What Is Mexican Green Rice And How Do You Make It?

Bright in appearance and flavor, Mexican green rice is sure to add a pop of color to your dinner table. Also called arroz verde, it gets its vibrant green from a few key ingredients. Herbs, peppers, and aromatics are the trio behind this flavorful rice. Some like to include vegetables like peas or carrots in their dish, but this doing so entirely optional.

Herbs are the star, with zippy cilantro being balanced out by earthy parsley, alongside mildly spicy peppers in each bite. Traditional recipes may include an herb called epazote, which might taste a bit medicinal and can be tricky to find. Feel free to skip it and simply mix and match the amount of cilantro and parsley you use instead. Once cooked, plate up the rice with a wedge of lime and a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro to create a beautiful presentation.

When making Mexican green rice, the herbs and peppers are either blended or finely chopped to create even dispersion. Long grain rice is lightly toasted in oil to separate the grains, then the green ingredients are added along with broth. Cook it until the liquid is fully absorbed. Just be sure not to stir the rice to avoid a disappointing texture and a mushy dish.

Once it is finished cooking, all the rice needs is a quick fluff before being ready to serve. For full instructions and ingredients, try Tasting Table's green rice recipe.

Tips for cooking the perfect Mexican green rice

Mild with a hint of heat, poblano peppers are the traditional choice for Mexican green rice. It's even sometimes referred to as arroz a la poblana because of the pepper's role in the dish. If you're worried about it being too spicy, deseed and remove the pepper membranes to cool things down. You could even substitute the poblano with a green bell pepper for a more vegetal taste and zero heat. But if you want a spicier final dish, add in a jalapeño or two.

While any lime juice works great in this recipe, key limes are an excellent option for making an even bolder final dish. They have a tarter taste and stronger aroma than standard limes. Also known by the name of Mexican limes or West Indies limes, these small citrus fruits are easiest to find in Hispanic grocery stores. 

If you're a fan of roasted onions and peppers, you can achieve that flavor by adding a finely diced handful of each while toasting the rice in oil. This will give you a more pilaf-style dish in the end, each bite of rice dotted with cooked veggies and sauce. 

Though you can make Mexican green rice with water, swapping in chicken or vegetable stock will give an extra depth of flavor. If cooking homemade stock specifically for this dish, consider adding cilantro and parsley stems to the mix for a more intense herbaceous taste.

Dishes that pair well with Mexican green rice

Green rice is a dish that can be served as simple or complicated as you like but pairs well with practically any regional cuisine of Mexico. Create a complete vegetarian meal by plating up green rice, seasoned beans (pinto or black are great options), and some roasted peppers with onions. Or swap out the beans for some stewed beef to satisfy even the hungriest of dinner guests. Mexican green rice is typically served with saucy dishes because its fluffy texture is perfect for absorbing any extra liquid. 

Arroz con pollo is a Peruvian dish similar to Mexican arroz verde but with chicken cooked on top of the rice. Create your own spin on this by separately roasting chicken thighs in heady spices like cumin and chili powder, and then serving each with a scoop of the green rice. You can even use it as a base for some verde enchiladas – or even in the green half of enchiladas divorciadas.

Don't limit your Mexican green rice to a supporting side dish though. Use it as a base for bowls loaded up with toppings like shredded meats, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. Or add some to your next roasted vegetable burrito to create a satisfying filling.

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