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This easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe is a quick-fix fiesta of flavors that will elevate your home-cooked meals! Packed with vibrant spices and wholesome ingredients, this dish is a perfect sidekick to your favorite Mexican-inspired meals or shines as a main dish all on its own.

Instant Pot Mexican Rice on a plate with wooden spoon

This recipe was written on May 9, 2022. It was updated with additional recipe information on June 20, 2024.

Enjoy perfectly tender, fluffy vegan Mexican rice loaded with festive flavor with this simple recipe, ready in under 30 minutes! Everything cooks together quickly in the Instant Pot for a nearly effortless side dish – making preparation and cleanup a breeze. Starting with the sauté setting, the veggies cook until tender, then they are infused with a melange of tasty spices including smoked paprika, cumin seeds, Mexican oregano, and chili powder. 

Next, add the rice, liquid, and tomatoes, and the Instant Pot will take care of the rest! You’ll have a delicious side ready to serve for weeknight dinners or to throw a weekend fiesta. Serve with your favorite protein and veggies for a full-spread meal or garnish with toppings for a standalone dish! 

For more vegan rice dishes, try my red beans and rice, wild rice stuffed sweet potatoes, or roasted cauliflower rice.  

Ingredients

instant pot mexican rice ingredients on white background

Oil: Choose a high smoke point cooking oil like canola, grapeseed, or olive oil for sautéing the vegetables and aromatics. Ensure you use enough oil to coat the bottom of the Instant Pot to prevent sticking. 

Onion: Red or yellow onions are tasty options to flavor the Instant Pot Spanish rice. Use yellow onion for a milder taste or red onion for a slightly sweeter flavor. 

Garlic: Freshly minced garlic adds a robust depth of flavor to the dish. For convenience, you can use pre-minced garlic, but fresh cloves will have the most intense aroma. 

Jalapeño Pepper: Remove the seeds before mincing for a more subtle spicy flavor, or keep them intact for extra spice. Alternatively, you can substitute for a milder pepper like poblano if preferred. 

Smoked Paprika: Gives the vegetarian Mexican rice a signature rich, smoky flavor that elevates the overall dish. For a less smoky flavor, use regular or sweet paprika instead. 

Cumin Seeds & Cumin Powder: Whole cumin seeds add texture and a burst of earthy flavor when sautéd, while ground cumin evenly distributes the flavor throughout the dish. Alternatively, you can substitute ground coriander for a similar flavor that complements the Mexican flare. 

Mexican Oregano: This herb adds a distinct herbal note to pressure cooker Mexican rice. If Mexican oregano is unavailable, you can substitute it with traditional Mediterranean oregano for a slightly different, but still delicious flavor. 

Chili Powder: Adds a tasty warmth and depth to the rice. Adjust the amount to taste to suit your spice preferences. Alternatively, you can substitute with your favorite chili blend for added depth of flavor. 

Long Grain White Rice: For the fluffiest texture, extra-long-grain or basmati rice works best in Mexican Instant Pot recipes. You can also use brown rice or a short grain if preferred. 

Vegan Vegetable Bouillon Paste: Provides the rice with a flavorful savory base. Choose a low-sodium option to better control the seasoning of the dish. If you don’t have bouillon paste, vegetable broth can substitute 

Salt: Use a fine sea salt to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. Adjust to taste, being careful not to oversalt the rice.

Dried Bay Leaf: Infuses Mexican rice with a delicious aromatic essence. Be sure to remove the leaf from the Instant Pot before serving to avoid eating it.  

Tomato Sauce: Adds a tangy sweetness and vibrant color to the rice. Alternatively, you can use canned diced tomatoes for added texture.

instant pot rice on a turquoise plate

How to Make Instant Pot Mexican Rice

  • Sauté Vegetables. Select the Instant Pot sauté setting, then add the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, and pepper on medium heat. 
overhead of sautéing onions in Instant Pot
  • Add Aromatics. Once the vegetables are tender, add the minced jalapeño pepper, smoked paprika, cumin seeds, cumin powder, Mexican oregano, and chili powder. Stir well and toast for about 15 seconds or until fragrant.
overhead of spices added to instant pot for mexican rice
  • Add Remaining Ingredients. Add the rice, water, salt, bay leaf, and tomato sauce to the Instant Pot. Stir well until combined.
overhead of all ingredients added to instant pot for mexican rice
  • Add Lid & Cook. Lock on the Instant Pot lid. Pressure cook for 4 minutes. Natural-release the pressure for 7 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure.
overhead of mexican rice in instant pot right after cooking
  • Fluff & Serve. Remove the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.
overhead of scoop of instant pot mexican rice

Recipe Pro-Tips

  • Preheat the Instant Pot. Warming the Instant Pot before adding the oil and aromatics prevents the ingredients from sticking to the bottom and ensures even, quick cooking. 
  • Rinse rice. Before adding the rice to the Instant Pot, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water in a colander to remove the excess starch. This will give the cooked rice a fluffier texture. 
  • Adjust seasonings to taste. Taste the Spanish rice Instant Pot mixture before adding the lid and cooking, and adjust the seasonings as needed. You can always add more salt or spices to suit your preferences. 
  • Natural release. Don’t skip this step! Allowing the pressure to release naturally after cooking helps ensure the rice is evenly cooked and prevents the texture from becoming mushy. 
  • Gently fluff. Once the rice is done cooking and the pressure has been released, delicately fluff it with a fork to separate the grains and prevent clumps from forming. 
  • Add a garnish. For extra flavor and presentation, top cooked rice with desired toppings, such as fresh chopped cilantro, sliced avocado or guacamole, a dollop of vegan sour cream, or a squeeze of lime juice.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy this Mexican rice recipe in the Instant Pot with simple toppings like grilled tofu, black beans, and vegetables for a quick and hearty rice bowl lunch or dinner. Add to burritos or on top of nachos, or serve with some of our favorite recipes below! 

overhead of instant pot Mexican rice on a turquoise plate

Storage Directions

  • Refrigeration: Allow Mexican rice instant pot leftovers to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing: Transfer cooled leftovers to a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow frozen rice to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. 
  • Reheating: Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water or vegetable broth to revive the moisture until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this Spanish rice recipe without an Instant Pot?

While an Instant Pot streamlines the cooking process, you can also make Mexican rice on the stovetop! Follow the recipe as outlined for sautéing the aromatics and toasting the spices in a large skillet or pot, then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer covered with a lid over low heat until the rice is tender, for about 18-20 minutes. 

How can I make this recipe gluten-free?

This recipe is naturally gluten-free if you use ingredients without extra gluten! To meet dietary restrictions, ensure the bouillon paste or broth you use is certified gluten-free.

How do I prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot?

After adding the liquids, deglaze the bottom of the pot by scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spatula. This will help ensure the Mexican rice in the Instant Pot cooks evenly and prevent the “Burn” warming from appearing.

More Vegan Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Recipe Card

5 from 2 votes

Instant Pot Mexican Rice

By: Jenné Claiborne
This Instant Pot Mexican Rice is loaded with zesty, festive flavor and ready in under 30 minutes! Made with wholesome savory ingredients, it makes the perfect side dish for Mexican-inspired meals or simply enjoy it with your favorite toppings.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 -8

Ingredients 

  • 1 tbsp oil, canola, grapeseed, or olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced red or yellow onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups long grain white rice, such as extra long grain white rice or basmati
  • 1 tsp tsp vegan vegetable bouillon paste + 2 cups of water, or 2 cup veg broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • cup tomato sauce, or canned diced tomatoes in liquid

Instructions 

  • On the Instant Pot sauté setting, sauté the onions, garlic, and pepper in the oil on medium heat.
  • Once the vegetables are tender, add the minced jalapeño pepper, smoked paprika, cumin seeds, cumin powder, Mexican oregano, and chili powder. Stir well and toast for about 15 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add the rice, water, salt, bay leaf, and tomato sauce. Stir well until combined.
  • Lock on the Instant Pot lid. Pressure cook for 4 minutes. Natural-release the pressure for 7 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure.
  • Remove the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.

Notes

Storage Directions
  • Refrigeration: Allow Mexican rice instant pot leftovers to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing: Transfer cooled leftovers to a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow frozen rice to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. 
  • Reheating: Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water or vegetable broth to revive the moisture until heated through. 
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Preheat the Instant Pot. Warming the Instant Pot before adding the oil and aromatics prevents the ingredients from sticking to the bottom and ensures even, quick cooking. 
  • Rinse rice. Before adding the rice to the Instant Pot, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water in a colander to remove the excess starch. This will give the cooked rice a fluffier texture. 
  • Adjust seasonings to taste. Taste the Spanish rice Instant Pot mixture before adding the lid and cooking, and adjust the seasonings as needed. You can always add more salt or spices to suit your preferences. 
  • Natural release. Don’t skip this step! Allowing the pressure to release naturally after cooking helps ensure the rice is evenly cooked and prevents the texture from becoming mushy. 
  • Gently fluff. Once the rice is done cooking and the pressure has been released, delicately fluff it with a fork to separate the grains and prevent clumps from forming. 
  • Add a garnish. Top cooked rice with desired toppings for extra flavor and presentation like fresh chopped cilantro, sliced avocado or guacamole, a dollop of vegan sour cream, or a squeeze of lime juice. 
  •  
 
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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1 Comment

  1. Just tried this and it was delicious! I omitted the jalapeño to be on the safe side for the littles. It came together quickly and is very good.