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15 Best Spices for Mexican Rice Recipes

Mexican rice is a staple dish in Mexican cuisine, often served as a side or topped with your favorite protein.

But this delicious comfort food doesn’t have to be boring!

With just the right blend of spices and herbs, you can transform that simple bowl of grains into something truly special.

To help you make the most flavorful fried rice ever, I’ve compiled this list of my top 15 must-try spices for Mexican rice.

Read Also: Mexican Food Wine Pairing – The Best Wines for Mexican Food

Mexican Rice

Whether you’re looking for smoky, spicy heat or a subtle touch of sweetness, you’ll find exactly what you need here!

1. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a blend of spices, commonly including chili peppers, cumin, oregano, garlic and salt.

The flavor can range from mild to moderately spicy depending on how much cayenne pepper is in the mix.

It adds a great depth of flavor to Mexican dishes such as burritos and enchiladas!

How much chili powder you add to your Mexican rice depends on your preferences but it’s best to start with just one teaspoon.

You can always add more if you’d like it spicier.

Chili powder pairs well with other herbs and spices like cilantro, garlic, onion powder, paprika, coriander, and oregano.

It also works great when combined with meats such as beef or chicken for that extra kick!

2. Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is the perfect way to add a subtle garlicky flavor without it being too overpowering.

It has that familiar garlic taste, but much milder and sweeter than fresh garlic.

When using garlic powder in your dishes, you don’t need to use as much as you would with fresh-chopped cloves.

A general rule of thumb when making Mexican rice is to start with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder and then adjust according to taste.

Garlic powder pairs well with many other ingredients and herbs such as cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

These flavors all work together to give your dish an extra kick!

Garlic powder can also be used in marinades for meats or veggies before grilling or roasting them.

3. Sea Salt

Sea salt

Sea salt has a distinct flavor compared to iodized salt.

It is slightly more crunchy and sharper in taste, due to less processing.

When cooked or dissolved, it loses its color and flavor.

And because of the presence of extra minerals, sea salt usually tastes less “salty” than table salt.

When adding sea salt to your Mexican rice dish, I recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon as it can be quite potent.

If you need more seasoning, add small amounts at a time until desired taste is reached.

Sea salt goes well with other ingredients such as garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika for added flavor!

4. Onion Powder

Onion powder

Onion powder tastes just like a fresh onion, only milder and less pungent.

It has a sharp and slightly sweet flavor that can be described as earthy or nutty.

The taste of onion powder is strong but not overpowering so it pairs well with many other ingredients.

When adding onion powder to your Mexican rice, I recommend starting with one tablespoon per one half cup of chopped fresh onions you would use in the recipe.

You can add more if you want to increase the intensity of the flavor.

Onion powder goes especially well with garlic, cumin, oregano, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and black beans – all common ingredients used in Mexican cuisine!

5. Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are a great way to add some heat and flavor to your Mexican rice.

They have a slightly sharp and earthy taste, with a decent dose of spiciness.

Depending on the level of spice you’re looking for, you can adjust the measurements accordingly – start off with 1 teaspoon per serving and go from there!

When it comes to other ingredients that pair well with red pepper flakes, cumin is a must-have for your Mexican rice.

Garlic powder or garlic salt can also be added for extra flavor.

If you like sweet flavors in your food, adding some honey or brown sugar will balance out the spicy notes nicely.

6. Cumin


Cumin is a popular spice with a distinct flavor.

It has a rich and hearty taste, with an earthy, warm quality that also has hints of citrus.

When you add cumin to dishes it instantly adds depth and complexity to the flavors in the dish.

When adding cumin to Mexican rice, you can use either ground or whole cumin seed depending on the desired effect.

If you are looking for an even dispersal of flavor throughout your dish, go for ground cumin; if you want a slightly more intense flavor from individual seeds then opt for the whole variety instead.

Generally speaking, one teaspoon should be enough but feel free to adjust according to preference!

Cumin pairs really well with other spices like chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika as they all share similar earthy notes – perfect for Mexican food!

Additionally adding onion or tomato will help bring out some of its sweeter tones too.

7. Coriander


Coriander is a unique spice that has an amazing flavor!

The leaves have a refreshing, tart, and citrusy taste to them – similar to lemongrass but slightly sweeter.

Meanwhile, the coriander seeds are earthy and sweet with floral aromas that come alive when they’re lightly toasted.

When it comes to adding coriander to your Mexican rice recipe, you should start off small and add more as needed until you reach the desired flavor.

A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon for every cup of cooked rice.

If you want more pronounced flavors, up it to two teaspoons per cup of cooked rice.

In terms of other ingredients that go well with coriander, garlic, chilies (jalapenos or chipotles), cumin, and onion (white or yellow) are all great options.

These will create an even richer flavor in your Mexican meal!

8. Paprika


When it comes to adding paprika to Mexican rice, start off by using just a small amount – ¼ teaspoon should be enough for every cup of cooked rice.

You can always add more if needed.

Paprika works great when mixed with other ingredients like garlic powder or onion powder, oregano, and cumin for extra flavor!

Paprika goes well with many dishes such as stews, soups, roasted vegetables, potato salad, deviled eggs, and even popcorn!

9. Oregano


Oregano is a very popular herb that’s often used in Italian and Mexican cuisine, but it can also be found all over the world.

It has a strong aroma and pungent flavor, with earthy/musty, green, hay, and minty notes.

When adding oregano to Mexican rice dishes such as arroz con pollo or burrito bowls, use no more than one teaspoon per cup of cooked rice.

The same goes for most other recipes – start off small and add more if needed.

Other ingredients that pair well with oregano are garlic (or garlic powder), black pepper, cumin, lime juice, or zest for some acidity to balance out the flavors.

If you want to give your dish a bit of heat you could add chili powder or red pepper flakes too!

10. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper has been a favorite among many for its unique combination of heat and mild aroma.

Its fiery effect on the taste buds makes it an excellent addition to any dish, especially Mexican rice!

To bring out its full flavor without overpowering your food, start by adding 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper – you can always add more if needed.

11. Ground Cinnamon


Ground cinnamon has a distinct flavor that is warm, sweet, and spicy.

People love this spice because it adds depth to dishes without being overpowering.

For Mexican rice, adding 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon will give the dish a subtle sweetness that pairs perfectly with the other flavors in the recipe.

To further enhance the flavor, adding cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and even a splash of lime juice can bring out its aromatic qualities!

12. Turmeric


People love turmeric for its flavor, which is earthy and bitter with a hint of peppery spice.

But it’s not just the taste that draws people in – the deep yellow-orange color of this spice adds vibrancy to any dish!

When adding turmeric to Mexican rice, start by adding 1 teaspoon to bring out the right amount of flavor without overpowering other ingredients.

To complement turmeric well, consider adding cumin, garlic powder, coriander, or chili powder.

13. Cloves


Cloves are a popular spice due to their unique flavor profile – they have an intense aroma and hint of sweetness that adds warmth to any dish.

When adding cloves to Mexican rice, you should use around 1 teaspoon per serving for the right amount of flavor.

Cloves pair well with other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, bay leaves, and cumin – all of which would work great in your Mexican recipe!

14. Allspice


Allspice is a favorite among chefs and cooks alike due to its unique flavor profile.

It has hints of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg which can bring out the flavors in any dish.

When adding allspice to Mexican rice, it’s best to start with 1/2 teaspoon for maximum flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

To further enhance your dish, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and paprika are great complimentary spices to include as well.

15. Black Pepper

Black pepper

Black Pepper is one of the most versatile spices in a cook’s pantry.

Its sharp, penetrating aroma and woody, piney flavor make it a favorite among chefs around the world.

To add flavor to your Mexican rice, adding 1 teaspoon of black pepper should give you just enough heat and zest.

Other ingredients that pair well with this spice include cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and chili powder – these all work together to bring out the best flavors in your dish!


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Mexican Rice

15 Spices for Mexican Rice You Must Try

With the right spices, Mexican rice can go from dull to delicious in no time. That's why I'm sharing my favorite 15 spices to use when making Mexican rice. From classic favorites like cumin and chili powder to more unique options like annatto and achiote, this list has something for everyone. I'll provide information on how to use each spice, as well as tips for combining them to create the perfect flavor.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes
Course Spices
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people
Calories 15 kcal


  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Black Pepper


  • Pick your favorite spices from this collection to add to your recipe.
  • Prepare the rest of your delicious meal.
  • Serve in no time!
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.