Nearly Fool-Proof Spanish Rice

Spanish rice is the perfect accompaniment to Mexican, TexMex, and Spanish entrees. It tastes great with chicken, steak, and is especially delicious when topped with homemade salsa. It’s a simple recipe, but packs a serious punch in the flavor department. With a little love, you can make a batch of Spanish rice that will rival your favorite restaurant’s recipe. Bold claims, I know.

I’ve been making this recipe for years, and it’s been a personal mission of mine to master it. Finally, a recipe that produces consistent results. I’m a “little bit of this, little bit of that” cook, but this one needed to be documented. It’s a mish mash of what I’ve learned watching friends and family, and lots of trial and error.

I grew up eating and cooking Mexican food with my family, and this dish just feels nostalgic and comforting to me. Mexican is one of the first styles that I began to cook as a child, and really helped me find my groove in the kitchen and the confidence to start experimenting. There were many failures before the successes, mostly in the form of mushy rice, and over salted food, all of which were graciously eaten by my family. The kinks have been ironed out, and the recipe is finally complete. I’ve made dozens (maybe hundreds) of batches of this rice, and it’s well loved in our family.

I’ve called this Spanish Rice recipe “Nearly Fool-Proof” because it’s so very simple. It’s not  absolutely fool proof though, and here are a few mistakes I have made that resulted in a less than stellar batch:

  • Forgetting to rinse your rice:

Rinsing the rice removes a bit of the excess starch and will help you avoid an overly mushy or sticky batch

  • Burning the rice during the saute stage:

Burnt rice is bitter. Have all of your liquid ingredients ready before you start sauteing the rice. It will go from toasted to burnt VERY quickly. I’ve wrecked many a batch by scrambling to open a can of tomato sauce before the rice burns.

  • Stirring the rice during the steaming stage:

Once you cover that rice, hands off! Opening the lid will release the steam, and your rice won’t cook evenly. Stirring will make your rice gummy – we definitely don’t want that.


  • 1 and 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons high smoke point oil, such as peanut
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (fine mince)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (minced)
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels (I use frozen)
  • 1/3 cup peas (I use frozen)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or 2 cups water + 1 bullion cube)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, such as goya (fine mince)
    • I used 4 peppers for a spicy batch. For sensitive palates, use only 1. There are about  8 peppers in a can, and they can be frozen for later use.

See those crispy bits in there from the bottom of the pan? Oh lord. Those are magical.


I’ve had the most success making this rice in a large non-stick skillet. Mine is a 12 inch with a tight fitting lid, and is just the right size for a 1 and 1/2 cup batch of rice.

Recipe yields about 5 cups of cooked rice

  • Add your rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse well.
  • Allow rice to drain over the sink while you prep the veg
  • Stir together broth and tomato sauce, and have at the ready
  • Heat your skillet to medium-high heat and add peanut oil
  • Saute rinsed rice until it no longer clumps together, and becomes bright white with some golden flecks, about 5 minutes
  • Add chopped onion and garlic and saute briefly, about 1 additional minute
  • Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
  • Cover rice and reduce heat to low/simmer
  • Cook rice on low, with cover for 25 minutes (I like to set a timer)
  • Remove lid and fluff rice, turning from the bottom with a spatula.

Dramatic rice, sexy rice

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