Instant Pot Mexican Rice (sometimes also referred to as Spanish Rice) is a super quick, flavorful side dish perfect for Taco Tuesday. Delicious served alongside chicken, beef, pork or beans, it’s also a really budget-friendly side using white rice and canned tomato sauce.
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Anytime I go to a Mexican restaurant, I always ask for “extra rice, no beans.” I just can’t get enough of the spiced, tomato infused rice. Plain or topped with avocado, salsa and sour cream, it’s the perfect side for any Mexican dinner.
By making in the Instant Pot, we cut down on cooking time and it’s all prepared in one pot. Plus, the rice can be cooking completely hands-off while you focus on preparing all your taco fixings. Make sure to check out Instant Pot Brown Rice or Instant Pot Basmati Rice or any of these other Instant Pot Rice Recipes!
Rice: You’ll need 2 cups of long-grain white rice. You can use Basmati rice, too, if that is what you have. If looking to use brown rice, see the recipe card notes for increased cooking time.
Tomato Sauce: Canned is perfect – you’ll need 1 (8 ounce) can.
Onions and Garlic: Fresh is best, but in a pinch you can use dried minced onions or garlic powder.
Spices: To really punch up the flavor, we’re going to use chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and salt. Feel free to adjust your seasonings once cooked if you like.
Water: This is the cooking liquid for the rice. You can also use vegetable stock, chicken stock or add a cube of chicken bouillon to the water if you like.
- Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker (6 or 8 quart)
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Cutting Board and Knife
- Rubber Scraper
How to Make Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Press “Saute” button on your Instant Pot and allow to heat up.
- Add oil and onions and saute until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Toss in the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
- Add water and tomato sauce and stir to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in rice, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt.
- Close and seal lid, cancel Saute function, and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
- Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then vent lid to release any remaining pressure.
- Lightly stir with a rubber scraper, almost like you are folding the cooked rice, to release any excess moisture and serve!
To make this Instant Pot Mexican Rice using brown rice, simply increase your pressure cooking time to 15 minutes.
To make traditional Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot, allow 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads to steep in the water for 15 minutes and then prepare the recipe as written.
Feel free to use vegetable or chicken stock in place of the water, and you can use 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce. I love using fire-roasted tomatoes.
You can also use salsa instead of plain tomato sauce for a little more kick.
Don’t forget to cook up a batch of Borracho beans to go with your Mexican rice, too!
Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe is really easy and very straight-forward. My one piece of advice comes when the rice is finished cooking. Rather than “fluff” the rice with a fork, my favorite way to stir rice without it getting clumpy is to use a rubber scraper.
Swirl it around the side of the pot and fold it on itself. This will allow all that remaining moisture to escape without working the rice too much. This gives you perfectly cooked rice that still retains its texture.
A lot of people use Mexican rice and Spanish rice interchangeably, so you can use either term most of the time. The one major difference, though, is that Spanish rice gets its color from saffron and Mexican rice gets its color from tomatoes.
Rice will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to reheat your rice, cover it with a damp paper towel when microwaving. This will keep the rice from drying out.
Rice is great because it is so versatile. While Mexican rice is traditionally a side served at Mexican restaurants with refried bean and entree, it is so good with chicken, beef, pork, and even as a vegetarian option. You don’t need to go all out with the taco trimmings to enjoy this quick and easy side dish.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti
- Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
- Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Instant Pot Sloppy Joes
Instant Pot Mexican Rice Recipe
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 2 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Press "Saute" button on Instant Pot and allow to heat. Add oil to pot.
- Add chopped onions and saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off saute function and stir in minced garlic.
- Add water and tomato sauce to pot. Stir, making sure to scrap the bottom of the pot.
- Add rice, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and salt to pot. Stir to mix, making sure the rice is submerged in liquid.
- Close and seal the lid. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
- Once cooking time completes, allow to natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then, release any remaining pressure.
- Open lid carefully and stir the rice gently with a rubber scraper to release any excess steam.
- Garnish with cilantro if desired.
If using brown rice, increase pressure cooking time to 15 minutes.
You can substitute 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I love fire-roasted) in place of the tomato sauce - whichever you have in your pantry.
Storage: Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, cover rice with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
How to Serve: Mexican rice is a perfect addition to any Taco Tuesday. It pairs perfectly with chicken, pork and beef. Delicious as is, you can also dress up Mexican rice with diced avocado or salsa.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 98Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 442mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g