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!
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.
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
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).
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, garlic, 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.
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.
Tips for Making this Spanish Rice Recipe
- This Spanish rice 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.
Pin it for later!
Authentic Spanish Rice Recipe
- ¾ cup white rice
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium tomato (chopped fine)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- ½ white onion (quartered or diced)
- 2-3 strips bell pepper
- 1 tbsp granulated chicken bouillon
- 1 ¾ hot water
- Saute rice in 3 tablespoons of oil on medium heat until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes). Stir constantly to brown the rice evenly.
- Add the onion,garlic, and bell pepper and saute 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomato and cook slightly.
- Add the chicken bouillon and stir just to coat the rice.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let stand 5 minutes before serving.