Easy Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice is a quick, delicious side dish that's as easy as cooking a pot of rice using chicken broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings!

Easy Spanish Rice with text overlay.

Cinco de Mayo is on the horizon, and a quick search of the blog will reveal that you're already set when it comes to appetizers, main dishes, beverages, heck, even dessert! Alas, the only Tex-Mex side dish that I've shared as of yet is the recipe for my simple, flavorful Slow Cooker Charro Beans. But you know what pairs beautifully with those beans? Spanish Rice!

Now, I'm not going to get into a debate about what constitutes "authentic" Spanish Rice or why we're talking about Spanish Rice in the first place when Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrating old Mexico.

All I can tell you is that in Texas, pretty much every Mexican food restaurant serves reddish-orange, tomato-sauce tinged rice as a side dish along with charro or refried beans. And for some reason, it's commonly referred to as Spanish, rather than Mexican, Rice. While some of the restaurants inexplicably adulterate their rice with frozen mixed veggies (???), I think the best versions are plain, with perhaps a few flecks of tomato, and delicately flavored with the same spices you might find in taco seasoning.

So that, my friends, is how I'm going to demonstrate cooking Spanish Rice today.

Ingredients for making Spanish Rice sitting on counter.

Ingredients

So what ingredients do you need to make the easiest, tastiest, most foolproof Spanish Rice ever?!

  • Extra-virgin olive oil + butter. For toasting your rice.
  • Long grain white rice. The variety or brand doesn't matter as long as it's long grain. And be sure to keep those package directions handy to determine the optimal liquid ratio and cooking time for your particular brand of rice! More on that below...
  • Chicken broth (or stock) + tomato sauce (or puree). These two ingredients constitute the liquid in which your rice will cook. So much more flavorful that plain water!
  • Herbs + spices. For even more flavor! Namely, you'll need chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and dried oregano.

Here's the thing. Over the years, I've had rather inconsistent results when cooking this dish. But the good news is I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHY. Drumroll, please...

Aerial view of pot of Spanish Rice.

How to Make Spanish Rice

You see, I was always cooking my Spanish Rice according to a set recipe, but I never took into account that different varieties/brands of white rice may have cooking directions that call for varying amounts of water and a whole range of cooking times. So it finally occurred to me that, instead of cooking my rice with a certain amount of liquid for a set amount of time each go-round, it might make more sense to pay attention to the directions on the back of the bag of rice.

That's right, y'all...this Spanish Rice is basically like cooking a regular ol' pot of rice according to the package directions.

But instead of just cooking the rice in water with a bit of salt and possibly butter, you're going to make this Mexican-inspired version by cooking the rice in a combo of chicken broth and tomato sauce.

And instead of just flavoring with salt, you're going to add chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and dried oregano.

But the key is you're going to use the total amount of liquid dictated by the particular brand of white rice that you're using, and you're also going to follow its specified cooking time!

Liquid Ratios and Cooking Time

I like to keep my chicken broth to tomato sauce ratio at about 50/50, leaning towards slightly more chicken broth/slightly less tomato sauce depending on my measurements.

So, for example, if my bag of rice called for 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, I would use 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of chicken broth, and 1 cup of tomato sauce.

The brand of rice that I have in my pantry right now calls for 1 cup of rice to 1 ¾ cups of water. So to make today's Spanish Rice, I used 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of water, and ¾ cup of tomato sauce. Does that make sense?

The same goes for cooking time. I initially toast my rice in oil for a few minutes, but then I just follow the directions on the bag of rice, which today dictated simmering for 20 minutes or so.

The final result? Perfectly cooked rice every time!

Spanish Rice recipe piled in a serving bowl.

More Than Just a Side Dish

Oh, and as one final side note, this recipe need not merely serve as a side dish. On the day that I made it for the blog, I happened to have some leftover Slow Cooker Chicken & Black Bean Taco filling in the fridge, which we'd already enjoyed in tacos earlier in the week. So when I found myself with this fluffy pot of Spanish Rice, I decided to serve it rice bowl-style, topped with the leftover shredded chicken, as well as big chunks of creamy avocado, generous dollops of salsa, and a shower of fresh chopped cilantro. It was so darn tasty that my family went crazy over it. And I felt pretty clever at my new dinnertime invention. 😉

So are you a fan of red/Spanish/Mexican/Whatever-You-Prefer-to-Call-It Rice? Have you ever made it yourself at home?

Whether it's Cinco de Mayo or Taco Tuesday, I encourage you to give it a try! It's simple to make as well as simply tasty...and who's going to argue with that?

Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment

  • The amounts of liquid in this recipe should be considered a guideline. Follow the directions on your bag of rice to determine how much liquid to use (per 1 cup of rice) when you make your Spanish Rice. For example, if your bag of rice calls for 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of rice, substitute 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup tomato sauce for that water. I keep the ratio of chicken broth/tomato sauce at about 50/50, leaning towards more chicken broth and less tomato sauce, if necessary. So if my rice called for 1 ¾ cups of water for cooking, I'd use 1 cup chicken broth and ¾ cup tomato sauce to make this Spanish Rice.
  • After you have toasted your rice, stirred in the remaining ingredients, brought it to a boil, and then reduced it to a simmer, finish cooking your rice based on the number of minutes listed in the directions on the bag of rice.
  • If you'd like to add some diced, drained green chiles (mild) or jalapenos (hot), stir those in at the same time as the diced tomatoes.
  • Garnish this rice with fresh cilantro and/or salsa, if desired. Serve as a side dish or as a base for a rice bowl.
  • The video below will show just how easy it is to make this recipe!

Aerial view of bowl of Spanish Rice.

More Tex-Mex Favorites

Spanish Rice piled up in blue and white serving bowl.

Easy Spanish Rice

Cook a pot of rice using chicken broth, tomato sauce, and a few seasonings to make this quick and easy Spanish Rice. It's the perfect base for rice bowls or a delicious side dish to your favorite Mexican entrees!
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 164kcal
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup (APPROXIMATELY) chicken broth or stock, see NOTES below
  • 1 cup (APPROXIMATELY) tomato sauce or puree, see NOTES below
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup diced fresh tomatoes, seeded & drained (optional)

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt together olive oil and butter. Add rice and stir to coat with oil/butter. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 to 3 minutes, until rice is toasted.
  • Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, oregano, and diced tomatoes (if using). Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir well, reduce heat to low, place lid on pot, and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes (or whatever amount of time is directed on your bag of rice; see NOTES below). If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed after 20 minutes, replace lid and cook for 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat, leave covered, and allow to rest for a few minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Notes

  • The amounts of liquid and the cooking time for this recipe should be considered guidelines. Follow the directions on your bag of rice to determine how much liquid to use (per 1 cup of rice) and how long to cook when you make your Spanish Rice. For example, if your bag of rice calls for 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of rice, substitute 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup tomato sauce for that water. I keep the ratio of chicken broth/tomato sauce at about 50/50, leaning towards more chicken broth and less tomato sauce, if necessary. So if my rice called for 1 ¾ cups of water for cooking, I’d use 1 cup chicken broth and ¾ cup tomato sauce to make this Spanish Rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 578mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 385IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1.1mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

 

Post originally published on April 30, 2015 and updated on March 3, 2019 and February 4, 2021.

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Recipe Rating




193 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I couldn't believe how great this recipe turned out for being so easy. My husband said it was just as good as the spanish rice at our favorite restaurant.

  2. You’re correct. It’s Mexican rice if it has taco seasoning. I’m Puerto Rican and every Latin country use the spices typical for their cooking cuisine. I will definitely try your recipe. I love experimenting and having an assortment of recipes, makes cooking fun. 🥣

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this simple and delicious recipe for Spanish rice! I tried it out last night and it was a hit with my family. The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow. The end result was flavorful and authentic. I'll definitely be making this again!

  4. 5 stars
    this was so delicious, I didn't have tomatoes, so I add a half can of Rotel hatch diced tomatoes. It turned out great

  5. 4 stars
    It was a good recipe but needed adjustments, a cup of tomato sauce is excessive id say around 1/4 (or a little more) of an 8 oz can for a cup of rice. Anything more drowns the taste of the spice and it’s too tomatoey. Also I add almost half a teaspoon of salt on top of it for those who like rice savory. After a few tries I’d say this works and is close to actual Mexican rice !

  6. 4 stars
    Good but I think some cilantro would make it better. Also added a couple tablespoons of onion with the rice to brown at the beginning. I will make again

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I did substitute the 1 cup of tomato sauce or puree with 1 cup of El Pato brand hot tomato sauce because my brother likes everything very hot. It was a hit. Very good recipe and very easy to put together. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for the starter recipe, which I needed & appreciate. Am trying 1/2 chicken broth & 1/2 diced tomatoes with chilies for my liquid, with taco seasoning & a splitch of Harissa (Tunisian hot chili pepper paste) for some added ¡Ay, caramba!

  9. 5 stars
    EXCELLENT........... Great Favor & sooo Good!!
    I totally enjoyed this recipe. The fact that it used one cup of rice instead of two which most recipes use was great because you didn't have a huge pan of rice. After the rice brown I added one jalapeno chopped up an one and a half teaspoons of minced garlic and sauteed it with the rice, then added the tomato mixture. after 20 minutes it needed more cook time the rice wasn't done so I cooked it for 5 more minutes it still needed more time, so I put it in a microwave will container with a lid and cooked it for 5 minutes on 70% power. it came out great and had a nice kick to it with the jalapeno in it, so tasty I also added chop cilantro and raw onions on top of the rice when I served it. Thanks for sharing! Will use this recipe from now on. Now, it's time for seconds!!

  10. 5 stars
    This recioe is delicious and so EASY! No more Rice a Roni for me! I didn’t have tomato sauce, so I puréed a can of tomatoes and it was perfect! I am definitely making this again and again! So yummy!! Thanks for this recipe! 😋😋

  11. 5 stars
    This Easy Spanish Rice recipe is a game-changer! I made it for dinner last night and it was a hit with my family. The step-by-step instructions were super helpful, even for someone like me who's not a pro in the kitchen. The flavor and texture were perfect. This recipe has definitely earned a permanent spot in my recipe collection!

  12. I like to make Spanish rice and this is a good one. I'll take it one step further and add 1 lb ground beef. Now, you have made an easy stuffed peppers mix.

      1. 5 stars
        My compliments to your site, with servings and rice cooking instructions to follow the water ratio per pkg instructions. I spent hours reading thru various sites for a crowd recipe. You are the only one who nailed it with the correct water ratio and cook time for success. Made this for 24 people, so it worked out to divide 2C rice in each per pan recipe. I found enriched, extra long grain rice by Lapreferdia brand in grocery and both pans taste wonderfully seasoned. I'm very glad for your site and sharing of a great Spanish rice recipe. It Rocks!

      2. 5 stars
        I keep finding myself coming back to this recipe! Simple and easy, but so flavorful. Its nice knowing I always have ingredients on hand for something that takes minimal effort, but is always a hit.
        Recently made some and felt "adventurous," so I sauteed an onion before adding the rice and used El Pato's hot tomato sauce for a little kick - definitely recommend!

  13. 2 stars
    The tomato puree and chicken stock was definitely off, others fixed it and gave it five stars because everything on the internet has five stars. So yeah, basically don't follow this recipe.

    1. The tomato puree and chicken stock amounts are based on the instructions for *your* particular bag of rice. All of the 5-star reviews are real. This recipe works great when it's followed. 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      The recipe is easy and good. Nothing in it is "off". It produces a very good Spanish Rice. All you have to do is follow the directions.