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Mom’s Spanish Rice

This Spanish Rice recipe is stuffed with cooked rice, tomato sauce, ground beef, peppers, onions and seasoning. Delicious comfort food!


I just love the smell of Spanish Rice when it is cooking. There is just something about the smell of green peppers, onion and ground beef cooking that instantly takes me back to my Mom’s kitchen. Also, let me say, this is absolutely not authentic Spanish Rice. This is just the name it was given when my Mom was in Home Economics class (where she learned this recipe) in the 60’s. We know it is not authentic and don’t want to pretend otherwise.

A white plate of Spanish Rice.


What goes with Spanish Rice

It is absolutely delicious with my Layered Taco Bake or Mexican Lasagna. If you have leftovers, try making some Stuffed Peppers.
It’s also great with fajitas or Chicken Enchiladas or some Chicken Enchilada Bake.

What other seasonings can I add?

This is just the basic recipe for Spanish Rice. If you really want to amp up the flavor, try adding a little cumin and garlic powder! You could even sprinkle in a little oregano. Cilantro would also be a lovely addition.

What is the difference between Spanish Rice and Mexican Rice?

They are very subtle differences. It all has to do with the seasonings. Mexican Rice has cumin in it and it has the flavors similar to red enchilada sauce. Spanish Rice is more tomato based and the flavors are a bit more subdued.

Can I use brown rice instead?

I haven’t tested it this way personally, but I have seen others use brown rice. I imagine you’ll need a bit more cooking time and probably some more water, tomato sauce, or other cooking liquid when making it.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat: put a cup or so of Spanish Rice into a microwaveable-safe bowl. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of water or chicken broth. Cover with paper towel and heat for about 1 minute. Stir to make sure it is evenly warmed through. Microwave for additional 20-30 seconds if necessary.
You could reheat leftovers on the stove as well.

Can I freeze leftover rice?

Yes. Once rice has cooled to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat when ready to enjoy.

A blue serving spoon holding a scoop of Spanish Rice over a pot.


  • lean ground beef
  • tomato sauce– in place of tomato sauce, you could use salsa. This is an easy way to bring more flavor and even some heat to this dish if that’s what you prefer
  • prepared white rice– If you are using boil-in-the-bag rice, you will need 2 bags of rice for this recipe. 2 cups of dry rice will make 4 cups prepared rice. This is a great way to use leftover rice also.
  • green pepper– could be swapped out for red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • onion
  • salt and pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese– optional, but reallllly delicious when added.
Ground beef, rice, tomato sauce, onion, green bell pepper, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese.


In a large pot, add ground beef, green peppers and onion over medium high heat. Add a dash of salt and pepper to mixture. Cook until ground beef is brown and crumbled and veggies are tender. Drain excess grease.

Put ground beef mixture back into stock pot. Add prepared rice and can of tomato sauce. Stir until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste and check for seasonings at this point. I usually feel it needs just a bit more salt & pepper. 

A large pot with cooked ground beef, onion and bell pepper and a pot with beef, rice, tomato sauce, onion, pepper and spices.

Turn off heat and add cheese (if using) until melted. Stir mixture to combine and serve.

A pot of Spanish rice.


A few large servings of Spanish Rice on a plate.

Originally published: March 2011
Updated & Republished: April 2019

Up close looking at some Spanish style rice on a plate.

Spanish Rice

This Spanish Rice recipe is stuffed with cooked rice, tomato sauce, ground beef, peppers, onions and seasoning. Delicious comfort food!
4.87 from 37 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8



  • In a large stock pot, add 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 green pepper, diced and 1 medium yellow onion, diced over medium high heat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cook until ground beef is brown and crumbled and veggies are tender. Drain excess grease.
    Ground beef and veggies in a pot.
  • Put ground beef mixture back into stock pot. Add 4 cups prepared white rice and 15 ounce can tomato sauce.
    Rice, tomato sauce, beef and veggies in a pot.
  • Stir until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste and check for seasonings at this point (I usually find I need to season with a bit more salt.)
  • Turn off heat and add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (if using) until melted.
  • Stir mixture to combine and serve.
    A few large servings of Spanish Rice on a plate.


YouTube video


  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American


Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 130mg | Fiber: 1g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time tonight. Very easy recipe. I will definitely make it again. Thank you! I am enjoying your site and finding many new recipes to make.

  2. Oh, the 1939 edition of “The American Woman’s Cook Book” is available on Kindle! And it has a recipe for Spanish Rice. It’s a little different, though – no meat, and it’s baked!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the recipe I grew up with, back in the ‘forties. And yes, Mom called it Spanish Rice. She didn’t put peppers in it, but she did use it to stuff them. I figured it was easier to just cut up the pepper into the pot. I always est it with a lettuce and mayo salad. I find it absolutely addictive. If she got the recipe from a cookbook, it would have been The American Woman’s Cookbook, which went through many editions in the first half of the twentieth century. I should have a copy somewhere – have to check!

  4. 5 stars
    I’m so glad you posted this. My mom used to make this but I couldn’t remember the recipe. She has since passed on and never wrote it down. I’ve been searching for this recipe for a long time. It brings back fond memories and is an inexpensive meal. Thanks again.

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this more times than I can count but always forget to comment and rate. Here is how good it is. My adult son was visiting for a week and I made this before I went to work on second shift. On my way home I was anxious to have some only to find he had eaten ever bite of it LOL A family joke since when I make it for a gathering. I add one can of chicken broth and season with Adobo. Thank you for sharing a gret recipe loved by my family.

  6. 5 stars
    Literally kicks ass. Made it for my parents tonight and their only complaint was that I didn’t double the recipe so there were more leftovers. Thanks a bunch!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe came from my grandmother who would have been in high school around 1915 so probably didn’t get it from home ec (or maybe she did, I don’t know). The only difference is we add garlic and use tomato juice not sauce. Everyone in my family loves it!

  8. 5 stars
    I like this recipe. But I would put some cumin in mine. Just gives it an added taste. I also made it with green chiles in it. So good. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  9. 5 stars
    My mother made the exact recipe and it is still a family favorite! The third generation is serving it to their families. Thank you for printing it without any additions. Mom also stuffed green peppers with it, topped with cheese and baked . She parboiled the peppers in salted water first.

  10. 5 stars
    Yum! Having this right now and it hits the spot on this cold, nasty day. Fast and easy too. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 5 stars
    What a great recipe. I love the fact that your Mom got this recipe from Home Ec class way back in the 60’s. I put this on the menu for next week. Thanks so much

  12. 5 stars
    I took home economics in the 60’s in Florida…we had several cook books and I can’t find any of them but I LOVE this recipe I think they are the same books…Can you tell me which books the recipe came from ..I would love to see if I can find them..Thank You

  13. I like this recipe and I intend to try it tomorrow. Gotta get some tomato sauce! BTW, a little cumin would not hurt. I am going to add about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon. Give it a try! It enhances the “Spanish” flavor!

  14. 5 stars
    I’m from Pensacola too and that’s exactly the kind of Spanish rice we used to have and I still make it today. And almost all of my grandmother’s kids went to JM Tate High School and took home economics. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  15. 5 stars
    I have only had the Spanish rice in restaurants, so I will really need to try this and it looks like a really good recipe and easy! The go to dish that we did in home economics was Quiche Lorraine. I loved making it, and it was so simple and easy as well. Haven’t had it in a while I guess I’m going to have to work both of these into the rotation. I love reading your column and all of the comments… Thank you