Inspired by the flavors of the classic Mexican restaurant side dish, this Rice Cooker Mexican Rice is perfect with enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and more. It’s a foolproof recipe made entirely in your automatic rice 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.
Making it in the rice cooker is my method of choice because it’s quick and easy, and the machine does most of the work for you. But, no worries if you don’t have a rice cooker! I included the stovetop and instant pot instructions in the FAQs section below.
PS – This is my absolute favorite rice cooker. I love the music that it plays when the rice is done cooking!
🍚 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.
🛒 Ingredient notes
- 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 a rice cooker
Rinse the grains of rice under cool running water to wash off the excess starch. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.
Combine the rinsed rice, onion & garlic, broth, tomato sauce, bay leaves and salt in the rice cooker liner.
Cook on the “quick” setting or white rice setting.
After the cook time is up, allow the rice to sit for 5-10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
Add the salt, peas and cilantro, then fluff the rice with a fork. Season with additional salt, to taste. 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.
- Fluff the rice with a fork when it’s done. Do not stir! Stirring causes the granules to lump together and become soggy.
👩🍳 Customize it
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. For brown rice, use your rice cooker’s brown rice setting.
To make one-pot Mexican rice, cook the onion, rice, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once softened, add the broth and tomato sauce, then cook according to the rice package instructions.
Yes! Head to my Instant Pot Mexican Rice post for the full recipe how-to.
🕕 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.
🍽 Serving suggestions
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
🍷 Wine pairings
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
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Toasted Rice Powder
- Instant Pot Farro
Did you make this rice cooker Mexican?
If you tried this Mexican rice recipe, I would appreciate it if you gave it a ⭐️starred⭐️ review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Rice Cooker Mexican Rice
- Combine rinsed rice, onion & garlic, broth, tomato sauce, bay leaves and salt in the rice cooker liner.
- Cook on the “quick” setting or white rice setting.
- After the cook time is up, allow the rice to sit for 5-10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
- Sprinkle in the salt, peas and cilantro and fluff the rice with a fork. Season with additional salt, to taste. Enjoy.