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.

WANT TO SAVE THIS RECIPE?

Enter your email below and we'll send it to your inbox. Plus get our best recipes every week!

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 in the recipe card 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

Easy Spanish Rice is as quick and simple as cooking a pot of rice using chicken broth, tomato sauce, and a few seasonings! 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
Print Pin Rate

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.

Video

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.

You May Also Like

4.95 from 305 votes (173 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




201 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Easy recipe. I didn’t have tomato sauce so I didn’t use it and I used a can of original Rotel tomatoes. I doubled the ingredients so we could have leftovers. I sautéed the rice in the instant pot then added all of the rest of the ingredients and stirred. Cooked on pressure cooking setting for 3 minutes and then let it cool naturally for 10 minutes then released. It was amazing! Thank you for this tasty recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Easy as pie or Spanish rice that is. Very good. I added some green chilis and onion powder to mine with a smidge more salt and tomato purée was two cups. Very tasty the way it was without any of my additions and sooooo easy!

  3. 5 stars
    So much better than restaurant spanish / mexican rice. I used more chicken stock than tomato sauce and used Rotel in substitution for fresh diced tomato.

    1. i was super excited about this recipe and failed it miserable. Off of memory i thought it asked for tomatoe paste not puree and it was ruined. I'm very disappointed with my mistake. i can't wait to try it again correctly.😩

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! Thank you for sharing. My son used to make this for me but he is going blind so I made it tonight and we loved it.

  5. 5 stars
    Super easy to make and it has excellent flavor. We doubled the recipe, didn't have tomato sauce or puree, substituted it for 28 Oz of crushed tomatoes. Turned out so awesome.

    1. 5 stars
      Super easy and really flexible. Didn’t have tomato sauce so used tomato paste and more chicken broth and the kids loved it.

  6. 5 stars
    How smart to bring logic into cooking -- like following directions! I've never been successful with Mexican rice before but this is great.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and my pickiest eater ate two servings. Thank you! This is delicious. Saving this recipe and will be making again soon.

  8. 5 stars
    This is a superbly easy and yummy Spanish style rice. I’ve been making it for years, it’s a go-to recipe. Great for a rice side, beans optional, or as base for more adventurous dishes - add zucchini and summer squash, chicken or chorizo, and extra broth for a stew like meal. Sometimes I caramelize a little onion before toasting the rice. As written, it’s a wonderful pantry staple.