Arroz Verde - Green Rice made with Poblanos and Cilantro -

Green Rice – Arroz Verde

In Recipes by Sean13 Comments

Green Rice (Arroz Verde) on a large white plate, topped with a fried egg dusted with ancho chili powder.
Green Rice (Arroz Verde) on a large white plate, topped with a fried egg dusted with ancho chili powder.

Arroz Verde

Mexican Green Poblano Rice

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Rice comes in a lot of different forms - no surprise really, given its prominence as a staple grain throughout much of the world. There dozens of different rice varieties (many with very distinctive flavours), and and endless number of techniques to prepare them. But I think I'm like a lot of people when I say that I tend to think of rice in two forms: ultra-simple, or really fancy. In the former category, you've got simple boiled/steamed rice, aka our go-to method or preparation. Turn on the rice cooker and you've got the essential accompaniment to all sorts of dishes. In the latter category you've got your full-on fancy rice-based meals - fried rice, pilaf, etc. But there's an often-forgotten middle ground in the world of rice, and it really shines in Mexican cooking.

Mexican rice dishes are generally still sides (though they make great breakfasts and lunches with the addition of an egg or some beans), but they've got a lot of added flavour. There are two big keys to drawing flavour into the rice - cooking the raw rice in oil, and using a flavourful cooking liquid (more on these techniques in the Recipe Notes below). These two factors add a lot of dimension to something so simple, and I can promise that this rice won't sit on the plate in sad neglect. In this case, the cooking liquid is flavoured by poblano pepper and cilantro - and if you're a little on-the-fence about cilantro, let me tell you that this does not end up with an overwhelmingly strong cilantro taste. A certain percentage of the population is genetically predisposed to find the taste of cilantro overwhelmingly soapy (you poor sods), but it seems to me that certain preparation methods reduce or eliminate this effect entirely. Because I love cilantro I can't really comment on this with confidence, but I'd love to have someone cilantro-averse try this out. I think it might be surprising. If you do give it a shot, let me know in the comments (or you can get in touch with me by email [[email protected]] or on twitter, facebook, or instagram.

Don't let rice languish on the side of your plate. Get a poblano pepper, some cilantro, and let it shine. Because this rice will vie for your attention. In fact, it wants to rock your world. It will battle the main course for gustatory supremacy. You'd better make a lot, because it just might win.

Green Rice (Arroz Verde) on a large white plate, topped with a fried egg dusted with ancho chili powder.

Recipe Notes

I've adapted several recipes from Pati Jinich's two books this month (I met her on the tour for her new book, "Mexican Today"), and this rice dish is based on one found in her book "Pati's Mexican Kitchen."  I've made several changes and modified a number of ingredients so that they're represented by weight instead of number. Her books are full of excellent, accessible Mexican cooking, and if you're looking for a good resource to help you explore Mexican cooking further, I highly recommend her work, including her TV show on PBS.

The techniques involved in making this style of rice are not particularly complicated, but they do take a little attention. I've been a little spoiled ever since I bought a rice cooker (which you can't use here), but I used to cook all of my rice in a pot on the stove, and I can tell you this is only slightly more difficult.

Ensure that you get the amount of liquid right before you do anything else. You'll probably end up with about 1 cup of green juice from the poblano and cilantro. If so, you'll need an additional 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. If you end up with more or less than the 1 cup of juice, you'll need to adjust the amount of stock accordingly.

Once you've figured out the cooking liquid situation, you'll need to make sure you toast the rice properly. Too little time in the oil and it won't cook enough or develop the right flavours. Too much and it will burn. You're going to want to aim for the point where most of the rice grains are an opaque, milky white colour, with a pleasant nutty aroma. If a few grains get a little brown it's fine, but you want to avoid overly toasting or charring them.

Once you've added the cooking liquid, you'll want to make sure that you cook the rice (covered) on the lowest heat you can manage so that the bottom doesn't char. The rice should be moist when finished, but not mushy - you want it to have just a little bit of 'al dente' bite to it. If the rice is overly firm, you can add a little extra water to finish it (see the instructions for more detail). Once your rice is done, make sure to let it rest for a while, then fluff it up a bit with a fork to serve.


Most of the ingredients here are pretty easy to find. Poblano peppers are sometimes sold as pasilla peppers, even though the two are completely different. A pasilla pepper is a dried chilaca chili pepper, and not a fresh pepper at all. If you see a large, long, fresh green pepper being sold as a pasilla, it's probably a poblano. I've specified the amount of poblano pepper you want by weight, as they vary quite a bit in size (though oddly enough, the variation seems to be in batches, with one store having all one size or another). About 4 medium-sized peppers will do the job.

Make sure you use long-grain white rice. Short grain rices tend to be much stickier when cooked, and won't 'fluff' up properly at the end. You can substitute jasmine rice. I haven't tried basmati rice yet, but I think you'd be able to substitute it as well.

Use a good quality chicken or vegetable stock. I normally don't use full-salt stocks, as I find them overwhelmingly salty, but in this case you could probably get away with it (though you may want to omit the 1/2 teaspoon of added salt). If you do use a homemade or reduced-salt stock, you're going to want to adjust the salt to taste (try a bit of the broth once everything has been added to the pot).

Servings & Variations

A jalapeño pepper added to the juicing stage will add a little heat to the rice, if that's something you're looking for. Some recipes call for roasted poblanos instead of raw ones, and you could certainly give that a shot if you like.To serve, you can top the rice with a little chopped cilantro, some diced jalapeño or seranno, or a little crumbled cheese (cotija would be great, but a bit of mild feta would work well too). For a more substantial meal, you could serve this with a fried egg (my personal recommendation) or some refried beans. This keeps and reheats very well, so don't be afraid to make a little extra - you'll want it for breakfast the next day anyway.

Arroz verde (Mexican green rice) in a bowl, topped with cilantro

Note: Nutritional Information is given for a single serving (1/8 portion of the total recipe). Eggs and other extra sides/components are not included.

Nutrition Facts
Arroz Verde (Mexican Green Rice)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 224 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 330mg14%
Potassium 107mg3%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 350IU7%
Vitamin C 46.2mg56%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

While there is added fat in this rice (in the form of oil to toast the rice) the final dish is still low in fat. It's also more nutritionally dense than plain white rice.

Note that the nutritional information shown does not include egg, cheese, or any other topping ingredients.

Not much really - keep an eye on the salt content by using a lower-salt stock, then adjusting to taste. Rice is a dense carbohydrate, so the calorie content here is relatively high for a side dish, though this is true of any rice dish.

Ingredient Pages

No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • Reduced meat
  • Vegetarian option
  • Gluten free
  • 30-minutes
Arroz Verde - Green Rice made with Poblanos and Cilantro -
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5 from 2 votes

Arroz Verde (Mexican Green Rice)

Rice doesn't have to be a dull side dish. Poblanos and cilantro provide the base for a green rice that's packed with flavour but easy to prepare.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, North American
Keyword: mexican green rice, mexican rice, poblano peppers, rice
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 224kcal


  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 300 g poblano peppers (about 4 medium peppers)
  • 25 g cilantro (about 4 small plants or 20 large stems)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 3.25 cups chicken stock (approximately - see note) or substitute vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 g white onion (~1/4 cup) diced
  • 2 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
  • fried egg to serve (optional)
  • cotija or queso fresco cheese to serve (optional)


  • Soak the rice in lukewarm water for 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly (until the water running off of the rice is clear).
  • Combine the poblanos, cilantro, garlic, and salt in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of stock and process until smooth (it's difficult to completely break down the peppers, but aim for something fairly smooth). Press the puree against a fine sieve over a bowl in order to extract as much juice as possible. You should have approximately 1 cup of liquid from the previous step - if you have more or less, you'll adjust the amount of chicken stock you use in the next step.
  • Measure out 3 cups of stock (or more or less if necessary depending on the amount of liquid you have from the previous step) to make 4 cups of liquid total. Keep the stock and the vegetable juice separate.
  • Heat the oil in medium saucepan until very hot but not smoking. Add the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. The toasted rice should begin to smell nutty, and will begin to turn an opaque white. A few grains may begin to brown slightly, but if you start to see too much browning, reduce the heat and proceed immediately to the next step.
  • Add the onion to the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour the pureed poblano mixture into the pot and stir. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. The colour should deepen slightly, and most of the liquid should be absorbed by the rice. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and lime juice and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to the lowest simmer that you can. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is still moist; about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, check the texture of the rice. A tiny bit of 'al dente' bite is good, but if the rice is too crisp, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pot and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Once the rice is finished, allow it to rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
  • To serve, fluff the rice with a fork. Serve as is, or garnished with a little cheese. If you want to make a meal out of it (especially a great breakfast), serve topped with a fried egg (leftovers are fantastic when warmed through and served this way).


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 330mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 46.2mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg

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  1. If I wanted to make this more kid-friendly, should I lower the amount of poblano peppers? I’m not sure how much heat they add to a dish. I’m hope to try your recipe soon, as I have loads of cilantro!

    1. Author

      Poblanos are funny. Most of the time, they have very little heat, and so the final dish isn’t spicy at all. But once in a while, for some odd reason, you get a poblano pepper with considerable fire. So basically my advice would be to still use poblanos, but to cut a little piece off of each one in order to see if it’s overly spicy (a little tingly heat is normal). If it is, set it aside and use a different one. Aside from that, you could experiment with other green peppers, but I’m not sure how well a green bell pepper would work (there’s an inherent bitterness there that might come through in the rice). For what it’s worth, both of my kids (aged 4 and 1) were able to eat this with no problems, and they’re not big on spice.

      I hope you try it! It’s a great one. Thanks for commenting!

  2. It looks wonderful, Sean! I’m not among the cilantro lovers, nor is Loreto, but I’d really like to give it a try. I would substitute the chicken stock with a vegetable stock, but for the rest, I love it, especially with a fried egg on top! Yummed and pinned, too 😉 .

    1. Author

      Thanks Nicoletta! I understand and sympathize with the cilantro-averse – after all, you can’t argue with biology! But something about this dish really mellows out that distinct cilantro flavour. It might be a bit much to ask someone who hates cilantro to make it, but I’d love to make a big batch and chase some folks around with a spoonful. You know, for science. 🙂

  3. Love that you featured green rice this month! I’ve never added poblano peppers, but this looks so good that I think I might have to try it. Your posts are so detailed and informative! I’m in awe of where you find the time!

    1. Author

      You should definitely try the poblanos. I think they were the best part of it! They add such a great flavour element to the rice – herbal and grassy, but deep and mellow at the same time. I’m glad you enjoyed the post – but I have to say I feel the same way about yours! Three little ones around the house, and you still manage to put out stunning food all the time! You rock!

  4. I LOVE arroz verde, but last time I had it, my mom had made it, and I didn’t even think to put an egg on it! So sad! Great points about adjusting the volume of liquid according to how much “green juice” you end up with.
    I’d never heard of Pati Jinich – I’ll definitely check out her site and her books!

    1. Author

      The egg really transforms this from a side into a meal, and it’s so easy! I could eat the two for breakfast any day. And yes, Pati’s a wonderful chef, and a great person. Her books are great, and I do hope you’ll give them a read!

  5. This looks superb, Sean. The use of poblano peppers is making my mouth water just thinking about it! I’m glad you mentioned Pati Jinich’s cookbook and how it’s pretty accessible, cuisine-wise. Might have to check it out. 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks Cassie! I hope you do check them out – they were incredibly helpful for this theme!

  6. I’m practically drooling on my keyboard over here! I’m a cilantro lover and a Mexican food enthusiast! I love the signature, healthier spin you put on all your recipes, Sean. Something about these photos is particularly appetizing — fantastic job. I’ve just pinned the recipe! Have a great weekend.

    1. Author

      Thanks Justine! I have to admit, this theme was a ton of fun – the food just keeps you coming back for more. My in-laws are from Taiwan (where rice is sacrosanct) and they LOVED this rice – so I was pretty pleased!

  7. What a gorgeous-looking dish! I’m horribly guilty of treating rice as an accompaniment to my meals, but this is exactly the kind of recipe that reminds me that I should be giving it the star treatment a little more often. I’m firmly on Team Cilantro, so this is totally up my alley. 🙂
    PS: I took a cooking class in Oaxaca a few years back, and I was surprised to see how long they toast the rice before adding any liquid… it was totally counter-intuitive, since I was taught to barely kiss the rice with oil before adding liquid, but it really does make for an amazingly fluffy arroz!

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