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Easy Homemade Spanish Rice Recipe

Easy Spanish Rice is a delicious vegetarian rice recipe. This versatile dish makes a tasty side dish on taco night. It’s also a perfect addition to other Mexican entrees like burritos or burrito bowls. Better yet? You probably already have the ingredients you need for it on hand and ready to go.

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Mexican rice

This recipe was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated with new pictures, simplified instructions and video.

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What is Spanish rice?

Spanish rice, also known as Mexican rice, arroz rojo, or red rice, is a popular Mexican side dish and a family favorite. You can serve it with your favorite tacos, as part of a burrito, in a salad, or in several Mexican inspired recipes. 


Our recipe uses only a few ingredients that we almost always have on hand. You can make this rice dish any day of the week to go with your favorite entrees or as a tasty, homemade lunch. You’ll need:

  • uncooked long grain rice  - long grained rice works best for this recipe, it tends to get fluffier and less sticky than shorter grains
  • vegetable stock or water - vegetable stock adds some extra flavor and richness, but you can use water if you don’t have any on hand
  • oil - canola or vegetable oil work best for this recipe, but you can use other oils if you prefer
  • garlic cloves - you’ll need to mince the garlic using a knife or in a garlic press
  • spices - you’ll need chili and cumin powder
  • salt - salt is used to enhance flavors, but you can skip the salt if you desire
  • salsa- we love using our own homemade salsa for this, but you can use any store bought salsa you like
  • fresh jalapeno -  seeded and diced, these are added for garnishment and a bit of heat
  • cilantro- cilantro is an optional garnishment

Spanish rice

  • We also recommend having some other ingredients that help enhance the flavors of the rice. They include:
  • shredded cheese
  • avocado
  • flour tortillas 
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • limes

Mexican rice

Why make this in an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot cooks rice dishes quickly and easily. Rice comes out perfectly cooked nearly every time we use the Instant Pot. It is also fast. You can make fresh rice recipes just about any night of the week and have plenty of time for your busy schedule. 

New to Instant Pot cooking and nervous about making this in the Instant Pot? Don’t worry! We have you covered with our handy guide to Instant Pot cooking, Is the Instant Pot Worth It.

How to make 

Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot is super easy. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Before cooking, make sure you thoroughly wash or rinse your rice in cool water. You want to remove as much of the starch as possible  so the rice comes out fluffy and delicious. 

Spanish rice step by step

  • Once the rice is rinsed, turn saute mode on the Instant Pot and when it is hot, add the oil and rice. Frequently stir the rice to avoid burning the rice and stop it from sticking to the bottom. You’ll need to saute the rice for about 3 minutes or until they begin to turn a light golden color. 
  • When the rice begins to turn golden, add in the garlic, salt, cumin, red chili powder, and vegetable stock or water. Stir the mixture well to remove the rice from the bottom of the inner pot. This will help prevent getting the burn notice.

Spanish rice step by step

  • Once all the rice is removed from the bottom, add in the salsa. Do not stir the pot at this point! You want to keep the tomatoes away from the bottom of the pot to avoid the burn notice on the Instant Pot.
  • Turn off saute mode, close the lid to the Instant Pot, and lock the lid. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow the pot to sit for 5 minutes before doing a quick release.
  • Lightly stir the rice with a fork and add chopped cilantro and jalapenos on top. Serve the rice immediately with your favorite Mexican dishes or add to another recipe.

Spanish rice

How to Serve

You should serve Spanish rice hot with your favorite main dish, such as tacos.  It goes great as a filling in vegetable burritos or chalupa. You can also add it to other recipes. It also goes well with beans, refried Beans and 7 layer dip.

Which Toppings go well with this rice?  We like to serve the Mexican rice with avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortillas, and lime wedges. But you can add your own favorite toppings.

 How to store Mexican rice

How to Store

We recommend making Spanish rice fresh when you are ready to use it. But you can store it for about 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store it in individual containers for easy lunch options for the family. You can reheat the rice in the microwave.

How to defrost frozen cooked rice

 Microwave it in one-minute increments and make sure to leave a glass of water into the microwave when reheating. This helps keep the reheated rice moist.

best Spanish rice

Can I use tomato sauce instead of salsa?

Yes, you can use tomato sauce instead of salsa. We find salsa adds extra flavor and spice, but tomato sauce is an option. If you do use tomato sauce, we recommend a canned tomato sauce and avoid any Italian style sauces.

What’s the best rice to use?

We use long grain rice. Our two preferences are basmati or jasmine rice. If you don’t have these on hand, you can use the rice you have instead.

What’s the difference between Spanish and Mexican rice?

There is no difference. They are the same recipe, just a different name. You may find some variation between recipes, but Spanish, red, and Mexican rice are all the same and go great with a lot of your favorite entrees.

 how to avoid burn notice

How can I avoid the burn message?

You can avoid the burn message by making sure you scrape the bottom of the inner pot very well once you add in the water or vegetable stock. You want to remove any stuck rice. The second way to avoid the burn message is to not stir the pot once you add in the salsa. Tomatoes can get stuck on the bottom and cause the burn notice to pop up, which is never fun.

Can Spanish Rice be made with Brown Rice? 

Yes you can use Brown rice to make Spanish Rice. You will have to adjust the cook time to 15 minutes  

More Mexican inspired recipes 

Instant pot rice recipes

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Mexican rice

Easy Spanish Rice (Easy Spanish Rice) Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Easy Instant Pot Spanish Rice is a delicious vegetarian rice recipe. This versatile dish makes a tasty side dish on taco night. It’s also a perfect addition to other Mexican entrees like burritos or burrito bowls. Better yet? You probably already have the ingredients you need for it on hand and ready to go.


  • Uncooked long grain rice - 1 cup
  • Vegetable stock or water - 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves / minced - 2
  • Oil - 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin powder - 2 teaspoon
  • Red Chilies powder - 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh Salsa or Cantina style salsa - 1 cup
  • Salt to taste

For Garnish

  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


  1. Set the Instant Pot on saute and when HOT pops up add in oil and the rice.
  2. Keep stirring it frequently to avoid rice sticking to the pot.
  3. Saute the rice for about 3 minutes until they begin to turn a light golden color and then add in the garlic.
  4. Add in salt to taste, cumin, red Chili powder and vegetable stock or water .
  5. Stir and mix well to insure that you remove all rice stuck to the bottom of the pot .
  6. Add the Salsa and do not stir .
  7. Close and lock the lid. Turn the Instant Pot to Manual for 5 minutes.
  8. When 5 minutes is up and Instant Pot beeps, let it sit for 3-5 mins . Do a Quick release Be careful, it is very hot.
  9. Lightly stir it with a fork and add chopped cilantro.
  10. Serve in bowls. Garnish with whatever you desire and enjoy!


Optional garnishes for serving

  • Mexican blend cheese shredded
  • avocado slices
  • cilantro
  • limes
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • flour tortillas
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 98Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 258mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 2g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. We are not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though we try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of our ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

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I just made this with parboiled rice and it is absolutely delicious!!! Using it to build burritos. Came out perfect and I will definitely make it again!

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