spanish rice recipe

Spanish Rice Recipe


If you like Mexican recipes and are almost always up for a taco Tuesday at your favorite diner or 5-stars restaurant, chances are high that you already know what Spanish rice is.

This Spanish rice recipe is a delicious meal popular in South and Central America, as well as some regions of North America. While Spanish rice is commonly served as a staple or main dish, many people choose to serve it as a side dish with their entrée.

There is no indication that it is related to Spain, despite its name. In fact, it is commonly referred to as “Mexican rice” and is considered a Mexican dish in many areas of the world. Spanish rice can be a tasty and nutritious addition to any gatherings or casual meals.

Want to add this delightful meal to your treasury of recipes? You can read the full recipe below.

What Does Spanish Rice Contain?

While it may appear or sound complicated, the Spanish rice recipe is actually composed of pantry staples you can easily find in your kitchen.

Spanish rice is similar to rice pilaf but with a southwestern twist. The recipe for Spanish rice, aka Mexican rice, calls for rice with additional ingredients added for taste. Rice is first sautéed in cooking oil with onions and garlic. After that, broth and tomato spice are added to give it a delicious flavor and its distinctive red hue.

Browning the rice is necessary for the recipe to have a nutty, almost toasted taste once it’s cooked. Although bouillon may be used in place of the chicken stock, nothing surpasses the rich taste of handmade chicken stock, which is absorbed by the rice as it cooks.

Fresh tomatoes are also ideal to use in this recipe. In terms of nutrition facts or daily values, fresh tomatoes are high in vitamin C, choline, lycopene, and other antioxidants that can help to hydrate and detoxify your body.

How Do I Make Spanish Rice?

A nutrient-dense and delightful main course side dish cuisine, Mexican rice/Spanish rice is a 5 stars dish and is something you can add to your list of daily recipes. Not only is it easy to make, but the ingredients are also easy to find.

To make this great recipe, follow the detailed instructions below.

Homemade Spanish Rice Recipe

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 5 servings


  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken stock (for a homemade version, see recipe below)
  • 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Green onions, chopped (optional)

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Stove
  • Pot
  • Saucepan


  1. In a large or medium saucepan, heat oil or melt butter over medium heat. Add the uncooked rice. Cook, stirring frequently, on medium-high heat until most of the rice has turned golden brown.
  2. Add onion to the rice. Stir frequently for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Bring the broth, tomato, and oregano to a simmer in a separate pot. Add salt to taste.
  4. Add rice to the boiling broth mixture and cover.
  5. Reduce heat to low and bring everything to a gentle simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on which variety of rice you’re cooking. For best results, follow the cooking time recommended in the package instructions of the rice.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Fluff rice using a fork or spoon. Serve immediately.

Homemade Chicken Broth


  • 2-1/2 pounds bony chicken pieces like legs, necks, wings, or backbones
  • 2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • Cold water


  1. In a soup pot, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a low boil, then lower to low heat until the mixture is barely simmering.
  2. Simmer for 3-4 hours, uncovered, scraping foam with a ladle as needed
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside until it is cold enough to handle.
  4. Separate the flesh from the bones. Bones should be discarded; the meat should be saved for other recipes.
  5. Using a strainer, separate the veggies and spices from the liquid. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Remove any excess fat from the surface using a spoon or ladle.

Cooking Notes and Other Helpful Tips

  • While long-grain white rice is ideal to make Spanish rice, you can also use brown rice as a substitute. Note that brown rice takes longer to cook, so adjust your cooking time according to the rice you’re using. 
  • If you’re planning to serve this as a delicious side dish, you can skip the toppings. However, if you want to make this recipe the main dish, you can add chopped chicken, carrots, and other desired toppings to make this a full meal.
  • If you want more flavor, you can add half a teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder or chopped green chiles.
  • The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but if that is unavailable, you can use 1 tbsp tomato paste instead.
  • For a vegetarian-friendly version of this Spanish rice recipe, you can substitute chicken stock with vegetable stock.
  • Want a more in-depth tomato or chicken taste? You can use tomato sauce in place of fresh tomatoes, and chicken broth. To make your own, simply follow the recipe below.

Homemade Tomato Sauce


  • 5 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 basil sprig
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Horizontally cut the tomatoes in half. Squeeze out the seeds and discard them. Grate the tomato into a bowl by pressing the sliced side of the tomato against the big holes of a box grater. Discard the skins.
  • In a low, wide saucepan or large skillet, cook the tomato pulp over medium heat. Combine the salt, oil, paste, garlic, garlic powder, basil, and bay leaf in a mixing bowl. Add to the pulp and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat for a quick simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Make sure you’re stirring frequently as the tomato sauce cooks. After 10 to 15 minutes or when the tomato sauce is reduced by roughly half, remove from heat. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
  • Cool and set aside. The tomato sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen.

This easy spanish or mexican rice can be easily prepared without you scavenging through different grocery aisles just to get the ingredients. This is a perfect lunch or dinner meal if you like any recipes that are Mexican.

Prep time is less than an hour, so you’re free to make this either on a weekend or during your busy weekdays. For new recipes, you can visit our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you make Martha Stewart Spanish rice?

If you want to make 5 stars, easy Mexican rice or Spanish rice the way Martha Stewart makes it, simply follow the listed recipe below and make adjustments according to your preferences.


  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ¼ cup medium carrot, diced
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  2. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic and carrots are aromatic. Toss in the rice.
  3. Combine the chicken broth or water, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add to the rice mixture.
  4. Bring rice-tomato sauce mixture to a boil, stir then lower to medium-low heat.
  5. Cover the pot and cook for 17 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed by the rice. 
  6. Remove from heat and let rice rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork or spoon and serve warm.

Tell me the difference between Mexican and Spanish rice?

Authentic Mexican and Spanish rice recipes utilize different seasonings despite the fact that they share almost the same ingredients. Saffron is often used in Spanish rice which gives it its distinct golden color. Mexican rice, however, is generally tomato-based with cumin added for taste and color.

Can Spanish rice be frozen?

Yes, this Spanish rice recipe may be saved and eaten at a later date. Simply put the cooked rice in zipper freezer bags or airtight containers, label them, and store them for 4-6 months in the freezer.

You may either defrost the rice in the fridge or cook it directly from the freezer when you’re ready to eat it. Microwave the rice in a microwave-safe bowl on high for 2 minutes, and stir every 2 minutes until the rice reaches your desired temperature.

Freezing, however, might make this recipe a little bland. You can add half a teaspoon of chili powder, 1 cup of fresh diced tomatoes, and chopped basil leaves for more flavor. Stir them in after the rice has warmed in the microwave or cook them along with the rice.

Should I use chili powder or fresh chilis?

If you want to increase the heat of your Spanish rice recipe, then add a bit of chili powder. 1 tbsp would be ideal, but you can add more if you prefer more spice. However, if you prefer a slight subtle kick to this dish, adding diced chilies along with the tomatoes during the cooking cycle would be your best option.

How many calories are in each serving?

Nutrition facts per serving of Spanish rice dish are as follows:

  • Calories: 286
  • Carbohydrates: 50.9g
  • Protein: 5.4g
  • Fat: 6.4g
  • Cholesterol: 2mg
  • Sodium: 696.6mg