How to Make Spanish Rice in a Rice Cooker

how to make spanish rice in a rice cooker

how to make spanish rice in a rice cooker

Cooking Spanish rice in a rice cooker? Is this oxymoron or what? You thought rice cooker is only for cooking plain old rice. Guess again! If you just apply a tad creativity to your culinary adventure, you can whip up a tasty Spanish rice in no time.

What Is Spanish Rice?

Spanish rice is a side dish to accompany a Mexican meal, be it a sizzling steak fajita or a chicken enchilada smothered in spicy green chili sauce. In fact, Spanish rice is really Mexican rice because this dish is not known in Spain. It’s, however, very popular in Hispanic community in the U.S. and in the Southwest region of the country.

Spanish rice is made of white rice, onion, garlic, tomato, chicken stock and a few other optional ingredients such as jalapeno, cilantro, saffron, etc.

The traditional preparation is on the stove top where you saute the onion and garlic in a little bit olive oil or butter. Then brown the rice until it has a golden hue, slightly toasted. Liquid and seasoning are added to bring to a boil on high heat. Turn the stove to low heat until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice. Fluff the rice with a folk and serve. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Spanish Rice in a Rice Cooker

Cooking Spanish rice in a rice cooker is even easier. The first step remains the same as you would saute the onion, garlic and brown the rice on a stove-top. The second step is to transfer the onion, garlic and browned rice into a rice cooker.

Here is the tricky part. Since the liquid may come from the chicken stock, diced tomato in a can, etc. you still need to follow the cooking instructions for the rice cooker. Add the combined liquid to the marked line for white rice. For example, if you are cooking 2 cups of uncooked rice, add the water/liquid to two-cup white rice line.

One advice is the ratio between other ingredients and rice should be 1 to 2 (e.g.,1 cup of mixed vegetables to 2 cups of rice). For best result, choose the Mixed Rice menu option

Here are few rice cookers with Mixed Rice menu setting, Sanyo ECJ-HC100S 10 Cup Rice Cooker, Zojirushi NS-LAC05 3 Cup Rice Cooker and Zojirushi NS-TGC18 10 Cup Rice Cooker.

Let’s sum up:

Basic Ingredients:

  1. White medium to long grain rice
  2. Black beans (optional)
  3. White onion
  4. Garlic
  5. Bell peppers of sort
  6. Jalapeno or serrano (optional)
  7. Bay leaf, oregano or cilantro (optional)
  8. Chicken or vegetable stock
  9. Olive oil, vegetable oil or butter
  10. Diced tomato in a can
  11. Tomato sauce (optional)
  12. Saffron (optional)
  13. Chicken or beef bouillon (no salt is needed)

When to Transfer Ingredients to the Rice Cooker

After you saute the onion, garlic and optional veggies and brown the rice, transfer all the ingredients to the rice cooker. Then follow the instructions from the rice cooker to add liquid to the water line. Remember liquid here could be chicken stock, diced tomato with liquid. The combine liquid should be equal to the water required for the cups of rice.

I am attaching two popular recipes for you to try it out in your rice cooker. The strike-through in the recipes are intentional.

Spanish Rice Recipes

Recipe #1: Source:

Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Yield: 4-6 Servings


1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup boiling water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add rice and stir until browned. Add remaining ingredients; (Rice Queen: transfer rice and other ingredients to a rice cooker; add appropriate liquid to the water line) bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove bay leaf before serving. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Nutritional Facts 1 serving (3/4 cup) equals 217 calories, 8 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 886 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.

Originally published as Spanish Rice in Taste of Home August/September 1994, p11

Recipe #2: Source:

Yield: 5 servings


2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chunky salsa


Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. (Rice Queen: Transfer the ingredients to the rice cooker and forget about the rest of the recipe). Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

If you have a rice cooker already, give this a try. It’s perfect timing to host a Mexican buffet style dinner on the patio. Chip some salsa, dip some queso and sip some Margarita. Life can’t get better than this.


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