Easy Spanish Rice, also known as Mexican Rice, is a simple and delicious way to make rice more exciting and a must-have side dish at any Mexican night or Tapas dinner party. Perfect fluffy rice with smoky paprika and a hint of chilli and it is all made in one pot. It's super versatile too.
We love a one pot recipe (less washing up is always a good thing), and this is one that the whole family will love. No need to serve up plain rice - simply cook it with a smoky and spicy sauce and it is perfect for serving with tacos or fajitas, with grilled chicken or salmon, or as one of the dishes at a tapas dinner party.
Why you will love it
- A one pot recipe - Less washing up is always good with us.
- An easy way to make rice more exciting - Rice is so versatile, but it can get a little boring. This is an easy way to liven it up a little.
- Easy to adapt the seasonings and spice - Make it as spicy or as mild as you like.
- Lots of ways to use it - There are so many ways to serve this Spanish Rice. We have shared our favourite ways below.
- Rice - Any short grain rice will work here. You can use brown rice, however it will need to be cooked for longer and it may need some extra liquid in it.
- Onion - We used a small brown onion. You can swap it for shallots which will give a sweeter flavour.
- Bell pepper - We love the sweetness of red pepper, however any bell pepper will work.
- Garlic - Freshly crushed is best. Make sure it is crushed in to almost a paste, as this will ensure even distribution in the dish. You can use frozen garlic to save time.
- Stock - Use vegetable stock to keep this vegetarian/vegan. However, chicken stock will give a richer flavour.
- Tomato puree - This gives some extra colour and a more intense tomato flavour.
- Passata - This is where the tomato flavour comes from. It is strained tomatoes for those in the US.
- Lemon - This adds a bit of freshness to the dish.
- Spices - We used paprika for smokiness and some chilli for a little kick of heat.
- Parsley - Sprinkle some over just before serving. You can swap it for coriander if you prefer.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make Spanish Rice - Step by step
One: Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Two: Add the rice and stir. Toast the rice in the pan for 2 minutes.
Three: Add the rest of the ingredients (except the parsley). Stir and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has gone.
Four: Remove from the heat, fluff up the rice with a fork and add the parsley.
What is Spanish rice?
Spanish rice is a flavour packed rice dish that has all the best Spanish flavours in it. Rice is lightly toasted in a pan with chunky onion and bell pepper and then cooked in a tomato sauce that is seasoned with garlic, paprika and herbs.
It's one of those side dishes that tastes far more fancy than it actually is, and is made from ingredients that you usually already have in your cupboards.
We love a recipe that is easy to adapt, and this is definitely it. You can make it a different way each time and here is some of our favourite things to mix in to it:
- Salsa: Why not swap out some of the tomato soup for salsa? It will add loads of extra flavour.
- Tomato: Chunks of fresh tomato will not only add some extra texture, but more tomato flavour. It's a great way to use up tomatoes if you have been growing them.
- Finely diced vegetables: We always like to find ways to add some extra vegetables to our meals, so you can finely dice other vegetables like courgette, aubergine and carrot and add it to the pan at the same time as the onion and pepper.
- Chorizo: Chorizo is one of the best Spanish flavours, and adding some at the same time as the onion and pepper adds a tonne of flavour.
- Fajita Seasoning: Make this dish even easier and swap all the seasoning for a couple of tablespoons of fajita seasoning.
- Lime Juice: A little squeeze of lime juice over the dish before serving really lightens it all up.
- Beans: Add some protein to this dish by stirring through half a can of drained black beans after you have fluffed up the rice. You could use sweetcorn instead of beans too.
What we love about Spanish Rice is that there is so many different ways to serve it - it is a really versatile side dish. We love it with Oven Baked Fajitas, or Grilled Chicken Tacos, or even on a Vegan Burrito Bowl.
But it doesn't just go with Mexican dishes. It is a must with any Tapas spread and it goes well with Mediterranean Salmon.
Store: We try to only make as much as we are going to need, however if you have some leftovers, then make sure that it is completely cooled and then stored in an air tight container. It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freeze: It is best to freeze the rice as soon after it is cooked as possible. Put it in a freezer container and allow it to cool. Once cooled, put a lid on the container and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Defrost: You can defrost it in the fridge overnight.
Reheat: To reheat it, add it to a pan with a little bit of oil and then heat through.
Frequently asked questions
There are 209 calories per serving in this recipe.
Yes, this is vegan. Just make sure that you use vegetable stock.
As long as you make sure to use gluten free stock and that there is no cross contamination, then this can be gluten free.
No, there is no need to rinse the rice first.
Yes, definitely and it will add so much more flavour. Why not use our Restaurant Style Salsa.
• Make this dish even easier and swap out half the tomato sauce for some salsa. You will need to then adjust the seasoning, but it's a really easy way to add lots of flavour.
• The amount of liquid in this recipe should be seen as a guideline. If you cook this at a higher cooking temperature, then you may need to add some extra liquid, so do keep checking on it.
• Make sure you don't skip the step of toasting the rice first. You want to make sure that it is almost translucent before adding the sauce. Once the sauce is added, make sure you bring it to the boil before lowering it to a simmer, otherwise the rice won't be cooked through.
• Make sure you don't overcook the rice, otherwise the whole dish will become mushy.
• Don't cook it so long that there is no liquid left in the pan, as some of the liquid will absorb as it cools down with the lid on before fluffing it up.
More side dishes
- 180 g rice
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 1 onion - diced
- 1 red bell pepper - diced
- 2 garlic clove - diced
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 0.5 teaspoon chili powder
- 0.5 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 125 ml passata
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 0.5 lemon - (juice only)
- 10 g fresh parsley - chopped
- 0.5 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir. Toast the rice in the pan for 2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except the parsley). Stir and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has gone.
- Remove from the heat, fluff up the rice with a fork and add the parsley.
- Make this dish even easier and swap out half the tomato sauce for some salsa. You will need to then adjust the seasoning, but it's a really easy way to add lots of flavour.
- The amount of liquid in this recipe should be seen as a guideline. If you cook this at a higher cooking temperature, then you may need to add some extra liquid, so do keep checking on it.
- Make sure you don't skip the step of toasting the rice first. You want to make sure that it is almost translucent before adding the sauce. Once the sauce is added, make sure you bring it to the boil before lowering it to a simmer, otherwise the rice won't be cooked through.
- Make sure you don't overcook the rice, otherwise the whole dish will become mushy.
- Don't cook it so long that there is no liquid left in the pan, as some of the liquid will absorb as it cools down with the lid on before fluffing it up.