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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Mexican Rice

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Plain white rice gets a delicious makeover in this vegan Mexican rice recipe. Simple ingredients like bell pepper, tomatoes, and vegetable broth add plenty of flavor to this easy side dish! Make it into a burrito bowl or serve it alongside tacos for a delicious dinner the whole family will love.

Easy vegan Mexican rice recipe in a stock pot, garnished with lime.

Simple, one-pot dishes are the best kind of recipes. This easy vegan Mexican rice is my all-time favorite. It’s flavorful, simple to make, and naturally vegan and gluten-free. My kids love plain, regular rice, and so do I, but sometimes we want to change it up. Healthy Mexican rice with veggies is the answer! Long grain rice is simmered with bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and spices for a quick and easy side dish.

Vegan Mexican rice is a great way to make dinner go further. It’s a budget-friendly vegetarian Mexican recipe that is filling, so you don’t need as much tofu, meat, or vegetables to satisfy your appetite. 

You can use it as a base for a burrito bowl or serve it alongside tacos or refried beans. This vegan rice recipe also stores well in the fridge or freezer, so it’s absolutely perfect if you love to meal prep! Make a batch at the beginning of the week and use it all week long.

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I love customizable recipes! Add beans or tofu for extra protein, chili powder for a little heat, or tortilla chips for a nice crunch. This plant based Mexican rice will get gobbled up in no time.

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love Vegan Mexican Rice

  • Authentic Mexican Rice Recipe: With plenty of cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes, this plant based recipe tastes just like traditional Mexican rice!
  • Perfect Base for Burrito Bowls: Once you’ve whipped up this rice, you can customize your toppings however you like.
  • Versatile: This easy vegan Spanish rice recipe tastes divine as a side dish for mains like vegan enchiladas, tacos, or any type of Mexican food. Or, you can have it as your main dish.
  • Vegan, Vegetarian, & Gluten-Free Recipe: You don’t have to go out of your way to make any modifications – this vegetarian Mexican rice recipe already meets most dietary needs!
  • Kid-Friendly: Your kids will love this delicious rice.
  • Healthy and Satisfying: This vegan version is just as filling and delicious as a traditional version.

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🥘 Ingredients

This recipe for vegetarian Mexican rice calls for simple ingredients you can find at your local grocery store. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients for vegan Mexican rice recipe on a white background.
  • Red Onion: Red onions have a spicy flavor that mellows once cooked. White, yellow, or sweet onions work great, for this Mexican veg rice recipe too.
  • Rice: You can use any type of rice with good success. Basmati, Jasmine, or long-grain brown rice are all great options. I prefer brown rice because it’s higher in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Avoid short-grain rice, or the amount of liquid won’t be right.
  • Vegetable Broth: Vegetable stock is perfect for soups, stews, and grains. It adds a ton of flavor with just one ingredient. It can be high in sodium though, so buy reduced sodium if you prefer. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, chicken broth works, too.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes add sweetness and acidity. I used canned crushed tomatoes, but you could also use tomato paste, tomato puree, or tomato sauce for this vegan Mexican fried rice.
  • Garlic Cloves: You can buy a head of garlic and mince it yourself or buy it pre-minced. You can find pre-minced garlic in a small jar near the fresh garlic.
  • Bell Peppers: Yellow and red bell peppers are sweeter than green bell peppers. Any bell peppers work great, but I prefer the sweeter variety.
  • Jalapeno: If you don’t like any heat, omit this. If you love a spicy kick, feel free to use two! For a milder kick, use a poblano pepper instead.
  • Corn: Corn is naturally sweet and adds a bit of texture to this Mexican red rice.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is used to sauté the veggies. If you don’t have it on hand, vegetable oil or any neutral-flavored oil can be used.
  • Seasoning: Don’t forget to season the rice! Salt, ground cumin, and paprika are a perfect combination. Add a teaspoon of chili powder or red pepper flakes for even more heat!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Onions: You can easily substitute any other variety of onions that you prefer or happen to already have on hand. Green onions are a great way to add a pop of color to this veg Mexican rice recipe.
  • Tomatoes: If you have plenty of fresh tomatoes in your fridge already, you can dice those up instead of using canned tomatoes. 
  • Garlic: While I prefer to use minced cloves, if you’re short on time, you can use garlic powder instead.
  • Bell Peppers: Fresh is always best, but you can use the frozen variety, too. Just thaw them in a colander briefly to remove excess moisture.
  • Jalapeno Pepper: Feel free to use jarred jalapenos that are already sliced or diced to save time. 

🔪 How To Make Vegan Mexican Rice

Here’s how to make this easy vegan rice recipe. For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card below.

Sauté Vegetables: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeño peppers. Cook for two more minutes.

veggies sauteeing in a pot

Add Rice & Seasoning: Add the rice and spices, then mix until combined.

rice cooking in a pot

Simmer Rice: Add the cold water and tomatoes, then bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer on low heat until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.

tomatoes and water in a pot

Remove From Heat: Take the pot of rice off the heat, then add in the corn and cilantro. Mix until combined.

rice and veggies in a pot

Serve: Enjoy this easy rice side dish with freshly squeezed lime juice, lime wedges, and a little bit of cilantro!

Vegan Mexican rice served in a white bowl, garnished with lime.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Use The Right Rice: For best results, use any variety of long-grain rice – which is the best rice for this recipe. You can use brown or white, but avoid short-grain rice. Short-grain rice has a higher starch content, which makes it very sticky. It also needs a different ratio of water to rice.
  • Measure Your Rice Precisely: Two cups of rice makes approximately 6 cups of cooked rice.
  • Forget The Rinse: You don’t have to rinse your rice for this recipe for vegan Mexican rice, but you can if you like. When you rinse the rice, it will remove some of the starch and make it less sticky. Use the rinsed rice in the recipe as directed.
  • Let Rice Rest: Allow the rice to cool slightly for a few minutes before serving. This will give you the fluffy rice you’re looking for!
  • Easily Warm It Up: To reheat, microwave, or warm this Mexican vegetable rice up on the stove.

📖 Variations

Mexican cuisine is easy to customize! Enjoy this low calorie Mexican rice with vegan cheese, roasted veggies, salsa, or beans.

  • Toppings: Top this veg Spanish rice recipe with avocado, sour cream, diced Roma tomatoes, salsa, sweet corn, roasted sweet potato, or fresh cilantro.
  • Cheese: Top with shredded Mexican cheese or your favorite vegan shredded cheese.
  • Vegan Mexican Beans And Rice: You can add red, pinto, or black beans too! Simply add the drained beans when you add the corn and cilantro.
  • Instant Pot Vegan Mexican Rice: For an instant pot version, use the sauté function to cook the bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. Add the seasoning, rice, water, and tomatoes. Set to high pressure for 4 minutes. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure naturally release. Stir in the corn and cilantro, then enjoy!
  • Veggies: Stir in frozen peas five minutes before the rice is finished. Alternatively, you can top this rice with your favorite veggies. Roasted or sautéed veggies like corn, peppers, onions, zucchini, or broccoli would be delicious.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

You can serve this flavorful veg Mexican rice alongside so many other Mexican dishes! 

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

You can customize this vegetarian Spanish rice recipe to fit your dietary needs and preferences!

Gluten-Free Mexican Rice Recipe: Be sure to check your rice to ensure it’s gluten-free. That’s the only thing you need to do to ensure you have gluten-free vegetable Mexican rice!

🫙 Storage Directions

To Refrigerate: After it comes to room temperature, transfer leftover rice to an airtight container and store for 4-5 days.

To Reheat: Microwave this Mexican rice with vegetables in intervals until it is the temperature you want. Or, return it to the stovetop and warm it there.

To Freeze: Place in a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months.

❓Recipe FAQs

Is there a difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice?

There are some subtle differences between the two types of rice. Mexican rice, also known as Spanish rice (arroz rojo), is a side dish made with white rice, onions, tomatoes, and spices — it’s often a bit thicker and sometimes sticky, thanks to the addition of tomatoes. Mexican rice also tends to be a reddish-orange color, also due to the tomatoes, as well as the cumin. Spanish rice gets its yellow color and earthy flavor from the use of saffron. It also tends to be substantially fluffier.

WHY DOES MY MEXICAN RICE HAVE NO FLAVOR?

If your rice is not as flavorful as you’d like, add more spices and a little bit of salt. Mexican rice relies on the addition of plenty of cumin, chili powder, and paprika for its layers of flavor.

WHY IS MEXICAN RICE SO ORANGE?

Mexican rice gets its deep color from the use of cumin powder (which also gives its signature earthy and nutty flavor) and the tomatoes, which imparts the reddish orange color of this style of rice.

Why does my Mexican rice always turn out hard?

Typically, if your rice turns out hard or isn’t fluffy enough, it’s because you didn’t use the right ratio of water to rice. Add a little more water, simmer for a bit longer and be patient – once the rice soaks up the water it should become softer and fluffier.

Healthy vegan Mexican rice recipe in a stock pot, garnished with lime.

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

Easy vegan Mexican rice recipe in a stock pot, garnished with lime.
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Vegan Mexican Rice

White rice gets a delicious makeover in this vegan Mexican rice recipe. Simple ingredients like bell peppers, tomatoes, and vegetable broth add plenty of flavor! Make it into a burrito bowl or serve it alongside tacos for a delicious dinner the whole family will love.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 228kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice 400 grams
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth 500 ml
  • 1 8oz can diced or crushed tomatoes 400 grams
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green jalapeno pepper seeded and diced, optional
  • ½ cup corn 80 grams
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 30 ml
  • 2 tsp salt or more (to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • lime & cilantro for topping optional
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Equipment

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the rice, paprika, cumin and salt and mix until well combined.
  • Add the water and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then lower to medium heat and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Once the rice is cooked, take off the heat and add in the corn and chopped cilantro. Mix until combined.
  • Serve with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • For best results, use any variety of long-grain rice. Short-grain rice has a higher starch content and needs less water.
  • Two cups of rice makes approx. six cups of cooked rice.
  • You don’t have to rinse your rice for this recipe.
  • Let this dish rest for a few minutes before serving. This will give you the fluffy rice you’re looking for!
  • To reheat, microwave or warm it up on the stove.
  • Top with fresh avocado and cilantro.
  • Add extra protein – add more beans (black, kidney, pinto all work), crumbled tofu or tempeh, or shredded chicken (if you’re not vegan or vegetarian).
  • Serve this rice with all of your favorite Mexican recipes!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 593mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g

18 responses to “Vegan Mexican Rice”

  1. My daughter has recently started eating more plant based foods. This looks like something that she will love. I am excited to give it a try!5 stars

  2. This rice was easy to make and full and very tasty. We added it into our burritos and it really gave it that extra flavor we were looking for!5 stars

  3. Love all of the flavours and vegetables in this rice dish. A great accompaniment and it’s also a meal by itself too.5 stars

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