Today, I’m sharing with you my all-time favorite easy Spanish rice recipe. It’s so easy to make and as always, it turned out incredibly delicious. I have also made a video on how to make Spanish rice in the last section of this article you can watch it too.
Whether you call it Spanish rice, Mexican rice, Valencia rice, arroz rojo, or rice pilaf, this dish is a delicious way to add flavor and color to your meal. In fact, it is the perfect side dish for any Mexican-inspired meal. The rice is cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce, with plenty of onions, garlic, and other aromatic spices. It’s so good, you’ll be making it again and again!
There’s something about this easy Spanish rice recipe that makes it much more exciting than any of my regular rice dishes. Maybe it’s the bold flavors and red color or the fact that it’s loaded with veggies and spices just like this easy dirty rice recipe. Either way, I’m a big fan of this classic dish.
Adding meat to this dish will only make it more delicious and filling. In that case, you can make this easy Spanish with ground beef, or serve it with a simple garlic lemon chicken, beef empanadas, grilled steak, or roasted pork.
The key to making the best Spanish rice is to brown the rice before adding any liquid, which gives it a nutty flavor and prevents it from getting mushy. Once the rice is nicely browned, simply add garlic, a few spices, tomato sauce, and some chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you’re vegetarian). Let everything simmer together until the rice is cooked through, then serve with your favorite toppings.
This recipe for Spanish rice can also include cooked sausage or ground beef if you want something a little heartier. This will turn your rice into a more complete meal that is sure to satisfy everyone at the table. This recipe makes enough for six people, but it can easily be doubled or tripled if you need to feed a larger crowd.
What is Spanish rice?
It’s a rice dish that’s traditionally made with white rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and peppers. It’s common in Spanish and Latin American cuisine, and it’s typically served as a side dish. It’s common in Spanish and Latin American cuisine, and it’s typically served as a side dish.
There are a lot of different things that you can add to your homemade Spanish rice in order to change up the flavor and make it more interesting. For instance, I often add beans to it for extra protein and fiber. This makes the dish even more satisfying and filling. Other times I load it with so many crunchy vegetables like bell peppers, peas, and sweet corn. This always turns out really fantastic.
Ingredients for Spanish rice
The key to getting the best recipe for Spanish rice is to use long-grained white rice, like basmati, jasmine, or any of the regular long-grained rice you are already used to. However, you can use brown rice, instant rice, leftover cooked rice, or minute rice for this recipe. This is important because the quality of the rice will determine how fluffy and light the dish will be. Once you have your rice, rinse it several times in order to remove any excess starch before cooking.
Olive oil and butter
I like to use a combination of olive oil and butter to toast the rice and the veggies. I find that the olive oil helps to give the rice a nice flavor, while the butter adds a bit of richness and depth to the dish.
Tomatoes are another important component of this dish. They give the rice a beautiful reddish hue and a bit of sweetness. I love fresh homemade tomato sauce for the best flavor. I also love to make my Spanish rice with a bit of tomato paste to give it that authentic red hue. However, you can also use canned diced tomatoes, and freshly diced tomatoes if that is what you have available. You don’t have to drain out the juices from the tomatoes before adding them to the pot, they add an extra flavor to the dish.
Stock is a key ingredient in this recipe too. This helps creates a richer and more flavorful dish that you just can’t get with ordinary water. So, if you’re looking for a truly authentic Spanish rice recipe, make sure you use stock. I always make mine with chicken stock for added flavor, but you could also use vegetable stock for a completely vegetarian dish and if you want your rice to be extra delicious and moist, try using homemade stock.
The best part about this recipe for Spanish rice is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand to make it or just leave them out completely.
For extra flavor and texture, I added diced red and green bell peppers to the rice. These make the rice more hearty and filling and they add extra flavor and color to the dish as well. You can also add other vegetables to the dish, such as peas, sweet corn, and/or carrots. Spinach and green onions are other great options if you prefer some leafy greens in your rice.
Spanish seasonings like paprika, oregano, chili powder, and cumin will give your dish an authentic flavor that is often described as being earthy and slightly spicy. Other spices like black pepper and salt also enhance the taste of this rice.
Garlic and onions
These ingredients give the rice a delicious fragrance and make it very healthy, they help round out the flavor of this dish.
Easy steps on how to make Spanish rice
Start by rinsing the rice in cold water to remove excess starch, then soak it for 15 minutes. This process allows the rice to absorb some of the water and makes it cook faster and more evenly.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a deep pan over medium heat. Then, add diced onion and sauté it for 4 minutes or until it’s soft.
Stir in the drained rice and continue to cook for 6 minutes until the rice is slightly toasted. Toasting the rice in hot oil helps to bring out its nutty flavor and also creates a slightly crispy texture which prevents it from sticking. This may seem like an extra step, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Now, it’s time to add in minced garlic, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers. Cook on medium heat while stirring until the veggies are soft. Also, add tomato sauce, and tomato paste and stir to incorporate. This step also helps to lock in the flavor of the rice so that it doesn’t get bland as it cooks.
Season the rice with ground cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper, oregano, chili powder, and salt, then stir to mix. Add the chicken stock or vegetable broth, then give it a final stir, and bring it to a boil.
Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Let it simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
After the rice is soft and the water has dried up, garnish with chopped cilantro and fluff with a fork to separate the grains.
Remove rice from heat, put the lid on, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow all of the flavors to meld together nicely.
And that’s it! Your rice is now ready to enjoy. This easy Spanish rice recipe is a great side dish to many different meals and it can be eaten on its own as a main course.
What to serve with Spanish rice
- You can serve your Mexican rice with some roasted chicken thighs, grilled steak, pork, or fried shrimp. This is a great way to add some protein to your meal.
If you want something a little more hearty, try pairing it with chicken chimichangas, refried beans, chicken enchiladas, or chorizo.
- Spanish rice pairs well with a green salad. The freshness of the greens will complement the richness of the dish perfectly.
- It can also be used as a filling for tacos or burritos.
- And for a vegetarian option, top your rice with sauteed veggies like onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or bell peppers. Other options include pico de gallo, black beans, refried beans, guacamole, or sour cream.
What does Spanish rice contain?
Spanish rice is typically made with white rice, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, broth, and seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, and paprika are often used to add extra flavor. While the exact ingredients may vary depending on the region or chef. You can add other ingredients to suit your taste or use what you have on hand. For instance, you could add ground beef, shredded chicken, peas, bell peppers, corn, or black beans to make it a filling meal.
Can you freeze Spanish rice?
Freezing Spanish rice is a great way to preserve it for future meals. Here is how to do it.
First, cook the rice according to the recipe above. Once it’s cooked, let it cool completely. Then, place it in a freezer-safe container. Seal the container tightly and label it with a date. It can be frozen for about 3 to 4 months.
When you’re ready to eat it, simply thaw the rice in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave in a safe bowl until it reaches your desired hotness.
How long is Spanish rice good for after it is cooked?
Cooked Spanish rice will stay fresh for 4 to 5 days when stored in the fridge when stored properly. This makes it a great option for meal prep or for leftovers. However, if you want to extend its shelf life, you can it for up to 2 to 3 months.
Can you make Spanish rice with ground beef?
You can easily make delicious and hearty Spanish rice by adding ground beef to the recipe. Just start by browning the ground beef in a skillet. Once the beef is sightly cooked, remove it into a dish and continue browning the rice and the rest of the veggies. Add the beef back once all other ingredients are added. Give everything a good stir, then cover the pan and let it cook until the rice is tender and the beef is cooked through.
What meat goes well with Spanish rice?
Chicken is perhaps the most classic pairing for this rice dish. Chicken breasts or thighs work well here, either cooked in advance or pan-fried until crispy. Just be sure to chop them into bite-sized pieces so they mix well with the rice.
Ground beef is also commonly used in Spanish dishes, but any type of cooked beef will also do. You can try sauteing diced chuck steak or stewing beef until tender before adding it to the rice towards the end. You could even use leftovers from a roast dinner.
Pork loin, pork chops, and even bacon all go well with Spanish rice. Another option is to include fried chorizo sausage in this recipe, it’ll add tons of flavor to your dish.
What kind of rice is Spanish rice made with?
Depending on the region, this rice dish can be made with long-grain white rice, brown rice, or even cauliflower rice. For this recipe, I recommend using long-grain white rice for the best result. So, make sure to rinse the rice before cooking to remove any excess starch. It is important to first sauté the rice in some olive oil before adding your stock. This will help to give the dish some flavor and make the rice more crispy.
You could even use minute rice or leftover rice for this recipe if you really don’t want to spend so much time in the kitchen.
Tips for making the best easy Spanish rice recipe
- Use quality ingredients-This is important for any dish, especially when it comes to rice. Use long grain rice such as jasmine rice or basmati rice for this easy Spanish rice recipe.
- Toast the rice in hot oil- Make sure the rice is browned in olive oil until it’s nice and crispy. This step is key to getting the perfect aroma and ensures that the grains stay separate and don’t turn into mush. You can start sauteing the onions and garlic first before adding the rice and the rest of the veggies to toast in the oil. The vegetables release their natural juices and flavors into the oil, which are then absorbed by the rice as it cooks. This gives the finished dish a much more complex and interesting flavor.
- Add plenty of flavorings- A combination of cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika, and chili powder will give your Spanish rice recipe an authentic taste. You can also add other aromatic spices and herbs of your choice.
- Use broth/stock instead of water- This will give the rice a richer flavor and also add moisture to it.
- Use a proper ratio of water to rice– Typically you will need 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, depending on the type of rice used. Don’t add too much water or stock to the rice or it will be mushy. Use the right ratio of water to cook the rice until it is tender and fluffy.
- Allow the dish to simmer– Don’t rush the cooking process by boiling the rice too rapidly. Letting it simmer will allow all of the flavors to come together nicely and prevents the rice from being hard.
- Taste and adjust ingredients as needed- Before serving, give your rice a taste and see if it needs more salt, pepper, or other seasonings. Then, adjust accordingly.
Toppings for Spanish rice recipe
Some popular choices include black beans, kidney beans, chopped cilantro, roasted vegetables, chopped avocado, green onions, salsa, cheese, or sour cream.
Easy Spanish Rice Recipe
- Deep frying pan
- Wooden spatula
- 1½ cup long-grained white rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups tomato sauce, or 1 can of store-bought tomato sauce, undrained
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt you can add more to taste
- Start by rinsing the rice in cold water to remove excess starch, then soak it for 15 minutes. This process allows the rice to absorb some of the water and makes it cook faster and more evenly.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a deep pan over medium heat. Then, add diced onion and sauté it for 4 minutes or until it's soft.
- Stir in the drained rice and continue to cook for 6 minutes until the rice is slightly toasted. Toasting the rice in hot oil helps to bring out its nutty flavor and also creates a slightly crispy texture which prevents it from sticking.
- Now, it's time to add in minced garlic, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers, Cook on medium heat while stirring until the veggies are soft. Also, add tomato sauce, and tomato paste and stir to incorporate. This step also helps to lock in the flavor of the rice so that it doesn't get bland as it cooks
- Season the rice with ground cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper, oregano, chili powder, and salt, then stir to mix. Add the chicken stock or vegetable broth, then give it a final stir, and bring it to a boil.
- Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Let it simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. After the rice is soft and the water has dried up, garnish with chopped cilantro and fluff with a fork to separate the grains.
- Remove rice from heat, put the lid on, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow all of the flavors to meld together nicely. And that's it! Your rice is now ready to enjoy. This easy Spanish rice recipe is a great side dish to many different meals and it can be eaten on its own as a main course.
VariationsAside from this classic Spanish rice recipe, there are several other delicious variations that are worth trying out.
- Meat- You could add some chorizo sausage to give the dish an extra kick. Mushroom, tofu, ground beef, or chicken can also be added together with the veggies and stir-fried before adding the liquid stock.
- Rice- Try swapping out the white rice for brown rice for a healthier option.
- Toppings- You could mix in veggies like peas, corn, or carrots, or even top the dish with some shredded cheese or salsa.
- Spiciness- If you like your food on the spicy side, you can chop in one jalapeno pepper, add some chili sauce or use salsa instead of tomato sauce. This will give the dish a bit more kick, and you can always adjust the amount of salsa or heat to suit your taste buds.
- Flavors– Another variation is to add saffron to the rice, which gives it a beautiful yellow color and a delicate flavor. You can also make use of different types of tomatoes, such as fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, or even sun-dried tomatoes. These will give the dish an extra boost of flavor and nutrition.
- Instant pot- The best part about making Spanish rice in an instant pot is that it is really quick and easy. Turn on your instant pot and set it to ‘high pressure. Brown your onions, garlic, and uncooked rice in a bit of oil at the bottom of the pot for a couple of minutes. Then, add in tomatoes and season to taste. Cook the rice for six minutes and then let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure is released, open up the pot and fluff with a fork.
- Vegan Spanish rice– For a vegan version, you can use low-sodium vegetable broth or water instead of chicken stock. Extra vegetables like peas, corn, and carrots can be added too.