The Instant Pot offers a shortcut to your favorite restaurant rice! Instant Pot Spanish Rice cooks up quickly with just a few ingredients - Basmati rice, cooking stock, tomato sauce, and a few seasonings. Start the rice first and let the Instant Pot work its magic while you prepare the rest of your dinner.
My favorite thing to make in the Instant Pot is rice. I’m absolutely tickled by how perfectly and consistently the Instant Pot cooks rice - and not just plain old white rice, but different kinds of flavored rice dishes too, like Spanish Rice.
The Instant Pot does such a fantastic job that it’s impossible to make me want to go back to cooking rice on the stovetop; agonizing over how it’s turning out, taking peeks when I shouldn’t. Rice always turns out hit or miss for me on the stovetop. But not in the Instant Pot!
And this Instant Pot Spanish Rice is no exception - this recipe is a total shortcut to achieving restaurant-quality rice in a fraction of the time. I personally like using Basmati rice for this recipe; those long grains really soak up the flavor!
- What is Spanish Rice?
- What is Basmati Rice?
- To rinse or not to rinse?
- Equipment Needed: My Instant Pot
- How do you make Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot?
- I have a rice cooking button on my Instant Pot, can’t I just use that?
- The two keys to successful Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot: Variations & Substitutions
- What happens when you burn rice in your instant pot?
- Storing Leftover Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Reheating and Thawing
- What does Instant Pot Spanish Rice go with?
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
What is Spanish Rice?
Spanish rice, also known as arroz rojo, or red rice, is a popular restaurant side dish. Traditional recipes call for tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, minced garlic, and diced onions. It's the saucy tomato that gives the rice its signature color.
The recipe that follows is by no means meant to be an authentic Spanish Rice recipe. My recipe for Spanish Rice uses powdered seasonings instead of fresh garlic and onion, so I get a similar result - quickly! - using the Instant Pot. No real significant prep work is required for this recipe.
What is Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice is an aromatic long-grain rice that is traditionally served in Indian and other South Asian cuisines. Cooked, Basmati rice is soft and fluffy with a slightly nutty, slightly floral flavor. It’s unique in flavor and texture from plain old white short-grain rice that’s for sure!
Basmati rice is one of my favorite types of rice because of its fluffy yet firm texture and nutty flavor. I pair Basmati rice with everything from stir-fry to burrito filling. Learn how to make it on its own: Instant Pot Basmati Rice.
To rinse or not to rinse?
Yes, you should definitely rinse your Basmati rice before cooking. Why? Because doing so removes surface starches that - left in place - can really gum up the works, so to speak, resulting in gummy, clumpy rice. Yes, it’s an extra step but a necessary one to achieve perfectly cooked rice. So bust out that fine mesh strainer beforehand and get your rinse on.
You don’t necessarily need to rinse your rice until the water runs clear. I find that rinsing for 30-45 seconds is all it takes, followed by a few vigorous shakes to remove excess water.
Equipment Needed: My Instant Pot
There are a few different versions of the Instant Pot on the market, with differences ranging from capacity to functionality. This is the Instant Pot I own and used in this Instant Pot Basmati Rice recipe; it’s an 8-quart Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker with 14 One-Touch Programs.
A 6-quart Instant Pot will work just fine with this recipe as well, no over-filling issues to worry about.
How do you make Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot?
This Instant Pot Spanish Rice recipe is SO simple (I promise!). No real significant prep work is required! And the results are firm but tender bites of rice with hints of tomato, garlic, and onion that pairs perfectly with your favorite tacos.
I personally like a firm, fluffy rice, so I opt for a 1:1 ratio of rice to cooking stock, but if you want softer grains, add 1 ¼ cups of stock to 1 cup of rice.
- Basmati rice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
- Stock (chicken, vegetable, beef)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Paprika (I used Hot Hungarian paprika)
- Salt (optional, to taste)
- Chopped parsley or cilantro (for garnish)
Rinse rice under cold running water in a fine mesh strainer for 30-45 seconds. Shake the strainer vigorously to remove excess water.
Press the Saute button on normal on your Instant Pot and set it for 4 minutes. Add extra virgin oil to your Instant Pot. Once it’s heated up, add the Basmati rice. Stir the rice continuously, until lightly toasted and the time is up.
Add the tomato sauce and stir until well combined.
Add (beef/chicken/vegetable) stock to the Instant Pot, along with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt (optional). Stir to ensure the rice is submerged; this will ensure even cooking.
Put the lid on your Instant Pot, making sure the pressure release valve is sealed.
Select Pressure Cook on High and set for 4 minutes. The pressure cooker will take around 7 minutes to pressurize before it begins cooking the rice.
Once the rice has cooked for 4 minutes, let the Instant Pot naturally pressure release for 10 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t forget!
At the 10-minute mark, open the pressure release valve and remove the lid. There should be very little pressure left to release. Turn off the Instant Pot.
Fluff the rice up with a fork and dig in!
Yield: 1 cup of dry rice yields 3 cups of cooked rice.
Tip: Remove the rice from the Instant Pot and transfer it to a serving bowl immediately. Then put the pot in the sink and fill it with warm, soapy water. This will make clean-up easier as rice residue can be challenging to clean up after it dries on.
I have a rice cooking button on my Instant Pot, can’t I just use that?
Short answer, no. The “Rice” Smart Program automatically sets the time for white or parboiled rice only (according to the manufacturer). Since Basmati rice is a different kind of rice you should use Pressure Cook (manual) settings when cooking for the best results.
The two keys to successful Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Add the appropriate amount of liquid. Do not try this recipe with less liquid than instructed. The rice should be submerged, as pictured above.
- Do not double this recipe. Every time I tried to double it, I failed horribly. Save yourself the headache. The Instant Pot cooks rice amazingly well, but it doesn’t cook rice well in large batches.
Spanish Rice in the Instant Pot: Variations & Substitutions
You can of course make a few changes to this recipe and still have a successful outcome. Here are a few suggestions:
- Basmati rice - You can use Jasmine rice instead, with the same Instant Pot settings. Short grain or brown rice requires different cooking times so they are not recommended for this recipe.
- Cooking stock - As noted in the recipe instructions, use whatever stock you'd like chicken, vegetable, beef, etc. If you've got homemade stock, use it! Try this Instant Pot Beef Bone Broth.
- Seasonings - Get creative here if you like! Want it spicier? Add a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Want some herbal notes? Add dried oregano and/or a bay leaf.
What happens when you burn rice in your instant pot?
It stinks! Literally. Especially if you don’t immediately take action and turn off your Instant Pot. And you’ll be in for some scrubbing because burnt-on rice really likes to cling to the inner pot.
As I was testing this recipe out, I got the dreaded BURN displayed on my Instant Pot so many effing times. For two reasons: 1) I wasn’t adding enough liquid, and 2) I was trying to cook too much rice at once.
Storing Leftover Instant Pot Spanish Rice
Store leftover Instant Pot Spanish Rice in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To freeze, store in a freezer-friendly plastic bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible. For best results, use within 3 months.
Reheating and Thawing
Reheat refrigerated Spanish Rice made in the Instant Pot in the microwave (times will vary depending upon your microwave) until heated through. You can also reheat in a skillet over low to medium-low heat. Put the rice in the skillet, smooth it into an even layer, and put a lid on it until heated through. I like to put down a little oil first and cook until it gets a little crispy.
Thaw frozen Instant Pot Spanish Rice by leaving it on the countertop or in the refrigerator until thawed. To quickly thaw, submerge the sealed plastic bag of rice in lukewarm water until completely thawed.
What does Instant Pot Spanish Rice go with?
Try pairing this Instant Pot Spanish Rice recipe with these kickass dishes.
- Ground Venison Tacos
- Adobo Chicken Tacos
- Green Eggs and Spam Tacos
- Leftover Pulled Pork Tacos
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Tacos,
Magnificent Mains & Sides
- Spicy Venison Chili
- Instant Pot Pozole
- Adobo Chicken
- Quick Sauteed Tex-Mex Beef
- Spam Torta
- Restaurant Style Refried Beans from a Can
Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- 1 Instant Pot (use either a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot)
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup stock (chicken, vegetable, beef) (or 1 ¼ cup if you’d like softer rice)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika (I used Hot Hungarian paprika)
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional, to taste)
- parsley or cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- Rinse rice under cold running water in a fine mesh strainer for 30-45 seconds. Shake the strainer vigorously to remove excess water.
- Press the Saute button on normal on your Instant Pot and set it for 4 minutes. Add ½ tablespoon of extra virgin oil to your Instant Pot. Once it’s heated up, add the Basmati rice. Stir the rice continuously, until lightly toasted and the time is up.
- Add the tomato sauce and stir until well combined.
- Add 1 - 1 ¼ cups of (beef/chicken/vegetable) stock to the Instant Pot, along with ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to ensure the rice is submerged; this will ensure even cooking.
- Put the lid on your Instant Pot, making sure the pressure release valve is sealed.
- Select Pressure Cook on High and set for 4 minutes. The pressure cooker will take around 7 minutes to pressurize before it begins cooking the rice.
- Once the rice has cooked for 4 minutes, let the Instant Pot naturally pressure release for 10 minutes. Set a timer on your phone so you don’t forget!
- At the 10-minute mark, open the pressure release valve and remove the lid. There should be very little pressure left to release. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Fluff the rice up with a fork and dig in!