Beefy Spanish rice is one of the earliest recipes from the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle recipe collection. According to our member favorites, it still ranks in the top five out of hundreds of recipes. Over the years, I made very minor ingredient tweaks, and improved the cooking instructions, but because of its popularity, I didn’t want to mess with a winning recipe too much. This may not even be authentic Spanish rice, it may be more like a Mexican rice entree, but I didn’t want to mess with the original name we’ve used for years either…
Spanish rice can be super simple and is often served as a side dish, but when you give it the treatment and also add protein, it becomes a hearty main course. In this case, the protein is extra lean ground beef. If you’re vegetarian, try the meat substitute of your choice that mimics beef. This is a beef, rice and vegetable skillet – a complete meal – with some unique ingredients to make it different.
This meal can be prepared as a one-pot dish with white rice, (see the recipe here), but it’s always an option to cook rice separately in the rice cooker, while cooking the meat and vegetables on the stovetop, then add the already cooked rice to the meat and veggies. This is also a good method when you have leftover rice you want to use. (When you use leftover rice, you can have this on the table in 20 minutes or less).
Our original recipe uses brown rice, which has a longer cooking time, so start it early enough based on your rice cooker (usually 40 minutes for brown rice, though check the package instructions to be sure). If you opt for white rice instead, this whole meal can be done in 25 minutes of total cooking time. This is a super fast meal to make, suitable for busy weeknights.
One cup of uncooked (dry) rice fluffs up to approximately three cups when cooked. Since this recipe calls for two cups of cooked rice to mix with your beef and veggies, if you want the exact amount, then use 2/3 cup of dry rice which will produce 2 cups of cooked rice, then just dump all of it into the skillet with the beef and vegetables after they’re cooked. Alternately, use leftover rice you made in bulk and scoop out the two cups cooked.
You’ll start by cooking the onions in extra virgin olive oil. Two teaspoons is all you need.
Our original recipe calls for a generous amount of onion. Combined with the green bell pepper and chunky diced tomato, it increases the bulk of the meal so you get to eat more and feel fuller on fewer calories.
Use 95% to 96% lean ground beef if you can find it. If not, simply use the leanest beef you can. If you use 93% lean ground beef, this will have 407 calories per serving instead of 367, and 13 grams of fat instead of 8.
Ground turkey is a good substitute for beef you don’t like beef or if you’re trying to save on every last calorie. Ground beef contains more fat and more calories than ground turkey, as you can see below:
Macros for “Beefy” Spanish rice with 16 oz 99% fat free ground turkey:
In the stores where I regularly shop, the 96% lean ground beef is usually a standard pound and a quarter so that’s why I chose these amounts. It really doesn’t matter to the flavor whether you use 16 oz, 20 oz or even 24 ounces, it will mainly only be a difference in calories and protein.
My first batch of this beefy rice (years ago) was excellent, but I felt that it would have been better if it had more tomato flavor. So on my second batch, I added two tablespoons of tomato paste. There was a big difference. If you prefer your beefy rice to be saucier and even more tomatoey, then instead of tomato paste, or in addition to it, you could add another half to whole can of diced tomatoes or add tomato sauce.
You could use almost any type of canned tomatoes for this recipe: tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes or diced tomatoes. Diced is my preferred choice because then you see colorful chunks of red and green and the dish presents very nicely as opposed to being covered with sauce. One word of warning: read the labels because some canned tomatoes include corn syrup which adds unnecessary calories. In addition, sodium-free versions of canned tomatoes are widely available if you wish to keep your sodium intake down. On the other hand, this tastes best with some seasoning so if you use salt-free canned tomato, you’ll probably want to add more salt before you serve it.
For spices, you might think oregano would be the natural choice, and it is a great option, but I used thyme and thought it worked nicely. I also added garlic powder. You could mince up fresh garlic if you prefer, or use both. Before serving taste test and adjust the salt or any of the seasonings to your liking.
The secret ingredient is Worcestershire sauce! Two tablespoons makes a big difference in flavor. And If you like your food hot, try some Tabasco or hot sauce too.
One of the reasons our beefy Spanish rice is so low in calories and yet is still a big, generous pile of food per serving is because we only add in two cups of cooked rice to the veggie and beef mixture. You end up with a lot of very lean protein and a lot of low-calorie veggies (onion, tomato and bell pepper) with not so much starch. The fat is low because only a small amount of olive oil is used and the beef is extra lean. That’s the secret formula for a low calorie, but filling meal.
If you’re a bodybuilder on a building phase or a highly active athlete, I’d recommend increasing that rice amount to give you the amount of fuel you need. Or, of course you could just leave the rice to beef and veggies ratio the same and take 1.5 servings.
Scale up the batch for a large meal prep, or to feed a large hungry crowd. Trust me, if you don’t skimp on seasonings, this one is a crowd pleaser!
This beefy Spanish rice recipe has been a long-time favorite of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle readers and Burn the Fat Inner Circle members, with 67,435 page views and always voted in the top 10 favorite recipes by members. As of this writing the beefy spanish rice is ranked (by members) as the #5 recipe out of hundreds of recipes.
Enjoy this Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle classic!
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- 2/3 cup brown rice (120g)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 20 oz 96% lean ground beef (567g)
- 5.7 oz green bell pepper (one large) (164g)
- 5.6 oz onion (160g)
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (411g)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp thyme (or to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)
Start your rice in the rice cooker, allowing extra time when using brown rice
Chop the onions and green peppers.
Add olive oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook on medium high about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly
Add ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally (about 4-5 minutes).
Add can of diced tomato, tomato paste, green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Optional: add fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder. Stir to combine. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn heat to medium-low, add rice and stir.
Taste test and adjust seasonings to your liking. Add tabasco if you want some heat.
Let the rice-beef-vegetable mixture simmer for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally, then serve.
Serving: 1.75cups | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.4g | Protein: 32.5g | Fat: 8.9g
About Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details