Homemade Spanish Rice

Homemade Spanish Rice

Homemade Spanish Rice is a great way to round off any type of Mexican style dinner and this one is super versatile. We just had it with our amazing Authentic Carnitas.

Carnitas tacos and rice
Authentic Flavorful Carnitas served with Spanish Rice

Ingredients for Easy Spanish Rice:

Spanish Rice has a few different names such as Mexican rice, red rice, or arroz rojo. Regardless of the name the cooking method is the same. Rice is sauteed in oil, then tomatoes are added along with broth. Additionally, there are always a few common ingredients:

  • Rice – medium or long grain
  • Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Broth – vegetable or chicken
Sauteed Rice and onions
Rice and Onions sauteed in olive oil

What’s in a name?

Despite its name, Spanish Rice is virtually unknown in Spain or Mexico, it is really an American dish. Rice dishes in Spain are generally yellow in color because of the addition of saffron. Rice dishes in Mexican cuisine are usually red due to the inclusion of tomato sauce or paste but referred to as “red rice” or Arroz Rojo.

Key Ingredient Tips for Spanish Rice:

  • The Rice – long grain or medium grain works best. Long grain rice contains less starch so the cooked rice is drier and stays more separate. This is the best rice for pilafs also.
  • Tomato Sauce – None on hand? You can make your own if you have tomato paste. Mix together one part tomato paste and one part water until well blended.
  • Traditional Mexican rice uses chicken broth, but I like to use vegetable broth.
  • Add-Ins – this recipe incorporates diced carrots and peas. I love the pops of color this adds to the finished rice.

Cilantro: the controversial herb

If you like cilantro sprinkle a little on top for color and taste. I didn’t use it in my pictures because it was for a group and cilantro can be controversial. Cilantro is an ingredient that people either love or hate. I love it but many really dislike it. Julia Child was one of the 14% that couldn’t eat it. There are a lot of articles out there about this controversial herb, including this one by the New York Times.

Spanish Rice in a bowl
Spanish Rice with Carrots and Peas

Pro tips for serving

  • If serving on a buffet, or for a crowd, heat the dish you will be serving it in, add and cover to keep warm until ready to eat.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Spanish Rice in a bowl
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Spanish Rice

Simple but flavorful Mexican style rice that you can make in 30 minutes. Great for Taco Tuesday and vegetarian.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 198kcal
Author: Cyndy Ufkes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup onion, diced
  • cups long or medium grain white rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • ½ cup carrots, diced Optional
  • ½ cup frozen peas Optional
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped Optional for garnish


  • In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering, on medium high heat.
  • Add diced onion and saute for 30 seconds, then add rice. Stir constantly until rice and onions begin to lightly brown. Stir in garlic and reduce heat to medium.
  • Add tomato sauce and mix well to coat the rice.
  • Stir in broth and mix well. Make sure rice is settled in an even layer in the pan.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add diced carrots and cover again.
  • Cook for about 5 more minutes, or until all liquid is absorped. Add peas and cover agai for 1 minute to allow peas to cook.
  • Remove cover and fluff rice with a fork, mixing in vegetables.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro (optional) and serve in a dish with a lid to keep warm.

7 thoughts on “Homemade Spanish Rice”

  • Good evening it’s 12:00 am and it’s the Fourth of July weekend, I’m about to cook this rice for my mother-in-law birthday bbq I look forward to it, I cooked collard greens with smoke turkey necks plus sweet and sour marinated ribs and shrimp kabobs marinated in sweet and sour. Other people are bring food also plus I have to work the grill this going to be fun because I cook for a living, this gives a chance to show my skills.

  • 5 stars
    I love Spanish rice. You gave me so much information about it that I didn’t know. Thank you for the great tips and all the information.

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