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This Instant Pot Mexican Rice tastes just like the rice you would get at a Mexican restaurant. Cooking rice in the Instant Pot is a no-fuss way to make perfect rice without needing to keep an eye on the stove.
Growing up, Mexican rice was something we ate nearly every evening. It was quick, it was easy, and it went with almost every dish. This Instant Pot version captures all the flavors I remember, but is even easier than the rice my mom used to make. Why? Because everything goes into the Instant Pot, then you can focus on making your main dish while the rice does its thing.
This type of Mexican rice is also called “arroz rojo,” which means “red rice” in Spanish.
Why You’ll Love This Mexican Rice Recipe
- Easy. Making Mexican rice on the stove is pretty easy, but it’s even easier in your Instant Pot! Just add everything to your Instant Pot, turn it on, and walk away.
- Fluffy & flavorful. The finished rice is perfectly fluffy and tastes like something you’d get at an authentic Mexican restaurant. (Or, in my abuela’s kitchen, which is even better!)
- Goes with many main dishes. Rice goes with so many kinds of food that this is a great side dish to have in your recipe box.
What You’ll Need
What goes into making authentic Mexican rice? Mainly just rice, spices, and a couple of other key ingredients:
- Olive Oil: Or another cooking oil like canola.
- Veggies: Chopped onion and minced garlic.
- Long Grain Rice: I prefer to use white long grain rice.
- Vegetable Stock: Feel free to use chicken or beef stock if you prefer.
- Tomato Sauce: Use plain tomato sauce, not one with herbs added. Don’t use pasta sauce, it’s not the same thing. 🙂
- Seasoning: I used kosher salt, ground cumin, dry oregano, and dry parsley.
- Optional: Fresh cilantro for garnish.
How to Make Instant Pot Mexican Rice
One of the best parts about making Instant Pot Mexican rice is that there isn’t much to clean up after dinner- this is a one-pot recipe, folks! In addition to that convenience, once you saute the garlic and onion and add everything else into the pot, all you have to do is wait for the rice to finish cooking.
- Cook the Onion & Garlic: Turn on the saute function on your Instant Pot. Add the olive oil and onion, cooking for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent and softened. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Briefly Cook the Rice: Add the rice and cook another 1 minute stirring frequently to gently toast the rice.
- Switch the Instant Pot to off. This will give the bottom of the insert time to cool off before you turn on the rice function and prevents the rice from burning on the bottom of your pot.
- Mix in Vegetable Stock & Tomato Sauce: Pour in the stock, tomato sauce. Stir everything together well. Add the salt and spices, stir together well.
- Seal the Instant Pot: Close the lock the lid of your instant pot. Seal the vent and select the rice function. It will take your instant pot 5-10 minutes to build pressure then cook the rice, which usually takes about 13 minutes.
- Allow Rice to Vent & Cool: When timer goes off, allow your instant pot to do a natural release for at least 10 minutes before carefully venting the remaining steam from your Instant Pot. Open the lid once all the steam has been safely vented and the pressure gauge is off. Fluff the rice and serve, and garnish with a small amount of fresh cilantro if you choose.
Why A Natural Release?
I’ve found that when I allow the Instant Pot to do a natural release the rice is fluffier and more closely resembles how it would taste if I made it on the stove. I usually start my Mexican rice first when making dinner, then just let the Instant Pot do it’s thing. By the time my other dishes are ready to serve the rice has finished cooking and has finished its natural release. If you have time, I recommend letting the Instant Pot finish the natural release, which takes about 15 minutes.
Can I Add Chicken?
Yes! If you want to turn this into an Instant Pot chicken and rice recipe you can do that. Sometimes I like to turn this side dish into a meal in and of itself. And of course, a classic combo is chicken and rice.
Want to try it? Simply take 2-3 raw chicken breasts and cut them into 2-3 inch pieces. Add the chicken to the Instant Pot when you mix in the vegetable stock and tomato sauce.
Seal your Instant Pot and proceed with the rest of the recipe as outlined above and in the recipe card below.
I also have an arroz con pollo recipe that is made on the stove if you are looking for a way to make chicken and rice without an Instant Pot.
Tips for Success
- Don’t Stir Your Rice. When the rice has finished cooking, fluff it with a fork. If you stir the rice, you will activate its starch and it may become mushy.
- Add Veggies. In addition to adding chicken as outlined above, you could also add about 1/4 cup peas, corn or diced carrots. I recommend adding carrots along with the onion and garlic. You can add soft veggies like peas or corn kernels when the rice is added to the pot.
- Do a natural release. As I mentioned above, allowing your Instant Pot to natural release will produce fluffier rice. Don’t skip this step.
Rice goes with so many main dishes it would be impossible to list them all here. But, here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- Enchiladas: Mexican rice pairs perfectly with vegetarian enchiladas, birria enchiladas or enchiladas suizas.
- Chicken: Want to let your appliances do all the heavy lifting? Serve your Mexican rice with crockpot salsa chicken.
- Flautas: I love to serve this rice with black bean flautas or beef birria flautas.
- Chicken Soup: This may be an acquired taste, but I love adding rice to Instant Pot chicken soup.
- Tacos: Mexican rice goes with pretty much any kind of taco. I highly recommend serving it with my quesabirria tacos or carne asada tacos.
- Taco Bowl: Scoop some rice into a bowl and then top it with chilorio, cochinita pibil or even vegetarian chorizo. Then add your favorite taco fixings and dig in.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
You can store this rice in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days. I wouldn’t keep rice any longer than that. When you want to reheat it, simply put it in the microwave for a minute or two. I usually sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of water on top of the rice, then cover it with a plate and heat it until warmed through.
Instant Pot Mexican Rice Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon garlic , minced
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon dry parsley
- Optional: fresh cilantro for garnish
- Turn on the saute function on your Instant Pot. Add the olive oil and onion, cooking for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent and softened. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the rice and cook another 1 minute stirring frequently to gently toast the rice.
- Switch the Instant Pot to off.
- Pour in the stock, tomato sauce. Stir everything together well. Add the salt and spices, stir together well.
- Close the lock the lid of your instant pot. Seal the vent and select the rice function. It will take your instant pot 5-10 minutes to build pressure then cook the rice, which usually takes about 13 minutes.
- When timer goes off, allow your instant pot to do a natural release for at least 10 minutes before carefully venting the remaining steam from your Instant Pot. Open the lid once all the steam has been safely vented and the pressure gauge is off. Fluff the rice and serve, garnish with a small amount of fresh cilantro if you choose.