What to Do with Leftover Mexican Rice: A Mexican Guide

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Mexican rice in a plate on a colorful place mat with a text "what to do with leftover Mexican rice"

I think there’s a more glaring topic we need to discuss before knowing what to do with leftover Mexican rice.

It throws off people whenever they order Mexican rice just for a waiter to tell them it’s actually Spanish rice.

It also throws some serious shade on the whole of Mexican cuisine and its flavorful history when that happens. 

Yes, we’re talking about the curious case of Mexican (Spanish) rice. 

Did you know that Spanish rice is about as Spanish as fortune cookies are Chinese.

Wait what, fortune cookies aren’t even Chinese?

Sorry to bust your bubble a second time, but yes. (1) Spanish rice isn’t Spanish, and (2) fortune cookies aren’t Chinese. 

Contrary to the common name it’s called, Spanish rice has no direct connection to Spain. 

Not unless you consider Spaniards traveling to Asia, adopting rice, and bringing it to America an acceptable reason for a namesake. 

It also didn’t help that Americans associate Mexicans with their use of the Spanish language. 

So really, it’s all just a case of mistaken identity. Or, or a lost in translation type of thing. 

Your verdict. 

What also makes Mexican rice more distinct is the addition of tomatoes, chilies, and other spices that not any Spanish rice dishes possess (or couldn’t even begin to comprehend). 

Nacho Best Decision

Mexican rice in a wooden bowl with wooden background.

Now that that whole confusion is cleared up, time to ask the more worrisome questions…

What to do with leftover Mexican rice?

Let me start by saying that Mexican rice is the right decision. What’s not? 

You, letting it siesta in your fridge because that’s one missed fiesta, right there, amigo!

But fear not, this article is about to turn your kitchen upside down (in the very best ways).

Bowl(d) Burrito 

Or little donkey in Spanish. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this was a nod to that Juan Mendez story. 

During the Mexican revolution, Juan Mendez sold tacos. To keep them warm while traveling on his donkey, he wrapped them in flour tortillas. 

It’s believed that this method of serving tacos birthed the burrito. 


  • 2 cups of leftover Mexican rice
  • ½ cup of cooked chicken or beef (or any protein of your choosing, really)
  • ¼ cup of black beans
  • ¼ cup of corn
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce and salsa to taste


  • Bowl
  • Microwave
  • Spoon


  1. Layer the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Rice at the bottom, then the protein you want, followed by beans, corn, tomato, and avocado.
  3. Top it all off with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and hot sauce. 

Pro tip: Pair this with a margarita while watching a telenovela. Forego the siesta, let’s dig into this fiesta!

Roll Play with Enchilada 

Enchiladas in a white plate.

There’s a wide variety of regional styles in Mexico when it comes to enchiladas. 

Chihuahua, for instance, has “enchiladas de carne.” The beef enchiladas.

Oaxaca, on the other hand, has “enchiladas negras.” The black enchiladas.

And Yucatan boasts its “enchiladas suizas.” The Swiss enchiladas. 

The word itself came from the Spanish verb “enchilar,” which literally means to add chili peppers or spices to something.

And that’s exactly what we’re about to do now.


  • 2 cups of leftover Mexican rice
  • 10 ounces or 1 can of enchilada sauce (red or green, either works)
  • 1 cup of shredded chicken 
  • ½ cup of chopped green chilies
  • ¼ cup of chopped onion
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • Oil


  • Baking dish
  • Oven
  • Spatula
  • Spoon


  1. Preheat the oven at 190°C while preparing the enchilada.
  2. Pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce in the baking dish to prevent the tortillas from sticking. 
  3. Lay out a tortilla and spread a half cup of mexican rice on the center. 
  4. Add the chicken and roll the tortilla tightly.
  5. Do this for all your tortillas and place them seam-side down in the baking dish.
  6. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with cheese on top
  7. Pop your enchiladas in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 

Pro Tip: Make learning Spanish fun with enchiladas. Eat a piece everytime you pronounce a sentence correctly. 

Who knows, once you eat all 8 of them, you’ll be as fluent as a local.

Taco About Tuesdays 

Mexican tacos with rice and beans in a white plate.

It’s a popular US tradition to celebrate tacos on Tuesdays. But you’re free to enjoy them on any day (even if it’s throughout a whole week). 

Now, who is familiar with Taco Bell? 


Well, its founder, Glen Bell, invented the hard-shell versions of tacos. This actually propelled the business to fast-food stardom and has been a favorite among many since the 20th century.


  • 2 cups of leftover Mexican rice
  • 8 taco shells
  • ½ cup of fried beans
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • Salsa and sour cream (as toppings)


  • Microwave
  • Spoon


  1. Warm up the rice and beans.
  2. Scoop ¼ cup of rice into each shell.
  3. Layer with beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado.
  4. Top with salsa and sour cream.

Pro Tip: During a family gathering, bring your own version of taco and one from Taco Bell. Let’s see if any of your relatives can pinpoint which is which. 

If they can’t, then might I suggest opening your own food stall at the local market. You’re about to put Taco Bell out of business. 

Hasta La Vista Leftovers

Are there any abuelas in the audience? 

If there are, then I hope these recipes can live up to your expectations. 

Because there’s nothing quite like getting the approval of an abuela when it comes to cooking Mexican dishes. 

And I would very much like a pleased head nod from one (or two or three of you!) for this article on what to do with leftover Mexican rice. 

Anyway, there you have it, foodies. That’s another adios to food wastes and one hell of an hola to flavor-packed Mexican dishes. 

Remember, in this game of leftovers, you either win, or you order pizza. 

But then again, when all else fails, there’s always the microwave and a squeeze of a lime 😉

See you on our next leftover viaje!

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