This quick and easy Spanish rice is full of flavor and can be made with pantry staples in less than 30 minutes.
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I make this version of Spanish rice (also called Mexican rice) to serve with beans, in burritos and burrito bowls (try it with my spicy Jackfruit Tinga!), or just by itself when I want something more flavorful than plain rice. The canned tomatoes and broth are used instead of water to add color and additional flavor to the rice. You likely already have all of the ingredients needed to make this tasty side dish, and only need to use one pot!
While there are many variations, Spanish rice is typically made with tomato, onions, garlic, broth, and spices like oregano. While the dominant flavor is tomato, it’s subtle, and all of the other flavors blend together nicely. As with most delicious dishes, sautéed onions and garlic are the foundation.
How to prepare the rice and what type of rice to use
Although this recipe calls for white rice, you can use brown rice if you’d prefer. It will take longer to cook—40-45 minutes.
Toasting the rice prior to adding the liquid ingredients adds a subtle nutty flavor, and allows the garlic and onions to coat the grains before cooking. You can toast most types of grains before cooking to enhance the flavor, so try it for other recipes too!
Tomatoes give Mexican rice its vibrant orange color. In addition to color, the canned tomatoes in this recipe add flavor and liquid. If you’d prefer to use fresh tomatoes, you can replace the can of diced tomatoes with 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Some variations of Spanish rice only call for tomato sauce or tomato paste, but I like including the tomato chunks.
Types of broth to use
Much of the flavor in this rice comes from the broth, so be sure to use one you like. You can use regular vegetable broth, but I’d recommend using a vegan “chickenless” broth or bouillon. The “no chicken” Better Than Bouillon is a popular one, and I also like this vegan chicken base from Bulkfoods.
I use bouillon all the time as a base for soup, rice, stir fry sauce, and marinade. Keeping cubes or powder in your pantry takes up a lot less space than cans or cartons of broth too.
Easy Spanish Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or vegan chickenless broth
- 1 15- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano use Mexican oregano if you have it
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until golden.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the rice, stirring to coat with the onions and garlic.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper.
- Stir to make sure there's no rice stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft.
- Let the rice rest for 4 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.
- If you'd prefer to use fresh tomatoes, replace the can of tomatoes with 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes and 1/2 cup water.
- You can use brown rice in place of white rice, but you'll need to cook the rice for at least 40 minutes. The onions will be a lot softer as well.
Ways to serve your Spanish rice
- In burritos or burrito bowls! Add some black beans or refried beans and a meat alternative like vegan chorizo or jackfruit.
- On a fajita plate alongside beans and grilled vegetables. Don’t forget to add chips and salsa!
- By itself with some chopped cilantro and a side of your favorite salsa.
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