Updated date:

Spanish Brown Rice Recipe: Delicious, Whole Grain, and Healthy

This recipe is my simple adaptation of my mother's traditional recipe using whole grain brown rice. It's one of my favorites!

Deliciously nutritious brown Spanish rice!

Deliciously nutritious brown Spanish rice!

Growing up in a Hispanic household, Spanish rice was a frequent side dish with our family meals. The aroma of the rice cooking and the incredible sound of the sizzle as my mother added the spice mixture to the browned rice and onion will live forever in my mind.

Today, Spanish rice is still a favorite of mine. As I have begun to eat more whole grains, though, I needed to adapt my recipe a bit to make way for brown rice. This recipe is my simple adaptation of my mother's traditional recipe using whole grain brown rice. Enjoy!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

45 min

50 min

6 servings (1/2 cup each)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Instructions

  1. Add sunflower oil to the bottom of a 2-quart saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of brown rice and finely chopped onion. Cook rice and onion until rice is brown and onion is translucent while stirring constantly (3–5 minutes).
  3. Measure salt, garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper into a small bowl or cup.
  4. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water to browned rice. Expect the pan to sizzle and steam a bit when water is added. Stir.
  5. Add measured spices and stir. You will have a beautiful aroma of Spanish rice in your kitchen at this point.
  6. Add tomato sauce and remaining water. Stir gently until mixed well.
  7. Return to boil. Then, cover and simmer for 45–50 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat, uncover, and enjoy!

What Makes Spanish Rice Taste So Good?

The combination of spices used in Spanish rice is a typical blend of ground cumin, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. I have often said that you could cook an old boot in those spices and it would taste delicious! Though I have never done THAT, I have used this combination of spices in everything from Spanish rice, to potato and egg tacos, refried beans, frijoles a la charra, and more!

If you are going to dabble in Spanish or Mexican cooking, these spices are essential to your spice cabinet.

The wonderful flavor and aroma of Spanish rice comes from this mixture of spices: salt, garlic powder, ground cumin, black pepper, and tomato sauce.

The wonderful flavor and aroma of Spanish rice comes from this mixture of spices: salt, garlic powder, ground cumin, black pepper, and tomato sauce.

Use a small amount of oil (1 tablespoon or less) to brown the rice and sauté the onions.

Use a small amount of oil (1 tablespoon or less) to brown the rice and sauté the onions.

Heat 1 Tbsp Sunflower Oil in a 2 or 3 Quart Saucepan

Heat the oil in your saucepan over medium-high heat while you measure brown rice and finely chop 1 small onion. Then, the oil will be ready for browning the rice and sauteing the onions by the time you prepare the ingredients.

Whole grain brown rice makes traditional Spanish rice as nutritious as it is delicious!

Whole grain brown rice makes traditional Spanish rice as nutritious as it is delicious!

Measure 1 Cup of Brown Rice

This recipe is just as easily made with white rice. For some extra protein and fiber, lentils might also be great to try. I also like to add 1 can of black beans, 1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn, and 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro to the rice to make a delicious one-pot meal. Yummy!

Sautéed onion adds classic flavor to Spanish rice.

Sautéed onion adds classic flavor to Spanish rice.

Finely Chop 1 Small Onion

Chopping onions is probably not your favorite thing. I have learned to make light work of it by letting the onion do some of the work for me. Here's how:

  • Slice the onion in round slices that are 1/4–1/3 inch wide.
  • You should see all of the rings in each onion slice.
  • Cut each round slice in half.
  • Place one half slice on top of the other.
  • Finely chop small pieces of each half ring from the center to the outside of the onion.
  • Each ring creates small pieces and saves time in chopping!
Sautéing brown rice and onion for Spanish brown rice.

Sautéing brown rice and onion for Spanish brown rice.

Sauté Onion and Brown the Rice in Oil

Browning the rice in oil allows it to cook partially and to expand a bit. It is my mother's method, and I don't know all of the reasoning behind it. I only know that her rice is ALWAYS delicious. So, I follow the leader.

It should take between 3–5 minutes to brown the rice and cook onions until translucent. Measure your spices and water. And open the tomato sauce while this is going on. Oh, and stir frequently!

Whole grain brown Spanish rice should simmer in tomato sauce, water, and spices for 45–50 minutes.

Whole grain brown Spanish rice should simmer in tomato sauce, water, and spices for 45–50 minutes.

Enjoy the Sizzle as You Add Spices, Water, and Tomato Sauce

When you pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the browned rice and onions, the pot will sizzle and steam. It is an exciting sound! Add the spices and tomato sauce immediately and stir. Return to boil. Cover and simmer for 45–50 minutes. Enjoy!

Comments

Angelina on August 17, 2018:

What size can of tomato sauce?

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 11, 2015:

This looks delicious and easy to do, Teresa. I would love to give it a try. Voted up for useful!

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on April 11, 2014:

I've been searching for a Spanish Rice recipe as mine does not seem to be as good as it used to be. Your recipe sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 21, 2014:

This sounds wonderful. I love rice. Can't wait for an opportunity to prepare this for my family. Thanks for a great hub. Voted up.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on January 27, 2014:

Yum! And it's even wholegrain! What a great recipe!

Claudia Mitchell on January 27, 2014:

This looks delicious and my family loves rice. Thanks!

Afeighter on August 21, 2013:

I think browning the rice before boiling makes it less mushy/sticky! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on July 02, 2013:

In all the years I have been going to Spain I have never had rice like this. I have many Spanish friends but they don't seem to serve it either. I am definitely going to try this. Pinned and voted up and useful