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Easy Spanish Rice in a Rice Cooker

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Delicious Spanish Rice made easily in a rice cooker. The perfect side dish to taco night, this rice is flavorful, super easy, and made with simple ingredients! 

Spanish rice in a rice cooker on a table top surrounded by ingredients like cilantro and fresh peppers and tomatoes. Fresh flowers are in a jar next to the bowl.
Rice cooker filled with flavorful Spanish Rice.

Spanish rice, or Mexican rice, is a delicious tomato based rice pilaf filled with spices like cumin, paprika, garlic, and onion. This version of it takes inspiration from that restaurant style recipe and makes it even easier to make. Add all the ingredients to your rice cooker, give it a stir, and hit the start button! In 25 minutes you have an amazing side dish for taco night with almost no work. 

Add this Spanish rice to all sorts of recipes! It can be the base of burrito bowls, as a simple side dish for tacos on Taco Tuesday, placed inside black bean enchiladas, or as the base for a taco casserole. Finish off the dish with a side of plant based queso dip or mango pineapple salsa! 

Ingredients 

Here is a quick rundown of what you’ll need to make this Spanish Rice. For the recipe amounts, see the recipe card below. 

Ingredients for Spanish rice in various glass bowls on a wood tabletop. Black and white labels have been added to name each ingredient.
Ingredients on the table.
  • Long-grain white rice: Jasmine rice and basmati rice are my two go-tos for this recipe, but any kind of long-grain rice will work. Jasmine especially is really fragrant and adds this delicious layer of flavor. 
  • Broth: Replace the water used for cooking rice with broth for the most flavorful rice. My favorite is Better than Bouillon the organic Seasoned Vegetable Base. 
  • Tomato Paste: I love the depth of flavor that the paste brings over using plain tomato sauce. The rich umami flavor translates into a more flavorful Spanish rice. 
  • Spices: A classic combination of cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt is used. I think that gives this rice a mild to medium heat. If you like it spicier, add more chili powder. If you like it with no spice, feel free to omit the chili powder all together. 

Best Rice Cooker 

For me, a simple rice cooker is the best. The Aroma rice cooker is the one that my family has been using for years. I love that it has a stainless steel interior pot. That means there is no coating on it so no chance of sneaky allergens like soy or nut oils baked into it. Plus, it is dishwasher safe! This rice cooker makes my rice perfect every time. 

How to Rinse the Rice 

The most important step in this recipe is rinsing the rice. Especially rice made in a rice cooker, you want to make sure that any extra starch is rinsed away. This will give you that perfect rice every time. 

My favorite method of rinsing the rice is putting a fine mesh sieve under a cool water running faucet. The water will be super cloudy at first, but just keep stirring it with your hand, making sure that every grain is getting rinsed. 

After about 1 minute of rinsing, the water should be running a lot more clear. That is letting you know that the excess starch has been washed away and you’re ready to make the rice! 

Instructions 

This Spanish rice comes together so quickly! It really is simple. 

Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.

Start by rinsing the rice. Make sure that the water runs clear so that you’ve removed a lot of the starch. This will make your rice gummy if you skip this step. 

Mixing the ingredients together in two bowls placed on a wood tabletop.
Mixing the sauce and rinsing the rice.

Next, add the rinsed rice to the rice cooker. Pour in the vegetable broth, tomato paste, and all the spices. 

Give it a good stir and press the “on” button (or the equivalent on your rice cooker). And that’s it! Now it’s time to wait for the rice to cook. 

Depending on if you made a single or double batch of this rice, in about 25 minutes, your kitchen should be smelling amazing. Different rice makers will have different cooking time instructions, so make sure to follow the instructions on your model. 

A rice cooker on a wood table filled with the rice before cooking.
Rice before cooking.
Rice in the rice cooker after cooking on a wood table. A wood spoon is next to the rice cooker.
Rice after cooking.

Tip! When the rice is done, let it rest for about 5 minutes with the lid off. This helps it to finish steaming.

Fluff rice with a fork and serve! Garnish with some fresh cilantro and a little squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

FAQs

Is Spanish rice different from Mexican rice? 

Technically, Spanish rice includes the addition of saffron, while Mexican rice is made without saffron. However, for most people in the US, Spanish rice and Mexican rice are interchangeable and refer to the same rice dish. 

Why isn’t my Spanish rice fluffy? 

Rice becomes weighed down when there is either too much starch left in the rice from not rinsing it well, or too much water in the pot. To keep your rice fluffy, make sure to wash the rice well and drain it of any extra water before measuring the correct amount of broth into the rice. 

Top Tips 

It can’t be understated how important it is to wash your rice! Washing it removes a lot of the starchiness, which leads to gummy rice. I like to use a strainer and give it a really thorough rinsing. Make sure to shake out any excess water from the rice. You can also wash it right in the rice cooking bowl, to cut down on extra dishes. Just please don’t skip this step! 

Big black bowl filled with Spanish rice next to fresh peppers and a vase of fresh flowers.
Big bowl filled with the finished Spanish rice.

How to Store 

Fridge: Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

To reheat: place the rice in a microwave safe bowl along with a sprinkle of water. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring and re-covering until heated through. 

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Spanish rice in a rice cooker on a table top surrounded by ingredients like cilantro and fresh peppers and tomatoes. Fresh flowers are in a jar next to the bowl.

Spanish Rice in a Rice Cooker

Delicious Spanish Rice made easily in a rice cooker. The perfect side dish to taco night, this rice is flavorful, super easy, and made with simple ingredients! 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: quick meals, side dishes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 186kcal

Equipment

  • Rice cooker
  • measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • mixing spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice. Using a mesh strainer or a large bowl, rinse the rice til the water runs clear. Make sure to shake out any excess water.
  • Add the ingredients to the pot. Add the rinsed rice to the rice cooker, along with the vegetable broth, tomato paste, and all spices. Stir this together well.
  • Cook the rice. Press the start button and let it go! Or, follow the instructions for your unique rice cooker.
  • Serve. When the rice is finished, fluff the rice with a fork and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  • How to Store 
    • Fridge: Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
    • To reheat: place the rice in a microwave safe bowl along with a sprinkle of water. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring and re-covering until heated through.
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Nutrition

Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 577mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 511IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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