Just like my Macaroni and Tomatoes, dishes like this have stood the test of time and often do wonders at reminding us of our childhoods. I think it’s so fun to see how a dish with basic ingredients changes as we move around the country or even around the world. From this basic Tomatoes and Rice, to the Red Rice of the low country, to tomato-based jambalaya in Louisiana, to Spanish Rice, to Portuguese Tomato Rice, to Mexican Rice, to Jollof Rice, to Tomato Fried Rice. It’s amazing to see how simple ingredients like rice and tomatoes can turn into recipes that have so much delicious variation.
My version is quick, easy, and filled with great flavor. It’s pretty dang good warmed up the next day, too.
As with a host of other classically Southern dishes, this one starts with a little bacon grease. And while you can certainly replace that with olive or vegetable oil, I would strongly advise against it. The flavor of this dish is built on the combination of the smoky flavors from the bacon grease and the tangy acid from the tomatoes. In fact, I’d say it’s probably worth cooking a batch of bacon just to get the grease to make this.
The dish is pretty versatile, too. I mean, there are TONS of variations of the recipe out there. I’ve heard of folks crumbling bacon into it, adding cooked ground beef, even shredded cooked chicken and turning it into an entire meal. The beauty is that when you get the basics right, you can have fun tailoring it to suit your taste.
A few things to take note of…
I use long grain rice in this dish. Using rice of a different size will change the cook time. Be sure to check the instructions on the package to be sure if you don’t use the same size. Overcooked rice can get pretty mushy and no one likes undercooked crunchy rice.
Don’t drain the tomatoes. The juice in the can helps add even more flavor.
You can use fresh tomatoes in this dish if you wish. I’d use 3 to 4 chopped tomatoes and recommend adding them to the pan right after the garlic and cooking them for 5 to 10 minutes before adding the broth and rice.
And just a reminder: Bacon grease is essential to getting the flavors right in this one. If dietary restrictions keep you from using pork products, I’d recommend looking at some of the bacon and ham flavored seasonings on the market so you can get that smoky flavor this dish needs. Many of them are pork and or even entirely meat free.
Tomatoes and Rice
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, melt the bacon grease over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the rice and stir well. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest for an additional 5 minutes to allow the remaining liquid to be absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
Delicious! Like my mother made.
Thank you so much Linda!
I remember my Mama making tomatoes and rice when I was young. I didn’t care for it as a child, but when I saw your recipe, my mouth started to water! Mama’s wasn’t as fancy. It was very basic. I made it tonight, but I added shrimp. OMG, so good! Thanks for the memories!
So glad you loved it!
I love this recipe we ate it when I was a kid and I eat it now but no one eat it but me thank you for sharing do you have any other recipes
This is a good one! See my other recipes at Southernbite.com
It has a beautiful finishing but my texture was a little gummy I followed the recipe. I used Jasmine king grain rice…
I’m not sure I’ve every used that kind of rice. Glad to hear you still enjoyed it!
Over cooked the rice. Once is rolling boil, cut fire and cover to steam.
My mother added a scrambled and/or a can of tuna, drained. She called it Spanish rice. It was great. Thank you for this site.
You’re so welcome, Dorothy!
In a pinch, I’ll mix seasoned rice with salsa. If I’m in a hurry.
Sounds GREAT to me!
I don’t need this much rice for my husband and I. Can this recipe be successfully halved?
I plan to make the recipe tonight or tomorrow. I hope it goes with homemade turkey burgers.🤷🏾♀️ Ground turkey is what I have in the fridge.
Sounds great! Enjoy!
This is the second time I’ve made this recipe I love it.
Awesome! Love hearing that!!
My grandmother used to make something similar to this. I think she got the recipe off the back of a Hunts can. She would mix it all together and put browned pork chops on top and then bake it covered in the oven. Those pork chops were so tender. I think I will try it your way on top of the stove but still brown some chops to put in it. Thanks for the memory.
You’ve got my mouth to watering!
Stacey, just finished this for supper and did it like I said I was going to by adding browned (thin) pork chops. It turned out great. I think it would also be great with chicken. Thanks so much.
Sounds amazing! I’m certainly going to try that!
We called it Spanish Rice (Irish!) My Grandmother chopped up bacon and fried it with the onion and added the tomatoes to simmer while the rice cooked and then combined. I don’t think my Grandma knew what garlic was! Used to spoon it onto butter bread. Many a lunchtime treat for us 4 kids. I still make it but def. not with petite diced tomatoes. Has to be whole and squished by hand! Thanks.
Thanks, Cindy! Love hearing all the variations.
This will do in a pinch when Homegrown canned tomatoes can’t be found (or have run out). One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten was a simple pork chop with white rice on the side where the Host graciously opened a jar of his Mother’s Homegrown canned tomatoes for us to spoon on top. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Love your recipes, Stacey. I’ll definitely mark this one for trying. Your recipes haven’t failed me yet!
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you!! Hope you’ll enjoy this one, too!
If substitute the can of tomatoes, how many fresh tomatoes would I use?
You’ll need roughly 3.5 to 4 cups of diced tomatoes, so I’d recommend 4 medium tomatoes, diced.
Good. And best. Food
Good stuff !
Don’t mean to sound dumb but what size pot
No worries! I used a 3 quart pot for this one.
Just made this for lunch. Quick, easy and delicious! My kind of cooking. Thanks for sharing, Stacey.
Yum! Now I’m wanting some for lunch, too!
I’m vegetarian; instead of bacon grease what would you recommend I use instead? TY!!
The only option that I know of is to use some vegetable oil and little liquid smoke to replicate the smoky flavor. There are some vegetarian/vegan bacon flavored seasoning out there, too.
We had this so often growing up in FL! I love it ! We ate ours usually as stewed tomatoes spooned over white rice or a can of tomatoes with minute rice added. Often my mom served it with fried ham or on meatless nights when we had “rice and tomatoes and fried potatoes” (stretching out the word “fried” lol.) My now Midwest family doesn’t like it so I just make it for me. This dish really takes me back.
Sweet memories! Thanks for sharing, Gina!
Hey, this dish is what my momma called “mulatto rice”! Also, in Zora Neale Hurston’s book, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, one of the characters fixes mulatto rice for her friend’s homecoming and apologizes for its lack of bacon grease (I agree with you, Stacey–the bacon grease is what makes it SO good!).
Add cut okra, and you’ll have my tomatoes okra and rice dish :)))))
Yum! Love that idea!
Thanks for the post. Will try tonight. Your right those dishes were made out of need for something cheap and available. I’m 84 and remember my Mom making tomatoes and bread, kind of like your crackers and tomatoes. We also had lots of beans and rice dishes. That was during World War two when food was rationed. I also have your cook book. Keep those recipes coming. Love them and you’re stories.
Thanks so much, Darlene!