If your family loves Mexican food as much as ours, you're going to want to keep this Instant Pot Mexican rice handy. This homemade Mexican rice tastes like it came from your favorite neighborhood cantina. And, it's the perfect side dish to make ahead and make extra because it's so darn easy and you you can pair it with anything Mexican.
For a quick and easy weeknight meal, serve this easy Mexican rice recipe with our Instant Pot black beans, or top it with frozen air fryer taquitos, shredded cheese and our delicious salsa verde and this super simple homemade guacamole.
WHAT IS MEXICAN RICE?
Mexican rice also called Spanish rice and "arroz rojo" for it's bright red color is rice that's been browned with onions, peppers, and garlic and simmered in spices and tomato sauce. This flavorful red rice is a common ingredient or side dish in many Mexican entrees and is often considered restaurant style Mexican rice in the United States.
❤️ WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS INSTANT POT MEXICAN RICE RECIPE
✔️ The rice cooks up fluffy and flavorful in under 20 minutes. This is a no fail method!
✔️ Great for meal prepping (freezes well!). Make some ahead for later.
✔️ Versatile side dish that goes with just about any Mexican dish.
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You may have all of the ingredients for this restaurant style Instant Pot Mexican rice in your refrigerator or pantry and not need to make a trip to the grocery store. See recipe card below for ingredient amounts.
- Tomatoes: Whole, cored tomatoes, fresh or canned.
- Onion: A medium yellow (or white) onion coarsely chopped.
- Jalapeño peppers: What it does in the recipe or possible substitutions, general info about it or nothing if there's nothing to say.
- Rice: We're using long grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear.
- Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil
- Garlic: Mince the garlic yourself or buy it pre-minced
- Broth: Use vegetable broth or chicken broth but water is ok if you don't have either.
- Tomato Paste: We like to buy the tubes of tomato paste because you can just use a little.
- Seasoning: Salt, fresh cilantro and lime
Spicy Mexican Rice: Add an extra jalapeño to make your rice more spicy.
Add Salsa: Add 1 ½ cups salsa into the pot for more flavor. Reduce salt to ½ teaspoon.
More Robust Seasoning: Add ½ teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder.
Add Saffron: Soak ¼ teaspoon of saffron strands in water before adding it to the pot for a floral, earthy flavor and a yellow color.
Mexican Rice Skillet: Place rice in skillet. Mix in canned corn, canned sliced black olives, canned diced jalapeño pepper and sautéed onions. Top with cheese and place in 400ºF oven for 10 minutes.
This section shows how to cook Mexican rice in the Instant Pot, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
PREP JALAPEÑO: Remove seeds and mince remaining jalapeño.
🔴 TIP: Use caution when handling jalapeños, as the oils on the seeds and ribs can cause a burning sensation on your hands. Wear kitchen gloves if you can or just be extra careful not to touch the seeds and ribs with your fingers.
SAUTÉ RICE: Set Instant Pot to saute function and add oil. When oil is hot, add rice. Stir frequently. Sauté until rice is translucent and begins to become light golden brown.
SAUTÉ VEGETABLES: Add garlic, minced jalapeño. Sauté for a minute. Turn Instant Pot off.
ADD LIQUID: Pour in 1 cup of puréed onion mixture, ½ cup broth, tomato paste and salt.
PRESSURE COOK: Put on the Instant Pot lid and lock. Turn pressure valve to sealing position. Set high pressure or manual setting to 4 minutes.
NATURAL RELEASE: When Instant Pot is done, allow 10 minutes of natural release. Then, carefully turn valve to vent and quick pressure release remaining steam.
FLUFF & GARNISH: Unlock lid and remove. Fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Instant Pot – This recipe requires an Instant Pot, but you could also adapt this recipe to the stove top. An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker with added technology features to make pressure cooking safer and more automated. An Instant Pot is a great tool for shortening cooking time and locking in moisture.
HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN RICE AHEAD
After you've cooked and cooled your rice, portion the rice into ziplock freezer for 4-6 months. When you’re ready to use you can thaw the rice in the fridge or cook straight from the freezer. Use a microwave safe bowl to microwave the rice on high stirring every 2 minutes until rice is hot throughout.
HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN RICE IN A DUTCH OVEN
If your Instant Pot is otherwise occupied, Stefanie's got an excellent dutch oven take on Mexican rice. You'll need a bit more water/broth (2 ½ cups) and tomato paste (¼ cup), plus cumin, creole seasoning and a can of Rotel (but regular canned tomatoes is ok, too).
- Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium in a large dutch oven. Saute diced onion, jalapeno and garlic for 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Mix in the tomato paste, ¾ teaspoon cumin, and 2-3 teaspoon creole seasoning (we like Tony Chacer's) until combined (mixture will be thick and paste-like).
- Stir the rice into the mixture and then stir in the water and the can of Rotel.
- Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Garnish with fresh squeezed lime juice and chopped cilantro.
TIPS FOR THE BEST MEXICAN RICE
Follow these tips to make the best Mexican rice.
✔️ Keep a 1:1 ratio of rice and water/broth.
✔️ Don’t crowd the air fryer. Leave some room in between the chicken pieces to allow the skin to get crispy.
✔️ Flip halfway through. Flipping the chicken helps it cook more evenly. It doesn’t really matter, though, if you place it skin side down first or skin side up.
Refrigerate: Sore in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. To reheat, just microwave or reheat on the stove for a few minutes.
Freeze: Mexican rice freezes really well. Portion the rice into airtight freezer bags and store in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Defrosting: Thaw rice in the fridge or cook straight from the freezer. Use a microwave safe bowl to microwave the rice on high. Stir about every 2 minutes until rice is hot throughout.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SPICY MEXICAN RICE
Mexican rice goes with just about any Mexican dish. You can top it with grilled chipotle chicken kabobs, use in chipotle chicken burrito bowls, and serve with air fryer taco stuffed shells or Instant Pot carnitas.
MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For perfect results every time, here are answers to the most common questions about cooking Mexican rice in the Instant Pot.
Unlike stovetop rice cooking, you'll only need a 1:1 water to rice ratio when cooking long grain white rice in the Instant Pot.
If your rice is mushy or sticky, the rice has absorbed too much liquid. One way to avoid this is to use the 1:1 water to rice ratio so your rice is fluffy and not gluey.
Plan on ¼ cup uncooked rice per person. Fully cooked, the rice will be about ¾ cup per person.
We love using long-grain white rice because it gets fluffy and does not get sticky like some of the short-grained rices.
You can use brown rice in place of white rice. Just add ⅓ cup more water per cup of brown rice.
The real question is what CAN'T you put on top? Add whatever you love most. You can top it with cheese, sour cream and beans, or chopped peppers, cilantro, onions and green onions.
Yes, Mexican rice can be frozen to be used at a later date. Just portion the rice into ziplock freezer bags and place in the freezer for 4-6 months.
- 6 ounces tomatoes - ripe and cored
- ½ medium yellow onion - coarsely chopped
- 2 jalapeños
- 1 ½ cups long grain rice - rinsed until water runs clear
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 ½ cup broth - vegetable, chicken or water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ tspn salt
- In a blender or food processor, add tomatoes, onion, 1 jalapeño. Reserve 1 cup of the puree.
- Remove seeds and mince remaining jalapeño.
- Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add oil.
- When oil is hot, add rice. Stir frequently. Sauté until rice is translucent and begins to become light golden brown.
- Add garlic, minced jalapeño. Sauté for a minute. Turn Instant Pot off.
- Add 1 cup of puréed onion mixture, 1 ½ cup broth, tomato paste and salt.
- Put on the Instant Pot lid and lock. Turn valve to sealed position. Set high pressure or manual setting to 4 minutes.
- When Instant Pot is done, allow 10 minutes of natural release. Then carefully turn valve to vent and release all the remaining steam.
- Unlock lid and remove. Fluff the rice with a fork.
- Stir in cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
- Instant Pot rice requires the same amount of liquid as rice. If you increase the amount of rice you’ll need to increase the amount of liquid.