Rice is a large part of our diet. It’s a staple in our home and we use all different varieties of it for a lot of our meals due to it being easy to make, quick, very filling, and relatively inexpensive. When I saw Spanish Style Rice at Trader Joe’s I became curious because the packaging showed red-colored rice, and not yellow-colored. Traditionally, Spanish rice is yellow due to the saffron that is used during cooking, while Mexican rice tends to have more of a red hue due to the heavy tomato base that is used. Now, this may be me nitpicking, but I wanted to see what it was all about.
Once you read the box, it’s clear that this rice is indeed Mexican rice, not Spanish. The description on the side clearly states, “Also known as Mexican rice, or arroz-rojo”. This made me feel a little better and I knew right away what we would having along with the rice. Keeping with the Mexican theme, we made tacos, and it was a great choice!
How to Cook Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice
The rice was very easy to make. As with other types of TJ’s frozen rice, Trader Joe’s has already pre-cooked the rice and recommends two ways to warm it. You can either microwave the rice for 4.5 minutes on high or heat the rice in a skillet for about six minutes. Since the box contains two pouches of rice, I decided to try both ways to see if there was a difference in taste and texture.
To heat the rice in the microwave you simply put the pouch in seam-side up for 4.5 minutes, and that’s it. That’s right, unlike those Frozen Hungry Man TV dinners your parents used to eat in the 80’s, you do not need to poke holes or do anything extra. Just be careful when you take it out as steam builds up in the bag and it can scald you if you’re not careful. Let it stand for 1 minute before removing and make sure to slowly open a corner of the bag by hand or use a scissor to cut it to release the steam.
Heating the rice on the stovetop was also simple. Simply heat a non stick skillet to high heat for 1 minute, add 2tbsp of water, add the rice, stir, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for six minutes. Make sure to stir the rice occasionally to avoid clumping and to make sure the rice cooks evenly.
Both ways are easy and quick, but I found the texture of the rice after heating it on the stovetop to be superior. Overall the rice was fluffier and almost melted in my mouth compared to the rice heated in the microwave which felt dry and not as good.
What’s In The Box?
The Spanish Style Rice comes frozen in a box with not one, but two pouches and each pouch has two servings within it. I found that each pouch was too much for one person to use as a side, but not quite enough for two people. This made it a little bit awkward to figure out how much to make when cooking dinner for the family.
Pricewise, frozen specialty rice is a bit on the expensive side for what you get. It’s definitely an item that falls in the “pay for convenience” category. It’s easy to feel unimpressed with the serving size of the pouches, with the price of the box coming in at $3.49. Rice is usually one of those cheap pantry staples that you can get a big bag for several dollars and make weeks worth of dinner sides.
You won’t here this very often, but yes, the flavor of Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice was not the best. It lacked the crucial flavors that you would expect it to have. There was a very bland, almost nonexistent flavor to the rice. The ingredients list onion, tomato powder, garlic, and spices among other items, but only hints of tomato flavor were there. It needed some Mexican cheese and a drizzle of hot sauce to add some flavor and this brought the rice to life.
Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice Nutrition Facts
Nutritionally, we compared the Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice to a ready to eat Spanish rice from Uncle Bens. Here is how it compared with similar serving sizes 142g frozen vs 144g ready rice.
Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice Ingredients
WATER, WHITE RICE, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SOYBEAN OIL, SEASONING (SALT, DEHYDRATED ONION, SPICES, DEHYDTRATED GARLIC, PAPRIKA, TOMATO POWDER, YEAST EXTRACT, MALTODEXTRIN, NATURAL FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID [ACIDULANT], PAPRIKA OLEORESIN [COLOR]).
Is Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice Vegan?
Yes, Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice does not contain any ingredients derived from animals and is vegan.
Is Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice Gluten Free?
Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice is NOT labeled Gluten Free. One ingredient that is a cause of concern to individuals with gluten-related disorders is Yeast Extract. It’s recommended by Gluten Free Watchdog that these individuals avoid products that are not labeled gluten free that contain yeast extract or autolyzed yeast extract.
Where to Find At Your Local Trader Joes?
The Spanish Style Rice was located in the freezer aisle at our Trader Joe’s. It was near the frozen Jasmine Rice, Brown Rice and Rice Medley.
Would We Buy It Again?
All in all, Trader Joe’s Spanish Style Rice is an okay side dish to have along with your favorite meal, but it would not be our first pick. In our opinion, the flavor, price, and portion size does not make this a winning item from Trader Joe’s. If you’re in a pinch and need a quick prepared rice to pair with your fajitas then by all means give it a go, otherwise, you can find something else to put your money towards at Trader Joe’s.