The Most Authentic Spanish Rice Recipe You’ll Try

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So how am I SO sure this is the most authentic Spanish rice recipe (or Mexican rice recipe) you’ll taste? Well, it came from my mother, and I’ve spent a lifetime eating it in my very own home. Before that, my grandmother made it for my mother when she was growing up in a Texas border town. When I say authentic, I mean it. Read on for the real deal, my friends!

Spanish rice on talavera colorful plate

Is there a difference between Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice?

The short answer is no. The terms “Spanish rice” and “Mexican Rice” are often used interchangeably and include some combination of tomatoes, onion, chicken bouillon (consomé), and other spices. True “Spanish” rice (like paella) from Spain would include saffron, but we’ll put aside the semantics for this delicious dish.

Spanish rice served with charro beans, flour tortillas and chicken fajitas

In the collection of recipes passed down to me by my mother, she calls this dish “Mexican rice” (arroz). If you’re familiar with the side dish fideo (vermicelli noodles), you can use nearly the same ingredients and steps to make that recipe as well. What a bonus!

Traditionally, we serve Mexican rice with just about any entree, including tacos, chicken mole, or enchiladas. It’s a Mexican food staple.

3 Reasons Why this Spanish Rice is Authentic

Spanish rice in traditional Mexican clay pot

1. It started with imprecise measurements.

Do you have recipes from your mom that call for ingredients like “a can of” or “a spoon of”? You’re left wondering what size the can or spoon was?

Well, my mom’s original Mexican rice recipe calls for “a large glass of water” leaving me to conduct science experiments to estimate how tall and wide the glass was!

Lucky for you, I’ve decoded the recipe and given more exact measurements below!

2. It involves some chopping and dicing (but not a lot).

Ingredients for making Spanish rice recipe, including tomatoes, onions, bell pepper and chicken bouillon

As I said in my pumpkin empanada recipe, if you’re into instant gratification when it comes to Mexican food, this may not be right for you. However, a little extra work pays off if you’re looking for rich, traditional flavor.

This Spanish rice calls for fresh tomatoes, onions and bell pepper, but it’s really not a lot of work if you’re used to making it weekly as I do. Like my red enchiladas recipe, it’s surprisingly easy to cook once you get the hang of it.

3. This Spanish rice is a family staple.

Spanish rice served with chicken fajitas and charro beans on a red plate

Sometimes I enjoy cooking Italian food or Thai food for the sake of adding variety to the menu, but this Spanish rice is not like that. My extended family and I eat this regularly, and it’s part of our cultural heritage.

If you find yourself frustrated that your rice is too mushy or too dry, see my tips below, but don’t give up. Like most good recipes, you’ll want to taste your dish as it’s cooking and make modifications for the perfect result. Soon, it will become second nature, as it has become for me.

Tip: For a traditional Mexican meal, serve this Spanish rice with chicken fajitas and make cheesecake flan for dessert! Yum!

Tips for Making this Spanish Rice Recipe

Close up of Spanish rice on plate with chicken fajita tacos and charro beans
  • This recipe calls for cutting the onion in quarters, but you can opt to dice the onion instead. (Someone in our family prefers to pick out the onions. Go figure.)
  • If your rice is mushy, you added too much water or had the heat too low. Try letting more water evaporate by removing the lid and increasing the temperature for a few minutes.
  • If your rice looks very dry at 10-15 minutes, add a small amount of additional hot water around the surface, then cover, and leave simmering for another 5-10 minutes at a reduced temperature.
  • Leftover rice may be frozen for future use.
  • When reheating the rice, add a small amount of water to prevent the rice from drying out.

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Mexican rice ingredients and finished rice served with chicken fajitas
Mexican rice on plate with charro beans and guacamole

Authentic Spanish Rice Recipe

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This authentic Spanish rice recipe (Mexican rice recipe) is moist and full of texture with freshly chopped tomato, onions, and bell pepper.

It's a traditional recipe that's easy to prepare and has been passed down through generations of Mexican-Americans.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white rice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped fine
  • 1/2 white onion, quartered or diced
  • 2-3 strips bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated chicken bouillon
  • 1 3/4 hot water

Instructions

  1. Saute rice in 3 tablespoons of oil on medium heat until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes). Stir constantly to brown the rice evenly.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute 1 minute.
  3. Add the diced tomato and cook slightly.
  4. Add the chicken bouillon and stir just to coat the rice.
  5. Immediately add about 1 1/4 cups of the hot water, reserving some liquid to add back later as needed. Stir the rice and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender. Check the rice at 15 minutes to add more water and/or adjust the temperature as needed.
  7. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

For best results, use a medium-to-large greenhouse tomato or tomato on the vine (campari), not roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes may cause the rice to taste sweeter than desired.

If the rice is too dry at 15 minutes of simmering, you can add more water and/or reduce the heat.

Always add hot water to the rice, not room temperature water.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 85Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 183mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram and tag @firstdayofhome!

More Mexican-American Dishes

If you like Mexican food, you'll also love these traditional dishes!

Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest if you try this recipe! I love hearing from you! Also, let me know if you have any questions by commenting below.

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10 Comments

  1. Google news …keep up the great authentic recipes.I think once you get north of San Antonio the crazy versions of Tex-Mex recipes seem to all mostly require a sour cream topping.lol

    1. Thank you, David! I am seeing plenty of traffic but couldn’t tell where it was coming from today. Yes, I agree on the sour cream! I love these traditional recipes. You might like my red enchiladas recipe, too. It’s the kind made with ancho chile peppers and queso fresco. For many years I thought it was complicated, but it’s pretty quick to make. Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. Living in S Texas this so far is an authentic recipe.I hate when restaurants add Veg-All to the rice.I personally will boil chicken seasoned with cumin,garlic,and Knorr Caldo de Pollo,bell pepper /onion and celery .Brown the rice in a little oil and add the chicken and broth to rice.never stir let simmer ,and you’ve got Arroz con Pollo.

    1. I’m so glad you think so! Your arroz con pollo sounds delicious. I’m all about the real veggies when making these dishes. My parents are from S Texas as well, so these recipes are what we actually grew up eating. Enjoy!

      By the way, I’d love to know how you found your way to my site.

      Thanks, Crissy

  3. We love rice and I’m looking forward to trying your recipe. I always cook my rice using a rice cooker. I wonder if I could use a rice cooker or an Instant Pot to make this recipe? Have you ever tried either method?

    1. Hi Paula! I do hope you try it. I’ve never tried making this any other way because I’m so used to it now and can whip it up in about 35 minutes while I cook other things. If I do ever adapt it, I’ll definitely keep you posted!

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Lauren! This is a weekly recipe for us, so I hope you enjoy it. It may take a little practice with how much water to add to get the rice moist but not soggy. It’s worth the practice, though. Enjoy!

  4. Yum, I cannot wait to try this. We love rice and I have been purchasing Spanish rice in the box so this is going to be a treat!
    Hugs,
    Kippi

    1. Thanks, Kippi! Oh, I hope you try making this rice. It’s so fresh and moist. You’re a great cook, so I know it will turn out perfectly. Enjoy the recipe, and hugs back!