This simple Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe is so easy to make and is seriously just as good as the rice at your favorite Mexican restaurant! Fluffy rice and flavorful salsa come together in your pressure cooker for a quick side dish any day of the week. Pair it with your favorite Mexican dinners like tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas for a fabulous meal!

Instant Pot Mexican Rice is served in a big white bowl for dinner.

Instant Pot Mexican Rice Recipe

I’m a huge fan of Mexican food, who isn’t? It’s probably my favorite cuisine to cook at home.

That’s why I am constantly making a wide variety of Mexican recipes. They have so much flavor, the ingredients are simple, and they come together pretty quickly.

But every delicious taco or enchilada needs a tasty side dish to go along with it, and that’s where this Mexican rice comes in! (Cilantro Lime Rice is also another great option with tons of fresh flavors!)

The classic taste and texture of restaurant-style Mexican Rice is incredible, but sometimes it can be quite the undertaking to make. That is, until now!

The process has been simplified while still capturing that authentic flavor we all love. Instead of using a ton of spices, tomatoes, and other ingredients, we’re using a jar of salsa. Yup, that’s it!

Plus, it’s made even faster than the traditional recipe by cooking it in the Instant Pot.

Believe it or not, it tastes AS GOOD as the flavorful rice at your favorite Mexican restaurant’s version! Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself to find out!

What is Mexican rice?

It is often called Spanish rice, Mexican red rice, Istanboli Polo, and Spanish Rice de Mexico. However it is labeled, it’s generally white rice cooked in a flavorful base of tomato and seasonings. Typically, you will find cumin, onion, garlic, and chili powder, among other ingredients in this great side dish.

Avocado oil, rice, chunky salsa, vegetable broth, and salt are the ingredients in this recipe.

Ingredients

The main ingredients you will need to make this authentic Mexican rice are so simple and include:

  • Rice. Long-grain white rice results in the best flavor and texture. Medium- and short-grain will yield mushy rice. You can also use brown rice but you’ll need to adjust the cook time and amount of liquid.
  • Salsa. Use your favorite salsa, as this is how the rice gets the majority if its flavor. Mild is the most family-friendly salsa to use, but if you like a little kick, go for medium instead. Also, for a deeper flavor try roasted salsa instead of regular. It makes a big difference!
  • Broth. Vegetable broth will keep this recipe vegan, but if you’d like you can opt for chicken broth or stock instead.
  • Oil. Any oil will work in this recipe, but olive or avocado oil are recommended.
Two different types of chunky salsa are shown on the counter.

Types of Salsa

If you are a bit of a weeny when it comes to spice, I highly recommend you use a MILD salsa—preferably a salsa you would enjoy eating by itself since that is where a bulk of the flavor will come from.

Also, try to choose a salsa that is in the middle, consistency-wise. You don’t want one that is super runny or ultra thick.

Here are a few salsa brands that work well in this recipe:

  • Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa – They have SO many flavors to choose from! Of course they offer the traditional mild, medium, and hot in addition to green salsa and extra hot ones. If you’re feeling adventurous try one of their fruity salsas or the craft beer or tequila flavors.
  • Tostito’s Chunky Salsa – This easy-to-find brand should be at your local stores. They have mild, medium, and hot, and the texture is the perfect mixture of chunkiness and liquid.
  • Mark’s Good Stuff Salsa – I highly recommend their Restaurant salsa. It boasts fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh onions and peppers for the best authentic taste.
  • 365 Organic Thick & Chunky Salsa – This organic salsa can be found at Whole Foods, is made from only whole food ingredients, and has amazing flavor.

And if you’ve got a lot of extra tomatoes, you can always use your own Homemade Salsa or Roasted Tomato Salsa.

How to Cook Mexican Rice in the Instant Pot?

Here are the steps to take when making this easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice:

Rinse the Rice

Use a mesh strainer to clean the rice until the water runs clear. This step is super important. It removes the excess starch in the outer coating and is essential for getting fluffy rice.

Rice is rinsed in a strainer before cooking in the instant pot.

Combine Everything

Add the rinsed rice, broth, salsa, seasonings, and half of the oil to the Instant Pot.

You need to be careful when cooking rice in an electric pressure cooker. Make sure there is enough liquid and that you mix well so the rice doesn’t end up settling at the bottom of the pot. Otherwise, you might get a burn notice on the machine.

Rice, vegetable broth, and tomato paste are combined in a pressure cooker.

Cook in the Instant Pot

Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. If you like more tender rice, cook it for 5 minutes instead.

Do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then open the pressure valve for a quick release of the remaining pressure. Be careful to avoid burning yourself. When opening the valve, be sure to point it away from you.

Drizzle with the remaining oil and then mix until well combined. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro!

A wooden spoon is used to stir the Mexican rice in the instant pot.

Stovetop Recipe

You can also make this recipe on the stovetop with a few adjustments if you want to skip the Instant Pot version:

  1. Stir the broth and salsa together in a medium-sized pot. Heat the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the rice and stir to combine. Return to a boil.
  3. Cover with a lid, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  4. Fluff up the cooked rice and enjoy!

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Preparing this Mexican dish ahead of time is not recommended as the texture of the rice changes once refrigerated.
  • To Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: To freeze the rice, store in a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: Cook the rice in a skillet with a bit of oil over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes.

What is the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican rice?

Spanish rice and Mexican rice are very similar, but differ slightly in their seasonings. Mexican Rice is made with cumin, whereas Spanish Rice is seasoned with saffron which results in more of a yellow color.

A white bowl is used to hold the instant pot Mexican rice.

Is Mexican rice healthy? Gluten free?

When you make Mexican rice at home, it can easily be both healthy and gluten-free.

With a homemade version, you can control the amount of sodium and fat, which often make restaurant versions less healthy.

Rice itself is gluten free, but some of the additional ingredients may not be. For example, sometimes chicken broth contains gluten, so make sure to double-check all your labels.

Can you freeze Mexican rice?

You CAN freeze Mexican rice. However, be sure to tightly wrap it in a freezer-safe container with as little air as possible touching the rice. It should last up to 3 to 4 months in the freezer.

A metal spoon full of pressure cooker Mexican rice is lifted up from the bowl.

How long does Mexican rice last?

When properly stored, Mexican rice should last up to 3 to 4 days in the fridge. However, remember that the longer food sits at room temperature the more rapidly it will grow dangerous bacteria.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Go long. Use long grain rice for best results, as medium-grain or short-grain rice will clump up when cooked and give you a mushy texture.
  • Make it work. Brown rice will require some changes, like additional liquid and cooking time. Make sure you adjust these accordingly if you substitute it for the white rice.
  • Choose well. Pick a good quality salsa as it makes up the majority of the flavor in this recipe.
  • Don’t overdo the liquid. If you use too much broth or salsa you’ll end up with mushy and not fluffy rice.
  • Serve with a sprinkle. Take this simple side dish over the top by adding a bit of fresh cilantro just before serving.
Easy Mexican rice is served as a side dish on a plate.

What to Serve with Mexican Rice

This Mexican rice recipe pairs well with these other easy recipes to make a complete meal.

Easy Skillet Steak Fajitas Recipe, Shredded Chicken Enchiladas, Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos and Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes are surprisingly simple to make yet so full of flavor.

Chicken Mole Enchiladas and Mexican Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado are authentic and always impressive.

Opt for Oven-Baked Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas or Roasted Cauliflower Tacos for a healthy main dish.

Don’t forget Refried Beans or Instant Pot Black Beans on the side!

Tap stars to rate!

4.85 from 13 votes

Instant Pot Mexican Rice

This simple Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe is so easy to make and is seriously just as good as the rice at your favorite Mexican restaurant! Fluffy rice and flavorful salsa come together in your pressure cooker for a quick side dish any day of the week.
Yield 8 servings
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups white rice long grain
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 16 oz. jar salsa mild or medium
  • 2 Tbsp. oil divided
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • Cilantro optional

Instructions 

  • Using a mesh strainer, rinse the rice under cool running water for 1-2 minutes, or until the water runs clear. Drain completely.
  • Add rinsed rice, broth, salsa, 1 tablespoon oil, and salt to a 6-quart Instant Pot. Mix the ingredients until well combined.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and close the pressure release valve.
  • Set the Instant Pot to high pressure and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Allow a 10-minute natural pressure release before opening the valve to release the steam.
  • Drizzle in the remaining tablespoon of oil and mix it into the rice.
  • Serve Mexican rice with a sprinkle of cilantro and enjoy!

Tap stars to rate!

4.85 from 13 votes

Video

Notes

  • If you decide to make Instant Pot brown rice, you can stick with the original time of 15 minutes.  However, if you want to make Instant Pot white rice, you will want to reduce your time to 12 minutes and leave out ¼ cup of the broth so it doesn’t get too mushy.
  • Use slightly less broth if you prefer a more brown rice-like texture.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Preparing this dish ahead of time is not recommended as the texture of the rice changes once refrigerated.
  • To Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: To freeze the rice, store in a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3-4 months. 
  • To Reheat: Cook the rice in a skillet with a bit of oil over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 757mg, Potassium: 241mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 475IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My wife and her family have been making wonderfully great Mexican rice for ever but my 12 year old son will not eat it, but he eats it from all the restaurants around town. I decided to search out a recipe that he would eat since going out is always more expensive, so I tried and tried for the last two years to produce something he will eat. I finally came across this one and combined it with a fork fluff topped of with a couple of paper towels on top to sit for 5 min.to absorb any excess moisture since restaurant rice is usually too dry for me but he loves it, and it was a super hit with the whole house especially my picky eating sun. Thank you for saving me a fortune in restaurants rice

    1. Oh I am so happy to hear this, Alfred! And funny you say this – I grew up eating at a chain Tex-Mex restaurant and this rice reminds me of their’s! I like your idea to add the paper towel – will have to try it out next time. Thanks so much for your comment and rating 🙂

    1. Hi Paige! Yes, you can just double the recipe and it should turn out great. However, I would caution you to use an 8 qt. Instant Pot as the 6 qt. might be too full if doubled.

  2. Made this tonight, pushed rice on a normal setting on my instant pot (automatically set itself to low). It cooked for 12 minutes, and the brown rice was crunchy. Sigh..

    1. Hi Nicole! So sorry your brown rice turned out crunchy. It probably has to do with the brand of brown rice you used. I tend to use Uncle Ben’s brown rice with great success in this recipe. Also, you want to make sure your pressure release valve is COMPLETELY close (so not leaking out any of the moisture during the cooking process.) Hope this will help you troubleshoot if you decide to make the recipe again. Thanks for your comment!

  3. 5 stars
    Simple and delicious. Those are the type of recipes I love to cook in the IP. I sprinkled in some taco seasoning iwith everything else. It was fantastic. Thanks for posting this recipe.

    1. What a great idea, Jill! I bet the taco seasoning gave it some great flavor. Thanks so much for your comment and rating 🙂

    1. Hi Kaitlyn! It’s 2 cups total, or 1 cup white rice and 1 cup brown rice! You can use two cups of either but might want to adjust the liquid ratios accordingly (all white = little less broth, all brown = little more broth!)

  4. 5 stars
    Always looking for new pressure cooker recipes. This rice looks pretty easy. I can’t wait to try it!