Tell your taste buds to buckle up! Mexican Green Rice sends dinner into overdrive. Flavored with cilantro, parsley, poblano and jalapeno peppers, this bold arroz verde complements all your favorite Tex-Mex dishes and more. It’s the perfect base for tacos, burritos, or bowls.
People all over the world add rice to dishes for a variety of reasons – to add flavor, bulk, texture, cut the spiciness, or just to make sure you get some sweet, sweet carbs. And I am not trying to rain on anyone’s plain white rice parade, but you CAN do all of those things with something a bit more flavorful.
I mean, one of my greatest revelations in college was that you could, in fact, serve your sticky, sweet, sauced Chinese chicken over fried rice instead of the plain white rice. (Shockingly, no one came and scolded me for that.) It absolutely contributed to my “Freshman 15,” but the wisdom and confidence I gained was well worth it. The more you know…
While I have gladly relied upon cilantro lime rice for years to amp up my Mexican dishes, Green Rice just feeds my soul (and my belly) in a totally different way. And while I love heat, this dish is not spicy. It’s not “mild” either… It’s the epitome of bold and zesty.
And why else are we eating tacos and enchiladas and tamales and pibil and birria if not to enjoy the best that bold and zesty food has to offer?
So be not afraid – be bold and leave the plain white rice alone… unless, of course, you’re using it to make not-plain green rice.
What is Green Rice?
Green rice – or arroz verde – is a Mexican adaptation of rice pilaf that is cooked with a puree of flavorful herbs and peppers. In our arroz verde recipe, you’ll find poblano and jalapeno peppers, as well as fresh cilantro and parsley.
This green rice pilaf is extremely flavorful and fragrant, and despite the presence of pepper, it is decidedly not spicy.
In case you didn’t know, rice pilaf is not just another fancy name for the “San Francisco Treat.” (Did I just date myself??) For a rice dish to be considered a “pilaf,” first the rice must be “toasted,” but it also must be cooked in broth or stock – with or without additional seasoning – for more flavor. This green rice recipe has all three in spades.
How to Make Mexican Green Rice
Fluffy, flavorful Green Rice is an easy accompaniment for so many Mexican-inspired meals. The bright profile of this pilaf calls for jalapeno and poblano peppers, pureed with fresh cilantro and parsley. “Toast” it with olive oil first to bring out the nuttiness in the grain and help keep your arroz verde pillowy, never sticky.
- Blend a poblano pepper, 1-2 jalapenos, and fresh cilantro and parsley with a splash of chicken or vegetable stock in a blender or food processor until pureed.
- Rinse long grain white rice, then shake to release as much moisture as possible.
- Saute the rice in olive oil in a bit of olive oil until the rice is aromatic, turns golden brown in spots, and is and is dry.
- Add onion and garlic to the rice and saute for 2 minutes.
- Pour the blended green sauce into the pan. Add more broth, seasoning with salt, then give everything a good stir.
- Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, then cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat and rest 15 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork, then stir in lime juice and more fresh cilantro. Serve right away, and enjoy!
- To make it vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable broth.
- Spice it up! Keep some or all of the jalapeno seeds.
- The resting time is CRUCIAL when making stovetop rice.
- If your rice looks a bit watery after simmering, that’s okay and perfectly normal – it will continue to absorb moisture as it rests. We like placing a cotton kitchen towel in-between the pot and the lid during the resting period to help absorb any extra moisture.
Water to Rice Ratio
For most stovetop rice recipes, the water to rice ratio is typically 2:1 when using long grain rice. HOWEVER, the pureed vegetables add both bulk and moisture. Reduce the amount of broth by half a cup to compensate, otherwise you’ll end up with soggy rice that disintegrates.
Can I Substitute Other Peppers?
We love the combination of smoky poblano and spicy jalapeno in green rice, but you can substitute serrano or Fresno peppers instead of jalapeno for more heat; or Anaheim peppers for a milder flavor, instead of poblanos. You can also mix and match as needed – just be mindful of measurements.
Two jalapenos (seeds and stem removed) weigh about 1 ounce; one poblano (seeds and stem removed) weighs about 3 ounces.
How Do I Get My Rice to Be Fluffy?
There are two easy tricks built right into the recipe to make sure you get fluffy green rice. The first is sautéing your rice, and second is fork fluffing after the final rest. A lot of other “hacks” sadly detract from flavor, which is fine if you’re cooking plain rice… and green rice is anything but plain.
Can I Substitute for a Different Rice?
Sorry, but the extent of swapping in this green rice recipe is limited to different kinds of long grain white rice. So, if you want something more aromatic, feel free to use jasmine or basmati rice, but no subbing for short grain, brown, or wild rices.
How to Store Mexican Green Rice
Seal in an airtight container or ziploc bag, and store 1-2 days in your refrigerator.
To reheat: sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of water per 1 cup portion (to keep from drying out) and microwave on medium heat for around 2 minutes. Stop and stir every 30 seconds to evenly distribute moisture and heat.
What to Serve with Green Rice?
Mexican green rice goes with practically any Mexican dish I can think of (well, maybe not tres leches… but you never know until you try!), but we have a few family favorites.
If you’re partial to adding rice to your tacos, burritos, or bowls, arroz verde is a flavorful accompaniment. Build all three starting with green rice alongside Carnitas or Chicken Tinga.
Serve green rice pilaf as a side to add depth and texture to a meal of Vegetarian Fajitas, Steak Fajita Salad, Spicy Chicken Taco Soup, or Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Ground Beef.
More Mexican-Inspired Sidekicks
- Mexican Fried Rice
- Roasted Corn Salsa
- Bacon Guacamole
- Instant Pot Pinto Beans
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
Did you make this green rice recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Green Rice (Arroz Verde)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Fine-mesh Strainer
- 10" Skillet
- 1 poblano pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
- 1-2 jalapenos peppers, chopped, with or without seeds
- ½ c loosely packed cilantro leaves
- ½ c loosely packed parsley leaves
- 2.5 c broth, chicken or vegetable, divided
- 1.5 cups long grain white rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Combine the poblano pepper, jalapenos, cilantro, parsley, and ½ c broth in a blender or food processor. Blend until the herbs and peppers are pulverized into a very smooth liquid/sauce.
- Place the rice into a fine mesh strainer. Run under cold running water, shaking occasionally, until the water runs clear. Shake well to release as much moisture as possible.
- Heat the oil in a 10” skillet or 2-quart over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rinsed rice and toss to coat in the fat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the rice is dry and golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes more.
- Pour the green sauce into the skillet, along with the remaining 2 cups of broth. Season with salt, then give everything a good stir.
- Increase the heat to bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Give the contents one more good stir, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat. Insert a towel between the pot and the lid to absorb excess moisture, then rest 15 minutes more. The water should be completely absorbed and the rice should be fully cooked through. Fluff the rice with a fork, then season with lime juice and serve right away.
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