Arroz Colorido colorful Mexican rice on red plate with fresh thyme.

Arroz Colorido – Colorful Mexican Rice: A Meal Prep Solution

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This Mexican rice dish with tomatoes and corn is an easy vegetarian recipe with the bright flavors of lime and cumin. It can be a side dish, or add some high protein foods to make it a main dish. Arroz colorido means “colorful rice” in Spanish.

Why You Will Enjoy This Recipe

This Mexican rice is flexible because you can combine it with a variety of foods (see variations below) for different meals. This dish is a great way to use up leftover rice and prevent food waste too! It is naturally gluten-free also. And you could substitute other types of rice or grains. You can use it to help you create meals throughout the week and packed lunches. It is great in burritos or enchiladas too!

Nutrition in Colorful Mexican Rice

This recipe is high in nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. It is rich in complex carbohydrates, a great source of energy. There is only a trace of fat. The phytonutrients from brown rice and vegetables may help to prevent some chronic diseases. Also, rice and vegetables provide plant-based protein. Unlike most Mexican rice recipes, this one is lower in sodium and fat.

Ingredients Needed

  • Non-stick spray – use this or a small amount of vegetable or olive oil so the corn doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Corn kernels –  fresh cut off the cob or frozen is fine too.
  • Garlic – use fresh minced garlic, or you could substitute about a half of a teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Scallions – also called green onions or spring onions. I like to cook the white parts of these and then add in the green parts toward the end so they stay crisp. You could substitute white, yellow, or red onions.
  • Black pepper and cumin – for a bit of spice and flavor
  • Petite diced tomatoes, canned – you can use the regular diced tomatoes too – I just prefer the size of these. If you use fresh tomatoes, you may want to peel them and cut them in half to smush out the seeds first.
  • Cooked brown rice – use this for a higher fiber choice. I like to choose organic brown rice. You can also use cooked white rice, quinoa, farro, bulgur, or other grains.
  • Fresh lime juice – this is an important source of flavor. it’s OK to use bottled lime juice if needed.


  • Cooked black or pinto beans, black-eyed peas, or chickpeas
  • Cooked lentils
  • Sauteed tofu or tempeh
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Chopped pecans, pistachios, or walnuts
  • Sriracha sauce
  • More veggies, like green beans, peas, or mushrooms.

You can use this colorful Mexican rice as a base for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas along with higher protein foods of your choice. Finally, top it with cooked or raw peppers, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, vegan shredded cheese or sour cream, and/or jalapenos!

Cooking Tips

First, I recommend rinsing the rice well. I cooked the rice in water, but you could use vegetable broth. Also, I made the rice in a rice cooker: super easy! I wrote the recipe for the stovetop as not everyone has a rice cooker. Rice cookers are usually non-stick, and they don’t need to be watched as closely as cooking on a stove.

The seasonings include garlic, cumin, scallions, black peppers, and lime juice. These provide lots of flavor, but the recipe isn’t spicy. If you do prefer spicy foods, you could add a little chili powder, cayenne pepper, or sriracha sauce. Do you like chipotle peppers in adobo sauce? They are spicy and smoky: for this size dish, I may chop up one or two to add. Thai red curry paste would be great as well.


Store in a container with an airtight lid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or, freeze in a container with an airtight lid for up to 6 months. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop with a little water until hot, at least 165 degrees F.

What to Serve With Colorful Mexican Rice?

Q: What is the difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice?

A: Mexican rice is generally made with long-grain white rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic, oil, and boullion plus spices. In Spain, bomba rice is usually used in paella. This is a short-grain rice and it has a firmer texture when it’s cooked. Saffron is used for flavor and gives it a deep yellow color.

Q: What kind of rice is best for this recipe?

A: Mexican rice is traditionally made with long-grain white rice (although I used brown rice for this version).

Q: What is Mexican rice called in Mexico?

A: It may be called arroz rojo (red rice) or Spanish rice in Mexico as rice was brought there from the Spanish, according to this article from

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Arroz Colorido colorful Mexican rice on red plate with fresh thyme.

Arroz Colorido – Colorful Mexican Rice

Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
This Mexican style rice recipe is an easy and flavorful side dish. Add your favorite protein for simple meal prep.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 19 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican, Tex-Mex
Servings 6
Calories 108 kcal


  • non-stick spray
  • 1 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 4 scallions, whites separated from green tops chopped
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 15 ounces petite diced tomatoes, canned
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime


  • Saute the corn in a pan sprayed with non-stick spray over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic and chopped white parts of scallions to the pan. Add pepper and cumin. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the tomatoes with their juice and chopped green parts of the scallions to the pan. Cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the rice with this vegetable mixture. Add 1/2 cup of water.


Look for canned tomatoes that have a BPA-free lining.
The nutrition estimate is from Spoonacular, which is based mainly on USDA FoodDataCentral.


Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gSodium: 161mgPotassium: 251mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 179IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Meal Prep, Rice, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Food styling: H. Traub

Originally published: 9/9/18. Updated 5/19/23

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2 thoughts on “Arroz Colorido – Colorful Mexican Rice: A Meal Prep Solution”

  1. I’m always looking for a new rice recipe to try, it’s such a versatile side dish. Love all these ingredients and wouldn’t have thought of adding lime, will give this a try!

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