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How do you cook Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice in the microwave?

Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice is a quick and easy side dish that can be prepared in the microwave in just 10 minutes. This rice mix contains long grain rice, Monterey Jack cheese flavor, tomatoes, onions, red and green bell peppers. It’s a flavorful and colorful rice that goes well with any Mexican entree.

Cooking this rice in the microwave is super convenient and requires minimal prep work. All you need is the rice packet, water, microwave-safe dish, and 10 minutes cook time. Follow the instructions on the packet and you’ll have delicious cheesy rice ready in no time! The key things to keep in mind are the rice to water ratio, uncovered cooking, and standing time.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cook Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice in the microwave perfectly every time.


– 1 packet Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice mix (makes 2 cups cooked rice)
– 2 cups water
– Microwave-safe bowl

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Add rice and seasoning packet to microwave-safe bowl

Open the packet of Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice and pour the contents into a microwave-safe bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough to allow the rice to cook evenly and have space to expand. A 2-quart bowl works well for the 2 cup rice packet.

Step 2: Add water

The ratio of rice to water can vary between brands, so be sure to follow the instructions on the packet. For Old El Paso, the directions state to add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of uncooked rice. So for this 2 cup rice packet, add 2 cups of water to the bowl.

Stir gently to incorporate the seasoning and distribute the rice evenly in the water.

Step 3: Microwave uncovered

Microwave the rice uncovered on high power for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through at the 5 minute mark. Stirring halfway through prevents the rice from cooking unevenly.

Leaving the bowl uncovered allows excess steam to release, resulting in fluffy rice texture. Covering the bowl during cooking can cause soggy, mushy rice.

Step 4: Allow to stand 5 minutes

After microwaving for 10 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave. Allow the rice to stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

This standing time completes the cooking process and allows the rice to fully hydrate and absorb any remaining liquid.

Step 5: Fluff and serve

After standing, fluff the rice with a fork to break up any clumps. Check that all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is light and fluffy. Add any additional desired toppings like shredded cheese, salsa, etc. and enjoy your cheesy Mexican rice!

Microwave Power Levels

The instructions specify to microwave the rice on high power for 10 minutes. However, microwave wattages can vary, so you may need to adjust the cook time based on your microwave power:

Microwave Wattage Cook Time
1000 watts 10 minutes
900 watts 10 1/2 minutes
800 watts 11 minutes
700 watts 12 minutes
600 watts 13 minutes

For lower wattage microwaves, you’ll need to cook the rice slightly longer to ensure it is fully cooked through. Test the rice after cooking and if it is still crunchy or stiff, continue microwaving in 30 second increments until tender.

Microwave Bowl Size

It’s also important to use an appropriately sized microwave-safe bowl when cooking the rice. The bowl should be at least 3 times the volume of the uncooked rice to allow for expansion and steaming.

A 2 cup rice packet does well in a 1.5-2 quart bowl. Avoid using a small, cramped container as this can hinder cooking and cause boil overs.

Liquid Measurement

Getting the right rice to water ratio is key when cooking rice in the microwave. Not enough liquid can lead to undercooked, crunchy rice. Too much liquid will make the rice overflow the container and become mushy.

For Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice, the package directs a 1:1 ratio – use 2 cups liquid for every 1 cup uncooked rice. Measure the water carefully before adding to ensure proper hydration and texture.

No Stirring the Rice

It’s important to stir the rice only once halfway through cooking, as directed. Constant stirring can lead to gummy, sticky rice. Let it cook undisturbed for the first 5 minutes, give it a gentle stir to redistribute, then cook undisturbed again for the remaining 5 minutes.

Standing Time

Don’t skip the standing time! Allowing the cooked rice to steam with the lid off for 5 minutes finishes the cooking process. The residual heat continues to soften the rice and allows moisture to distribute evenly. Skipping this standing time can lead to undercooked rice.

Fluffing Before Serving

Giving the rice a quick fluff with a fork before serving helps separate any grains that may have clumped together. It also helps release excess moisture and lightens the texture. Avoid packing down the rice when fluffing and serve it nice and light.

Cooking 1 Cup of Rice

The 2 cup rice packet works well for a family size side, but you can also prepare a single serving in the microwave. To make 1 cup of cooked rice, use:

– 1/2 cup Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice mix
– 1 cup water

Combine the rice mix and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stir, then microwave for 5 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving. Adjust cook times as needed based on your microwave wattage.

Adding More Flavor

The packaged cheesy rice mix already contains seasonings and flavor, but you can easily customize it to your taste. Try stirring in any of the following ingredients after cooking for extra flavor:

– 1/4 cup shredded cheese – Monterey jack, cheddar, Mexican blend
– 1-2 tbsp taco sauce or enchilada sauce
– 1-2 tbsp salsa
– 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
– Squeeze of fresh lime juice
– Diced avocado
– Sauteed peppers and onions
– Cooked ground beef or shredded chicken

Get creative with mix-ins to make the rice your own! The cheesy Mexican rice base takes well to any added flavors.

Freezing Leftovers

Like any cooked rice, leftovers of the cheesy Mexican rice store well in the freezer. To freeze:

– Let rice cool completely
– Portion into airtight containers or freezer bags
– Flatten to remove air
– Seal and label with date
– Freeze up to 3 months

To reheat frozen rice, add to a microwave-safe dish with a splash of water. Cover and microwave until hot and tender, fluffing with a fork before serving. You can also reheat in a skillet with oil or broth to add moisture.

Freezing is great for saving individual portions for quick lunches or sides in the future.


Here are some common issues and how to avoid them when making this microwave cheesy rice:

Rice is still crunchy:
– Cook for longer, increasing time by 1-2 minutes until rice is tender
– Use a lower wattage microwave and cook for longer
– Make sure to use the right rice to water ratio

Rice is mushy:
– Don’t cover bowl while cooking
– Use less water for the amount of rice
– Don’t overcook, stick to package time as a guide

Rice boiled over:
– Use a larger bowl, at least 3x the volume of rice
– Make sure bowl is uncovered during cooking

Rice has no flavor:
– Make sure to add seasoning packet
– Add more spices or flavorings like salsa or cheese
– Make sure liquid absorbed, don’t drain excess water

Rice sticks to bottom:
– Heat bowl before adding dry rice
– Stir halfway through and scrape bottom
– Make sure bowl surface is smooth


Cooking Old El Paso cheesy Mexican rice in the microwave is a fast and easy way to put aflavorful side on the table in minutes. Following the package instructions and using the right tools will ensure perfect rice texture and flavor every time. Adjust cooking times based on your microwave wattage and rice/water measurements. Finish with desired mix-ins and enjoy restaurant worthy rice from the comfort of home! Leftovers can be easily frozen for future meals. This microwave method is ideal for whipping up quick weeknight sides or impromptu lunches.