Shortcut Spanish Rice Recipe

Red Spanish rice — which, yes, is nearly the same as Mexican rice, though traditionally Mexican red rice is a bit larger and softer — is one of the finest side dishes around. It goes beautifully with chicken, steak, pork, seafood, roasted veggies, and so much more. And in fact, when sliced meats and veggies are added to the rice, it becomes more than a side, but rather the very anchor of a meal. Savory and rich in flavor, Spanish rice is a force multiplier for practically any food you enjoy. The only problem with this dish? The wait.

Most Spanish rice recipes require at least 35 minutes to cook, and many require closer to an hour. But now, thanks to this approach from recipe developer Miriam Hahn of You Care Self Care, you can prep, cook, and serve Spanish rice in a half hour flat. And don't worry, while it's a "shortcut" recipe, you certainly won't get short changed on the taste.

Gather your ingredients for shortcut Spanish rice

You'll need just 5 simple ingredients to make a great (and quick) Spanish rice, plus 3 more optional ingredients to garnish it to perfection. You'll need butter, long grain white rice, cumin, chunky red salsa, and water. What's also advised are diced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, and sliced jalapeños.

And if you're hoping for a spicier Spanish rice, look to the salsa for the solution, opting for a medium or hot version. Hahn says "The star ingredient is the salsa! With all of the flavor and texture in chunky salsa, you don't need to add much else. It is a huge timesaver and really makes this dish an easy pantry recipe."

Melt the butter and toast the rice

Add the butter to a medium-sized sauce pan or a deep frying pan, then bring the heat to medium high. When the butter has melted, add the rice and stir it often, allowing it to toast for about 3 minutes. This quick step will add lots of flavor to the finished dish, and also helps speed the cooking along its way.

Combine all the ingredients and simmer

Once the rice is lightly toasted, add the cumin, salsa, and water, and bring the pot to a boil.

As soon as the mixture boils, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, cooking the rice for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir the pot well and cook the rice for 5-10 more minutes, uncovered or partially covered, until all of liquid is absorbed. "Rice cooking times will vary," says Hahn. "This is a really simple recipe, but since there are many rice variations, it is best to keep you eye on the time and check to see how it is doing. You want most of the liquid to be absorbed, but you still want it kind of 'saucy.'"

Serve and enjoy the Spanish rice

That's it, you're done! The Spanish rice is now ready to serve. Top the servings of the rice with diced red onion, freshly chopped cilantro, and jalapeños, if desired. And if you have any leftover, it will keep well. Hahn says, "This rice will last all week in a covered container in the fridge. You can heat [it] up in the microwave or oven. You can add a little more salsa, or even some water, if it is too dry, as the rice will continue to absorb liquid as it sits."

Shortcut Spanish Rice Recipe
5 from 36 ratings
When you want the flavor of Spanish rice with your dinner, but you don't want to cook a side dish for an hour, try this simple shortcut Spanish rice recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
garnished red rice in bowls
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 12 ounces chunky red salsa
  • 12 ounces water
Optional Ingredients
  • red onion
  • cilantro
  • jalapeños
  1. Add the butter to a medium sauce pan or a deep frying pan. Bring the heat to medium high and, when the butter is melted, add the rice and stir, toasting it for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, salsa, and water to the saucepan, and bring it to a boil.
  3. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low, cooking at a simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir the rice and cook it uncovered 5-10 more minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed,
  4. It's now ready to serve — top with red onion, cilantro, and jalapeños, if desired.
Calories per Serving 51
Total Fat 3.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 7.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 5.9 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Total Sugars 3.4 g
Sodium 603.8 mg
Protein 1.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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