Spanish Rice

VideoSide DishMexicanRiceRice Pilaf

My mother's signature Spanish rice recipe, a delicious accompaniment to steak, chicken, and Mexican entrees such as tacos or enchiladas

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My mother’s Spanish rice (aka Mexican rice) is a mandatory accompaniment to any Mexican dish we serve at our house, whether it’s with enchiladas or tostadas, or with steak and black beans.

This rice is our family’s comfort food. My mom always makes a big batch when she makes it, because we can’t get enough!

Spanish rice is essentially a rice pilaf, but with southwestern flavorings. To make it you brown the raw rice first with onions and garlic, and then cook the rice in chicken broth with added tomatoes.

The browning is essential to the nutty, almost toasty flavor of the rice. And although bouillon can be substituted for the chicken stock, nothing beats homemade chicken stock, whose rich flavor is absorbed by the rice as it cooks.

Mom has perfected the art of preparing the rice quickly. She heats the tomato-y stock in a separate pot while the rice is browning, and then combines the two to cook while she prepares the rest of the meal. You could easily make it one pot if you wanted.

how to make spanish rice

Spanish Rice Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

My mother browns the rice in a separate pan from the pot she uses to heat the stock. This is just to save time. You could easily brown the rice and onions, and add cold stock and tomatoes to it, bring to a simmer, cover and cook, all in one pot.

If you have homemade stock, use it! That's what will take this Spanish rice from good to great.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups* chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.


1 Brown the rice: Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium/high heat. Add the rice and stir it so that the rice is lightly coated with the oil. Cook on medium high heat, stirring often, until much of the rice has browned.

2 Add onion, garlic: Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently another 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and softened, about a minute more.

3 Combine broth, tomato, oregano, salt, and browned rice and onions: To save time you can bring the stock to a simmer in a separate saucepan, with the tomato, oregano, and salt.

4 Combine the rice and broth mixture:  Add the browned rice to the simmering broth (or broth to the rice, depending on which pan has a cover). Or you can skip the simmering step and just add the broth and tomatoes to the rice.

5 Simmer, cover, cook until the rice has absorbed the stock: Bring everything to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to barely maintain a low simmer.

Cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package.

Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Fluff with a fork or spoon to serve.

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Spanish Rice

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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245 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Chef-Boy Ortiz

    Very similar to my recipe, but instead of oregano, I do a half-teaspoon of chili powder and a quarter-teaspoon of cumin. Then there’s the obligatory handful of frozen peas.

  2. glen

    I’m wondering about the instructions on the bag my bag of Kroger white medium rice says one cup rice two cups of water so I tried a half a cup of rice and I figured that would be one cup of water that didn’t work so then I tried a recipe that said use 0.88 cups which is a hair under 3/4 and I let it cook for 30 minutes and that didn’t work so I threw the Kroger Brand medium-grain rice away and now I’m going to go shopping for maybe some other kind of rice then I’ll try your recipe anyway thank you keep on cooking

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  3. Rashelle

    This recipe is an awesome base! I’ve added cumin & turmeric every time I have experimented with this recipe. This might be the 4th time I’ve made a variation of this in the last 3 weeks. So thank you! I’ve used 1/2 veg or chicken stock 1/2 water. I’ve added frozen corn and lots of other veggies to it. Threw it in tacos. Literally anything can be done. And it’s simple and quick. Love it.


  4. Terri

    It was delicious. I did sprinkle a little cumin and turmeric in as well. I’ll be making this again.


  5. Victoria

    So very close to the way my mother made it. I asked her for her recipe, which came from my great grandmother, and all she could say was a little of this and a little of that. She has sinced passed. And all my father can say is “I don’t know.” Made this for myself and hubby and caught him picking rice that had fallen onto his shirt into his mouth. I call that a success!! Will be using this tomorrow night as a side to enchiladas. Thank you Elise


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