Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf

This is a simple recipe that explodes with the comforting, spicy, warm flavors of Mexico.  So versatile, Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf can be a side or with the addition of some ground beef or shredded chicken, it’s a one-pot meal.

I like to serve this dish with Tex-Mex Beef Fajitas or Flavorful Chicken Fajitas, Crispy Avocado Fingers, and Chocoflan Bundt Cake for dessert.

Cast iron skillet of Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf - spicy rice, black beans, corn, and peppers in a savory chili sauce.

I love to order spicy Mexican rice pilaf in any (and really, I mean all)  Mexican restaurant that we frequent.  So, it seems appropriate to make it at home, but getting the consistency right is challenging.

After years of trial and error and just a couple of recipe tweaks,  I finally had something that was just as delicious as what I ate in restaurants and maybe even better!  It’s a huge source of pride when I can make something that my family adores and requests over and over.  Hopefully, your family will love it just as much!

Ingredients Needed

  • Olive oil and butter
  • Long-grain white rice
  • Onion, garlic, red bell pepper, and jalapeno
  • Tomato paste
  • Chicken broth
  • Can diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
  • Chili powder and cumin
  • Canned black beans
  • Frozen corn kernels
  • Salt and pepper

Close-up of Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf - spicy rice, black beans, corn, and peppers in a savory chili sauce.

How To Make Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf

  • First, rinse the rice and allow it to drain well.
  • Saute the rice in butter and oil, then add the vegetables.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and allow it to ‘toast’.
  • Finally, stir in the broth, tomatoes, spices, corn, salt, and pepper and simmer until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is fluffy.

Cast iron skillet of Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf - spicy rice, black beans, corn, and peppers in a savory chili sauce.

Tips For Making This Recipe

  • Brown the tomato paste by spreading it thin in the bottom of your skillet.  Cook, stirring until the color turns a dark orange-red color. At this point, it is beginning to caramelize and lose any of its raw tomato flavors.  The result will be a tomato taste that is less bitter, subtly sweet with a deeper, richer, tomato flavor. This small step makes a big difference.
  • Be sure to rinse the rice in a colander under cold running water.  This will wash away any coating on the rice and help to keep it fluffy.
  • Also, be sure to toast the rice in the oil and butter until lightly browned.  By toasting the rice, not only will it lend a nuttier flavor, but the final dish will be more fluffy and dry-just like you get in your favorite Mexican restaurant.

More Mexican Recipes To Try

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Close-up of Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf - spicy rice, black beans, corn, and peppers in a savory chili sauce.



This Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf makes a perfect side dish for fajitas, enchiladas, or tacos.  Toss in some sliced beef, ground meat, or shredded chicken for a one-pot meal.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 2 cups long grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, with juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place rice in a fine mesh colander. Rinse under cold running water, turning rice in the colander with your hand. Dump rice onto paper toweling to drain completely.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter into the olive oil. When warm, add rice and begin stirring constantly, ensuring each grain of rice is coated with the oil and butter. Continue to toast the rice, stirring constantly until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and red pepper. Stir and cook until onions begin to turn translucent – about 10 minutes.
  4. Spoon tomato paste into the skillet and spread over the vegetables and rice, flattening to push the paste onto the skillet surface. Allow the mixture to cook, stirring occasionally and flattening out across pan until the paste begins to take on a dark orange-red color – about 6-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes with juice, chili powder, cumin, black beans, and corn. Cover and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Serve warm.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: spicy Mexican rice pilaf, spicy food, Mexican food, Mexican side dish, Mexican side dish recipes, rice pilaf, black beans, corn, Rotel tomatoes

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