Easy Spanish Rice

This Spanish Rice recipe is fluffy, packed with Spanish inspired flavor and a family favorite. This rice dish is very easy to make and requires one pot and about 40 minutes. Top with fresh cilantro or peppers for the perfect finish!

close up bowl of spanish rice topped with fresh cilantro


Spanish Rice vs. Mexican Rice

Although they might sound interchangeable, they actually do have a key difference. Traditionally, Spanish Rice has a more yellow color and is seasoned with spices like saffron and turmeric to get its hue. It is also made with a long grain white rice.

Mexican rice is seasoned with cumin and has a tomato base giving it a more red color and different texture. In America, the two names have become interchangeable despite very large difference in spices and geographic origination.

close up angle of spanish rice in a white bowl

How to Make Spanish Rice

Word to the wise, don’t rush cooking rice. Many folks want to crank the heat to speed up the process, but then the rice won’t be the correct texture.

  1. Wash rice with water several times until water runs clear. This prevents rice from being gummy.
  2. Next, heat olive oil and brown the rice, add garlic towards the end of browning.
browning rice in a pot
  1. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover.
how to make spanish rice
  1. Once cooked, use a fork to fluff the rice, then serve warm with toppings and main dish of choice. 
cooking spanish rice

Spanish Rice Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Wash rice with water several times.
  2. Add the rice and olive oil to the bowl of the Instant Pot and turn on SAUTE mode, browning well and then adding garlic.
  3. Next, add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and seal, cooking on high pressure and using a natural release.
  5. Once the pressure is released, remove the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice.
wooden spoon with spanish rice

Tips & Suggestions

Wash the Rice: Before starting your Spanish rice be sure to thoroughly wash and rinse your rice of choice with water. This will help remove the surface starch from the rice meaning it will get fluffy when cooked and not gummy. You can use a bowl or strainer to wash your rice. 

Rice Suggestions: I like to use long grain rice because I find it gets fluffier and cooks better than short grain rice. You can use brown rice if you wish, but the cook time will be different. oir brown rice you will need to cook your rice longer for 50-60 minutes.

overhead close up of spanish rice with cilantro

Tomato Sauce Hack: If you want to add more flavor to your rice you can swap the tomato sauce out for your favorite salsa. This will also add more heat.

Spanish Rice Pairing Ideas

Spanish rice is delicious be itself, but you can also jazz it up and make it into a beautifully prepared side dish or even entree. Here are my favorites:

  • Fresh cilantro
  • Jalapeno
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Fresh parsley
spoon digging into spanish rice

Other variations including adding chopped canned tomatoes to the finished rice, grated bell pepper or pimento or even rinsed black beans or pinto beans.

As an entree, pair with smoky grilled flavors, especially seafood like Grilled Snapper, Grilled Chicken or Spanish Chicken. I also love it with seared scallops and chimichurri steak.

Storage & Freezing

How much rice should I make per person? As a general rule, I usually make ¼ a cup of uncooked rice per person. This will result in about 1 cup of cooked rice per person. If you want a larger or serving of rice then please adjust accordingly.

rice pilaf in a white serving bowl

However, if you have leftover, you can store leftover rice in an airtight container for up to 6 days. Reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop until warm before serving.

Cooked rice can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let the rice cool completely then seal in an airtight freezer bag and store flat in the freezer. Reheat directly from the freezer or let thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to serve. 

easy spanish rice for pinterest

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close up of spanish rice in a bowl
overhead of spanish rice in a white serving bowl

Spanish Rice

4.78 from 9 votes
Easy Spanish Rice is seasoned with saffron, cumin and tomato base- the perfect zesty Spanish flavors and beautiful colors.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8



  • Rinse rice in a colander under cold water until water runs clear.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat, add rice and brown for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional 1 minute.
    browning rice in a pot
  • Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt, paprika cumin and saffron, stirring well.
    how to make spanish rice
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until no liquid remains and rice is cooked.
  • Once cooked, use a fork to fluff the rice, then serve warm topped with fresh cilantro.
    fluffing rice
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!


Instant Pot Instructions: Cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 7 minutes then let the Instant Pot fully natural release. 


Calories: 200 kcal, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Protein: 9 g, Fat: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Sodium: 332 mg, Potassium: 368 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Vitamin A: 161 IU, Vitamin C: 2 mg, Calcium: 17 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Caitlyn Erhardt
Calories: 200
Course: Side
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: spanish rice
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
super close up of spanish rice
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Any Spanish recipe I come across makes me miss our Spanish student. Definitely going to give this rice a try!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the most delicious Spanish rice recipe out there! I’ve never added paprika before, so that is the true secret ingredient! Yum!

  3. 5 stars
    Such a delicious side dish that does not disappoint! Paired perfectly with enchiladas; excited to enjoy this again tomorrow for Taco Tuesday!

  4. 5 stars
    This really was super easy to make! We added it to our burrito bowls over the weekend and it tasted great!