Easy Spanish Rice in the Rice Cooker

Easy Spanish Rice recipe made in the rice cooker with a few simple ingredients (including a can of tomatoes), just dump, mix, set it, and forget it!

Mexican food is in my favorites category. I love everything from tostadas and steak carnitas to simple bean burritos and salsa. Easy Spanish rice is the perfect side for all that Mexican food and this recipe is so easy because the rice cooker makes it for you. Just dump it all in and go. I like to make this rice when company is coming over, and I have enchiladas planned because it makes the main dish stretch and the leftovers are great inside bean burritos for lunch.

Why the rice cooker when you can make it on the stove-top? Well, unbeknownst to you, there is a rice-curse that has been placed on my head. I cannot, for the life of me, make non-crunchy rice outside of the rice cooker. Ever. If you don’t have a rice cooker, I’m sure this could be done on the stove-top in a similar way, just don’t ask me how. We all can’t be good at cooking everything, right?!

One more thought for you. There are lots of types of Spanish or Mexican rice and this one is very similar to the Rice-a-Roni type that comes in a box that you make on the stove-top with a can of tomatoes. I grew up with that kind and like it, so expect something close to that in flavor.

Easy Spanish Rice recipe made in the rice cooker with a few simple ingredients (including a can of tomatoes), just dump, mix, set it, and forget it!

Tips and Tricks for Making Easy Spanish Rice in the Rice Cooker:

  • You can use just about any kind of rice that you like. A long grain rice general lends to a rice that has more individual pieces of rice and a short grain will lend to a stickier Spanish Rice. You can also use brown rice, just increase the liquid by one cup (or add the amount called for on the bag).
  • I have this rice cooker and love it (it makes 20 cups of cooked rice, perfect for a party/crowd!). I know that the Instant Pot has a rice cooker function and I assume that this would work great it in though I haven’t tried it myself (I need to get one…).
  • You can serve this as a side to tacos (like our favorite Best Chicken Tacos Ever) and it’s also great tucked inside Smothered Burritos.
  • This easy Spanish rice recipe makes a fair amount. If you don’t use it all, it freezes really well. Once it’s cooled, place extras in a zipper-topped freezer bag, label, and freeze. It should keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. I just let mine thaw in the fridge overnight or in a small bowl of warm water and then heat through before serving.

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Easy Spanish Rice in the Rice Cooker

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 5 cups of cooked rice
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Rice Cooker
  • Cuisine: Spanish


Easy Spanish Rice recipe made in the rice cooker with a few simple ingredients (including a can of tomatoes), just dump, mix, set it, and forget it!


  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 bouillon cubes or 3 teaspoons Better than Bouillon
  • 1-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin or smoked cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Place the rice in the bottom of the rice cooker and then add the diced tomatoes and water. Add the onion and spices and stir a little on the top to dissolve the spices in the water. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the rice is cooked, test for salt and add more if needed. Serve as a side dish or inside your favorite burritos and tacos.


I use brown rice and increase my water by one cup. The Spanish rice in the pictures was made with brown rice and I bet you didn’t even notice. Your family won’t either. You can use chicken or vegetable stock in place of the bouillon and water. The amount of chili powder you use is going to depend on how much you like. I’d try it with 2 tablespoons first and then you can go up or down from there depending on your preferences.

Keywords: Spanish rice recipe, easy rice cooker recipe, how to make Spanish rice, best rice cooker recipes

Easy Spanish Rice recipe made in the rice cooker with a few simple ingredients (including a can of tomatoes), just dump, mix, set it, and forget it!

The recipe was originally published in February 2013. It was retested with reader feedback, rephotographed, rewritten, and republished for your enjoyment in June 2017.

38 Recipes for Busy Moms
64 Responses
  1. I’ve been experimenting w/ trying to make “flavored” rice in the rice cooker and it’s never been really good so THANK YOU! No more testing. I’m doing this! And thanks for the tip about brown rice. I’ve been trying to sneak it in and this sounds perfect!

    1. Melissa

      I’m glad you’ll try it Emily. Let me know how it turns out for you. I was a little nervous about posting it because appliances are different, but most rice cookers were created equally right?

    2. Frances Morey

      A half cup of green peas is a nice colorful addition. I’m going to try this recipe, but first fry the rice as per the traditional methodology. The brown rice requires the longer, possibly 45 minute setting. But best of all the rice cooker times itself and then holds it at the serving temperature until dinnertime.

  2. Looks de-lish! I finally gave my rice cooker away. I couldn’t make a good pot of rice in it if my life depended on it! I’m trying this on the stove 🙂

    1. Amy

      Best way to do rice in a rice cooker is not to measure the ingredients. Put in the amount of rice you want, add water, wash rice and drain, then add water until the depth of water above the rice is equal to the first joint of your index finger (About 1 inch). Mine turns out perfectly every time this way and I was told by two different Chinese grandmas to do it this way.

  3. Marjorie

    What a great recipe! I love my rice cooker! I’m so glad you made this w/ brown rice. I’m glad it tastes like Rice-a-Roni style too because that’s what my DH grew up w/ & still likes that taste. I prefer the healthier brown rice & not the chemically taste. 🙂

  4. Anne Zatorski

    I have the rice curse as well and just got a rice cooker for Mother’s Day. I was wondering if the rice was made the day before how it would be the next day. We are going camping and I thought I could make the rice ahead of time, but not sure how it would taste the next day.

    1. Melissa

      I think it would reheat very well! You might just need to add a bit of water while reheating so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and so that it isn’t dry. The rice absorbs a lot of water while it sit and so just adding a bit while heating will fix that. Let me know how it goes!!!

  5. Stephanie Arenholz

    trying this tomorrow night to go with fajitas! my boyfriend loves spanish rice and i have never made it, so hopefully this does the trick! seems like a lot of liquid… i know when i make sushi rice in the rice cooker, i just barely make the water cover the rice. let you know how it goes and if he likes it! thanks!

  6. Mel

    I have successfully halved this recipe in my small rice cooker. If you like a more tomatoey Spanish rice, consider adding a can of tomatoe paste (for the full recipe). You won’t be disappointed 🙂

    1. Tim Devine

      I have a brain injury so preparing anything over the stove top can be dicey/ Using the crock pot or ricer allows me to “set it and forget it” and not worry about setting the stove and kitchen on fire Thank you very much for the recipe

    1. Yep, I have a lot better luck on the stove top with white rice. When I try to cook brown rice like that it always seems to stay just a little hard. Have a great day!

      1. This sounds like a great recipe for Spanish rice, but I’m a little concerned about the amount of chili powder. Are you able to rate the spiciness on a scale of 1 – 10 with three tablespoons of chili powder? That way I am able to adjust accordingly.

  7. Tracy

    Have you tried tomato paste rather than diced tomatoes? My family (husband, children) will eat “red” rice that tastes tomato-like, but the texture of tomatoes throws them off.

    1. Megan Whitmer

      My family hates the texture of cooked tomatoes too. So what I do is purée my cans of diced tomatoes in a blender or with my immersion blender. Works great.

  8. Sally

    I made this delicious recipe but I reduced the liquid by 1 cup. The rice was very gummy. Next time I make it I will use 3 cups of liquid which will include the 14oz of diced tomatoes. I’m sure it will be fluffy instead of gummy

      1. Karen

        Hi Melissa, Just for your readers’ information, the rice cooker cup measures 3/4 of an American measuring cup. So it’s good to know that you said you just used regular cup measurements for the rice and water. Also, I am Asian and am used to making “short grain rice” in my rice cooker. This gives you the Asian sticky rice. Since yours comes out “fluffy”, I’m assuming that your recipe uses long grain or even medium grain rice as opposed to short grain? Thanks!

  9. Stephanie

    This is such a great recipe. I usually cook up some soyrizo from Trader Joe’s when the rice cooker beeps, and this makes for a quick and easy-to-make recipe that everyone enjoys. Thank you so much! 🙂

  10. Lindsay

    Delicious! Made this for dinner tonight. I added some diced red pepper as well. Will become a regular side on our dinner rotation!

  11. Sheila

    Made this last night. Was my first time using my new rice cooker. Was really good, a definite make again. Used brown rice (short grain), next time will use only 1/2 c extra water and probably less salt. Added a can of drained black beans at the end for a compete, vegan (!!) meal. Easy — and can freeze portions for lunches!

  12. Fran (uk)

    Absolutely brilliant I normally oven cook it but decided to try rice cooker, all the family loved it and I will stick to this recipe .

  13. E l

    I don’t know what I did wrong but my rice is mushy. I used Brown rice and added another cup of water. I’m not sure if that’s why it’s mushy. Please let me know why it is mushy.

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

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