A Dash Of Cayenne Pepper Will Take Your Mexican Rice To A New Level

Very few rice dishes top a scrumptious serving of Mexican rice. Savoury, slightly spicy, and fluffy, this tomato-based aromatic take on the grain is the perfect side to a plate of enchiladas or a bean and beef-filled burrito. And don't confuse it with Spanish rice either — although similar in appearance, the south-of-the-border take is less crunchy in texture and is defined by the addition of cumin.

Mexican rice typically offers a savory but not predominant flavor that allows other components to shine. However, if you're looking to spice up the food, consider adding ground cayenne. The dried pepper powder packs in some heat — 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units — which is just below the hit contained in a Thai chile. As a result, as little as a quarter teaspoon of ground cayenne will imbue a potentially sweat-inducing heat. So why integrate heat into your Mexican rice in ground-spice form? Let's dig into the details.

Utilize cayenne pepper to integrate heat into Mexican rice

Reaching for the jar of cayenne from the spice rack comes with a range of benefits. Firstly, using dried and ground chiles helps gauge the heat levels with greater ease than using fresh. Since capsaicin isn't water-soluble, it doesn't evaporate when the cayenne peppers are dehydrated for processing into ground spice. As a result, it's easier to assess the heat level than with fresh chiles. But remember, with cayenne, caution is crucial — a little goes a long way.

Additionally, reaching for a powdered spice will mix the heat throughout the dish evenly. Plus, the finely ground texture won't affect that of the fluffy, comforting side. 

And lastly, cayenne pepper's flavor aligns beautifully with Mexican rice. While predominantly all about the fiery heat, ground dried cayenne contains earthy notes that will meld with the cumin, and bright, fruity flavors that will complement the tomato base of the rice. The dish won't take on a new Mexican rice identity — just a reimagined version with a bolder hit.