Mexican Rice vs. Spanish Rice: What Is The Difference?


Everyone loves rice. This special delicacy is one of the easiest to prepare and you can eat it with almost anything. You also know that you can prepare rice in different ways to come up with different flavors. Some of those flavors are Mexican and Spanish rice.

So, are you wondering what is the difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice and how to prepare them? You’re in luck because this article will explore Mexican rice vs. Spanish rice to uncover everything about both types of rice and how they taste when cooked. We’ll tell you what ingredients are used to make them, how much time they take to cook, their nutrition facts, and more. So let’s get started.

Differences between Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice

The only minor difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice is the color.  The Spanish rice is red. Spanish rice is also firmer and has a strong aroma. It also does well in dishes, therefore it requires a longer cooking time.

On the other hand, Mexican rice is softer and has a milder flavor. Mexican rice is also more delicate and breaks easily. You can see that for yourself by trying this recipe

So now that you know about the minor difference let’s talk about what makes Mexican and Spanish rice so similar.

Similarities between Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice

Both Mexican and Spanish rice consists of three ingredients which are water, tomato sauce, and onion (onion is optional). Both also take roughly 30 minutes to cook. However, they both require constant attention and stirring (or else it will burn).

Mexican rice is Arroz a la Mexicana or just plain white rice, whereas Spanish rice is Arroz Rojo. Both are commonly used in authentic Mexican cuisine, and both are prepared almost the same way. To make these dishes at home, you’ll need to use either long-grain for Spanish or medium grain as a substitute for Mexican.

Both of these types of rice are technically medium grains. However, long-grain rice will perform better in other traditional Spanish dishes.

Spanish Rice Recipe

This is spooned rice, which doesn’t fluff up, making it perfect for Mexican gorditas. But it doesn’t turn mush easily.


  • 2 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups of water, more if needed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/8 cup of oil
  • One tablespoon minced garlic
  • Eight oz. tomato sauce
  • One cube chicken flavored
  • Dash garlic pepper

Cooking Instructions

  • Start by washing your rice in a cold running water
  • Pour cooking oil in a pan then heat in a medium heat and add rice
  • Stir, coating the rice in oil
  • Add the garlic then cook until fragrant, roughly 1 to 2 minutes
  • Pour in water, tomato sauce, chicken bouillon cube, and garlic pepper. Stir well.
  • Let it stay covered then simmer until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Cook time is 10 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed
  • Do not stir too often, as this will release the starch you don’t want to do. Just give it a gentle stir now and then

What to Serve with Spanish Rice

  • Green Chile Burros
  • Beef Empanadas
  • Red Cheese Enchiladas
  • Baked Chicken Chimichanga
  • Chicken enchiladas

Spanish Rice Nutrition

Spanish rice has a lot of nutritional value. Only one serving cup contains;

  • 210 calories
  • 42 grams carbohydrates
  • 2% dietary fiber
  • 2 grams fat
  • 4 grams protein

Flavor and Texture of Spanish Rice

Spanish rice has a great flavor and texture even without the meat. It is simple to make and goes well with almost any dish. However, it doesn’t have a very strong aroma of jasmine or black rice. Its milder flavor makes it suitable for both sweet and savory dishes. It’s slightly firmer and has more bite than Mexican rice.

Getting Authentic Spanish Rice

Most Spanish rice you see in the stores and supermarkets doesn’t come from Spain. The term will show that it’s the same type of rice, but it’s not grown and imported from another country.

If you’re looking for authentic Spanish rice, check if the packaging has both Spain and EU flags. You can also check online if the rice has European origins.

Alternatively, you can purchase an authentic Spanish brand like Calasparra or Bomba rice. These produce high-quality varieties that are sought after for their cooking properties and flavor.

Mexican Rice

An important thing to note is that Spanish and Mexican rice are not the same. Spanish rice does not contain beans, tomatoes, or chili peppers like its Mexican counterpart.

The latter also has a finer texture compared to European-style rice. While the objective of authentic Spanish rice is for it to be still separate and firm, Mexican rice should be wet.

Apart from handling the job of being the building block of pilaf and casserole, Mexican rice is also used to make empanadas and meat pies. It also shines in recipes such as Arroz con Leche. But if you want to chuck it into the main dish, like creating a stuffing for meat and vegetables, avoid using it in place of Spanish rice.

Mexican Rice Ingredients

  • Use four to eight ounces of tomato sauce, depending on how saucy you want your rice.
  • Substitute chicken broth with water
  • Caldo de Tomate
  • Long grain white rice
  • Use any cooking oil as long as it has a high smoke point

Instructions for Preparing Mexican Rice

  • Pour vegetable oil, then cook your rice until both sides are brown
  • Add your tomato sauce and allow it to cook until the rice is tender
  • Use a few ice cubes instead of water
  • Put in a pot with chicken broth
  • Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes
  • Put some water in the pot if needed while cooking rice
  •  After cooking, cover it and let it rest for several minutes
  • Use a fork or wooden to fluff the cooking pan
  • Serve and enjoy your delicious meal

What to Serve with Mexican Rice

The same as Spanish rice, you can serve Mexican rice with;

  • Chicken
  • Frozen vegetable mix
  • Mashed Potatoes

If you want to add some meat to your rice, then it’s best that you serve the Mexican Rice with Beef Tips or Taco Meat. This way, it will have a taco taste to go along with the delicious enchiladas. If you are not fond of spicy foods, then opt for chicken instead.

Mexican Rice Nutrition Facts

So, how many calories are in Mexican rice? The amount of calories found in the same serving is about 250. This calorie count can increase depending on what you serve it with. If you serve this with beef tips or taco meat, then expect the calorie content to rise. How about fiber and carbohydrates? A single serving contains 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. It also has a couple of vitamins and minerals such as selenium, niacin, potassium, iron, and vitamin B6.

The best thing about Mexican rice is that it contains antioxidants to protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Getting Authentic Mexican Rice

Mexican rice from Mexico is different from the Mexican rice here in the US. It’s not that our version is bad; it’s just that it’s different. Also, authenticity is open to interpretation, so you have to remember that what may be authentic for some people may be total crap for others. Ingredients can vary, but generally, there are common ingredients, including garlic, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and salt.

You can usually find the spices at your local supermarket, but you might have to go to a Mexican market for some of them. If you don’t have access to either one, you can always buy them online.


As you can see, there is no significant difference between Mexican rice vs. Spanish rice. They’re all rice. There may be a slight minuscule difference, but they are all variations on rice for the most part. I hope you have enjoyed this article.


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