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Easy Spanish Rice Recipe

5 from 2 votes

posted: 01/21/21

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Spanish Rice recipe is a very simple way to jazz up rice. It is the perfect side dish for taco night or next to so many other great recipes.

a bowl of Spanish rice garnished with cilantro

I’m always on the hunt for easy side dish recipes to round out dinners, and I am in love with this Spanish Rice recipe. I have lots of great tips and tricks here for you to make sure that tit turns out perfectly!

This recipe perfectly replicates red rice recipes that you find in American restaurants. It’s name of “Spanish Rice” is quite the misnomer as it is not authentic to Spain. Nonetheless, it is what a lot of American kids, myself included, grew up as knowing as Spanish Rice. For an authentic recipe, please check out this Spanish Chicken and Rice with Chorizo.

Spanish Rice Ingredients

This simple homemade Spanish rice comes together with ingredients that are easy to keep on hand in your pantry. It goes goes great next to tacos or fajitas. As always, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the ingredient amounts.

  • Long Grain Rice
  • Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Green Chiles
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Water

How to Make Spanish Rice

  1. Start by rinsing the rice.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet.
  3. Toast the rice in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the garlic, onion, and spices. Sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in the water, tomatoes, and green chiles. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
side view of a skillet full of Spanish rice

Rinsing Rice

Rinsing Rice is a key step in this recipe. The reason we do this is to remove the extra starch from the rice. This will help keeping it from scorching and sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Additionally, the act of rinsing the rice (but not soaking it) will result in softer and fluffier rice. It is a simple step that makes this easy Spanish rice recipe turn out so much better.

Why Toast the Rice

Toasting rice in a fat and then adding in other ingredients like onion, garlic, and spices is an old method used around the world. Toasting the rice in this recipe helps develop it’s nutty flavor. It also keeps the individual grains of rice in tact, keeping the dish from being a big ball of flavored rice.

Using Long Grain Rice

You will notice that this recipe calls for long grain rice. I urge you to use that and not replace it with another grain. It cooks up best in the recipe as written. We are looking for distinguishable grains of rice in this recipe, rather than sticky rice. Long grain rice is the perfect rice for that.

overhead view of a bowl of homemade Spanish rice

What to Serve Spanish Rice Recipe With

This recipe would be great to eat with tacos. Here are some of our favorite Taco Night recipes.

If you make this easy Spanish rice or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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a bowl of Spanish rice garnished with cilantro
5 from 2 votes

Spanish Rice

Serves: 6 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Spanish Rice recipe is a very simple way to jazz up rice. It is the perfect side dish for taco night or next to so many other great recipes.


  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cup water (see note about the water)
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • 4 ounces green chiles undrained


  • In a mesh strainer, rinse the rice 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. (See notes in the post about why rinsing the rice is important.) Shake the strainer well to get rid of excess water.
  • In a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic, onion, and seasonings. Cook, stirring often for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  • Stir in the water, diced tomatoes, and green chiles. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pain. Bring to a boil – you should see big bubbles over the full surface of the skillet. Reduce to a simmer (you should see small intermitent bubbles), and cover. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring a few times during cooking, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Add more salt to taste.


Because the amount of liquid varies brand to brand in diced tomatoes, you may need to add more water at the end. Taste, and if the rice isn’t soft, add another 1/4 cup of hot water, simmering until it fully absorbs.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
a bowl of Spanish rice garnished with cilantro

did you make this

Spanish Rice

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Deborah Mahan says

    If you did not want the green chilies do you need them?

    • Lisa Longley says

      You can leave them out! It will have a slightly different taste and you might need to add just a pinch more water, but it should be fine.

  2. Terry Clem says

    This recipe looks great but my wife can’t digest rice. As a result we have used, cauliflower rice, sweet potato rice, and broccoli rice. Can any of these be adapted to this Spanish rice recipe? I love Spanish rice but only get to enjoy it in a restaurant. Thanx! SuiteT

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Terry! I haven’t tried this with anything but long grain rice, so I would have to play with it. The biggest thing that would need to change is the liquid. If I was making this with cauliflower rice, I would make the cauliflower rice as normal with the seasonings listed, plus the onion and garlic, and then stir in the diced tomatoes without their liquid and the green chiles. To be clear, I haven’t tried this but that is where I would start in testing it.

  3. Melissa says

    5 stars
    This was so easy to whip up & packed full of flavor! YUM!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you Melissa!

  4. Sue says

    Have you ever made this with leftover rice? And how would you tweak this recipe for leftover rice?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Sue, I don’t think this recipe would work with left over rice. One of the reasons it is so tasty is because we are using tomatoes mixed with seasoning as some of the liquid instead of water. With left over rice, it is already cooked, so we aren’t absorbing all that great flavor during the cooking.

  5. Teresa Legler says

    Hi Lisa,
    Looking forward to trying the Spanish Rice & Black Beans & Rice recipes.
    Also, would love to try the recipes you had with your Turkey Broth recipe. Unfortunately, I am lactose intolerant, but love creamy soups. Your recipes for turkey/dumplings, any suggestions for substituting an plant based or yogurt for the milk and cream. I have tried multiple ways over the years, but not always with success. Have used some of the boxed almond and Coconut with Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato soups. Just getting the proportions is not quite right.
    Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Teresa! I don’t have a lot of experience with this, so I’m going to send you to another blogger who may have some great recipes/tips on dairy replacements. https://makeitdairyfree.com/

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners