Mexican Fried Rice is an excellent comfort food that’s full of both spice and cheese!
It can easily be made in just a few minutes using leftover rice from your dinner.
What Type Of Rice Is Best For This Recipe?
The only ingredient you will need for this dish is short-grain white rice.
This type of rice has been specially selected for its ability to absorb flavors well.
You may also use brown or wild rice if desired.
Short-grain white rice is available at most supermarkets and grocery stores.
Preparing the rice
To prepare the rice, simply rinse it under cold water until all traces of starch are removed.
This will prevent the finished product from becoming sticky.
Dry the rice completely by placing it on paper towels before adding it to the skillet.
This will allow excess moisture to escape as the rice cooks
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or any cooking fat)
- ½ onion diced into small pieces
- ¼ green bell pepper diced into small pieces
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Place the mixture inside a medium saucepan over high heat.
Allow the contents to begin to sizzle, stirring constantly.
Once they start to turn translucent, add the drained rice and stir to coat evenly throughout the pan.
Continue to cook the rice while stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how hot your stove gets.
When done, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Frying the rice
Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, pour one cup of water into a bowl large enough to hold two cups of uncooked rice.
Add 1 ½ tablespoons of butter to the water.
Place the bowl inside a microwave safe plate and cover with plastic wrap.
Heat the mix in the microwave for 10 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the plate and carefully pour the contents out onto a clean surface.
Using a spatula, gently spread the rice around so that each grain has room to expand.
Use the back of the spatula to press down on the rice to flatten it slightly.
Repeat these steps for another 2 or 3 times.
Once flattened, pour the remaining rice mixture back into the bowl and repeat the process once more.
Set aside the rice mixture for now while preparing the other components of the fried rice.
Cooking the vegetables
After removing the second batch of rice from the microwave, place it directly into a medium sized pot of boiling salted water.
Boil the rice for 15 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.
While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion and bell pepper in a nonstick skillet coated with the same amount of vegetable oil used above.
Season the vegetables with the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Cook the vegetables until softened, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the rice is fully cooked, combine the two batches together.
Gently fold in the sautéed vegetables.
Pour the entire mixture into an 11×7 inch baking dish, spreading it out to fill the space equally between the sides and bottom of the dish.
Top the rice with shredded cheddar cheese, followed by sliced avocado, and finally sprinkle with chopped parsley.
How Long Should The Rice Be Cooked For?
The rice should be cooked until it has absorbed all of the liquid, but not so much that you end up mushy or waterlogged.
Soaking rice overnight will help ensure there are no clumps when cooking.
To test if the rice is done, insert a fork into the middle of one grain.
If the rice grains come apart without sticking together, it’s ready (the same goes for any other grain).
When adding the rice to the pan, stir frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.
You may also want to add some oil to the pan as well.
A little bit of olive oil will help keep the rice crispy outside while keeping it nice and moist inside.
If you don’t have time to cook the rice, you can always use instant brown rice instead.
Just follow the instructions on the package, and let it cool before frying.
What Is The Best Way To Fry The Rice?
The most important thing when making this dish is not how much oil you use but rather what type of oil you choose.
For frying, I like to use olive oil because it has a lower smoke point than other types of oils.
That means that at higher temperatures (like those found on a stove), the oil will break down faster, resulting in a more flavorful end product.
If you want to get fancier, you could also try peanut or safflower oil instead of olive oil.
You may have noticed in my photos that some recipes call for cooking the rice in vegetable oil, which doesn’t work as well for me.
Instead, I prefer to cook the rice in water since I find that it produces better results.
I usually start by heating up about 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot enough, I add the onion and stir until they become translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.
After the onions are ready I add the garlic, pepper, and salt.
Next, I add the rice and mix everything together so that all the pieces are coated in the oil.
Then, I reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let everything simmer while stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes.
During this time, the mixture cooks slowly, allowing the flavors to mingle.
After 20 minutes, I remove the lid and increase the heat to high.
At this stage, I often add the cilantro and green beans.
When the vegetables start to brown around the edges, I turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for another 10 minutes before removing the lid and adding the cheeses.
Finally, I serve immediately.
You might notice that I said “fry the rice” – that’s because there are different ways to prepare the rice.
In order to really get a good crispy exterior on the rice, you need to keep the temperature of the oil very low, so that any moisture left in the rice won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
To do this, I recommend using a splatter guard if possible, or covering the sides of the pan with a layer of paper towels.
Another option would be to place a plate directly on top of the pan to prevent excess moisture from dripping onto the floor.
In addition to these precautions, you should also take care to avoid overcooking the rice.
Make sure to check every couple minutes after you pour in the liquid and watch carefully as the rice starts to bubble.
Remove the rice from the heat once it begins to look dry and set aside to cool completely before moving forward with the rest of the recipe.
What Should Be Added To The Rice For Flavor?
The main ingredients are onion, pepper, garlic, and chili powder.
To add more flavor, you could use some cumin or paprika.
You could also throw in some ground meat if you want something different.
If you don’t have any leftovers lying around, you may need to buy some frozen rice at the store.
If you do this, simply defrost it before cooking.
How Much Oil Should Be Used When Frying The Rice?
The best thing about this dish is it doesn’t take long at all to prepare because you only need to cook the rice once.
You won’t have to add any more oil than what’s already on top of the rice after cooking.
You’ll also find that there are no hard-to-find ingredients like cilantro or jalapeño peppers.
Just some onion, bell pepper, garlic, red chili powder, salt, black pepper, and cumin.
That means you can use whatever vegetables you have available if you don’t want to buy anything new.
Should The Rice Be Covered While Frying?
There are two schools of thought on this matter.
Some people believe you must cover the pan during cooking to prevent splattering or sticking.
Others say there isn’t any need to do this because it will only add extra grease to the mix.
In my opinion, I think it doesn’t really matter which camp you fall into.
If you don’t want to use up all the fat in the pan, you might as well put some more in it so that you have enough to cook a healthy serving of rice too.
So if you feel like covering the pan helps to avoid burning the bottom of the pan, by all means go ahead and get out your baking sheet and lid.
If you decide not to use up all the fat in the pan, however, you’ll still benefit from having the water evaporate faster than normal.
That means less excess grease in the finished dish.
You also won’t need to worry about stirring constantly since the rice will cook quicker.
To me, the main reason to cover the pan is to keep the inside of the pan clean.
If you have small children around, they may love playing with hot pans and getting burned.
But even adults tend to be curious and want to see what’s going on underneath.
So yes, I recommend covering the pan while it cooks.
Just remember that when the pan has cooled down again, you shouldn’t throw away the grease.
Use it instead to make homemade stock or another tasty sauce.
How Long Should The Rice Be Fried For?
For best results, you want to cook the rice until it’s tender but not mushy.
If you have leftover rice from last night’s dinner, this will take about 20-25 minutes on medium heat.
Stir the rice frequently so that it cooks evenly.
You also don’t want to overcook the rice because it will become tough and fall apart when tossed with the other ingredients later.
If you are cooking fresh rice, it usually takes around 12 minutes.
However, if you choose short grain brown rice over white or jasmine rice, you may need up to 15 minutes more time depending upon how hot your stove gets (the hotter the better).
What Temperature Should The Oil Be For Frying?
The key to making good Mexican Fried Rice is cooking it at high enough heat so that the rice will cook through without burning.
To do this you want to use some olive or vegetable oil, which has a higher smoke point than other oils like butter or coconut oil.
If you are using a wok, place about 1/4 cup of oil into the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.
When hot add the diced onion and bell pepper along with a pinch of salt.
Cook until tender but not browned (about 5 minutes).
Add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant (1 minute) before adding the sliced green chiles and stirring again until they become soft (3 minutes).
Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients except the cheddar cheese.
Toss well to mix everything together.
To prepare the rice, pour 2 cups of water into the wok or skillet used for frying the vegetables.
Heat the water on medium-high heat until boiling.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer while preparing the rice.
Pour the rice into the wok or skillet as soon as the water boils.
Cover and allow the rice to steam for 3 minutes.
Uncover and gently shake the pan to fluff up the rice.
Continue to cook covered until most of the liquid evaporates (5 – 10 minutes), shaking occasionally to keep the rice moving around in the pan.
Once the rice is done steaming remove from heat and toss with the shredded cheese.
What Is The Best Way To Serve This Dish?
This dish is great served as a main course, but you could also use it as part of a light lunch or even breakfast if you have leftovers.
If you want to save time when making this dish, simply cook up some rice first then add all the other ingredients once everything has cooled down.
If you prefer things done properly, start by cooking the onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until tender before adding the rest of the ingredients and tossing them together.
The finished product will look like this:
- A tasty mixture of spicy chili powder, tomatoes, cilantro, and scallions.
- Cheesy rice covered in melted mozzarella (or whatever type of cheese you enjoy most).
How to make Mexican Fried Rice
1 cup long-grain white rice
½ medium red bell pepper
¼ large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
5 tablespoons butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
Bring 2 quarts water to boil over high heat.
Add rice, reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Remove rice from pan and set aside.
While rice cooks, sauté vegetables in 4 tablespoons olive oil for 6 minutes on medium heat.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add remaining ingredients into rice bowl and mix well.
Serve immediately while hot or allow to cool completely.
Are There Any Variations Of This Dish?
Yes! You can add different ingredients depending on what you have available at home or if you want to experiment.
Here are some options:
- Add more veggies like carrots or broccoli instead of mushrooms
- Use ground beef or chicken instead of shrimp/shrimp paste
- Replace the jalapeno pepper with cayenne pepper (add about 1 tsp)
- Try adding some hot sauce to give it extra kick
You could also try making this meal into tacos by topping it with shredded lettuce, sour cream, avocado, and diced tomatoes.
Or, you can even make burrito bowls out of these tacos!
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1 4- ounce can green chiles drained
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 green onions
- Over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of the olive oil to a sizable skillet.
- Add the onion to the hot oil and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until tender.
- When the liquid has been boiled entirely, add the tomatoes, corn, and green chiles and simmer for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to brown, after adding the seasonings and the garlic.
- Rice that has been cooked and the remaining olive oil should be added. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Stirring often will help the rice and flavors combine during the 4 to 5 minutes of cooking.
- Green onions should be added after the pan has been taken off the heat.
- Add the remaining green onions on top.