Instant Pot Mexican rice will become your favorite side dish due to how easy this tasty side dish is! It simply requires rice, water, a can of tomato sauce and a secret magical ingredient! It's pantry friendly, so stock up on everything you need so you can make it anytime you need perfect Mexican rice. Utilizing an electric pressure cooker ensures the rice comes out fluffy and will be cooked perfectly in a small amount of time with little effort on your part!
INSTANT POT MEXICAN RICE MADE EASY!
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When I first got my Instant Pot I was really scared of it. I still remember my mom warning when she had her pressure cooker going on the stove. There were threats of the house exploding if we jumped or made loud noises. Now, I know my mom took safety seriously and knew that the old school cooktop pressure cookers could, in fact, do some serious damage. But I think the wise part of her plan was keeping us quiet on those days!
I started out making easy things like hard-boiled eggs. I tried several recipes for rice and had no luck. I'd end up with burnt dried out rice, soggy rice, crunchy rice, anything but good rice. There were times my pressure cooker wouldn't come to pressure so the float valve would not pop up. It was a mess. With lots of failures. Still, I persevered.
One day I hit it just right. And it was so good. From then on, I started experimenting with flavors and other types of rice. Then once I mastered that, I moved on to making the perfect Mexican rice.
WHY MAKE MEXICAN RICE IN THE INSTANT POT
The first reason I think everyone should make Mexican rice in the Instant Pot is that it is so much more affordable. A bag of microwave rice which contains about 2 cups is $1.73 at our local grocery store. Feeding 4 boys, we need way more than one bag. At the same store, I can buy a 2 lb bag of white rice for $1.25 - that's 5 cups of UNCOOKED rice. White rice doubles or sometimes triples in size once cooked! Just doing the math of it simply doubling, that is just over 12 cents for a cup of cooked rice. I won't bore you with much more math but will include the total cost with all the ingredients down at the bottom of the post.
So besides the cost, why else should you make Mexican rice in the pressure cooker? To be honest- because it requires absolutely NO attention. When I've made boxes on the stove top in the past it required stirring, or making sure a lid was sealed tightly and praying that the liquid was all absorbed. For approximately the same amount of time, I can dump everything in the Instant Pot and know my rice will be perfect once done. Having that peace of mind is worth it to me. I simply start the rice before I start tacos or enchiladas or before we grill fajitas.
TIPS FOR MAKING MEXICAN RICE IN A PRESSURE COOKER:
Here are my tried and true tips for making our favorite rice in an electronic pressure cooker. First, for Mexican rice, I really prefer white rice. The recipe I've included is using white rice. I like to use plain Jane regular enriched white rice. I've used both short grain and long grain. Jasmine is one of our favorites, but it is a bit higher price wise. Same with basmati rice.
Can you make Mexican rice in the pressure cooker with brown rice? Absolutely! But what I've discovered is brown rice takes a bit longer to cook. I'd add at least 2 more minutes to cook time for brown rice, but if you make it regularly and have a sweet spot for making it, by all means, use that!
Where you live matters! Believe it or not, your atmospheric pressure matters when using a pressure cooker. I'm located 338 feet above sea level. This recipe works perfectly for me and 2 neighbors on my street (I have real-life recipe testers!). Maybe you are living in Denver. An eight minute cook time will not be your sweet spot. You'll want to change your time based on your location. PressureCookRecipes.com has a great mathematical conversion chart for pressure cooking at higher altitudes.
Can I double the recipe? YES! BUT with limitations. Double the rice, double the water and the seasoning but don't double the tomato sauce. It's enough for 2-4 cups of dry rice.
Can I triple the recipe? YES! But it doesn't taste exactly the same. Maybe it's the tomato sauce, maybe it's because the rice on the bottom tends to dry out and burn a bit. I've done it before, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Why do you use the manual button and not the rice button? The rice button is supposed to be for cooking white rice and does the time based on the measurement, but I think the tomato sauce throws everything off. The rice button also cooks at low pressure, and I prefer to do this recipe with high pressure. Some pressure cookers only have one manual setting and that is at the high-pressure setting, just FYI.
Can I add vegetables to my Mexican rice? Absolutely! If you do so, I suggest turning your Instant Pot to saute and with a little bit of oil that has been heated, saute your veggies. Some suggestions would be onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers or poblano peppers, and carrots. My kiddos are picky eaters so we go with this basic recipe and everyone is happy.
Why do you use tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes in your Mexican rice? To be honest, I've used both. I found that diced tomatoes sort of got lost in the finished rice. It didn't coat the rice and add a tomato flavor to every kernel the way tomato sauce does.
What about using enchilada sauce for my Mexican rice? Been there- done that. It is a fun twist on rice. But it tastes like....well.... enchilada rice. Using the plain tomato sauce and the secret ingredient is what gives my rice recipe that Mexican restaurant flavor.
Do I have to rinse my rice beforehand? NOPE! That is another thing I like about this recipe. It's really truly "dump and go". The purpose of rinsing your rice is to remove any extra starch. I've found that with all the other ingredients mixed in, the starch taste is not noticeable at all and if anything it acts a bit like a binder to draw everything together. Can you rinse your rice beforehand if you really want to? Have at it!
The total time this takes is 25 minutes!!! That isn't saving me time!!! That's very very very very true. Could you cook it on the stove top in the same amount of time? Not exactly. In a pressure cooker, it takes about 5-10 minutes to come to pressure, 8 minutes to cook and 10 minutes to rest. On the stovetop, traditional white rice would take 8-10 minutes for the water to come to a boil, 20 mins for the rice to simmer and then you'd have to add your other ingredients. Which would mean you were babysitting it a bit on the stove top.
Well, what about a box mix then? One thing to consider about these ready to go box rice kits is that a lot of time they are a mix of rice and vermicelli. Rice and pasta? I don't get it either! It takes away from the dish being gluten-free and I don't recall any Mexican restaurants around here adding pasta to their rice. I did find one dry rice mix that was not gluten free but had 100% rice in it. It was $2.68 for 2 cups, so it's back to being more money. It would also take about 25 minutes to cook.
So what's the secret ingredient to making the BEST Mexican rice in a pressure cooker?
When my oldest boys were little babies and toddlers, I had a wonderful Hispanic friend who lived by us in San Antonio. She would make the most incredible foods, like tortillas from scratch, and amazing truly traditional stovetop Mexican rice. The kind you saute before cooking. Once I asked her what gave it the wonderful flavor and she showed me this. Could it really be this simple? I had forgotten about it over the years, and then when I began my experiments on Instant Pot rice, I remembered it. I'm so glad I did because it truly is magical. I've tried other Mexican inspired flavors (southwest chipotle, lime fiesta) and they are tasty, but they lack that true Mexican restaurant flavor I was going for in this recipe.
Other recipes call for chili powder why don't I just use that? Remember I said using enchilada sauce makes it taste like enchilada rice? It's the same for chili powder. It gives it a chili taste. The magical secret ingredient is probably mostly made of cumin, but it has added spices on top of that. Could you make your own version? Probably. But it would require more steps, and for me, this container of rice seasoning is so easy to keep on hand in my pantry.
How much money can I save by making rice in the Instant Pot?
Remember above I started talking about how economical this was to make. In the end, based on my local ingredient prices, the cost of 4 cups (cooked) of this rice cost me $1.42. I could have cut it down to almost a dollar if I would have bought store brand tomato sauce, but for this scenario, I based it on a national name brand. Of course, if you buy your tomato sauce from a bulk retailer like Sam's Club or Costco that would also reduce the price.
To get the same amount of rice, you'd need 2 bags of microwave rice. My local cost would be $3.46 for this (of course your cost may vary!). We eat Mexican rice at least once a week. I did the math on how much making it from scratch in the Instant Pot vs. microwave bags for 4 cups (cooked) once a week over a year. In the end, you would save just over $100! WOW!
That's pretty impressive in my opinion!
If you like this deliciously easy Instant Pot Mexican rice recipe as much as our family does, please give it a five star review below and help me by pinning on Pinterest or sharing on facebook!
Still looking for more inspiration on how to make Mexican dishes using your Instant Pot? I think you'll love these!
Pressure Cooker Mexican Inspired Recipes:
Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- 2 cups white rice dry
- 1 TBSP Spanish rice seasoning
- 2 cups water
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- In an Instant pot or other electric pressure cooker, pour in dry rice.
- Next add the Spanish rice seasoning and stir if you'd like.
- Top rice with water, and make sure all rice kernels are under water.
- Pour in tomato sauce. Do not stir, but insure that all rice is still under water.
- Place sealed lid on instant pot and turn steam release handle to closed.
- Set Instant Pot to high and set time for 8 minutes. ***See note in post on why location matters and if you need to adjust your time***
- After the rice cooks, allow the Instant Pot to rest for 10 minutes. Turn steam release handle to open and allow any extra steam to be released. Also turn off the keep rice warm setting to prevent it from sticking or scorching.
- Stir rice well to distribute the tomato sauce and seasoning.
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