Inspired by the flavors of the classic Mexican restaurant side dish, this Instant Pot Mexican Rice is perfect with enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and more. It’s a foolproof recipe made entirely in your pressure cooker!
It’s a vibrant orange side dish flavored with aromatics, tomatoes, chicken broth, and peas. The flavor is tomatoey with an umami-forward tang while the texture is delightfully fluffy.
While this isn’t an authentic Mexican rice recipe, it’s still pretty close. The difference is we’re using canned tomato sauce rather than a more traditional version made with blended tomatoes and fresh aromatics.
Cooking it in the Instant Pot is my method of choice because it’s quick and easy, and the machine does most of the work for you. No worries if you don’t have a pressure cooker! I included the stovetop and rice cooker instructions in the FAQs section below.
Mexican rice vs. Spanish rice
If you want to make Spanish rice, this recipe may be exactly what you want. The terms are often used interchangeably to describe long-grain rice cooked in a zesty tomato-based broth.
However, there is a distinction between the two: The core ingredients are very similar, but authentic Spanish rice is made with saffron to give it a rich yellow hue.
- Long grain white rice – You’ll have the best results and the most authentic-tasting dish with basmati rice. Other types of long grain rice work well, like brown rice and jasmine rice, but you’ll need to adjust the liquid and cooking time.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Onion and garlic – These two aromatics impact the flavor of the rice in a big way. Use at least three fresh cloves of garlic, but an extra clove or two is never a bad idea.
- Chicken broth – Cooking the rice in chicken broth or instant pot bone broth (rather than water) infuses rich and savory flavors. It’ll make you never want to cook rice in water again!
- Tomato sauce – It gives the rice its distinctive bright orange color and vibrant flavor.
- Frozen peas and cilantro – Feel free to omit them if you aren’t a fan of peas and/or cilantro.
How to make Mexican rice in the Instant Pot
Rinse the grains of rice under cool running water to wash off the excess starch. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.
With the Instant Pot set to SAUTE mode, heat the oil in the pot and saute the onion until golden.
Add the garlic and rice to the pot. Cook, constantly stirring, until the rice is lightly golden and toasted.
Deglaze the pot with the chicken broth and tomato sauce. Mix them together well and scrape up any stuck browned bits on the bottom. Cancel SAUTE mode and turn the Instant Pot OFF.
Lock the lid in place and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on MANUAL high pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.
Add the peas and cilantro, then fluff the rice with a fork. Serve hot with extra cilantro and fresh lime, and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- Don’t skip the rinse! Taking the time to rinse the grains of rice under running water will wash off the surface starches and prevent them from clumping or becoming mushy.
- Avoid the dreaded burn notice by stirring the toasted rice constantly and scraping the pot well after deglazing with broth.
- Fluff the rice with a fork when it’s done. Do not stir! Stirring causes the granules to lump together and become soggy.
Customize your batch of homemade Mexican rice with simple substitutions or add-ins, like:
- Vegetarian Mexican rice – Swap the chicken broth for your vegetable broth.
- Add more vegetables – To sneak in more veggies, saute diced carrots, green bell pepper, or diced tomato along with the onions. You can also add frozen corn when you add the peas.
- Craving something spicier? This recipe isn’t spicy, but you can easily add a pinch of cayenne, chili powder, and cumin to taste. Also, saute minced jalapeno or serrano peppers along with the onion.
Basmati is standard in Mexican and Spanish rice, but other types of rice can still be used. The cook time for white rice or jasmine rice should be the same (4 minutes on high pressure). For brown rice, increase the pressure cook time to at least 22 minutes.
You can technically skip toasting the rice, but it brings a nutty dimension to the final dish and improves the texture.
To make one-pot Mexican rice, cook the onion, toasted rice, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the broth and tomato sauce, then cook according to the rice package instructions.
Yes! Unless your model has a browning setting, first saute the onion in a skillet, then add the uncooked rice and garlic to saute lightly. Combine the toasted rice mixture in the rice cooker with the broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Refer to the manual for cook times specific to your model or head to my Rice Cooker Rice Guide for more tips.
Storing and reheating
Leftovers are best reheated and enjoyed within 2 days but will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave until warmed through.
To freeze, let the rice cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer-safe resealable bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.
Make it a meal by pairing the rice with your favorite Mexican-inspired recipes, or try these pairings instead:
- Tortilla Chip Crusted Chicken with Queso
- Mexican Meatballs
- Cauliflower Tacos
- Street Corn Tacos with Chicken
- Instant Pot Salsa Chicken
- Stuffed Poblano Peppers
As for wine, stick with herbaceous, more fruit-forward white wines with high acidity, like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
More helpful grain guides
- Instant Pot Quinoa
- Instant Pot Rice
- Rice Cooker Rice
- Rice Cooker Sushi Rice
- Rice Cooker Coconut Rice
- Rice Cooker Mexican Rice
- Toasted Rice Powder
- Instant Pot Farro
Did you make this Mexican rice in your Instant Pot?
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Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Rinse rice under cold running water until the water runs clear.
- Turn instant pot to SAUTE and add oil. Once hot, add onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and rice and cook until the rice is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and salt, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Turn instant pot OFF. Place lid on pot and turn valve to sealed position.
- Cook on manual HIGH pressure, and cook for 4 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
- Sprinkle in the peas and cilantro and fluff the rice with a fork. Enjoy.
- Leftovers are best reheated and enjoyed within 2 days but will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave until warmed through.
- To freeze, let the rice cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer-safe resealable bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.