There’s nothing like a great Mexican Red Rice on your plate when you’re having Taco Tuesday or any other Mexican or Southwestern dinner. There’s a reason so many of us at home either skip it altogether or turn to a mix – after all, why put effort into a dish that even at restaurants is sometimes lackluster and gets picked at or pushed aside. This Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice is going to rock your world – or at least get you some fab Mexican Red Rice on the table!
Keep reading and you’ll get all my secrets for a beautiful, flavorful, light, and fluffy Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice. It’s seriously gonna steal the show!
About Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice:
First of all, I should qualify and say not all Mexican Rice is red. It comes in all the colors of the flag, I heard once. This recipe is for a very traditional red rice, only done in the IP. I have an IP recipe already for an Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice with a more American twist and I have a more traditional Mexican Red Rice using a standard cooking method if you don’t have an Instant Pot. And I have green rice, too, on my site, Arroz Verde, Mexican Green Rice. And of course, I have Cilantro Lime Rice, in the Instant Pot or Not. I don’t know many bloggers that don’t have a recipe for that – and that might not even be Mexican at all. Who knows? That’s rhetorical.
But back to this Instant Pot Red Mexican Rice. The flavors are classic, the texture divine and you might find it the star of the show! I’m gonna take you through all my hints and helps to get it on the table and avoid any of the common pitfalls that plague any Mexican rice and especially Instant Pot versions.
Making Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice:
There are two issues that plague Mexican Red Rice, especially when done in the Instant Pot. Mexican Red Rice can easily turn out to be a gummy mess, and when cooked in the IP the high sugar content in the tomato product can easily produce the dreaded “burn” notice.
To avoid both, rinse your rice well before cooking, saute the rice first in oil, and add just the right amount of liquid in just the right order.
The two steps, the rinsing and sauteing are a little more work, but not only do they keep you from getting the burn notice, but they also make a huge diff in the texture and quality of your red rice.
One final hint: Fluff your rice, then let it rest a few minutes and carefully remove it from the IP. A metal-type spatula works very well to lift the rice out. It’s very delicate after the pressure cook so avoid mushing it together as you serve it up.
Rinsing Your Rice:
I have a whole post on Perfect Instant Pot Rice. You can read it if you want, but here’s the quick summary. Rinse your rice until the water runs clear. I hate the rising but never skip it! That’s what a big difference it makes.
The easiest way to do this is to place your rice in a strainer, then place the strainer in a bowl a little larger. Run water over the rice as the bowl fills up, swishing and scraping the rice around as you do so. Remove the strainer, empty the water and repeat five more times or until the water is clear.
Storing and Reheating Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice:
Rice has special considerations when it comes to storing. Rice can contain Bacillus cereus (wash your hands well before handling your rice, too) which can multiply rapidly in moist foods held in a warm environment. Cool quickly and refrigerate promptly in a sealed container and know that leftovers really should be kept for no more than three or four days and reheated to 165 degrees.
Admittedly, I’ve played hard and fast with the reheating, but I do refrigerate promptly and watch the amount of time food is in the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees F. A large amount of rice can be reheated in a saucepan with a splash of water. Smaller amounts (like a serving) tend to do better in the microwave.
Most rice freezes well for short periods of time but tends to be dryer when reheated. Thaw in the microwave or in the fridge overnight, then heat as above.
Making Do or Substituting:
This recipe as it stands is pretty traditional, only done in the Instant Pot. The carrots, peas and chilis are all optional and won’t affect the recipe, so feel free to add what you like or omit. The flavoring is classic, but more often these days I am seeing people adding additional spices and/or herbs. Feel free to add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, the same of oregano, and a pinch of cayenne or dash of hot sauce if you lean that way. Toss in after the onions are sauteed.
Where you could run into trouble is in substituting anything that will affect the rice to liquid ratio. Be careful of using other tomato products instead of the tomato sauce. I formulated this recipe for long-grain rice, but another length or a sub of Basmati will work in a pinch.
Saving Money on Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice:
This recipe is really inexpensive to make. Buy your rice in larger bags; it keeps practically forever and is almost always cheaper that way. If your store has rice in several areas (in the man grocery aisles, usually near the boxed dinners, in an “ethnic” aisle, or in the Asian and/or Mexican aisles, compare prices. Don’t be afraid to check your big box stores and or markets, either.
I’m not big on having multiple tomato products cluttering up my pantry. Most of the time I’ll buy larger cans of whole tomatoes and blend or chop as needed, but in this case, the canned sauce is the way to go. Any simple pantry items like this are best bought at a low (usually once per quarter) and stocked up on when the price is right. The more you use the product the more you should buy, so track the pricing so you have a “stock up” price and are never stuck paying full price for any pantry item.
As I wrote this, Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching! My party days are far behind me, but this Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice would make a marvelous side for any Fiesta at home! Check out my menu post on Mexican & Southwestern favorites for a wide range of recipes to celebrate!
Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: about 4 cups 1x
- Category: Side
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 cups rice, well rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, water or a combination
- 8 ounces of tomato sauce
- 1 to 2 large jalapeños or serrano chilis, a slit cut down the side of each one (optional)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
Rinse rice well. The easiest way is to place rice in a metal strainer and place the strainer in a mixing bowl or pot just a bit larger than the strainer. Run tepid water over stirring the rice around with your fingers as the bowl fills up. Empty bowl and repeat five more times for a total of six times, or until water in bowl is clear.
Add oil to Instant Pot and set to Saute setting. When hot and oil is shimmering, add the onion and carrot (if using) and cook, stirring, until it starts to look translucent. Add the garlic and sit for a minute or two more until it smells fragrant.
Add the well rinsed and drained rice and stir around until some of the rice begins to look a little white around the edges, three to four minutes. Turn off pot and immediately add the salt, chicken stock or water or combination. Check the bottom of the pot to make sure there is no residue from the sauteeing process and scrape any residue off.
Add the tomato sauce to the top of the rice and stir minimally; basically just work it through the top layers of the rice, leaving the majority of it on top of the rice. Add the jalapenos or serrano to the top of the rice if using.
Seal Instant Pot and set for High Pressure, 4 minutes. Allow to release for 12 minutes, then turn Instant Pot off. Fluff with a large fork. Remove the chili and, if using, add in the peas, cover and let sit for five minutes.
Keywords: canned tomatoes, Carrots, hearty sides, Hot Peppers, Instant Pot, Mexican or Southwestern, Mexican Rice, Peas, Peppers, Rice, Side, Tomatoes