Crock-pot Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice

Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice? What do you call it?  Some people refer to Mexican rice as Spanish rice, though. Spanish rice can include saffron, and often times there is cumin in Mexican rice (source). My dad is Mexican. I am half-Mexican (you can read more about me here if you’d like). And we use cumin, so we call it Mexican rice.

Crock-pot Mexican Rice

Slow Cooker Days

Well, I grew up eating Mexican Rice ALL. OF. THE. TIME. My dad made it so much and in such large quantities that there were leftovers galore. When I was going to community college I would eat it for dinner one night, and being the lazy efficient and resourceful student I was, I would bring it for lunch, and then have it for another meal or two after. Needless to say, I got a bit tired of it, and subsequently took a long break from it. I mean a REALLY LONG break from it. Honestly, I haven’t had Mexican rice in close to twenty years, but I just recently broke my streak earlier this year.

Crock-pot Mexican Rice

How often do us moms not make something for our families because we don’t like it? Anyone else guilty out there? I have starting thinking that I really shouldn’t deny my family different foods that I am not excited about, so I started making Mexican rice (and now I buy olives for the fam…and I am going to buy mushrooms soon because my seven year old keeps asking-seriously). Now that I cook plain rice in the slow cooker all of the time, I thought it would be a fabulous recipe to throw in the crock-pot.

Crock-pot Mexican or Spanish Rice

I can’t believe how easy it is to make this rice in the crock-pot. You can skip the steps of browning the rice, and sautéing the onions and bell pepper. I have made the rice in the crock without browning the rice and it still turns out great, but the browning of the rice and sautéing the veggies brings another layer of flavor to the dish that improves the quality of crock-pot cooking. I can actually say I like Mexican rice now. Just don’t give it to me two days in a row:).

Crock-pot Mexican Recipe

This recipe is an adaption of my dad’s and mom’s recipe to the crock-pot, of course.

Crock-pot Mexican Rice with Cilantro


Crock-pot Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice

Crock-pot Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice


  • 2 cups uncooked basmati, or long or short grain brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegan, or water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, optional sautéed
  • 1 bell bell pepper, optional sautéed
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 T fresh cilantro


  1. Optional, heat 2 T of oil (olive or grape seed) in a skillet and brown the rice for additional flavor.
  2. Place all ingredients in a greased slow cooker except cilantro.
  3. Stir, cover, and cook on high for 2.5-3.5 hours, checking after 2 hours to see how well the rice is absorbing the moisture. When the moisture is absorbed and the rice is soften, the rice is done. Add additional water or broth if needed.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, serve and enjoy!

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  1. says

    This looks delicious! I have a recipe that I use that cooks in the oven in about an hour that is also great, but I will try this version for days I will be away. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Linda says

    I made this yesterday, guests coming for supper. I omitted the salt and cilantro; mine needed another roughly 2/3 cup broth, though, as it was very sticky when time was up. This made a fabulous layer on my southwest salad last night! Bed of salad fixin’s, topped with home-cooked beans, Mexican Rice, salsa dip (avocado + homemade salsa + lemon juice), black olives, and salsa. Literally the best salad I ever remember eating. Given the fact that I have liked this sort of salad for years, the bell-ringing difference was your Mexican rice. Thanks for posting!!! PS If I’d turned off at 2 1/2 hours it might not have needed more broth; mine cooked more like four hours and was perfect with the added liquid.

  3. Norma says

    I’ve always added ground beef to my Spanish rice. Do you think I should brown the beef and add it at the start or wait till the rice is almost cooked? I love your recipes! Thank you for posting them!

    • says

      Hi Norma. I would brown my ground beef in a skillet and add it add the very end or in the last 15 minutes or so. Hope that helps, and you are welcome!

  4. Kara says

    I have tried these with little success. The rice does not cook. Tomato prevents the cooking of the rice. Anyone have this problem? advice?

    • says

      Hi Kara. I am sorry to hear you are having issues making Mexican rice. I am just wondering why you think it’s the tomatoes are preventing the rice from cooking. Have you ever made plain rice in the crock-pot? Maybe make sure you can do a plain rice in the crock-pot first?!? Thanks for sharing.

      • Kara says

        It has always happened to me. When I make say cabbage rolls too. I’ve always had to cook my rice and add tomato later or the rice remains hard in the middle. Acids work differently, acting on starch within cells, preventing it from swelling.

        • says

          Hi Kara, Then I would just use 4 cups liquid, two cups of rice to cook the recipe, omitting the tomatoes. I would add the tomatoes during the last 15 minutes of cooking then. Hope that works and helps. Thank you for sharing!

        • says

          Hi Kara, Then I would just use 4 cups liquid, two cups of rice to cook the recipe, omitting the tomatoes during the initial cooking. I would add the tomatoes during the last 15 minutes of cooking then. Hope that works and helps. Thank you for sharing!

    • rachel graham says

      I found some rice was mush and others were uncooked. I think rice in a crock pot is just not a good combination. may try this again without the crock pot.

      • says

        Hi Rachel. I wonder if your crock-pot cooks evenly. Unfortunately they are all different. Usually, I don’t recommend opening the crock and stirring the rice since it will have to cook longer, but maybe you should do that in your case. Maybe stir once an hour and maybe it would be cooked through in closer to 4 hours!?! Or like you said just try it conventionally. Thank you for sharing, Rachel.

    • Jennifer Chrisman says

      Hi. Well, this recipe REALLY bombed for me, same thing that happened to Kara. I had to throw out the whole batch! And then I still had to make another batch to eat. What a waste of time, money, and ingredients!! I’ll stick with stovetop or rice cooker in the future.

      • says

        Oh dear, Jennifer. I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately all crock-pots cook differently. How long did you cook it? I’ve tried it in 2 or 3 different crocks with success. I’ve never made this on the stove top actually. Thank you for sharing.

        • Teresa L. says

          I was super excited to make spanish rice in a crock pot but it turned out quite badly :( It’s like mush in some parts, and raw in others. I guess I will go back to standing and stirring at the stove. What slow cooker do you have? I wonder if mine is crap 😀

          • says

            So sorry to hear that! The success of this recipe really depends on your crock-pot. I wonder if the elements of your crock-pot work correctly. I would stir it every hour for even cooking even if it means cooking it longer. I use crock-pot brand crock-pot and have made it in a 4.5 quart, a 5.5 quart and a 6 quart all with similar results.

  5. Katie says

    What size CrockPot do you use? I’m thinking about making this next week for a work party and will need to double it. Just don’t want to get started and find out my crockpot is too small. :/ Thanks in advance for your response!!!

    • says

      Hi Katie. I’ve made this in my 4.5 quart before and my 6 quart. What size crock do you use? I would do a test run first especially if you are doubling it. Hope this helps!

  6. Ashley says

    I’ve made this several times and it is delicious! Have you ever tried to cook the rice on low for a longer period of time?

    • says

      Hi Ashley. I’m so glad you like the recipe! I haven’t made it on low. If you try it, just try to stay around after 4 hours, check it, and then check it every half hour or so. I am guessing 6 hours would do it, but verify it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Teresa L. says

      how much broth did you end up using? and how many hours did you cook? i really want this slow cooker recipe to work for me because i make this weekly for my family taco tuesdays 😀

      • says

        I use 2 cups of broth. You can add more if needed if you see the rice absorbing too much and needs more moisture. I cook it for about 2.5 hours. If the crock-pot runs cooler, you might need to cook it longer. Try to stir it as you cook. I bet you can get this to work for you with a little digging on your part.:)

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