With both their rivals winning the day before, the pressure was on Carlo Ancelotti's side to pick up the three points from a stadium they had lost at last season, but Jese settled any nerves they might have had with an early goal.
Benzema doubled Real's advantage on 27 minutes and midway through the second half Modric got the goal his recent form had merited.
The result means Madrid stay level on points with Barcelona and Atletico at the top of the table, second to the Catalans on goal difference.
Bilbao's home run ended
Athletic Bilbao's unbeaten league record at their new San Mames stadium came to an end as Espanyol claimed a deserved 2-1 win.
Goals by Sergio Garcia and Diego Colotto ensured Espanyol wrapped up a notable double, having beaten Athletic in September's reverse fixture, and also making it back-to-back league wins after their 1-0 victory over Granada last time out.
Carlos Gurpegi hit Athletic's reply early in the second period but it could not fire the hosts to an improved overall performance and Colotto duly made them pay with the winner after 65 minutes.
Aritz Aduriz was sent off late on to wrap up a miserable night for the hosts, whose unbeaten home run in La Liga came to an end at the 13th time of asking. Athletic had won nine of their previous 12 league matches at their new home, although they did lose to Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey.
Race for Europe
Just outside the European places, Sevilla and Valencia played out a goalless draw notable for a missed penalty from Ivan Rakitic on the hour mark and red cards on both sides - Valencia's Ricardo Costa in the 50th minute and Sevilla's Denis Cheryshev at the death.
Piti scored a crucial goal for Granada as the Andalusian side beat local rivals Real Betis 1-0 to ease their relegation fears while adding to those of their opponents.
In a bad-tempered clash which saw both teams finish the game with 10 men, Piti claimed the winner just after the half-hour mark.
Granada's Dani Benitez was shown a straight red card with 10 minutes to go and Antonio Amaya picked up a second yellow card in the dying minutes in a match which saw referee Jose Antonio Teixeira Vitienes show a total of nine yellow cards as well as the two reds.