Skinny Mexican Rice

4.80 from 20 votes

This easy skillet recipe is delicious in burritos, tacos, casseroles, and as a dinner side.

skinny mexican rice vegan-friendly

Taco Tuesday isn’t just a single day in my house: We usually celebrate it all week long. It’s almost like it’s become a way of life! It’s not uncommon to have tacos for breakfast, lunch, or dinner multiple days in a row. They never get old because you can create so much variety with one single dish. And, if I’m being honest, sometimes we make the tacos larger (aka, burritos) and sometimes we’ll skip the tortilla altogether and make a casserole or a rice bowl. Having this Skinny Mexican Rice on hand makes that kind of variability possible because it really ties the rest of the ingredients together.

If you don’t usually make rice as a side dish when you’re eating Mexican food, you should really start with this Skinny Mexican Rice. It’s super easy to create and it adds some extra fiber and protein to your meal. And, at 224 calories per cooked cup, you can really add a ton of filling flavor to your meal without sacrificing your waistline.

The Flavors of the Southwest

The flavors of the southwest come to life in this easy prep recipe. There’s something magical about the way that cumin, green chiles, tomatoes, and cilantro come together. They basically create a saucy coating for simple, brown rice. All you need to do is cook down your onions and garlic to give them some depth, then add the remaining ingredients. Let it cook away and it’ll taste like you put a ton of effort into it!

If you want to make things even easier, you can use a rice cooker. You’ll still need to saute your onions and garlic before you get started (unless you have an Instant Pot, which has a function for that!). But, it does make the cooking process very hands-off and it makes it almost impossible to burn the bottom of the rice. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to forget about that pot of rice cooking away on the stovetop…

The best part about this recipe is the way it brings rice to a whole new mouthwatering level. It tastes so good on its own, you can enjoy it solo as a side dish. It’s really good when you top it with a side of Guacamole Verde, too. Or, you can turn it into the main event and serve it with meats and vegetables. We especially love pairing it with Mexican Shredded Beef.

After you make it a few times, you won’t be able to stop. This rice dish is perfect for filling tacos and burritos, and it also makes an incredible base for a taco bowl or casserole. And, since there’s always leftovers, you know you’ll have lunch covered the next day, too! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and whip up a batch of this super easy Skinny Mexican Rice. We can’t wait to hear what you think about this simple but delicious dish.

4.80 from 20 votes

Skinny Mexican Rice

Enjoy the Southwestern flavors in this scrumptious and skinny rice dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 1 cup
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican


  • 1 onion small, diced
  • 1/4 cup water plus more as needed
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup long-grain rice (recommend Uncle Ben's Long Grain Brown Rice - not the quick or instant kind)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro freshly chopped
  • 14 1/2 ounces petit diced tomatoes can
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles can, optional
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth, low-sodium


  • In a large skillet or saucepan add water and diced onion. Turn to medium-low heat and saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add more water as it evaporates. Add garlic and continue to saute one additional minute.
  • Add remaining ingredients, cover, reduce heat, and simmer on low for approximately 45 minutes or until rice has soaked up the liquid and is tender. If rice needs more liquid, add 1/4 cup as needed, or until rice is tender.
  • Remove from heat, leave covered and allow to set 10 minutes before serving.


The time it takes to cook the rice will depend on the brand. Some brands take 35 minutes, while others take up to an hour. We prefer Uncle Ben's Long Grain Rice because it is tender in approximately 35-45 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 383mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 5
Keywords dairy-free, Vegetarian

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

More by Gale


  1. Love your site! How do you calculate you WW PP values? I entered this recipe into my WW recipe builder and it calculated 6 PP for a 1-cup serving.

  2. Pingback: Rice, Rice, Baby | pjbknit
  3. Vickie, I just made it yesterday too. For me, it was awesome. Try using Uncle Ben’s long grain brown rice. It seems to cook faster than a lot of the other brands. When I’ve used some other brands in the past, I had to cook it over an hour. A good rule of thumb, cook it until the rice is tender. πŸ™‚

  4. Im not understanding the calorie count you have. Ive entered into a calorie site and its just over 200 calories even with the brand of rice you used. That's a big difference! Am I missing something?

    1. Hi! Would like to double this recipe how much liquid would I add and how long should I cook it thanks! Sounds delicious

      1. Hi, to double this recipe you’ll need to multiply all ingredients by two. The cook time should remain about the same.

  5. I use weight watchers online and put this into the recipe builder. At 4 servings for the whole recipe, it is 6 points plus per serving. If you only counted the ingredients that weight watchers doesn't consider free, being the rice and oil, it would still be 5 points plus per serving. Maybe if you put all of the ingredients into a nutrition calculator and then entered the fat, carbs, fiber and protein into a weight watchers calculator, the numbers came up differently. I recommend always using the recipe builder through weight watchers online for those following their plan, just to be safe.

    1. Robin, We do add our nutritional data into a weight watchers calculator. I’ll check into your suggestion. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  6. This recipe is absolutely delicious! I followed it to the letter. I was a little worried that the can of green chilis would make it a bit too spicy for my husband but I bought the mild ones and added the whole thing and it was perfect – added just the right amount of flavor without being too spicy. It reheats extremely well also so I was able to take it to work all week. I must say that I have made many of your recipes and have not had one I did not like yet! Not only are the recipes delicious, but the ingredients are found right in the grocery store and they are simple to put together. Thank you so much for helping me to prepare such healthy and delicious food.

  7. Whats the best way to reheat this? Microwave or would you maybe recommend putting back into a skillet with a little more broth?

    1. Either method would work. If you heat it in the microwave, add a tablespoon of water or broth to prevent the rice from sticking. If using a skillet, add the rice to a bit of heated olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to break up any clumps while reheating.

    1. Dawn, Feel free to use the quick brown rice and adjust cooking time according to the instructions on the box. πŸ™‚

  8. Am I the only one that thinks the nutritional info is way wrong? I calculate over 400 calories for 1 cup of this rice….

    1. We double-checked the nutritional data and did find an error. Thanks for pointing it out to us. There are 244 calories per serving if using low sodium vegetable broth, as opposed to the optional chicken broth.

    1. Cindy, We just recalculated with the new calculator and also got 8 smartpoints per one cup serving. This has been corrected in the nutrition data. 4 smartpoints would be a 1/2 cup serving. Thanks for bringing this to our attention:).

    1. Yes, however you may need to add a tablespoon of water (or lime juice!) when reheating. Often rice will dry out when it’s being reheated.

    1. Hi Donna, yes you could cook this in a slow cooker! Add all of the ingredients except for the fresh cilantro. Cook on high for about 2 hours or low for about 4 hours. Stir in the fresh cilantro before serving!

  9. Is the cholesterol count correct. That seems awfully high. Maybe I’m not understanding something I have just recently had to start watching cholesterol. If it doesn’t have any fat in it why is the cholesterol so high?

    1. Michaelle, You’re right. Just from glancing at the ingredients, the cholesterol should be zero. The
      nutritional data will be updated today. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. πŸ™‚

  10. I needed Spanish rice for a crown and was excited to find this recipe. I needed to triple the recipe and ran into trouble. The only “Uncle Ben’s” brand rice my grocer had was instant, so I used Mahatma Brown Rice instead. I tripled the rice, water (used chicken broth) and tomatoes, but doubled the spices, and left out the cilantro, since I prefer less spice. It took at least an hour to absorb most of the liquid, but then I left it on a very low simmer until dinner was served, a couple of hours later, and by then most of the liquid was gone, but the rice was more gummy than fluffy. The flavor was delicious. I will make it again but will use less liquid. My thought is there is usually a 2:1 water to rice ratio, and this recipe includes a can of tomatoes, which is mostly liquid when cooked down, so maybe when tripling it there is simply too much liquid (or maybe I measured incorrectly). Anyway, thanks for the recipe.

  11. I am going to try this with no salt added chicken broth and slowly toasting the rice before adding the other ingredients. I was talking with one of the cooks at our favorite mexican place and they said that was one of the secrets to the fluffiness of their rice.

  12. In the recipe notes you suggest using an instant pot. Would I simply sautΓ© the onion in my instant pot then add all the other ingredients and press the rice button? Wanting to make this tonight for cinco de Mayo

    1. Hi Leah, yes, you would saute the onion in your Instant Pot. You would use the rice setting and cook for about 5 minutes on high pressure.

      1. Would the cook time in the instant pot using the rice setting be the same if using brown rice? Would you do a natural release or a quick release?

        1. Tiffany, Here’s a good estimate when using brown rice: Cook on high for 20 minutes, natural release for 5, then quick release turning venting knob to the venting position. Be sure to carefully open the lid before fluffing the rice.

    1. Kathy, Sure. I like to toss in some frozen carrots, peas, corn, and green beans, around 1 cup for the combined veggies.

  13. This was SO tasty! I made the rice to use as the base for my burrito bowl weekly meal prep, I made 4 lunches with it. The flavors of the rice are powerful yet not overwhelming and the texture is spot on, thanks for such a great recipe πŸ™‚

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