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This easy recipe for Instant Pot Mexican / Spanish rice with beans is the ultimate side dish or satisfying vegetarian main dish. Ready in less than an hour with minimal hands-on time, it’s sure to become a family favorite!
This easy one-pot, dump-and-go Instant Pot Mexican Rice with beans is so simple to make and the quickest way to prepare rice and beans.
While there are many dump-and-go Instant Pot Spanish / Mexican rice recipes, this recipe asks you to do a tiny bit of extra work – browning the rice. Browning the rice adds so much more flavor. I’ve read that this is how it is made in most Mexican households. So if you have the time, go for it. If you don’t, that’s okay too.
This rice and beans combo is a perfect accompaniment to any Mexican meal. While it is a great side dish, you can add additional veggies and beans and make it a complete meal.
While the most common name for this dish is Mexican rice, a variety of terms fit under the same umbrella. These include:
- Arroz Rojo Mexicano
- Red rice
- Spanish rice
- Mexican rice and beans
- Spanish rice and beans
- Arroz a la Mexicana
- Arroz Mexicano
- Arroz Rojo
Spanish rice vs. Mexican rice recipe
Spanish and Mexican rice are very similar dishes, with their names often used interchangeably. They are similar in many ways, but they have a significant difference. Spanish rice dishes most often include the addition of saffron threads, giving it a brighter yellow hue, whereas Mexican rice gets its orange/red color because of the tomato sauce used in the recipe.
Since saffron can be very expensive, this is left out in many recipes, and so Mexican rice and Spanish rice tend to be more alike than different.
Reasons to love this recipe
- It’s a one-pot recipe – meaning you won’t have a sink full of dishes to clean up after the meal.
- Meal prep friendly – reheats easily and is a good source of plant-based protein.
- It’s a versatile recipe that can be made in various ways – with veggies, without veggies, added meat, toppings, etc.
- Complete meal – Since this easy recipe contains rice and beans, it’s a complete protein with all essential amino acids. Add more vegetables and beans to make it extra filling.
This rice recipe is an easy way to recreate restaurant-style Mexican rice at home!
Here’s what you need to make the recipe
- Long grain white rice – I recommend Jasmine rice or Basmati rice for this recipe.
- Ghee or olive oil – This is for toasting the rice and softening the onion and garlic. It also adds a rich flavor.
- Aromatics – For the aromatics, you will need 1/4 cup of chopped onion and 4 cloves of garlic.
- Jalapeno – This adds a touch of spiciness, but not too much. If you don’t like spicy foods, you could always leave it out or replace it with mild chili powder or paprika.
- Bell pepper – Choose your favorite color, and chop them up. This adds both color and flavor to your Mexican rice and beans.
- Corn – This common ingredient in Mexican dishes adds a slight bit of crunch and color.
- Tomato sauce – You can use fresh tomatoes, but most authentic recipes call for tomato sauce which gives Mexican rice its signature color. You can also use salsa or fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Beans – This can be pre-cooked, or you can use canned beans that have been drained and rinsed. You can even use dried beans if you substitute the white rice for brown.
- Broth – I like to use vegetable broth for this recipe, but you can also use water or chicken broth.
- Seasoning – All you’ll need is some cumin powder and salt. So simple!
- Cilantro (coriander) – This is a classic ingredient in Mexican cooking. This refers to the leaves, which are often known as coriander (named for its seeds) throughout much of the world, although it is called cilantro in North America.
- Wash / Soak the rice – Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water to remove dirt and extra starch (which makes it easier to digest). If time permits, soak the rice. Soaking elongates the grains and makes them less brittle.
- Let the rice rest – Once cooked, let the rice rest – this allows the steam to redistribute, and all the layers of the rice are evenly cooked. That is why it is important to wait 10 minutes before releasing pressure.
- Avoid a clumpy mess – If not serving immediately, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot to prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
- Add ghee (optional step) – After the rice is done, add a tablespoon of ghee to it. Once it melts, fluff the rice with a fork. Adding ghee amplifies the nutty flavor of Basmati rice and makes it even more fragrant. The result is a bowl of restaurant-style buttery rice that doesn’t dry out.
Variations to try
Dump-and-go method: If you are in a rush, you can add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot and set it to cook. But make sure to add the tomato base last and not mix it. This will prevent the rice from burning.
Replace white rice with brown rice: If you want a healthier version, you can replace the white rice with brown rice. Since brown rice takes longer, the cooking time will change from 3 to 22 minutes.
Replace tomato sauce with a cup of:
- Fire roasted tomatoes
- Freshly chopped tomatoes
Note: If you are using any of the tomato-based sauces, add them last, and don’t mix them. This will prevent the dreaded burn issue in the Instant Pot.
Ran out of cumin powder? Feel free to substitute it with store-bought or homemade taco seasoning.
Skip the veggies and beans to make Mexican rice that is a perfect base for burritos, tacos, nachos, and salads
Frozen bell peppers instead of fresh – If using frozen bell peppers, wait until the rice is cooked to mix them in so they don’t become lumpy. Cover the rice for about 5 minutes, giving the frozen bell peppers enough time to get cooked in the residual heat.
Skip the jalapenos – Don’t like it spicy? Replace jalapenos with a teaspoon of mild chili powder or paprika.
Fried Mexican rice – Fry any leftover Jasmine or Basmati in a skillet with a small amount of oil and aromatics listed in this recipe, similar to how you would make vegetable fried rice.
Add saffron – For making Spanish rice, soak 4-5 strands of saffron in a tablespoon of warm water for 10-15 minutes. Add it to the cooked rice and mix well.
How to prep ahead
Rice dishes taste best when they are served fresh, so I don’t recommend prepping the whole dish in advance for this recipe (although you could if you prefer to).
Instead, you can prep ahead by chopping all of the needed vegetables or cooking dried beans. Then store these items in the refrigerator until it’s time to add them to the Instant Pot.
Refrigerator – Spanish rice and beans will store well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap.
Freezer – You can store Spanish rice for up to 2 months in the freezer. Store it in individual (1 cup or 1/2 cup) portions so you can only thaw what you need. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheating – The best way to reheat rice dishes is in the microwave. Reheated rice has a tendency to be dry. For the best results, add 1 tablespoon of water for every 1 cup of rice before reheating your Mexican rice / Spanish rice.
Serve it with
This easy recipe for Instant Pot rice and beans can be served all on its own, but it pairs perfectly with the following dishes:
- Burrito bowls – Like my tasty Chipotle copycat recipe for chicken burrito bowls.
- Burritos – These can be made with a variety of proteins and flavors. The most popular are ground beef, chicken, and veggie burritos.
- Tacos – Any kind will do, but I highly recommend my easy recipe for shrimp tacos.
- Taco salads – a healthier alternative that tastes great too!
Frequently asked questions
Spanish rice works best with long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati. Short-grain rice varieties are too chewy and hold too much moisture to be suitable.
If the recipe you’re using compliments the flavors included in salsa – tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, onion, and cilantro – you can easily swap tomato sauce for salsa.
If you would like to use a different type of bean to make Mexican beans and rice, you absolutely can. Black beans and pinto beans are the most common, but you can add whatever cooked bean variety you prefer.
You can use dried beans, but only if you make it with brown rice and soak the beans overnight. The recipe will stay the same, but the cooking time will change to 22 minutes to ensure the beans cook through.
Yes, but only if you use an 8-quart Instant Pot. The cooking time will not change, but the Instant Pot may take more time to get to pressure because the amount of liquid has increased.
Most often, when people are referring to Mexican or Spanish rice, they are referring to a very similar dish. The difference between Mexican and Spanish rice is actually that Spanish rice is made with saffron threads, giving it a brighter hue. Mexican and Spanish rice are often made without beans, but many variations include them for taste and nutrition.
Other rice recipes to try
- Instant Pot cilantro lime rice – This easy copycat recipe is ready in less than 20 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot and pairs well with nearly everything.
- Instant Pot Spinach rice – Make a filling bowl of Palak Rice in just 20 minutes with your Instant Pot. This filling and flavorful Spinach Rice is packed with warm spices and fresh vegetables for a gluten-free dish everyone will enjoy!
- Instant Pot forbidden rice – Learn how to make perfectly cooked black rice (Forbidden rice) in the Instant Pot. It is much quicker than making it over the stovetop; the best part is no soaking is needed!
- Instant Pot vegetable biryani – this flavorful one-pot vegetarian meal comes together in just 30 minutes!
Instant Pot Mexican rice and beans (Spanish rice)
- 2 cups Basmati Rice or Jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil optional
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapenos, deseeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or any mild chili powder
- 1 cup bell peppers, chopped
- 1 cup corn
- 2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can)
- 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz) see note
- salt to taste
- 2.5 cups water or broth [ see note]
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- Rinse the Basmati rice using a strainer till the water runs clear.
- Soak the Basmati rice in water for 30 minutes.
- Select the Saute program in the Instant Pot and set it to Normal.
- Add ghee or oil in the inner steel pot. Once the oil heats up, Drain the rice and add it to the inner pot.
- Saute the rice for about 5 minutes until it turns golden brown. Make sure to stir continuously to prevent the rice from burning.
- Add onions, jalapeno peppers (if using) and garlic. Saute till the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the cumin powder, chili powder (if used), bell peppers, corn, and beans. Mix well and saute for a minute. Note: If using chopped tomatoes instead of canned, add them now.
- Add water or broth along with salt to the inner pot. Mix well.
- Deglaze the pot – scrape the bottom to make sure no bits are stuck to the bottom.
- If using tomato sauce, or salsa instead of tomatoes, add it now. Do not mix.
- Close the lid and set the steam valve to sealing.
- Pressure cook for 3 minutes under high pressure.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 10 minutes before moving the valve to 'venting' to release pressure.
- Open the lid and let the steam escape. Wait for a minute or two and then fluff the rice gently with a fork.
- Sprinkle cilantro and it is ready to serve.
- This recipe was tested in an Instant Pot Duo – 6 quart. To make this in an 8-quart Instant Pot, make at least 2 cups of brown rice since 8-quart needs at least 2 cups of water to come to pressure.
- I used a standard measuring cup for the recipe, not the rice cup that came with Instant Pot.
- If not serving immediately, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot to prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
- Reheating leftover rice – Add a tablespoon of water for every cup of leftover rice. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or until heated through.
VariationsDump-and-go method: If you are in a rush, you can add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot and set it to cook. But make sure to add the tomato base last and not mix it. This will prevent the rice from burning. Replace white rice with brown rice: If you want a healthier version, you can replace the white rice with brown rice. Since brown rice takes longer, the cooking time will change from 3 to 22 minutes. Replace tomato sauce with a cup of:
- Fire roasted tomatoes
- Freshly chopped tomatoes
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.