Your Family’s New Favorite: Easy Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot

Try this Instant Pot Spanish Rice recipe as a side for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. This easy Spanish rice is budget friendly and flavorful — the perfect combination!

Wrap it up in a burrito with my family favorite refried beans!

easy spanish rice in a brown pottery bowl with a tomato wedge and sour cream

I grew up in California, where Mexican restaurants were prolific. The food that came out of some of those family style restaurants were some of the best meals I’ve had.

Replicating the Spanish rice that was served alongside the enchiladas was a challenge for me, though. Try as I might, my efforts generally resulted in a sticky mess. While the flavor was good, the rice itself was kind of a clumpy and lumpy mess. It was just not appealing.

But! I’m not one to give up. Rice is inexpensive and easy to keep on hand.

We eat a lot of Mexican food and it seemed a shame to miss out on homemade Spanish rice.

Instant Pot Spanish Rice

Turns out, my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker is the secret to easy Spanish rice that turns out perfectly.

This version gets a thumbs up from my in-house recipe critic who always lets me know when I haven’t quite nailed it. (He’s an incredibly honest aspiring chef. We’ll cut him some slack.)

And it gets my thumbs up because it is so stinking easy.


Super. Easy.

Not sure what an Instant Pot is? Read my introduction to Instant Pot cooking here!


Rice While I used brown rice, you can alter this Instant Pot Spanish rice recipe by using white rice easily enough.

Salsa Using salsa in the recipe provides flavor along with tomatoes and other chopped veggies. If you have a pantry full of home canned salsa, use that. Or use your favorite salsa, mild or spicy — your call. If you don’t have salsa on hand, you can use diced tomatoes instead. You’ll need to add some spices to flavor it up, though. I like chili powder and cumin.

Onion You can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand — white, yellow, or red.

Garlic — Finely chopped garlic adds that spicy zing we all love so much. Can you use powdered? You could, but…

Bell pepper Opt for a green pepper here. In a pinch you could use a red pepper, but it will add a little sweetness to the recipe.

Olive oil — Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for sautéing. 

collage of cooking process: chopped onions and spices; sauteing those in a pot, rice added to the pot, tomatoes added to the pot

Making Easy Spanish Rice

Because the Instant Pot has a sauté function, you can do this part right in the pot. Easy peasy. Start by sautéing the spices and onion in the pot. Once they’re beginning to turn transparent, add the rice and sauté that. Finally, add the tomatoes and water or broth. 

pouring liquid into a pot of red liquid ingredients

Cook on high pressure, and then let it rest for 10 minutes once cooking time is up. 

We serve this Instant Pot Spanish rice with tacos or roll it up in a tortilla with my refried beans for burritos.


What type of rice should I use?

Regular long grain brown rice. So any bag of rice at the store that is simply brown rice. This isn’t white and it isn’t parboiled/parcooked. And yes, it still takes a decent amount of time in the “instant” pot but it is foolproof compared to the stovetop! You cannot substitute white rice at this cooking time or you will have a bowl of mush.

How do I store leftovers?

Rice is good for a couple days in the fridge. I recommend reheating only the portion you will be eating, and not the entire bowl. You can also freeze leftover rice for an easy side dish on busy days. Freeze flat in freezer bags, and then you can easily thaw under running water just enough to break it into chunks. The chunks will fit in a bowl for the microwave or in a pot for quick reheating.

bowl of Spanish rice from above, garnished with tomato, sour cream, cilantro

★ Did you make this Instant Pot Spanish rice recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

easy spanish rice in a brown pottery bowl with a tomato wedge and sour cream

Easy Spanish Rice

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Totally hands-off rice is yours in the Instant Pot! Serve this Instant Pot Spanish rice alongside tacos, wrapped up in burritos, or with homemade enchiladas. 


  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups brown rice
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 2/3 cups water (or broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced


  1. Measure oil, onion, and pepper into the Instant Pot liner. Choose "sauté" and cook until onions are transparent, stirring often for about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients.
  2. Lock lid in place. Using the "manual" setting, set the Instant Pot to cook for 25 minutes. 
  3. Let rice rest for ten minutes once cooking time expires, then carefully release pressure.


You can use water or the broth of your choice in this recipe,

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 245mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Recipe nutrition is a rough estimate.

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Originally published in February 2016; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

22 comments… add one
  • Carol L Mar 10, 2019 @ 10:24

    I came to this article as in another post you mentioned that you used your cauliflower rice to make this. Since cauliflower will become mushy easily, how would you sub it for the rice in this recipe?
    thanks for this! I am on KETO for type 2 diabetes.

  • christina Dec 18, 2018 @ 7:29

    do I need to rinse the rice? is it instant rice that I use?

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 19, 2018 @ 7:49

      You can rinse it if you like. (That seems to be a personal preference.) And no, not instant rice.

  • Yvonne Dec 9, 2018 @ 8:49

    The easy way is just use a jar of store bought salsa, medium hot…..and cook the rice with the salsa in it…..when the rice is done it is good…..side of pinto beans and buritto bread good eating….or put the salsa rice mixture and the beans inside a buritto, fold and eat….. could add a little hamburger meat that has been scrambled into chunks…..with hot sauce and cheese…..

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 19:11

    Delicious recipe!

  • Jen Apr 27, 2017 @ 16:02

    Delicious and easy! The rice was perfect.

  • Connie Ellis Apr 7, 2017 @ 18:23

    How many does this feed? Do I need to double it for about 12 people?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 9, 2017 @ 16:40

      Yes, I’d double it!

  • KC Feb 4, 2017 @ 17:34

    This recipe is fantastic!!! So easy and so delish….I’ve made it twice now, i use arborio rice and made no adjustments to the cook time and it was perfect. I am going to try the refried beans recipe next!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen Laurvick Dec 22, 2016 @ 15:11

    Did you use long, medium or short-grain brown rice? Would it make a difference in the recipe?

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 5, 2017 @ 8:35

      It depends what I have on hand. 😉 Shouldn’t make a difference.

  • Brenda Nov 29, 2016 @ 8:53

    If I use white rice, how will the cooking time change?

  • Kari Ann Nov 19, 2016 @ 9:10

    Can I just use canned diced tomatoes instead of the salsa?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 19, 2016 @ 10:57

      Sure! I’d just add some extra spice in that case.

  • Jodey Oct 4, 2016 @ 13:10

    How would I convert this to use Basmati rice?? Would it be the same cook time & amount of liquid??

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 5, 2016 @ 11:00

      Should be no problem to use basmati.

      • Jodey Oct 16, 2016 @ 14:07

        Thank you!! Going to try it right now!! 🙂

  • Kay Aug 20, 2016 @ 9:32

    Oh my goodness… This is so good… Thanks for sharing… 🙂

  • Sonia (foodiesleuth) Feb 2, 2016 @ 8:15

    I love Spanish Rice. My aunt used to add browned ground beef to hers, so the rice and a salad was a whole meal for the family.
    I’m going to have to look for and “instant pot” – (for some reason that term sounds weird to me… 😉

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