One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice
This is a really handy recipe if you’ve got a family of big eaters and are short on time because it makes a substantial amount of food, it’s a complete meal (no need to make starch and veg sides as well as a separate protein!) and it’s all done in one pot.
Readers also tell me they love that it’s finished in the oven. No need to worry about scorching the base of the pot. No stirring or watching to ensure it doesn’t bubble over. It’s entirely hands off.
Plus, it’s Mexican flavoured. “Everybody” loves Mexican food, right!??
And look – proof of juicy chicken and fluffy rice. No mushy rice in my world!
What you need
Here’s what you need to make this One Pot Mexican Chicken and rice:
Chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on) – For the best, juiciest results and golden, flavour infused skin. This cut of chicken cooks in the same time it takes for the rice to cook in the oven which makes it the perfect choice. Plus, because it’s the juiciest chicken cut, you get a stack of free flavour added into your rice as the chicken bakes. Win, win!
Prefer boneless thighs or breast? Because these cook faster, they will need to be added partway through the oven cook time. I’ve included directions in the recipe notes!
Mexican spice blend for chicken – see below.
Rice type to use – Long grain rice is best here, for the fluffiest results. Basmati will yield a similar texture in the end result but you’ll have a subtle perfume of basmati rice flavour in the dish. Not necessarily a bad thing, just not Mexican! 😂 Medium grain rice will yield a a good result albeit slightly stickier (because that’s the nature of the rice) as will short grain / sushi rice which is stickier still.
Rice to avoid – Risotto rice (arborio), jasmine, brown rice and faux rice (quinoa, cauliflower rice etc).
Tomato passata (puree) – Pureed, strained pure tomatoes, sometimes labelled “tomato puree” in the US (here’s a photo of Mutti tomato passata sold at Walmart). It’s readily available in Australian supermarkets nowadays, alongside pasta sauces. More on tomato passata here.
Substitute with canned crushed tomato though just bear in mind that your rice will not be quite as red.
Garlic and onion – Essential flavour base.
Capsicum / bell peppers – On theme for the fajita flavours going on here in this dish. You can really use any colour you like, or switch it out with other vegetables like zucchini, carrot etc.
Frozen corn – Adds lovely pops of sweetness and colour into the rice! I use frozen for convenience, because I always have it. Canned (drained) can also be used or, as with capsicum, substitute with another diced vegetable.
Black beans – On theme for this Mexican rice, plus it adds flavour and protein, and fills out the rice. I just use a can (drained). Black beans are on theme for Mexican food but can be substituted with any other beans such as red kidney beans.
Chicken stock/broth – The liquid in which the rice is cooked. Substitute with vegetable stock, or water plus stock powder. Please don’t use water, the dish will lack flavour!
Lime – For a finishing spritz of freshness at the end.
Mexican spice mix
Here’s all you need for a great Mexican spice mix – garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne (for a touch of heat – skip or reduce if desired), salt and pepper. All pantry staple spices!
For this recipe, most of it is used on the chicken but we reserve a bit to season the rice. Love one spice mix that serves duel purposes!
How to make One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice
It’s as easy as 1-2-3:
Marinate chicken in Mexican spice mix, if time permits.
Sear chicken, then sauté veg (onion, garlic, capsicum/bell peppers).
Add rice and everything else, pop it in the oven.
1. Marinate chicken (if you can)
The chicken is tastier if you have the time to marinate for 1 hour (or overnight) because the flavour infuses into the flesh. But even if you don’t, the chicken is still super tasty because of the seasoning and also it absorbs flavour as it cooks with the rice.
Mix Mexican Spices with olive oil and lime juice in a large bowl to form a paste.
Marinate chicken 1 hour – Add the chicken and toss to coat. Leave to marinate for 1 hour in the fridge, or even overnight if you want. But as noted above, don’t fret if you don’t have time. This dish is absolutely worth making even without marinating – and I know this for a fact because I tried it with and without marinating! See? 🙂
I use my 30cm / 12″ shallow casserole dutch oven (2.5 lt / 2/5 qts) which is the ideal shape for dishes like this, and goes from stove to the oven. I have this Chasseur one (pictured in post and video) and this Le Creuset one. I didn’t pay full price for either – shop around! They are an investment but should last a lifetime if you look after them. 🙂
However, you can make this in any large ovenproof dutch oven or deep skillet. If you don’t have a matching lid, just cover with foil for the baking part. If you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, just do the stove steps using any frying pan then transfer everything into a baking dish. I’ve popped directions in the recipe notes for how to do this.
2. Searing and sautéing
This recipe starts off on the stove to sear the chicken (flavour!) and sauté the vegetables. Then you add the rice and liquids, pop the chicken back on top and put it in the oven. Hands off cooking is the best!
Sear the marinated chicken to brown the skin. The inside will / should still be raw. We just want to get some lovely colour on the chicken skin which we wouldn’t achieve in the bake time.
Remove chicken onto a plate and set aside.
Sauté aromatics – In the same pot / pan, sauté the onion, garlic and capsicum. Using the same pot to cook the rice is a path to express flavour because all the tasty flavours left in the pan from sautéing the chicken gets soaked up by the rice.
Then add the rice, stir to coat it in all the tasty flavours (bit like making risotto!).
Flavoured rice liquid and add-ins – Add the liquids (stock/broth, tomato passata), reserved Mexican Spice Mix, corn and beans. Then stir to combine.
Top with chicken – Place the chicken on top. It will be partially submerged under the liquid and that’s fine. In fact, that’s exactly what we want because the flesh under the liquid will absorb flavour from the seasoned rice stock. And the skin exposed above the liquid will brown!
Bake 25 minutes covered – Cover with a lid and bake for 25 minutes.
Bake uncovered 15 minutes – Remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Some puddles remaining on the surface is fine as they will absorb while the rice rests.
Note: If you taste the rice at this stage and it is still a touch firmer than you want, that’s fine. It will finish cooking as it rests in the next step, just as ordinary white rice does during the resting stage.
Rest 10 minutes – Remove from the oven then rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Remove or push the chicken to the side, then fluff the rice with a rubber spatula or fork. Squeeze over lime juice, sprinkle with coriander/cilantro and jalapeño if you want to garnish it. Then serve!
With the right cooking vessel, it can be placed on the table as a sharing dish, for everybody to help themselves. By “right cooking vessel”, I’m mainly referring to shape. I’d put a shallow pot / casserole pan, like pictured in this post and in the recipe video, in the centre of a table. But I were using a deep pot, I’d probably plate it up individually. Mainly for practical reasons (reaching into a deep hot pot isn’t ideal).
Complete meal in one!
With the tomato and vegetables in this dish, I consider it a complete meal. But if you’d like to add some more vegetables on the side, have a browse of my side salads and vegetables sides recipe collection here. It’s organised by primary vegetable so you can find something to make using what you’ve got. It’s work in progress – I’m continuing to build up the collection.
Love to know what you think if you try this Mexican chicken and rice!
– Nagi x
Watch how to make it
One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice
Mexican Spice Mix
- 2 tsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (Note 1), optional
- Black pepper
- 5 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on (Notes 2 and 3)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 small onion , peeled and diced (or 1/2 large)
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced or sliced
- 1 cup long grain rice , uncooked (Note 4)
- 1 cup chicken stock/broth , low sodium (or vegetable stock)
- 3/4 cup tomato passata (US: tomato puree) (Note 5)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (or canned – drained)
- 1 can (400g/16oz) black beans , drained and rinsed (sub red kidney beans)
- 1 lime , plus extra to serve
- Sliced jalapeño peppers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160° fan).
- Mexican spice mix – Mix the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Rub Chicken – Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Mexican Spice Mix in a large bowl (reserve rest for rice) with 1 tablespoon olive oil and lime juice. Mix to form a paste then add the chicken and toss to coat the chicken.
- Marinate (optional) – Marinate chicken for 1 hour, or even overnight, if you have the time. Otherwise, it's fine to proceed with the recipe!
- Sear chicken – Using a large deep skillet preferably with a lid (Note 6), heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Sear the skin side of the chicken for 4 minutes until light golden, then sear the flesh side for 1 1/2 minutes (will still be raw inside). Remove onto a plate.
- Sauté aromatics – If you've got a lot of burnt spices on the base, scrape off and discard some of it. Then in the same skillet, still over medium high heat, add the onion, garlic and capsicum (bell peppers). Sauté for 3 minutes until the onion softens.
- Rice & liquid – Add the rice and stir. Add chicken stock, tomato passata, corn, beans and remaining Mexican Spice Mix. Stir to combine.
- Top with chicken – Place chicken on top of the rice, skin side up. It will be partially submerged but most of the skin should be above the liquid.
- Bake covered 25 min – Bring to simmer, then cover skillet with a lid or foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Bake uncovered 15 min – Remove the lid/foil and bake for a further 15 minutes until only small puddles of liquid remain on the surface of the rice.
- Rest 10 minutes – Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes (uncovered). Any remaining liquid will evaporate in this step.
Recipe originally published in 2016. Updated with much needed recipe video and more importantly, Life of Dozer added!
One Pot Chicken and Rice recipes
I’m a big fan of cooking chicken and rice together – for the extra flavour you get! Less washing up is a bonus. 🙂 Here are some reader faves.
Life of Dozer
Took Dozer up to the Hunter Valley* last weekend. Stayed at lovely dog friendly cabins called Tonic. Plans to sleep in didn’t quite happen due to his “enthusiastic” barking at the sight of early morning kangaroo visitors (below). Visions of him prancing around vineyards also did not eventuate after being warned of kangaroos beating up dogs (seriously) and seeing this video on YouTube. Dozer would stand no chance against a roo. We both know it!
* Wine region, 2 hours drive from Sydney