Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole



Here’s a delicious and budget-friendly recipe that will provide hearty dinners for several nights:

Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole


  • 1 box of Rice a Roni Spanish rice (prepared as directed on the box)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a baking dish and set aside.
  2. Prepare the Rice a Roni Spanish rice according to the package instructions. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, brown the lean ground beef over medium heat until fully cooked. Drain any excess grease.
  4. Add the chopped onions, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper to the skillet with the cooked ground beef. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in the can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies (undrained), salt, black pepper, and ground cumin. Let the mixture simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  6. Add the prepared Spanish rice to the skillet with the beef and vegetable mixture. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese over the rice and beef mixture in the skillet. Stir until the cheese is melted and well incorporated.
  8. Transfer the cheesy Spanish rice mixture to the greased baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
  9. Sprinkle additional shredded sharp cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the casserole is heated through.
  11. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.
  12. Serve hot, and enjoy! This casserole can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days and reheated for easy dinners throughout the week.

Here are some tips to make your Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole even more delightful:

  1. Customize the Seasonings: Experiment with different seasonings to tailor the flavor to your liking. You can add smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, or oregano for extra depth of flavor.
  2. Use Fresh Ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh bell peppers and onions for the best flavor and texture. You can also add other vegetables like diced tomatoes, corn, or black beans for extra color and nutrition.
  3. Add Fresh Herbs: Finely chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley can add brightness and freshness to the casserole. Sprinkle them over the top just before serving for a pop of color and flavor.
  4. Incorporate Sausage: Instead of or in addition to ground beef, you can use sausage for a flavorful twist. Italian sausage or chorizo would work well in this casserole and add an extra layer of spiciness.
  5. Mix in Sour Cream: For added creaminess, stir in a dollop of sour cream into the rice and beef mixture before transferring it to the baking dish. This will add richness and a tangy flavor to the casserole.
  6. Layer with Tortilla Chips: For a crunchy topping, crush some tortilla chips and sprinkle them over the cheese before baking. This adds a satisfying texture contrast to the creamy casserole.
  7. Add Heat: If you like spicy food, add chopped jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce to the casserole mixture for some heat. You can also use spicy Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies instead of the regular variety.
  8. Let it Rest: Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes after baking before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and makes it easier to slice and serve.
  9. Garnish with Avocado: Serve the casserole with sliced avocado or a dollop of guacamole on top. The creamy avocado adds richness and complements the flavors of the dish.
  10. Serve with Sides: Pair the Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole with your favorite sides like a crisp green salad, steamed vegetables, or warm tortillas for a complete and satisfying meal.

By incorporating these tips, you can elevate the flavors and textures of your Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole for a truly delightful dining experience!

Certainly! Achieving the perfect Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole involves attention to detail and a few secrets:

  1. Quality Ingredients: Start with high-quality ingredients, including fresh vegetables, lean ground beef, and flavorful cheese. The quality of your ingredients will greatly impact the taste of the final dish.
  2. Sauté the Vegetables: Take the time to properly sauté the onions and bell peppers until they are soft and caramelized. This step enhances their natural sweetness and adds depth of flavor to the casserole.
  3. Seasoning Layering: Layering the seasonings throughout the cooking process ensures that every bite is packed with flavor. Add salt, pepper, and spices to each component of the dish (rice, beef, and vegetables) as you cook them.
  4. Proper Cheese Melting: When adding cheese to the casserole, stir it in gradually over low heat to ensure it melts evenly and forms a creamy, cohesive mixture. Avoid high heat, which can cause the cheese to become greasy or stringy.
  5. Don’t Overcook the Rice: Cook the rice until it is just tender, with a slight bite to it. Overcooked rice can become mushy and affect the texture of the casserole.
  6. Customize the Cheese Blend: Experiment with different types of cheese or cheese blends to find the perfect combination for your taste preferences. Sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend are all great options.
  7. Let it Rest: Allow the casserole to rest for 5-10 minutes after baking before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the casserole to set, making it easier to slice and serve.
  8. Covering During Baking: Cover the casserole with foil during the first part of baking to prevent the cheese from browning too quickly. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to allow the cheese to develop a golden crust.
  9. Garnish for Freshness: Garnish the finished casserole with fresh herbs like chopped cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and freshness. This adds a bright contrast to the rich flavors of the dish.
  10. Reheating Carefully: When reheating leftovers, cover the casserole with foil and reheat in the oven at a low temperature to prevent the cheese from becoming rubbery. Alternatively, reheat individual portions in the microwave with a damp paper towel to retain moisture.

By following these secrets, you can achieve a perfect Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole that is flavorful, creamy, and satisfying every time!

Here are some popular questions and their answers related to Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole:

  1. Can I use a different type of rice? Yes, you can use different types of rice such as long-grain white rice or brown rice. However, adjust the cooking time and liquid amount according to the specific type of rice you choose.
  2. Can I make this recipe vegetarian? Absolutely! You can omit the ground beef and use plant-based alternatives like vegetarian ground “beef” or crumbled tofu for protein. Additionally, you can bulk up the dish with extra vegetables like corn, black beans, or diced zucchini.
  3. Can I make this recipe ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it before baking. When ready to serve, simply bake it in the preheated oven until heated through and bubbly.
  4. Can I freeze Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole? Yes, you can freeze this casserole for future meals. Prepare the casserole as directed, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake in a preheated oven until heated through.
  5. What can I serve with Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole? This casserole pairs well with a variety of side dishes such as a simple green salad, steamed vegetables, tortilla chips, or warm flour tortillas. You can also serve it with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, or salsa for added flavor.
  6. Can I customize the ingredients in this recipe? Absolutely! Feel free to customize this recipe to suit your taste preferences. You can add extra vegetables, swap out the type of cheese, or adjust the seasonings to your liking.
  7. How can I make this dish spicier? To add more heat to the casserole, you can use spicy Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies or add chopped jalapeños to the beef and vegetable mixture. You can also sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes over the top before baking.
  8. How long does leftovers last in the refrigerator? Leftover Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave or oven until warmed through.
  9. Can I use a different type of meat? Yes, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or pork instead of ground beef if you prefer. Just ensure that the meat is fully cooked before adding it to the casserole.
  10. How can I make this recipe gluten-free? To make this recipe gluten-free, use a gluten-free brand of Spanish rice mix and ensure that all other ingredients, such as the canned tomatoes and seasonings, are gluten-free as well.

These are some common questions and answers that can help you with making and enjoying your Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole!