Mexican Green Rice

Can’t. Stop. Eating. This. Rice. Have you ever had green rice? It’s basically a simple rice pilaf in which you brown the rice first by frying it with a little oil. Then you mix in a purée of chiles and herbs, add stock, cover and cook.

This green rice recipe easily feeds six, but somehow I’ve been eating through each batch all on my own. I just sneak into the fridge, pull out a small bowlful, zap it, and have my green rice morning-afternoon-late-night-whenever snack.

The following recipe is loosely based on a somewhat more involved recipe for arroz verde by Diana Kennedy. A classic Mexican side, the green comes from poblano chiles, parsley, and cilantro. I’ve also seen versions with spinach and Anaheim green chiles or jalapeños. It’s a perfect side for Mexican dishes, or alongside steak and beans.

I love the idea of incorporating greens and herbs into a rice pilaf this way, and am wondering about similar recipes from other cuisines. If you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments!

Mexican Green Rice Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (or more depending on your rice*)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped parsley, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, lightly packed
  • 2 large poblano chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste**

*Use the amount of stock that is the liquid requirement of your particular brand of rice. Long grain rice typically ranges from 1 1/2 cups of liquid per cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid per cup of rice.

**If you are using homemade unsalted stock, you will want to add at least half a teaspoon of salt to the stock.

Method

green-rice-arroz-verde-1.jpg green-rice-arroz-verde-2.jpg
1 Place the parsley, cilantro, poblanos, onion, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

green-rice-arroz-verde-3.jpg green-rice-arroz-verde-4.jpg

2 Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pot on high heat. Add the rice and stir to coat all of the grains with oil. Spread out in an even layer. Let the rice lightly brown. When it starts to brown, stir it and spread it out in an even layer again so that more of the rice browns.

green-rice-arroz-verde-5.jpg green-rice-arroz-verde-6.jpg

3 When much of the rice has lightly browned, scrape out the parsley purée from the food processor into the rice. Stir to evenly mix the purée with the rice. Let cook for a minute or two. Then add the rest of the chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Let cook on a very low simmer for 15 minutes, or as long as your package of rice indicates is the right cooking time for your rice.

green-rice-arroz-verde-7.jpg green-rice-arroz-verde-8.jpg

4 After the cooking time indicated on your rice package, remove the pot from heat. Uncover the pot and place a clean terry towel or dish towel over the pot, then recover. The towel will help absorb excess liquid as the rice continues to cook in its own steam. (If you don't have a clean towel, you can skip this step, just cover normally.) Let sit for 20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

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Recipe inspired by recipe for Arroz Verde in Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico.

Links:

Green rice with smoked paprika from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
Mexican Green Rice Salad from Angie of Eclectic Recipes
Mexican green cilantro rice from Girl Cooks World

36 Comments

  1. ALEX

    May I use regular green peppers instead of poblanos? It is kinda hard to get them here. And maybe adding a halapeno.
    Thank you very much for your beautiful blog.

    I wouldn’t. I would just use maybe some spinach, and also a jalapeno. ~Elise

  2. JFeroshee

    I love rice, and I love herbs, and I love spicy things, so I will love this fo sho. I hate to comment before I’ve made it, but I can’t help myself. Anyhoo, your recipes always rock, so I trust you wholeheartedly. I have referred many a friend/family member to your website after describing the foods I make following your recipes. Thanks!

  3. Lora

    instead of dishtowel, you can just use a sheet of paper towel, works great!

  4. Africanaussie

    Oh gosh that looks good, will have to try it – I have lots of parsley in the garden right now.

  5. charis

    looks amazing! i can’t wait to try it! i love anything with cilantro in it.

  6. tom

    green rice? Who knew

  7. Maria Elena

    This looks delicious, can it be made with brown rice?

    Great question. I haven’t tried making a rice pilaf with brown rice so I don’t know. You would definitely need more liquid and a much longer cooking time. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

    • monica

      I have made similar green rice recipes with brown rice, and even with quinoa – it tastes great, a little different, but good just the same!

  8. Greg

    I’m sitting in Bangalore, India on my first business trip here, and love the food. This recipe seems like a great way to bring some of the flavors home in an easy way! Curries, masala, etc., etc.

  9. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    I love the chicken stock used in this recipe. Adds so much more flavor!

    • Rosewoman

      Try a ginger broth…oh so much better. TJ’s ginger miso broth is the best
      with this, adding immeasurably to the taste!

  10. The Duo Dishes

    That green herb/spice mixture is somewhat similar to the same one used in many Caribbean dishes. It adds such a mellow layer of flavor to anything. The spicier, the better!

  11. Rossella

    Ciao Elise!
    Italians commonly make a similar recipe, though it is creamier due to the risotto-technique you use to prepare it (and the rice variety: Arborio or the more precious Carnaroli).
    And obviously it is a good way to disguise spinach to children ;)
    The link is in Italian, but since I think you speak some French and Spanish, I am sure you will get the general idea:
    http://www.lospicchiodaglio.it/ricetta/risotto-spinaci
    buon appetito!
    PS. I like to add add a spoonful or two of cream cheese to my spinach risotto…;)

  12. Chitra

    This is cooked in India too.You could add some fresh shredded coconut too in the cilantro paste and some peas or sweet corn kernels to the rice. Cummin powder too and garam masala powder for a very Indian take on it :-) Serve it with a side dish of cold yoghurt dip!

  13. Su

    There are a lot of green rice recipes in the South Indian cuisines – we do not brown the rice usually, but I’m sure it would help hold the shape of the grains better. The Indian food recipes involve frying up a mix/puree of ginger, garlic, mint leaves, cilantro, green hot peppers – maybe a bit of grated coconut, maybe a dash of garam masala – to which the rice and water are mixed and cooked. The mint really makes the difference. I sometimes add green peas to switch up the texture too. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe.

  14. doodles

    gosh I have not made this in forever. this weekend would be a a great side dish for this.
    thanks for the reminder.

  15. Rachel

    What could you use instead of cilantro?

    Fresh spinach. ~Elise

  16. KariVery

    What do you think about roasting the pepper and peeling it prior to pureeing? I love roasted poblanos – seems like it would add a good flavor.

    Not necessary with this recipe. I would try it first as written, with the raw poblanos so that you can see the flavor that naturally comes through. Then if you want, try it with roasted. My guess is that the resulting flavor of the dish will be more muted. ~Elise

  17. Kelly Senyei

    I’ve never made green rice but oh my word can I ever see myself eating my body weight in this beauty. Who needs enchiladas when you can have a plate of Mexican green rice!

  18. Jimena

    Hello!

    This is actually very similar (just lacking some ingredients) to the Peruvian “Arroz con Pato/Pollo”, which is also done with cilantro but is cooked with duck (pato) or chicken (pollo).

    We add our own kind of corn (“choclo”, which is not as sweet as the American corn and is considrably bigger), chopped carrots, red bell peppers in slices. We also add a small quantity of liquor made of fermented maize. However, any kind of brandy works too.

    You just inspired to try it this way too! Thanks for that.

  19. alma

    this is an old family recipe in our household, but we add shredded asadero cheese at the end and let it stand till the cheese melts.

  20. Laura

    I’ve been making this rice for years, tho I use a serrano chili or 2, instead of poblanos, for a bit more spice. And I prefer all cilantro instead of part parsley, bu really depends on what I have on hand. Have even gotten pretty picky kids to try this, and learn to love something green!

  21. symbol

    Is there any way I can still make this delicious recipe without a food processor? I haven’t invested in one due to the size of my kitchen :(

    You can try using a blender. If there is difficulty, just add more of the stock. ~Elise

  22. erin

    how do you think this would freeze? this sounds really good, but my hubby doesn’t like cilantro so i’ll probably be the only one eating it.

    Don’t know about freezing it. But you can easily skip the cilantro. Just add more parsley or some fresh spinach. ~Elise

  23. Amanda

    I made this today amd it came out really good! I used equal parts Parsley and Cilantro and added in some garlic salt. Perfect!

  24. christina Stone

    I really appreciate this recipe, I made it and we were pleased not only with the taste, but how healthy it is, like the asparagus pasta, just two really healthy meals for our weight loss/health goals. My husband encouraged me to make it again in the future. Thanks.

  25. Jax

    Hi Elise, I am definitely a rice person, and a cat person though don’t tell that to our wonderful Samoyed!!! This rice dish was fabulous. The kids’ first reaction when they saw the green colour was ‘yuck’ but once it was cooked they were all hovering over the stove, savouring the wonderful aromas. I added the juice and zest of a lemon to my dish and threw some toasted pine nuts and chopped coriander (cilantro) over the top to serve with pork chops and rocket & tomato salad. I am cooking the rice again tonight … yum! I love your inspiring recipies and can often adapt them to fit my coeliac diet, so keep them coming. Every blessing from The New Forest, Hampshire, UK xxx

  26. Gregg

    I made the rice this weekend for a party to serve with pinto beans and Texas bbq. My guests wanted doggie bags of the bbq and the green rice.

    I shared the recipe with my brother in China. He cooks Texas BBQ on Sunday for a restaurant in Suzchou. They are going to try it for a side for a buffet.

  27. Mrsbeach

    Made this twice since I found the recipe. It’s a hit!

  28. Gregg

    I made mine using a blender and I just added the stock as suggested.

  29. Larry

    Great rice, we tried it this evening. sooooo good. Question: potato tacos, could I use potatoes instead of rice? potatoes put through a ricer and using your ingredients? Oh! your beer braised chichen was a big hit for Sat. dinner. especially the left over beer, thank you so much.

    Hi Larry, You mean mix the green ingredients with cooked potatoes put through a ricer? Sure, it’s worth a shot. ~Elise

  30. Florence S

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve been looking for one forever. My brother-in-law’s grandmother makes something like this but she doesn’t have an actual recipe. She usually adds some corn and it’s so so delicious!

  31. Sara Robinson Chambless

    I am planning on serving this lovely dish as a side dish for a Tex-Mex dinner party tomorrow night. I like to prepare as many dishes ahead of time as possible. How do you think this would work cooked today and served tomorrow?

  32. Jenny

    Great recipe! I’ve had plenty of tomato based red Mexican rice, but never green. I think that this is my new favorite Mexican rice recipe.

  33. Gaby

    Hello Elise, first of all I wanted to say thank you for your wonderful site. I’m Mexican and just got married and the truth is I never cooked before, I’ve been learning with you, your recipes are great, you are an amazing teacher.
    This recipe is great, I love it, it tastes like the rice my grandma used to made. Thank you!

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