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

Updated on February 7, 2019
Deliciously nutritious brown Spanish rice!
Deliciously nutritious brown Spanish rice! | Source

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!

3.6 stars from 73 ratings of Spanish Brown Rice

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: 6 servings (1/2 cup each)


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


  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!

How to Cook Brown Spanish Rice

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. | Source

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.

Spanish Brown Rice

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories 77
Calories from Fat27
% Daily Value *
Fat 3 g5%
Carbohydrates 12 g4%
Sugar 2 g
Fiber 2 g8%
Protein 2 g4%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 604 mg25%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
Use a small amount of oil (1 Tbsp or less) to brown the rice and sauté the onions.
Use a small amount of oil (1 Tbsp or less) to brown the rice and sauté the onions. | Source

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.

Wholegrain brown rice makes traditional spanish rice as nutritious as it is delicious!
Wholegrain brown rice makes traditional spanish rice as nutritious as it is delicious! | Source

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!

Sauteed onion adds classic flavor to spanish rice.
Sauteed onion adds classic flavor to spanish rice. | Source

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!

Sauteing brown rice and onion for spanish brown rice.
Sauteing brown rice and onion for spanish brown rice. | Source

Saute 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 tomato sauce while this is going on. Oh, and stir frequently!

Wholegrain brown spanish rice should simmer in tomato sauce, water and spices for 45 -50 minutes.
Wholegrain brown spanish rice should simmer in tomato sauce, water and spices for 45 -50 minutes. | Source

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 spices and tomato sauce immediately and stir. Return to boil; cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Enjoy!

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        17 months ago

        What size can of tomato sauce?

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

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

      • wabash annie profile image

        wabash annie 

        5 years ago from Colorado Front Range

        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.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        5 years ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • VVanNess profile image

        Victoria Van Ness 

        6 years ago from Fountain, CO

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

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 

        6 years ago

        This looks delicious and my family loves rice. Thanks!

      • profile image


        6 years ago

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

      • Sue Bailey profile image

        Susan Bailey 

        6 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

        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


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)