Spanish rice is exactly the side dish you need with your next Mexican meal! This is a classic with all the flavors you want in a Spanish rice recipe and it’s perfectly moist every single time!

We’ve all been there…your meal arrives at your table, you take a bite of your main course and then tear into the rice and beans. The rice is dry and pasty and you can barely choke it down. Say goodbye to that scenario with this Mexican rice recipe!

A bowl of Spanish rice. It has cilantro leaves sprinkled on top and three lime wedges on the edge. There is an avocado that has been cut in half and a baking dish of enchiladas in the background.

This Spanish rice is so dang delicious. It makes a lot, but don’t you worry, we will be using the leftovers for pork tostadas later. The leftovers also freeze well (details below), so it’s actually awesome to have loads of leftover rice!

Make some steak fajitas, smothered chicken burritos, or the best pork carnitas with this Spanish rice for a side and prepare for a fiesta in your mouth! Ole! Cinco de Mayo anyone?!

Oh and don’t forget the refried beans to go with it!

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Spanish Rice?

All the ingredients are exactly what you would expect in this dish. No surprises here!

  • White Onion
  • Tomatoes (Roma or Vine)
  • Jalapeños
  • Rice
  • Cumin
  • Canola Oil – olive oil can also be used
  • Garlic
  • Chicken Broth (or Vegetable)
  • Tomato Paste
  • Salt
  • Cilantro
  • Limes
A bowl of Spanish rice with cilantro leaves sprinkled on top. there are three lime wedges on the edge of the bowl and a bowl of sliced red onion and an avocado that has been cut in half in the background.

How to Make Spanish Rice

Here are all the steps and tips we have for making this delicious rice recipe. For full details, see the recipe card below.

  • Preheat the oven.
  • Puree the tomatoes and onions in a food processor.
A glass container of a layer of chopped tomatoes and chopped onions on top.
  • Measure out 2 cups of the tomato/onion mixture and discard the excess.
A glass containing blended tomatoes and onion.
  • Mince the jalapeños leaving the ribs and seeds in one of the jalapeños.
  • Rinse the rice through a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove excess water.
    • Pro Tip: Rinsing the rice removes all the starch on the surface of the rice which can cause the rice to clump and get gummy when cooked.
  • Saute the rice and cumin in a large skillet.
    • Pro Tip: This step is crucial. It adds a boost of flavor that takes this rice to the next level.
A bowl of fluffy white rice with chopped cilantro in it. A wooden spoon rests on top of the rice.
  • Add garlic and seeded jalapeño.
  • Add pureed tomato/onion mixture, broth, tomato paste and salt.
  • Bring to boil then cover and place in oven to bake.
    • Pro Tip: You can also cook it on the stove top. We just prefer the taste and texture of it baked. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer and let it cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Add cilantro and minced jalapeño with seeds. Fluff with a fork.
  • Serve with lime wedges.

What is the Difference Between Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice?

When we get down to the nitty gritty, this recipe is probably closer to a traditional Mexican rice, but most people call it Spanish rice. Authentic Spanish rice tends to be firmer and uses saffron for flavor.

Can You Make Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot?

Yes absolutely! Follow all the instructions as listed, then cook in the Instant Pot in “Rice” mode for 4-8 minutes.

How Long Will Spanish Rice Keep?

To store Spanish rice, make sure it is completely cooled and then put it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3-5 days.

A serving bowl of Spanish rice topped with cilantro leaves and three lime wedges. There is a halved avocado in the background.

Can It Be Frozen?

I mentioned earlier that this recipe freezes great. Let it cool completely and then place in an airtight container or ziploc bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can You Reheat Spanish Rice?

When you’re ready to eat refrigerated or frozen rice, place it in a microwave safe dish, add 1/4 cup of water, and cook it for 2-3 minutes if refrigerated (5 minutes if frozen). It can also be reheated on the stove top to your desired temperature.

How Much Rice Per Person?

One serving of rice is 1/4 cup of uncooked rice per person. After it cooks, it ends up being about 1/2 cup of rice.

What Rice is Best for Spanish Rice?

We prefer just good ol’ long grain white rice. It fluffs up great, grabs on to the flavors well, and doesn’t get sticky. Basmati also works, but it won’t be quite as fluffy.

Spanish rice is a side dish that can go with any Mexican main dish. And it probably should go with every Mexican main dish now that I think about it. It is so moist and full of flavor! Don’t miss out on this easy Spanish rice recipe!

More Mexican Side Dishes:

What to Eat with Spanish Rice:

Spanish Rice

4.17 from 6 votes
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


This is a classic with all the flavors you want in a Spanish rice recipe and it's perfectly moist every single time!


  • 2 Tomatoes, roma or vine
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • 2 Jalapeno Chiles, medium
  • 2 Cups Rice, long grain white
  • 1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth, low-sodium or vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ Cup Cilantro Leaves, minced fresh-I omitted this
  • 1 Lime, cut into wedges for serving


  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Process tomatoes and onion in food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary.
    2 Tomatoes, 1 Small White Onion
  • Transfer mixture to liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess so that volume equals 2 cups).
  • Remove ribs and seeds from 1 jalapeño and discard; mince flesh and set aside.
    2 Jalapeno Chiles
  • Mince remaining jalapeño, including ribs and seeds; set aside.
    2 Jalapeno Chiles
  • Place rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes.
    2 Cups Rice
  • Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.
  • Heat oil in heavy-bottomed oven-safe 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes.
    1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • Drop 3 or 4 grains rice in oil; if grains sizzle, oil is ready. Add rice and cumin and fry, stirring frequently, until rice is light golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.
    1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and seeded minced jalapeños; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
    4 Cloves Garlic
  • Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil.
    2 Cups Chicken Broth, 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste, 1 ½ teaspoons Salt
  • Cover pan and transfer to oven; bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.
  • Stir in cilantro and reserved minced jalapeño with seeds to taste.
    ½ Cup Cilantro Leaves
  • Serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.
    1 Lime


** Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Spanish rice can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Let it cool and then put it in an airtight container or heavy duty freezer bag to freeze.


Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 5gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 894mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Side Dish Recipes Every Mom Needs
Cuisine: Mexican

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A bowl of Spanish rice. It has cilantro leaves sprinkled on top and three lime wedges on the edge. There is an avocado that has been cut in half and a baking dish of enchiladas in the background.


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