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Instant Pot Spanish rice is the perfect side for tacos and enchiladas! Also called Mexican rice, it’s easy to make in a pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Spanish rice
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Looking for a side dish for tacos or enchiladas? Or a filling for a burrito or burrito bowl? Here’s your solution: Instant Pot Spanish rice! It’s really not Spanish at all but Mexican in heritage, flavored with onion, salsa and smoky adobo sauce. It’s full of flavor and has a vibrant bright red color! Alex and I have a stovetop Spanish rice recipe that we love, so we decided we needed a pressure cooker version too. It’s full of flavor and easy to make with this hands off method! Here’s what to do.

All about Spanish rice (aka Mexican rice)!

Spanish rice is not Spanish at all! It’s Mexican, and sometimes called Mexican rice or arroz rojo (” red rice” in Spanish). It gets its red color from cooking it with tomatoes. Why is it called Spanish rice, then? Well no one knows for sure. One theory is it got the name because the Spanish introduced rice to Mexico when they invaded back in the 1500’s. Whatever the case, it’s darn good and worth adding to your Mexican side dish repertoire!

Instant Pot Spanish Rice

Spanish rice ingredients

There are lots of variations on how to make Spanish rice. Just like a dish like coleslaw or potato salad, everyone has their own spin on this side dish. Here’s what you’ll need for our spin on this classic recipe:

  • White onion
  • Medium or long grain white rice
  • Salsa
  • Adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers (more on this below!)
  • Olive oil, vegetable broth, and kosher salt

How to make Instant Pot Spanish rice (basic steps)

For Instant Pot Spanish rice, you’ll need to use the Saute feature on your Instant Pot. If you’ve never used it, it’s just like sauteing on the stove top. You’ll do this in order to get the best flavor out of the onion. Here are the basic steps (or go right to the recipe below):

  • Cook the onion on Saute mode for 5 minutes: This brings out the best flavor of the onion. Then add the salsa, adobo sauce, rice and broth.
  • Pressure cook on High for 8 minutes (white rice). Keep in mind it takes about 5 minutes to “preheat” first.
  • Natural release for 10 minutes. Set the timer for 10 minutes and then release the steam in the pot.
  • Stir in ½ cup salsa. Adding some salsa at the end amps the flavors (which the Instant Pot can dull, if you’re not careful).
Instant Pot Spanish rice

What’s adobo sauce?

Adobo sauce is a tomato-chili sauce that brings savory, smoky flavor to Mexican dishes. Here’s what you need to know about it:

  • Chipotles in adobo sauce are available in the Mexican food section in most groceries. The can has both chipotle chiles: smoked and dried jalapeños that are rehydrated and canned, and adobo sauce, a purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and other spices.
  • This recipe calls for adobo sauce only, not the peppers! Pull out just 1 teaspoon sauce from the can and leave the peppers inside. Each brand of can has different amounts of adobo sauce, so you’ll have to experiment and find your favorite.
  • Refrigerate or freeze the rest. You can refrigerate the entire can for a few weeks, or place the contents in a sealed container and freeze for a few months. Try it in our Homemade Enchilada Sauce or Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.
Spanish rice

Ways to serve Instant Pot Spanish rice

There are lots of ways to serve up this Instant Pot Spanish rice! Alex and I like to use our Instant Pot to cook side dishes because it keeps another pot off the stove and is mainly hands off. The Instant Pot does the work while we cook the main dish. Here are a few meals we’d use this Spanish rice for:

More Instant Pot rice recipes

We love cooking rice in our Instant Pot, because it’s mostly hands off and comes out perfectly cooked! Here are a few more of our pressure cooker rice methods:

Instant Pot rice

This Instant Pot Spanish rice recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Spanish rice

Instant Pot Spanish Rice

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


Instant Pot Spanish rice is the perfect side for tacos and enchiladas! Also called Mexican rice, it’s easy to make in a pressure cooker.


  • 1/2 medium white onion (1 cup finely diced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups medium or long grain white rice
  • 1 ½ cups salsa, divided
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers*
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste


  1. Finely dice the onion.
  2. Turn on Saute mode (on Medium) and add the olive oil to the Instant Pot. When it is heated, add the onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the onions are just translucent.
  3. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup salsa, adobo sauce, broth, and kosher salt.
  4. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  5. Natural release for 10 minutes: After the Instant Pot beeps, set a timer and wait for 10 minutes to let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure. Then vent any remaining steam by moving the vent to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. (The pressure indicator in the lid may drop on its own during this time, meaning that there is no remaining steam in the pot.)
  6. Stir in the additional ½ cup salsa. Taste and add additional kosher salt to taste, as necessary.


*This quantity of adobo sauce doesn’t add heat, just flavor. Save the remainder of the can by refrigerating for a few weeks, or place the contents in a sealable container and freeze it for a few months.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure COoker
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Gail says:

    How does the cooking time differ for long-grain brown rice? Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tested

  2. Amanda Bates says:

    This was great! I added one of the peppers and a touch more adobo sauce in at the end.

  3. Ken Sikora says:

    I love this recipe and would like to halve it for just my wife and I. What adjustments do I need to make as I’m new to Instant Pot cooking. I did add roasted chopped poblano peppers and it came out perfect.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      For this one, I think you’d be able to just halve the ingredients and keep all else the same!

      1. Katie Snyder says:

        Which salsa do you use?? Thank you!

        1. Sonja Overhiser says:

          You can use any brand of salsa! We used our store brand salsa.

  4. Jamie M says:

    Hi! I love your Spanish Rice and Beans recipe for stovetop, but I wanted to use my Instantpot tonight so I followed the link from that recipe over here. I realized (after Inhad already opened my can of beans – oops!) that this recipe is different in that it doesn’t have the beans or roasted peppers. If I wanted to make the Instantpot recipe with the same ingredients as your Spanish Rice and Beans recipe, when is the best time to add the beans and peppers to the dish? Before cooking in the Instantpot or stirred in after?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! You’d need to stir them in after cooking the rice. They would turn to mush otherwise! So glad you enjoy the recipe!