Spanish Rice

This homemade Spanish rice recipe is an easy, delicious side dish! Fluffy and flavorful, it pairs perfectly with Mexican mains like tacos and enchiladas.

Spanish rice

I’ve eaten Spanish rice at Mexican restaurants countless times, but it wasn’t until this year that I started making this Spanish rice recipe at home. Today’s post is a PSA: if you’re not already making homemade Spanish rice, it’s time to start. You’re seriously missing out!

Spanish rice, also called Mexican rice or arroz rojo, is a type of rice pilaf cooked with onions and garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and spices. It’s commonly eaten throughout northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, and it’s the perfect side dish for a simply cooked protein or Mexican fare like tacos and enchiladas.

The recipe below has become my go-to method for how to make Spanish rice. It’s SO easy, and it comes out moist, fluffy, and flavorful every time. I think you’re going to love it.

Recipe ingredients on marble

Spanish Rice Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy Spanish rice recipe:

  • Rice, of course! Long-grain white rice, such as basmati, works best in this recipe. You can also use brown rice, but you’ll need to increase the broth measurement to 2 cups. Simmer the rice for 45 minutes instead of 15.
  • Onion and garlic – For savory depth of flavor.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness to the rice and helps all the flavors meld. Feel free to sub a neutral cooking oil, such as avocado or canola oil, if you prefer.
  • Tomato paste, plus diced fresh tomatoes or canned tomato sauce – They give the rice its signature red color and add tangy tomato flavor. Feel free to use either diced fresh tomatoes or the canned tomato sauce. Both options work great!
  • Jalapeño pepper – For subtle heat and appealing flecks of green. If you don’t like spicy food, replace the jalapeño with 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper.
  • Dried oregano – I use this dried herb in many of my favorite Mexican dishes. It adds earthy depth to the rice.
  • Vegetable broth – You could sub water, but cooking the rice in broth makes it that much more flavorful. Use store-bought, or make homemade vegetable broth.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Hand using spatula to stir white rice and onion in saucepan

How to Make Spanish Rice

This Mexican rice recipe is so simple to make! Here’s how it goes:

First, rinse the rice. This is my first step whenever I’m cooking rice, as it removes starches that can cause the rice to clump. Place it in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, and rinse it under cool running water until the water in the bowl runs clear.

Next, sauté the onion and toast the rice. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring often, for another 2 minutes, until it’s fragrant.

Rice in saucepan with tomato paste, chopped peppers, diced tomatoes, and dried oregano

Then, add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, followed by the diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, jalapeño, salt, and oregano.

Mexican rice ingredients in pot before cooking

Pour in the broth, and bring it to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the rice for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Finally, let the rice steam. Remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

You’re ready to serve! Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and enjoy.

Mexican rice in pot with wooden spoon

What to Serve with Mexican Rice

My favorite thing to serve with Mexican rice? Mexican food! It would be a delicious side dish for any of these Mexican-inspired recipes:

Here are a few more great ways to use it:

How do you like to serve Mexican rice? Let me know in the comments!

Storage Instructions

Leftover Spanish rice will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat it, warm it in the microwave or on the stove with a small splash of water or vegetable broth.

The rice also freezes well. Stash it in an airtight container or bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the microwave or overnight in the fridge.

Spanish rice recipe

More Favorite Rice Recipes

If you love this Spanish rice recipe, try one of these simple rice dishes next:

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Spanish Rice

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 23 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4
Learn how to make Spanish rice! This recipe is SO easy to make, and the fluffy, flavorful rice is the perfect side dish for Mexican mains like tacos and enchiladas.



  • Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or pot. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, then add the fresh tomatoes, jalapeño, salt, oregano, and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.


4.96 from 23 votes (18 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment:

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Money

    5 stars
    I’m SOO glad I came across this recipe before heading to the store. I followed all the instructions with exact measurements and this rice was soo good!!! I’m definitely keeping this recipe in my book. Thank you so much.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  2. Tina

    Curious as to if, substitution for tomatoes is possible. I have a severe allergy to tomatoes. I know that in several of the Italian dishes that call for tomatoes, I use roasted red peppers. I just puree them.

  3. Jeanine Donofrio

    Hi Steve, are you sure you used white basmati rice and not brown?

  4. Aea

    4 stars
    I made this with a long grain and wild rice mix and it is amazing. I also added some green chilies and yellow bell pepper I had languishing in the fridge. I just quickly roasted them in the oven till the skins where bubbling and easy to peel off. Looks, smells, and tastes amazing!

  5. Tan

    5 stars
    Yum! Quick and easy dinner

  6. Karen

    5 stars
    Outstanding!! Thanks for another delicious recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Karen, I’m so glad you loved it!

  7. Julia

    5 stars
    LOVED this recipe! So easy and quick and tasty. Ate it with your mango salad and with some black beans. Will definitely make again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Julia, I’m so glad you loved this one too!

  8. Sabrina from

    thank you, have only ever made this out of a box, so love making this from scratch

  9. chuck

    Why call it Spanish rice if it is Mexican rice???

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Chuck, it’s what it’s often called.

    • Dawn

      The term Spanish Rice has been in existent long before the term Mexican Rice was coined. That is what most of us old timers know it by.

    • Dancing Nerd

      Spanish explorers first brought rice to Mexico from Asia. Their recipe was firmer than Mexican rice, and didn’t have tomatoes (those are from Peru originally). It was also of a stickier consistancy, like Asian rice. The yellow color typically came from saffron.

      The Mexicans added tomato to their rice dish (which is why their rice is red vs. yellow), added cumin, and started cooking it to be fluffier (vs. sticky).

      Another fun food history journey is that of tacos–believe it or not those originated in Lebanon!

      • Lillyof64

        Thanks!! That was very interesting!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.