How To Cook Mexican Rice in a Rice Cooker

Hot Tamale! If you love spicy food, then you are going to love Mexican Rice! It’s fiery, flavorsome, and goes with lots of dishes – and it’s really easy to make. Let me show you now how I make Mexican Rice using – you guessed it – your rice cooker.

Mexican Rice
Mexican Rice

Mexican rice or, as it’s also known, as Spanish rice, Red Rice, or Arroz Rojo, is a tasty variation made using white rice, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.

It is a great accompaniment to spicy Mexican foods such as burritos, tacos, and tamales but should not be confused with Paella – which although Spanish in origin is a completely different dish, most often cooked using seafood.

So, let’s find out how to make quick and easy Mexican rice in a rice cooker.

Traditional Mexican Rice Recipe

Homemade Mexican Black Beans and Rice
Homemade Mexican Black Beans and Rice

The great thing about Mexican rice is that it’s really easy to prepare and cook, and if you have a rice cooker its even simpler! Like many simple dishes, the best results are achieved with fresh tomatoes for that vibrant color and tangy taste. Perfect Mexican rice should be light, fluffy, and full of flavor. It’s not sticky rice and, in fact, I prefer it to be slightly dry in texture.

So, let’s share a quick recipe for traditional Mexican Rice.

What you will need…

  • 1 cup of Long-grain white rice
  • 3 tbsp of Olive oil or fat
  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder
  • Pepper
  • Caldo de Tomate
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • 1 and 3/4 or about 2 cups of Water
How to Cook:
  1. get a medium-sized mixing bowl and dice the tomatoes then add the onion powder, pepper, chili powder, Caldo de Tomate, and water. Gently whisk all these ingredients and set aside
  2. Next, brown the rice by adding olive oil in a non-stick medium-sized pan. Mix the rice gently until the color turns opaque or golden brown. Then add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  3. Gradually add the tomato base mixture you made earlier and stir it carefully until it simmers
  4. Once the mixture is simmering, reduce the heat and cover the lid and leave it cooking until all the liquids are absorbed – this should take about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for another 5 minutes
  6. Fluff the rice with a fork, garnish with cilantro, and serve!
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This Mexican Rice dish is perfect with Chicken Fajitas, Beef or Chicken Tacos, Quesadillas, or Enchiladas.

Mexican Rice in a Rice Cooker

Mexican tomato black beans rice with cilantro
Mexican tomato black beans rice with cilantro

If cooking isn’t your idea of fun, or if you are just pressed for time, then don’t worry because making Mexican Rice in your rice cooker not only saves time and effort but is actually just as easy as the traditional method outlined above. So, let’s find out more!

Here’s how I do it.

What you need:
  • One cup of long-grain white rice
  • Chicken broth or stock
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • A can of tomato sauce
  • 2pcs Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder, pepper, and chili powder
  • Cilantro for garnishing
How to Cook:
  1. Brown the rice in the rice cooker by adding the olive oil stirring over a high heat
  2. Once the rice is browned, add the rest of the ingredients, stir a little and leave it on.
  3. Cook according to your rice cooker’s instructions
  4. Once done cooking, stir once and let it rest for about 5 minutes, garnish with cilantro before serving!

There you have it, it’s really that simple. The best tip i can give you is to use the best quality and freshest ingredients you can get and don’t forget to toast it before cooking!

How to Get The Right Texture for Mexican Rice?

Woman pouring oil in frying pan

The key to success when it comes to making Mexican rice is to toast it before cooking. This gives the final dish a warm, rich, slightly nutty flavor that complements Mexican food so well..

I prefer to do toast the rice slowly using medium heat until it turns a light golden brown. Be sure to continuously stir the rice while browning it , though, because burned rice tastes awful!

There are no specific rice variants required in making Mexican rice. You can use any kind of long-grain white rice, and some even use basmati rice.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

Of course, and it tastes just as good! In fact, it’s a bit healthier so why wouldn’t you? The only thing to remember is that brown rice needs a bit more liquid since the wholegrain makes it a bit harder when cooked. Normally, if I’m using brown rice, I double the amount of water or broth and increase the cooking time accordingly.

Broth Also Matters!

stock for risotto

Being a very simple dish means that its great for experimenting with. you can adjust the cooking seetings to get a different consistency, add extra ingredients for a different taste and, of course you can substitute stock for water to really make it sing.

Instead of water, I like to add broth (chicken or beef) as this adds a lot of flavor to the dish. The cooking instructions are the same but dont add any salt or seasoning as the stock usually has enough on it’s own.

What Can You Do With The Leftovers?

Baked stuffed peppers with rice
Baked stuffed peppers with rice

Even after the tastiest meal, there are usually a few leftovers. If like me, you are frugal and enjoy reducing waste, then there’s good news because Mexican Rice can be kept for 3-4 days as long as you keep it chilled in the fridge.

Note: rice should always be treated with respect when it comes to storing and reheating as the bacteria in it grows very quickly. Never store your rice at room temperature unless you are intending to eat it within a few hours and always make sure it’s properly reheated. The best way to stay safe is to store it in the fridge and unless otherwise specified eat it within 48 hours of cooking.

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You can also reheat Mexican rice using your rice cooker. I just add a little water and set the cooker to keep warm mode, but, as I mentioned above, make sure it’s fully cooked through before eating.

One of the nice things about this kind of rice dish is that you can actually re-make it into many other kinds of dishes to spice things up a little. For example, you can hand roll it into Mexican rice balls, and stuff it into tasty chicken or beef burritos or stuffed peppers—there are lots of possibilities.

Some FAQs

When should I add spices to my rice cooker?

When it comes to cooking rice, there are many different schools of thought on when to add spices. Some cooks prefer to add spice early on in the cooking process, while others wait until the rice is nearly done. There is no right or wrong answer, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference. However, there are a few general guidelines that can be followed. If you are adding spice to white rice, it is generally best to wait until the rice is cooked through. This will help to prevent the spices from burning and becoming bitter. For brown rice, you can add spices either at the beginning of the cooking process or towards the end. Adding spice at the beginning will infuse the rice with more flavor, while adding it towards the end will result in a more subtle flavor. Ultimately, the decision of when to add spice is up to you. Experiment until you find a method that produces the flavor profile that you desire.

What is a good seasoning to add to rice?

When it comes to cooking rice, there are many different schools of thought. Some people swear by using a rice cooker, while others prefer the stovetop method. However, one thing that all rice-lovers can agree on is that the right seasoning can make all the difference. For those who are looking to add a little flavor to their rice, there are a few good options. One popular choice is Mexican rice, which typically includes ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and spices. Another option is to add fruits or vegetables to the rice while it is cooking. This can create a more colorful and flavorful dish. Whatever route you choose, remember that the key to great-tasting rice is in the seasoning.

Top view of seasoned split peas and rice sauerkraut and salad on dark background

Should you salt the water when cooking rice?

When it comes to cooking rice, there are a variety of methods and techniques that can be used. One common question is whether or not to salt the water. While some believe that salting the water can help to improve the flavor of the rice, others believe that it can make the rice more difficult to cook evenly. Ultimately, it is up to the individual cook to decide whether or not to add salt to the water. However, if you are using a rice cooker, you may want to experiment with adding a pinch of salt to the water before cooking. This can help to enhance the flavor of the rice without making it more difficult to cook evenly.

Why is Mexican rice different?

Mexican rice is a type of rice that is typically cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and onions. It is often used as a side dish or as a base for other dishes. Mexican rice can be made in a variety of ways, but the most common method is to cook it in a saucepan with olive oil. This method results in fluffy, fragrant rice that is perfect for absorbing the flavors of other dishes. Another popular method for cooking Mexican rice is to use a rice cooker. This method produces denser, more flavorful rice that is ideal for serving as a standalone dish. Regardless of how it is cooked, Mexican rice is a delicious and versatile food that can be enjoyed in many different ways.

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What kind of rice do Mexican restaurants use?

Most restaurants use either white medium-grain rice or brown medium-grain rice. These rices have a shorter grain length, which gives them a stickier texture. This stickiness is essential for dishes like Arroz con Pollo, where the rice needs to cling to the chicken and vegetables. So next time you’re in the mood for Mexican food, remember to choose your rice carefully!

What gives Mexican rice its color?

One of the most distinguishing features of Mexican rice is its color. The rich red hue comes from the addition of tomatoes, which are cooked down into a sauce. Some recipes also call for tomato paste or tomato sauce, which will give the rice an even deeper color. While the exact shade can vary depending on the ingredients used, Mexican rice typically has a vibrant red or orange color.

Is there a difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice?

Mexican rice and Spanish rice are both popular dishes that have some similarities and some differences. Both dishes typically include rice that is cooked with tomatoes, onions, and garlic. However, Mexican rice also typically includes additional spices such as chili powder, while Spanish rice typically includes saffron. In terms of texture, Mexican rice is usually fluffy and light, while Spanish rice is often more firm and dense. When it comes to how the dish is served, Mexican rice is often served as a side dish, while Spanish rice is often used as a base for other ingredients such as chicken or shrimp. Ultimately, whether you choose to make Mexican rice or Spanish rice will depend on your personal preferences.

How do you make Mexican rice from white rice?

Making Mexican rice is a simple process that can be easily done in a rice cooker. First, rinse the white rice in a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess starch. Next, add the rice to the rice cooker along with 2 cups of water. Then, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir to combine. Finally, add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1-2 cloves of garlic, then stir again. Close the lid of the rice cooker and set it to cook on the “white rice” setting. Once the cycle is complete, allow the rice to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving. Enjoy!


Mexican rice is one of the tastiest rice dishes you can make and is a perfect accompaniment to a whole range of Mexican food. The best thing of all is how easy it is to make. In this post, I showed you exactly how to create a tasty serving of this popular dish – now it’s over to you and your creativity.

I hope you found this information useful and, as always if you have any questions r if you would like to share any tips or examples of your culinary handiwork then please get in touch.

Gracias y adios por ahora!

Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and, if you would like to find out more great ways to use your rice cooker, I have posts covering how to cook pasta, fish, or even lentils. Who knew that a rice cooker could be so versatile ?!

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