Instant Pot Mexican Rice

This Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe is so quick, easy and so tasty. It’s made with long-grain white rice, tomatoes, and aromatics, all beautifully cooked together in the Instant Pot to create a deliciously fluffy and flavor-packed rice dish. This popular Mexican side dish is characterized by its vibrant red or orange color.

A serving of Instant Pot Mexican rice is presented in a bowl, adorned with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Adjacent to the bowl, a kitchen cloth and two glasses can be seen.

Mexican rice, also known as “arroz rojo” or red rice, is a side dish that’s commonly served alongside Mexican recipes. It’s a delicious and colorful addition to many meals and is often served as a filling in burritos and enchiladas.

The rice is typically sautéed in oil before being cooked in a mixture of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and broth, which gives it its characteristic red or orange color. This sautéing process, also known as “toasting,” brings out the nutty flavors of the rice, making it taste more complex.

The dish is usually seasoned with ingredients such as cumin, chili powder, or fresh cilantro, depending on the specific recipe or regional variation. Some variations might also include vegetables like peas and carrots or proteins like chicken or shrimp.

Mexican rice is more than just a side dish – it’s a flavorful component that complements the main dish and gives Mexican restaurant vibes.

Why is Mexican Rice so Fluffy?

Mexican rice is fluffy because it’s rinsed thoroughly to remove excess starch before cooking. It’s also often sautéed before the liquid is added, which helps each grain get coated in oil, preventing them from sticking together during cooking. The final result is perfectly cooked, fluffy rice.

Why You’re Going to Love this Quick and Easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice Recipe

The first reason you’ll love this recipe is the gorgeous flavors. The combination of the spices, tomato sauce, and the heat from the jalapeno or serrano pepper makes this rice anything but ordinary. Secondly, it’s a pressure cooker recipe. This means less hands-on cooking time for you, and the tasty orange Mexican rice comes out perfectly cooked every time.

  • Effortless cooking: In the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, there’s nothing quite as welcoming as a one-pot wonder that saves time and effort and brings flavor galore. This Instant Pot Mexican Rice perfectly fits the bill. This recipe results in a fluffy, aromatic, and vibrant side dish that complements a wide range of Mexican cuisine. Let the Instant Pot do the heavy lifting. No babysitting a pot on the stove.
  • Versatile pairing: This Mexican rice works wonderfully as a side dish for tacos, enchiladas, or grilled meats.
  • Packed with flavors: Every grain of rice soaks up the richness of tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and cumin, resulting in a delectable mouthful each time.

Two words for you: flavor and convenience. Trust me, this is a recipe you’ll adore.

Gather Your Ingredients to Make Mexican Rice in Instant Pot

  • Long grain white rice: This is the star of the dish, absorbing all the flavors and providing the base for our Mexican Rice.
  • Olive oil: We use this to sauté the onions, garlic, and pepper. It also helps toast the rice slightly before pressure cooking.
  • Onion: Onions add a sweet and savory depth to the dish.
  • Garlic: Garlic lends a lovely aromatic touch that works beautifully with the other ingredients.
  • Serrano or jalapeno pepper: These add a little heat to the dish. If you like your food spicy, feel free to add a bit more!
  • Ground cumin: This spice brings a warm, earthy flavor that is characteristic of many Mexican dishes.
  • Tomato sauce: The tomato sauce provides tanginess and richness to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor.
  • Vegetable or chicken broth: This is used as the cooking liquid, infusing the rice with savory flavor.
  • Salt: An essential seasoning to bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients.
  • Black pepper: This adds a slight spicy kick to the rice.
  • Fresh cilantro: A sprinkle of fresh cilantro at the end adds a burst of fresh, herbal flavor that complements the other ingredients beautifully.

What Rice Should You Use to Make Mexican Rice?

While long-grain white rice is traditionally used in making Mexican rice, you can substitute it with other varieties, each bringing a unique texture and flavor to the dish:

  • Basmati Rice: This long-grain rice has a light, fluffy texture and a subtle aromatic flavor. It’s excellent for absorbing the flavors of tomato sauce and spices.
  • Jasmine Rice: This fragrant rice variety from Thailand becomes fluffy and slightly sticky when cooked. It can hold up well to the flavors in Mexican Rice.
  • Brown Rice: For a healthier alternative, consider using brown rice. It’s higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice. However, brown rice has a longer cooking time, so you’ll need to adjust your Instant Pot settings accordingly.
  • Calrose Rice: Calrose is a medium-grain rice that is slightly stickier than long-grain types. It’s commonly used in sushi but can also work in a Mexican Rice recipe.

Remember, the texture and flavor of your Mexican Rice will change slightly based on the type of rice you choose. Therefore, it’s best to experiment with these options and see which one suits your taste the best.

Grab these Tools

Gear up for a culinary journey to Mexico. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Instant Pot: This kitchen gadget is the real game-changer here, making rice cooking a hassle-free process. You can of course use any pressure cooker (stovetop or electric) or a regular pot on the stove (you’ll just need to keep an eye and cook until tender).
  • Sieve or colander: Useful for rinsing the rice before cooking. This helps to remove excess starch, leading to fluffier rice.
  • Wooden spoon: Perfect for sautéing and mixing the ingredients inside the pot, ensuring they blend well together.

How to Make This Amazing Instant Pot Mexican Rice Recipe: Easy Step-by-Step Directions

Whipping up Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Mexican Rice is a breeze. Just follow these step-by-step directions:

The Instant Pot is set to sauté mode, and a small amount of oil is added to the pot. Chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno are then added and sautéed until the onion turns translucent.
  • Rinse the rice: It’s crucial to remove excess starch from the rice. Wash it well and drain thoroughly. This ensures your rice comes out fluffy and not sticky.
  • Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper: This initial sauté step brings out the aromatics in these ingredients, building a flavor base for your rice.
The tomato sauce, vegetable broth, cumin, salt, and pepper are added to the pot and stirred together. The drained rice is then added to the pot and stirred for a couple of minutes to ensure it is well coated and slightly toasted.
  • Add the sauce and broth: The combination of tomato sauce, broth, and spices infuse the rice with savory, tangy, and slightly spicy liquid.
  • Toast the rice: Tossing the rice with the aromatic base gives each grain a nice coating and enhances the final flavor.
  • Pressure cook: Cooking under high pressure allows the rice to absorb all the flavors quickly while ensuring perfect texture.
  • Natural release, then quick release: This step when cooking rice in a pressure cooker ensures it is fully cooked and maintains its structure without becoming mushy.
  • Fluff and garnish: A final fluff with a fork helps separate the grains, and the fresh cilantro adds a bright, herbal finishing touch.
The lid is closed and the Instant Pot is set to Manual or Pressure Cook for 6 minutes. After cooking, the pressure is naturally released for 10 minutes before quick releasing any remaining pressure. The lid is opened, and the rice is fluffed with a fork. Finally, the chopped cilantro is stirred in, and the Mexican rice is ready to be served warm.

Expert Tips for Perfect Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Ready to make the best Instant Pot Mexican Rice? Here are six tips to help you make perfect Mexican rice in the pressure cooker:

  1. Rinse the Rice: Always rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and helps your rice come out fluffy and not sticky.
  2. Sauté the Rice: Before adding the liquids and pressure cooking, sauté the rice in oil with the onions, garlic, and peppers. This step coats the rice in fat, which helps it stay separate and prevents stickiness.
  3. Use Broth for Flavor: Instead of just using water, cook your rice in vegetable or chicken broth. This adds an extra layer of flavor to the rice.
  4. Mind the Liquid-to-Rice Ratio: This amount of liquid allows the rice to cook fully without becoming mushy.
  5. Natural Release is Key: After the pressure cooking phase, allow the pot to naturally release pressure for about 10 minutes before doing a quick release. This resting period helps the rice to finish cooking gently, maintaining its structure.
  6. Fluff the Rice: Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork to separate the grains before serving. This helps maintain the fluffy texture and prevents clumping.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Wondering if you can prep this in advance or how to store leftovers? We’ve got you covered.

The Instant Pot Mexican Rice is an excellent make-ahead option. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. When you’re ready to serve it, just reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water if needed.

Variations and Substitutions

Want to tweak the recipe to suit your taste? Here are some suggestions:

  • Add proteins: To make this rice dish a complete meal, consider adding cooked chicken, shrimp, or black beans. Top with cheese for a burrito bowl situation.
  • Swap the broth: You can use either vegetable or chicken broth, depending on your preference. You could also switch to beef broth for a deeper flavor.
  • Adjust the heat: Feel free to adjust the amount of serrano or jalapeno pepper to suit your heat tolerance.
A serving of Instant Pot Mexican rice is presented in a bowl, adorned with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Adjacent to the bowl, a kitchen cloth and two glasses can be seen.

How to Serve Your Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Serve this Instant Pot Mexican Rice as a flavor-packed side to your favorite main course Mexican recipes, or consider incorporating it into burritos or a hearty rice bowl. It pairs perfectly with refried beans, grilled meats, and is a superb stuffing for bell peppers.

This Mexican rice is a fantastic accompaniment to any Mexican main dish like tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas. It also pairs well with grilled chicken, roasted veggies, etc. A side of Mexican Corn Salad) would be perfect.

And don’t forget to garnish it with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for that extra pop of color and flavor.


Here are some common questions about making Mexican rice. It’s a fairly similar answer for each one.

How do you keep Mexican rice from getting mushy?

To keep Mexican rice from getting mushy, be sure to rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear before cooking. This removes excess starch which can lead to stickiness. Also, ensure that you’re using the correct liquid-to-rice ratio and don’t overcook the rice.

Why doesn’t my Mexican rice come out fluffy?

If your Mexican rice isn’t coming out fluffy, it could be due to several reasons. You may not be rinsing your rice enough before cooking, which leaves excess starch that makes the rice clumpy. Another reason could be that you’re using too much liquid or overcooking the rice.

Why is my Mexican rice clumpy?

Mexican rice can become clumpy if it’s not rinsed thoroughly before cooking, as the excess starch can cause the grains to stick together. Also, ensure you fluff the rice with a fork after cooking to separate the grains.

Other Delicious Mexican Recipes You’ll Love

A serving of Instant Pot Mexican rice is presented in a bowl, adorned with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Adjacent to the bowl, a kitchen cloth and two glasses can be seen.

Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Servings 4
Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Keyword Arroz Rojo, Instant Pot Mexican Rice, Mexican Red Rice


  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ a serrano or jalapeno pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth or 1 tsp bouillon concentrate or powder + 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and helps the rice not stick together.
  • Set your Instant Pot to sauté mode. Add a bit of oil, then add the chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the drained rice to the pot and stir for a couple of minutes until it’s well coated and slightly toasted.
  • Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to Manual or Pressure Cook for 6  minutes. Once done, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  • Open the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, and stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve warm.



  • If you use unsalted broth, add an additional ½ tsp of salt.
  • You can stick the other half of the serrano or jalapeno pepper in the freezer if you don’t have an immediate use for it.
To make it stovetop: 
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Then let it stand with the heat off for another 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork. 


Calories: 265kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 664mgPotassium: 238mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 228IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Arroz Rojo, Instant Pot Mexican Rice, Mexican Red Rice

Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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6 months ago

5 stars
I’m not the most skilled cook, but this Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe made it easy! The sautéing and using broth made a huge difference in flavor. The rice turned out so fluffy and flavorful. This recipe’s a lifesaver for a rice lover like me.

6 months ago

5 stars
The sautéing step adds so much flavor to the rice, and using broth instead of water takes it to another level. Natural release is a great tip too – my rice came out perfectly fluffy. Thanks for sharing! 

6 months ago

5 stars
I gave this Mexican Rice a try, and it turned out amazing! The vibrant colors and flavors of the tomatoes and aromatics really shine through. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

7 months ago

5 stars
This Mexican rice is so easy and so tasty! Whole family loved it.

7 months ago

5 stars
I tried this today!! The rice was perfectly fluffy and had a burst of flavors from the tomatoes and aromatics.

7 months ago

5 stars
Tried it this weekend and it turned out perfect! Mexican rice just like a mexican restaurant, yum.

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