getting too dry.
This is an easy rice side dish to tweak with delicious variations for your family. Why not try making:
- Mexican Salsa Rice: Instead of the canned tomato sauce, add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices or your favorite jarred salsa.
- Mexican Green Rice: Instead of the canned tomato sauce, use a jar of green tomatillo salsa. This will give your Mexican rice a green hue and it will be absolutely delicious. You may even want to add a little fresh cilantro to add more fresh green to the recipe!
- Pineapple Mexican Rice: If you're serving chicken tacos and want to add a little sweetness to your dish, you could add a drained can of pineapple tidbits to the rice.
- Mexican Fried Rice: You could make a Mexican version of our favorite chicken fried rice recipe. Make the Mexican rice as instructed below but add shredded rotisserie chicken for a one-pot meal.
- Mexican Rice with Beans: For an added boost of protein and fiber, you could add a drained can of your favorite beans to the rice before you add the chicken stock and let them simmer along with the dish.
This easy Mexican rice makes the perfect side dish for taco night but could also be used to make homemade Mexican-style rice bowls with shredded chicken over the top along with your favorite salsa and sour cream.
Or, make a batch of my Crockpot creamy chicken to spoon over servings of the rice for a special treat.
This would be a great side dish to add to my air fryer chicken chimichangas, too!
Homemade Mexican Corn Rice
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- ½ onion diced
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Sprinkle of cumin
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3 green onions chopped
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the bell pepper and onion to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add the rice and cook until the grains begin to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until just fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper to the pan and stir to combine.
- Cover the pan and let simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes or until all is cooked and there is no liquid left when you stir the rice.
- Add the corn to the pan and stir to combine with the rice, cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes. The heat from the dish will warm the corn through but retain its crunch.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle chopped green onions over the top.
Make Ahead Freezer InstructionsYou can make this dish ahead of time and store it in the fridge for 3 - 5 days or freeze it in an airtight container for 3 - 6 months. Simply defrost it in the microwave before heating it on HIGH to warm through. For best results, sprinkle a little bit of water over the top of the rice before heating, this will help steam the rice and keep it from getting dry as it reheats.
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