Tomato Rice

$2.40 recipe / $0.30 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.78 from 9 votes
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I love a big ol’ bowl of hot rice. Rice is filling, cozy, and CHEAP. 🙌 Plus, it’s super easy to add different flavors to rice, so it never gets boring. This easy and flavorful tomato rice uses really simple ingredients that I often have on hand, and it has the most delicious bright yet savory flavor. Plus you can use it as a base for bowl meals, or you can serve it as a side to liven up your dinner plate.

Tomato rice in a bowl with limes and green onion.

What’s in Tomato Rice?

This tomato rice is similar to what a lot of people call Spanish rice or Mexican rice, although I can’t say that my technique is authentic to either culture. It’s simply rice that has been cooked with onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, a couple of spices (cumin and chili powder), and a flavorful broth. So simple, yet SO good! I couldn’t stop taking forkfuls right out of the pot. 😅

What Else Can I Add?

There are a lot of ways you can modify this rice to make it your own. You can swap the vegetable broth for chicken broth for a slightly different flavor, or replace the diced tomatoes with salsa or Rotel. You can also experiment with adding some extra spices, like cayenne or smoked paprika, or even squeeze a little lime juice in with the broth before cooking. Want more vegetables? Try stirring in some frozen peas or diced bell pepper.

I like to garnish the tomato rice with some sliced green onions and lime wedges, but they are not required to make the rice taste great.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

Brown rice requires more liquid and a longer simmer time (2-3 times longer) than white rice. So while I’d need to test this with brown rice before offering exact recommendations, it is definitely possible to make this tomato rice with long grain brown rice.

How to Store the Leftovers

If you plan to use your rice for meal prep or if you want to freeze the leftovers, make sure to divide the rice into single portions before refrigerating to make sure it cools down quickly once in the refrigerator. Once completely cooled, it can be transferred to the freezer for longer storage (make sure it’s in an air-tight container).

The tomato rice can be reheated quickly in the microwave. Add a sprinkle of water or an ice cube before reheating to prevent the rice from drying out.

Close up side view of a bowl of tomato rice.
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Tomato Rice

4.78 from 9 votes
Tomato rice is an easy yet flavorful side dish that uses only a few simple ingredients, and it's sure to liven up any dinner plate!
Servings 8 1 cup each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 45 minutes


  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)
  • 1.5 cups long grain white rice ($0.56)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin ($0.02)
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes ($0.79)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.08)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth ($0.26)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.03)


  • Mince the garlic and finely dice the onion. Add the onion, garlic, and cooking oil to a saucepot and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the rice, chili powder, and cumin to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for a couple of minutes more to toast the rice and spices.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, and broth to the pot. Stir to combine and dissolve and spices that are stuck to the bottom.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and let the broth come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low (or just above low) to bring the broth down to a gentle simmer.
  • Let the rice gently simmer for 20 minutes without lifting the lid or stirring. After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, and let the rice rest for five minutes without lifting the lid.
  • After resting, fluff the rice with a fork to redistribute the tomatoes throughout. Serve hot!

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Serving: 1cupCalories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSodium: 471mgFiber: 2g
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Overhead view of a pot full of tomato rice with limes and green onion.

How to Make Tomato Rice – Step by Step Photos

Chopped onion and garlic on a cutting board.

Start by mincing two cloves of garlic and finely dicing one onion.

sautéed onion and garlic in the pot.

Add the onion and garlic to a sauce pot with 2 Tbsp cooking oil. Sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent.

Rice and spices added to the pot.

Add 1.5 cups long grain white rice, ½ tsp chili powder, and ¼ tsp cumin to the pot.

Rice and spices cooked in the pot.

Cook and stir the rice and spices for a couple of minutes more to slightly toast the rice and spices.

Tomatoes and broth added to the pot.

Add one 15oz. can of petite diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 cups vegetable broth, and ½ tsp salt to the pot. Stir to combine and dissolve any spices stuck to the bottom of the pot. I like to keep frozen tomato paste on hand in one tablespoon portions, just for recipes like this!

Tomato rice before simmering.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low (or lightly above low) to bring the broth down to a gentle simmer.

Simmered rice in the pot with tomatoes on top.

Let the rice gently simmer for 20 minutes without stirring or lifting the lid. After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the heat (lid still on) and let the rice rest for 5 minutes. This is what it looks like after simmering.

Fluffed tomato rice in the pot.

Fluff the rice with a fork to redistribute the diced tomatoes, which float to the top as the rice simmers.

Lime being squeezed over the rice in a bowl.

Serve hot! I like to garnish with a little lime and green onion, but it’s not necessary! The rice tastes great on its own, too. :)

Try These Other Flavored Rice Recipes:

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  1. I made this with brown rice and it basically worked, but I will definitely make some changes when I make it again! First, I think the best thing to do here is cook the brown rice alone, cook the vegetables and spices separately, then mix the two and simmer for about 20 minutes. If trying to make the rice mixed in with the veggies and spices, It takes much longer than it takes to cook plain brown rice. My favorite brown rice takes 50 minutes to cook, so I aimed for 50 minutes here. It wasn’t nearly done, and needed more liquid at the 50 minute mark to continue cooking. I cooked it for a total of 1.5 hours with about 2x as much veggie broth as the recipe recommends. Even so, there were some rather “firm” grains in the pot! I still give this recipe five stars because I obviously did my own thing. Also, the next night, I cooked the leftovers in the microwave with about 1 additional cup broth for 10 minutes on medium. I let the rice sit in the liquid in a covered container for 20 minutes to steam a little and absorb additional broth. It was PERFECT. I think toasting the rice prior to cooking is a mistake with brown rice, too. It seems to make the outer bran layer less able to absorb water. It’s probably fine for white rice, but I don’t eat white rice so I’ve never tried it.

  2. Here to report that this is still terrific even when you replace the diced tomatoes with stewed tomatoes (because that’s what’s in the pantry)!

    1. I was planning on using stewed tomatoes wen I 1st saw this recipe. After seeing your comment there was no question about my choice. Thank you

  3. I love this recipe! It makes a lot of food for basically nothing.

    My favorite way to make this is to add beans (I add red kidney because I like them) to make it a main course and Rotel tomatoes for extra flavor. And, if you’re like me and don’t own a skillet with a lid, you can make this without. You just need extra liquid, to replace it as it burns off. I use twice as much broth and then top it off with water if it gets low. You also have to watch it more carefully so it doesn’t burn on the bottom, but if you don’t feel like buying another dish like me, you can definitely do it!

  4. I have made this at least half a dozen times in the last couple months, and often use it as the base for my weekly meal prep. My kids, 4.5 and 1.5, both love it as well, which is a win. I typically add an extra 1/4 cup or so of water and a little extra of the spices so that when the rice is cooked, I mix in a bag of frozen cauliflower rice and leave it to cook for an extra couple of minutes. For meal prep, I portion it in glass containers, add some diced bell pepper and taco-seasoned ground beef, and top with cheese. I cook in the microwave for two minutes and eat it with guac. Super delicious and a big hit in my house!

  5. Tasted great, I added a bit more of the cumin and chile powder and used chicken stock. Will definitely make again.

  6. This is a great recipe! I used it as a base and ended up adding a green bell pepper, frozen corn, and canned black beans to make it more of a meal. I also doubled the amount of spices. 

    I ended up with tons of leftovers that are now in my freezer. I will definitely be making this again. 

  7. I think this was a great starter recipe! As written the recipe was good but seemed to be lacking a little something so next time I think I’ll use Rotel as well as a pinch of cayenne pepper.

  8. Have loved Budget Bytes for a long time and this recipe doesn’t disappoint! We paired this with the White Bean, Kale, Sundried tomato recipe (and put on top of the rice instead of using garlic bread). Absolutely delish! Thanks for another great recipe :)

  9. Made this as a side dish. Maxed out the capacity of my Instant Pot Zest rice cooker (8 cup rated). Yum! Recipe works perfectly as written but we only use brown or black rice because my wife has an adverse insulin response to white rice so I used the brown rice setting on my rice cooker. It was great to find a recipe that used garbanzo beans but I think I’ll rotate different types for variety. This would be a great way to use pinto beans; they get no love. Definitely going to be part of the starting rotation!

    1. “Can I Use Brown Rice?” Just to clarify, I used the liquid levels from the recipe and it worked great with the brown rice setting on our rice cooker. Generally with all rice (we don’t use white) we use a 2X water to rice ratio and I think that’s pretty close given the ingredients that are not drained.

  10. I have made this twice in a week now with 2 different main meals. I absolutely love this recipe. Comes out amazing everytime.

  11. So yummy and easy to make for a weeknight meal! Tasted like it came from a restaurant. I paired this with cheesy pinto beans, a salad, and peach chipotle salsa and corn chips for a fun easy dinner!

  12. just made this for my easy weekend meal. i used the regular sized cut diced tomatoes since that’s what i had on hand, it’s chunky but still tastes great. yay!

  13. The recipe says it makes 8 servings of 1 cup each. Is that right? From 1.5 cups of rice?

    1. Hi Cheryl! One cup of long-grain​ brown rice will yield almost four cups of cooked rice. When you include the tomatoes etc, you get about 8 one-cup servings. XOXO -Monti