How many calories are in a cup of Mexican Rice?

Mexican rice is a flavorful side dish that often accompanies Mexican entrees like tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. With its blend of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices, Mexican rice can be a tasty addition to a meal. However, many people wonder just how many calories are in a serving of this rice side. Here, we will explore the calorie content of Mexican rice and look at the factors that influence its calorie count.

What Is Mexican Rice?

Mexican rice, sometimes called Spanish rice or mexicanada rice, is a tomato-based rice dish flavored with onions, garlic, and spices. It often contains tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and chicken broth or vegetable broth. Mexican rice also frequently includes a blend of spices such as cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.

This rice dish has a red-orange color from tomato paste or tomato sauce. It is meant to be a flavorful accompaniment to Mexican food entrees. The rice soaks up the rich spices and tomato flavor.

Calories in Plain White Rice vs Mexican Rice

Plain white rice contains around 205 calories per cooked cup. This includes both long grain and short grain white rice varieties before any additional ingredients are added.

Mexican rice has a higher calorie count than plain rice because of the extra ingredients used to give it that signature Mexican flavor. Tomato products, oil, and seasonings all boost the calorie content compared to plain boiled rice.

Calories in Homemade Mexican Rice

The calorie content of homemade Mexican rice can vary considerably depending on the specific ingredients and amounts used in the recipe. More oil or more tomato product typically means higher calories. Spicier versions may have more calories from additional spices and seasonings.

That said, a typical 1 cup serving of homemade Mexican rice contains around 220-250 calories. This is based on using ingredients like rice, tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, broth or water, oil, and Mexican seasoning spices.

Recipe Comparison

To demonstrate the calorie range, here is a look at two different homemade Mexican rice recipes and their nutrition information:

Recipe Calories (1 cup)
Mexican Rice – 1 cup rice, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tbsp oil, spices Around 220 calories
Mexican Cilantro Lime Rice – 1 cup rice, 1/2 cup salsa, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 lime, 1 tbsp oil, spices Around 250 calories

As you can see, the ingredients and amounts can change the calories while still producing delicious Mexican rice. But in general, homemade versions contain 220-250 calories per 1 cup cooked serving.

Calories in Canned or Packaged Mexican Rice

When it comes to store-bought, pre-made Mexican rice, the brands and varieties are endless. There are shelf-stable packaged versions, refrigerated versions, frozen versions, and canned versions.

With so many products available, the nutrition information can vary quite a bit. However, many popular prepared Mexican rice options have around 200-250 calories per serving.

Nutrition Comparison of Popular Brands

Here is a look at the calories per serving for some top canned, packaged, and frozen Mexican rice products:

Brand Serving Size Calories
Rosarita Refried Beans and Mexican Rice 1 cup 210
Del Monte Mexican Rice 1/2 cup 120
Vigo Yellow Spanish Rice 1/2 cup 100
Tasty Bite Mexican Rice 1 pouch 200
El Burrito Mexican Rice 1/2 cup 180

As you can see, the calorie count per serving ranges from 100-210 calories depending on the brand. Pay attention to the listed serving sizes, which are not always a full cup. In general, prepared Mexican rice products contain around 200 calories per 1 cup serving.

Factors That Impact Calories in Mexican Rice

Several factors influence the calorie content in any given recipe or brand of Mexican rice. Here are some of the key factors:


The specific ingredients play a major role in Mexican rice calories. More oil or more tomato product will drive up calories. Things like chicken broth and stirred in vegetables also increase calories compared to just rice cooked in water. Spices and seasonings used also bump up calorie counts.

Cooking Method

How the rice is cooked makes a difference too. Rice absorbs oil and sauce when cooked directly in them, increasing calories. Meanwhile, rice that is boiled separately absorbs less oil and seasoning.


Mixing in vegetables, beans, corn, peppers, etc also increases calories in Mexican rice. The more mix-ins, the higher the calorie count.

Serving Size

Larger serving sizes mean more calories. A heaping 1 cup serving will have higher calories than a standard 1 cup measure leveled off.

How to Lower Calories in Mexican Rice

If you are looking to lighten up this flavorful rice side dish, there are several easy ways to reduce the calories in Mexican rice:

  • Use less oil when cooking the rice
  • Substitute lower calorie broth for some or all of the oil
  • Skip added fats and cook rice in tomato juice or water
  • Use reduced sodium tomato products
  • Choose mild or medium salsa over hot salsa
  • Use just a dash of olive or avocado oil instead of generousamounts
  • Limit high-calorie add-ins like cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • Enjoy sensible portion sizes, like 1/2 cup rather than 1 cup

With some simple substitutions and reductions, you can shave off calories from this rice side dish while maintaining all that delicious Mexican zest.

How Many Calories Are in a Cup of Mexican Rice?

In summary, a 1 cup serving of Mexican rice generally contains:

  • 220-250 calories for homemade Mexican rice recipes
  • Around 200 calories for most prepared, packaged, canned, or frozen Mexican rice products

The exact calories will vary between specific brands and recipes based on ingredients, cooking methods, and serving sizes. But the range for a standard 1 cup serving falls between 200-250 calories for most versions of Mexican rice.

Healthy Mexican Rice Recipes

If you love Mexican rice but want to lighten it up, try these flavorful and healthier recipes:

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice


  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Add cauliflower rice and spices. Cook 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition per serving:

  • 50 calories
  • 5g carbs
  • 2g protein

Vegetable Mexican Rice


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (corn, peppers, black beans, etc)
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups broth


  1. In a pan, cook onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add rice, spices, broth, and salsa. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until rice is cooked.
  4. Stir in mixed vegetables and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition per serving:

  • Around 200 calories
  • 40g carbs
  • 5g protein


Mexican rice is a tasty and tempting side dish, but it does come with a higher calorie count than plain rice due to the added ingredients. A 1 cup serving of Mexican rice generally contains between 200-250 calories depending on the specific recipe, ingredients, and cooking methods used. Following healthier cooking techniques and recipes can help reduce the calories while still delivering on big Mexican flavor.

With sensible portions, Mexican rice can be enjoyed as part of an overall balanced diet.

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