Ground beef, cheese, rice, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and Mexican spices come together to make the best Beef Spanish Rice side dish or full meal!
Growing up, my family always complained when my dad made his Beef Spanish Rice. As a kid, I didn’t like the green peppers and onions in his recipe. It wasn’t until later in my life that I learned to appreciate my dad’s recipe.
My dad is famous for his Beef Spanish Rice, and his brothers and sisters are constantly asking him for the recipe! It’s always one of the first things to go whenever my dad brings it to a picnic or pot luck.
In general, Spanish Rice is the perfect side dish for any Mexican dish, and my dad’s recipe for Spanish rice is no exception. Although, my dad’s recipe also includes ground beef and cheese, and so, we often eat Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice as a full meal.
Beef Spanish Rice Ingredients
Many quick and easy recipes I’ve seen for Spanish rice use jarred salsa or canned tomato sauce and spices to flavor the rice. Instead of using salsa, my dad’s recipe uses freshly diced onions, freshly diced green peppers, canned tomatoes, and spices. Dad’s Spanish Rice also includes beef and cheese to make it a full meal.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
Let’s talk about rice for a minute. This recipe starts with cooked long-grain white rice.
Cooking rice gives lots of people lots of grief. It’s not one of my favorite things to cook, but thanks to my dad, he’s also taught me how to make great plain, white rice on the stove top.
I could devote a whole blog post to how to cook perfect stove top rice, and I may just do that in the future. Let me know if you would be interested in a separate blog post on that!
Tips and Tricks for Cooking Rice
Now, 90% of the time when I am making rice, I make it similar to how you would cook pasta. I don’t measure the amount of water I use, and I don’t cover my rice as I cook it. The only time I measure my water is when I am making sticky rice (like in this SPAM Musubi Roll recipe).
In the recipe below, I provide an amount of water to use as a starting point, but it’s not necessary to measure it. You just want to make sure you have an inch or two of water above the amount of rice used.
It’s also critical to season your rice well. To boiling water, add 1 tsp of salt per 1 cup of rice used. Depending on what I am making, I will also add chicken bouillon or chicken base to the rice as it’s cooking which provides additional salt and flavor.
While cooking your rice, stir the rice occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of your pot. It’s also helpful to stir your rice immediately after adding it to the cooking pot to coat all the grains in water.
I cook my rice to taste which takes about 15 to 18 minutes. Just like pasta, rice has a perfect cooking point. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, taste test a grain of rice, and it should be slightly chewy. It should not be crunchy, and it should not be overcooked and mushy. Continue tasting the rice until it’s the perfect texture.
Once, your rice is done, drain your rice in a colander. Do not rinse your rice! That will remove some of the flavor we added to the rice! Finally, you have made perfectly cooked rice!
Using canned tomatoes and tomato sauce in this recipe guarantees the best tomato flavor any time during the year.
Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are also very convenient for busy cooks. Feel free to substitute 2-3 fresh tomatoes for the canned tomatoes if they are in season!
Beef, Onion, Green Pepper Mixture
The unusual ingredient in my Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice is obviously the ground beef. Spanish rice is usually served as a side dish, and the addition of the protein allows the Spanish rice to be served as a main dish.
Many other Spanish rice recipes use chopped onion and green pepper to flavor the rice, and my dad’s recipe uses these ingredients to amp up the flavor too.
While the rice is cooking, ground beef, onions, and green pepper are all sauteed together until the beef is browned and the onions and green pepper are softened.
Finally, cumin, and chili powder added to the ground beef and vegetable mixture during the last 2 minutes of cooking to bloom the spices and to release their full flavor.
Using cheese is optional in this recipe, but I think it really elevates this Spanish Rice.
To make it really special, my dad will substitute 1 cup of fresh cheese for Velveeta (Mexican or original). The Mexican variety of Velveeta is an especially delicious addition because it adds a spicy and smoky element to the dish. I used 1 cup of original Velveeta in the picture above.
If you prefer not to use Velveeta, dice 1 cup of fresh cheese into a small 1/4″ dice and use that instead.
Either way, you will love getting a gooey nugget of melty cheese when taking a bite of Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice! Yum!
Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice Serving Suggestions
As I previously mentioned, my family often eats Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice as a full meal. It also makes an excellent side or pot luck dish. In case you are looking for other ideas, here are some other serving suggestions:
- Use a side dish for any Mexican dish with a side of refried beans.
- Serve with Chile Colorado Burritos.
- Fill quesadillas with the beef Spanish rice and cheese!
- Add to tacos or burritos (like in these Copycat Crisp Bean Burritos).
- Serve with a side salad with Mexican Ranch Dressing.
For another casserole idea, try my recipe for Tator Tot Casserole! It’s another family favorite that’s kid-friendly too!
If you make this recipe, please send me a picture on Instagram, or leave me a comment below! If you love this recipe be sure to leave a rating, and be sure to save this link or image for later on Pinterest or your other favorite social media site!
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Dad’s Beef Spanish Rice
- 3/4 cups Rice uncooked
- 1 cube Chicken Bouillon
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 medium Onion
- 1 medium Green Bell Pepper
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 16 oz Diced Tomato, Canned
- 8 oz Tomato Sauce, Canned
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese divided*
- Salt and Pepper
- Add 3 cups water, 1 tsp of salt, and chicken bouillon to a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Add rice to pot and stir to prevent rice from sticking to bottom of pot.
- Cook rice for 15-18 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rice is fully cooked and just barely has a slight bite to it.
- Drain rice in a colander and return to the pot.
- While rice is cooking, dice the onion and green bell pepper into a 1/4" dice.
- In a 12" skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef, onion, 1 tsp each of salt and pepper until beef is browned and onion has softened.
- Add green bell pepper, chili powder, and cumin to beef and onion mixture, and continue to cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef and vegetable mixture to the rice and stir everything together to combine.
- Taste rice mixture for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper to taste. (I added about another tsp of each.)
- Add 1 cup* of 1/4" diced cheese to rice mixture and stir to incorporate.
- Pour Spanish Rice mixture into a casserole dish, and bake for 30 minutes. Top casserole with remaining 1 cup* of grated cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Serve immediately.