Here's my mother's Authentic Spanish Rice Recipe, a delicious dish that includes frozen peas, Uncle Ben's converted rice, and tomato sauce.
Our Family's Favorite Spanish Rice
Our family holds a deep connection to this dish; my mother, from Havana, Cuba, frequently prepared it, making it a cherished part of our meals for as long as I can remember.
In just 30 minutes, you can have a pot of piping hot, genuine Spanish rice—a perfect complement to any meal! Follow these straightforward steps to create this easy side dish, ideal for your next Taco Tuesday!
This Spanish rice recipe is more reminiscent of Mexican arroz rojo and has a tomato-based sauce. It's similar to the rice often served alongside enchiladas and tacos in Mexican restaurants.
What You Need
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion
- Green bell pepper
- Minced garlic, (fresh is best, but you can also use a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder)
- Tomato sauce
- Water or chicken stock
- Tomato paste or ketchup
- Frozen peas
- Long-grain rice (we use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
What Type of Rice Goes into Spanish Rice?
Our homemade Spanish Rice truly shines when made with Uncle Ben's Converted White Rice.
I've experimented extensively with various types of rice over the years—Uncle Ben's white rice, Jasmine rice, short grain rice, long grain rice, basmati rice, and more. Yet, without fail, Uncle Ben's rice consistently delivers the best results.
What sets Converted rice apart is its unique preparation process. It undergoes parboiling and pressure-cooking, resulting in grains that are slightly darker than traditional white rice. Additionally, it has reduced stickiness, making cleanup a breeze after your meal!
Do I Have to Defrost the Peas?
They will thaw and cook quickly in the heat of the dish.
You can select from petite peas, green peas, or spring peas—any type works perfectly. They add a burst of color, sweetness, and flavor to Spanish rice, making it truly delightful! Trust me, it's not quite the same without them!
For the Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce, distinct from marinara sauce, is typically located near the canned tomatoes in your local grocery store. Brands like Pomi from Italy are excellent choices as they contain only tomatoes, free from any preservatives.
If Pomi isn't available, you can get an 8-ounce can of Del Monte or Hunt's tomato sauce as an alternative.
In a pinch, marinara sauce can also serve as a substitute—I've tested it myself, and it works just fine!
How To Make Spanish Rice
- In a 3-quart saucepan or small pot, over medium-high heat, add oil. Let it heat for a few minutes.
- Add onions and peppers and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until soft.
- Add minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add remaining ingredients, and mix.
- Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Stir it and lower the heat to the lowest setting on your stove.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir it all up and serve hot.
What Goes with Spanish Rice?
What pairs well with Spanish rice with peas? Well, according to my mom, the answer is simple: everything!
In a Cuban household, Spanish rice is a versatile dish that can grace the dinner table for any occasion. Its rich flavor complements chicken, beef, and fish, making it a delicious accompaniment straight from the pot.
In your favorite Mexican restaurant, you might find Spanish rice served alongside cheese or chicken enchiladas and refried beans.
Here are some recipe ideas to enjoy alongside your rice:
- Chicken Fajitas
- Shrimp Tacos
- Blackened Snapper Fish Tacos
- Gluten-free Ground Beef Tacos
- Roasted Yellowtail
- Roasted Chicken
- Seared Chicken Breasts
- Fried Fish
- Baked Snapper
For additional sides, consider black beans, refried beans, sour cream, sliced jalapenos, and green onions.
And don't forget, Spanish rice also makes a fantastic accompaniment to burgers and steaks!
Storage and Reheating
To store Spanish rice, cool it down to room temperature after cooking and transfer it to an airtight container before refrigerating.
When reheating, add a splash of water or broth to prevent drying out, then heat on the stovetop, microwave, or in the oven until warmed through.
To freeze Spanish rice, transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag, ensuring to leave some space for expansion, and label the container with the date.
Store it in the back of the freezer to avoid exposure to warm air when the door is opened. Properly stored, Spanish rice can be frozen for up to a month.
Why not add a twist to your evening meal and serve up this easy Spanish rice recipe instead of plain white rice?
Spanish rice with peas, with its vibrant yellow color and flavorful dish that combines fluffy rice with the sweetness of peas, adding a pop of color and texture to every bite.
The combination of savory tomato sauce, aromatic onions, garlic, and bell peppers with tender peas makes a delicious side dish or main course.
While many opt for any long-grain white rice, my mom had a special preference: Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.
Through experimenting with various rice varieties, I've discovered the truth in her choice. Converted rice truly enhances this dish, offering grains that don't stick together and consistently yield fluffy rice.
This quick and easy recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and pairs flawlessly with our shrimp tacos.
Not only is this recipe delicious, but it's also gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian-friendly.
Of course, you can freeze the leftovers! I've enjoyed many bowls of this rice the next day, and it will stay good in the fridge for up to 4 days if it lasts that long. To freeze, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to a month. Don't forget to put a date on the bag and store it in the back of the freezer so it won't be exposed to warm air when you open the door.
Yes, you can easily double this recipe. Just use twice as much as each ingredient and use a 4-quart pot. The cooking time will still be 20 minutes.
I made this recipe with Uncle Ben's Whole Grain brown rice and it works great. The directions are the same; just adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes if you're using Uncle Ben's brown rice and leave out the ketchup. If you have a unique brand or variety of brown rice, follow the cooking time on the box.
Spanish Rice with Peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 garlic cloves pressed or minced
- 8 oz tomato sauce *see note below
- 1 ¼ cups water or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 cup Uncle Ben's converted rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
- In a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add 1 medium yellow onionnions and peppers and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add tomato sauce, water, ketchup, peas, rice, one teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir and lower heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Mix and serve hot.