What is Spanish Rice?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Spanish rice is a style of rice which is prepared in Southern and Central America and the American Southwest. It is usually designed as a side dish to be paired with other dishes, although it can also be used as a stuffing for burritos or a layer in one-pot dishes prepared with a Latin American inspiration. The “Spanish” in the name might seem a bit confusing, because this dish actually has nothing to do with Spain, and some people call it “Mexican rice” or simply “arroz,” the Spanish word for “rice.”

Preparation techniques for Spanish rice vary, but the end result is usually a reddish rice with a slightly spicy, slightly smoky flavor. The grains of rice may be slightly gluey, causing the rice to stick together, or the dish may be more dry, allowing each grain to be picked out easily, depending on the region where the rice is made or where the cook learned to prepare it.

Preparation of Spanish rice usually starts with rinsing rice and toasting it in oil, along with garlic and onions, until the rice starts to brown and turn slightly translucent. Then, the rice is covered in chicken or vegetable broth and allowed to steam until it is cooked through. Some cooks add tomatoes, chilies, cilantro, cumin, and other seasonings to the rice to enhance the flavor and to give it the reddish color which many people associate with Spanish rice.


Depending on how it is cooked, Spanish rice may develop a crust on the bottom, where the rice is in contact with the hot bottom of the pan. In some regions, this crunchy, flavorful crust is highly prized, and people may scoop the rice out of the pan and then invert it to encourage the crust to fall out in a single piece. Other people simply go all the way to the bottom when serving a scoop of rice, to include a small chunk of the caramelized crust.

There are many variations on Spanish rice. In the American Southwest, for example, people like to add bell peppers, carrots, corn, and other vegetables to their Spanish rice, while in Mexico, people like to keep it simple and a little dry, using few additional ingredients.

Many markets sell Spanish rice kits to which consumers can just add water. However, it is relatively easy to prepare this dish at home, and people may find that they develop a particularly delicious version at home by playing with ingredients and cooking techniques. Heavy pans, for example, tend to develop a better crust, while thin pans are better for a drier version of Spanish rice.


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Post 3

@purplespark: This is an easy recipe for Spanish rice with a little twist to it. It is cooked in a cast iron skillet. It has bacon in it and is absolutely delicious! You need 6 to 8 pieces of bacon, ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped green bell pepper, 1 can stewed tomatoes, 1 small can tomato sauce, 1 cup rice, salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the bacon in your cast iron skillet. Remove the cooked bacon and set aside. In the bacon grease, sauté the onion and pepper over medium heat. Cut up the stewed tomatoes and add to the skillet with ½ can of water. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Crumble the bacon over the top and serve.

Post 2

@purplespark: This is about the easiest Spanish rice recipe that I have made. It’s simple and delicious. You will need: 1 cup uncooked regular rice, 1 medium onion (c hopped), 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 ½ cups water, 1 8oz. can tomato sauce, 1 small green bell pepper (chopped), and 1 ½ tsp. salt, ¾ tsp. chili powder, and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.

Cook the rice and onion in the oil in a skillet over medium heat for about three minutes. Stir occasionally until the rice is golden brown and the onion is tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat until boiling and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender.

Post 1

Does anyone have an easy spanish rice recipe?

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