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This golden garlic rice is fluffy, tender, vibrant, and packed with aromatic garlic flavor—a delicious, versatile vegan side dish. Stovetop, Instant Pot, and Rice Cooker methods included!

completed Garlic Rice [Spanish Yellow Rice] in a white bowl against a white background
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What Is Golden Garlic Rice?

Unsurprisingly, this rice is a yellow-colored rice dish made when rice is cooked with vibrant ingredients like turmeric, annatto/achiote, or saffron. These types of dishes are popular across the globe, including in Morocco, Ecuador, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, the Caribbean, etc.

For this version, though, we’ve made a super budget-friendly, which combines long-grain white rice with achiote powder and plenty of garlic (it tastes a bit like paella).

Unlike boxed versions, this yellow rice is free from additives and is 100% vegan. Plus, it relies on just 7 ingredients (cooked with veg broth instead of water for heaps of flavor), 5 simple steps, one pan, and about 45 minutes for a colorful, flavorful, effortless side dish.

What Is Achiote Powder?

Achiote (referred to as annatto, roucou, achuete, and urucul across the globe) is a type of spice, also used as a natural colorant, from the seeds of the Bixa Orellana shrub. In minimal amounts, the powder impacts the color but not the flavor.

However, you’ll notice an earthy, slightly bitter, peppery flavor when using more—such as with rice, soups, and stews.

The Ingredients and Substitutions

Rely on a handful of simple and inexpensive ingredients to prepare this homemade yellow rice recipe.

ingredients for Garlic Rice [Spanish Yellow Rice] measured out against a white surface
  • Oil: We like to use olive oil or coconut oil.  
  • Garlic: This yellow garlic rice recipe uses an entire small head of garlic for plenty of flavor. We don’t recommend using garlic powder instead.
  • Rice: It’s best to use long-grain white rice, like Basmati or Jasmine rice. Brown rice will work but requires adjusting the cooking time.
  • Vegetable broth: Helps to add flavor to the cooking rice.  
  • Salt: Season to taste. Kosher salt/ sea salt is best.
  • Achiote powder: You should be able to find this in the spice/International aisles of major grocery stores. Use achiote paste or omit it if you’re unable to find it.
  • Orange zest: (Optional) While optional, we love the added zesty, bright flavor this lends to the achiote rice.

To garnish: You could sprinkle extra fried garlic slices and fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, or green onions, over the vegan yellow rice.

What Else Could I Add?

There are several ways you can ramp up the flavor in this garlic rice recipe, including:

  • Bay leaf: For complex flavor, add 1-2 bay leaves. Discard before serving.
  • Onion: Finely diced and sautéed until translucent before adding the garlic.
  • Lemon/ Lime: For lemon garlic rice (or lime), replace 2 tbsp of broth with lemon juice, add zest for a more robust flavor. Optionally add more juice when serving.
  • Vegan butter: Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of dairy-free butter before serving for extra richness and a new take on garlic butter rice.
  • Tomato: Add 1-2 tbsp tomato paste for more of a tomato-based Spanish rice or diced Roma tomato for a subtler flavor.
  • Vegetables: You can use several types of veggies in this vegetarian yellow rice, fresh or frozen. Just make sure any larger veg are finely diced, so they cook in time.
    • Bell pepper
    • Peas
    • Corn
    • Carrot
    • Zucchini
    • White beans/ chickpeas
    • Spinach (stir in right at the end)

If you use frozen veg, allow them to thaw while the garlic white rice cooks, then pop them in the pan (quickly) before leaving it to steam. For fresh veggies, sauté them in the pan for 5 minutes before adding the garlic.

How to Make Garlic Rice?

Using just one pot and a handful of low-effort steps, you can prepare this garlic rice recipe in under 45 minutes!

  • 1) First, heat a large, heavy-based stock pot over medium heat and add the oil, achiote powder (or turmeric), and chopped garlic. Sauté it for about one minute until it softens without browning.
  • 2) Add the (rinsed) rice to the pan and stir to evenly coat it with the oil.
process shot of stirring in the rice in the pan

For an enhanced nutty flavor, sauté the rice in the oil mixture until fragrant.

  • 3) Stir in the vegetable broth and the orange zest (if used) and bring to a boil.
  • 4) Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and allow it to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed the broth.
  • 5) Remove the pan from the heat, leaving it with the lid on, untouched, to steam for a further 5 minutes. Finally, remove the lid and use a fork or a soft silicone spatula to fluff up the garlic rice—enjoy!

If there is a small amount of water left after steaming, replace the lid for a few more minutes.

How To Make Garlic Rice in An Instant Pot?

  1. Rinse the rice and leave it to drain while using the SAUTE function to sauté the garlic, oil, and achiote powder.
  2. Add the rice, and stir well to coat—sauté for a further minute.
  3. Add the veg broth (for this Instant Pot method, use a 1:1 ratio of rice to broth) and orange zest (if using). Cook on MANUAL high pressure for 5 minutes, then allow it to pressure release for 10 minutes before using the manual quick release for any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

If you scale the recipe up, the cooking time will remain the same, but the time it takes for the IP to come to full pressure will increase.

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Rinse the rice well: It’s impossible to get the water running perfectly clear, but give it a good rinse, swishing it with your hand, to remove excess starch.
  • Don’t peek: It’s important to keep the lid on while cooking the garlic rice, so it cooks properly and steams for fluffy results. We recommend using a pan with a clear lid to monitor its process.
  • Leave it to steam: This will help evaporate the leftover liquid in the pan for super fluffy yellow garlic rice.
  • The garlic amount: Feel free to increase or decrease it to personal preference.

FAQs

Can I use a rice cooker to make garlic rice?

That should work. We recommend first completing the sauté steps on the stovetop, then combining everything in the rice cooker to cook together. Use equal parts rice and vegetable stock for this method.

Can I omit the achiote?

If you still want the yellow color, use turmeric instead. Otherwise, yes, you can omit it for a regular garlic rice recipe.

Can I use brown rice?

The color will change. Also, the liquid ratio and cooking time differ (as you can see here), so adjust them for tender, fluffy results.

completed Garlic Rice [Spanish Yellow Rice] in a white bowl against a white background

What To Serve With Garlic Rice?

This garlic achiote rice makes for a delicious side alongside all your favorite Mexican and South American dishes. However, its garlicky-forward flavor makes it just as delicious alongside most dishes.

We particularly enjoy this yellow rice with:

You can also enjoy it alongside marinated tofu, tempeh dishes, or curry, and the leftovers make for delicious yellow garlic fried rice with extra tofu and veggies!

Storage Instructions

Allow the cooked vegan yellow rice to cool, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Alternatively, freeze it (in a container or Ziplock/Stasher bags) for up to 2 months, allowing it to thaw overnight in the fridge when needed.

We recommend reheating the rice over low heat on the stovetop, adding a splash or two of water or broth to bring back the fluffy texture. You can also use a microwave (with 1-2 tbsp of water and covered with plastic wrap) for 1-2 minutes.

More Vegan Rice Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Garlic Rice

4.89 from 72 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
This golden garlic rice is fluffy, tender, vibrant, and packed with aromatic garlic flavor—a delicious, versatile vegan side dish. Stovetop, Instant Pot, and Rice Cooker methods included!

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup of neutral oil your choice
  • 1 tablespoon of achiote powder
  • 1 small head of garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 cups of long-grain white rice
  • 3 ½ cups of vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Zest of one large orange (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, combine oil, achiote powder and chopped garlic. Saute over medium heat for about one minute, until garlic has softened (but is not browning).
  • Add uncooked rice to the pot. Stir until rice is evenly coated with oil.
  • Add vegetable broth and orange zest (if using) to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until rice is tender and has absorbed all the broth.
  • Remove the pot from heat. Leaving the lid in place, allow rice to steam in the pot for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Video

Notes

  • Rinse the rice well: It’s impossible to get the water running perfectly clear, but give it a good rinse, swishing it with your hand, to remove excess starch.
  • Don’t peek: It’s important to keep the lid on while cooking the garlic rice, so it cooks properly and steams for fluffy results. We recommend using a pan with a clear lid to monitor its process.
  • Leave it to steam: This will help evaporate the leftover liquid in the pan for super fluffy yellow garlic rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 419mgPotassium: 67mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 219IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 0.4mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Honor
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Method: Stove
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Honor

Loves baking, gardening and preparing delicious, compassionate meals for her vegan family of four.

More about Honor

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Comments

  1. I’d love to make this. A lot of your recipes use white rice. Can I make this with brown rice? Thank you.

    1. It might come out a bit differently, but it should still turn out delicious! Let us know if you end up trying it out 🙂

  2. Hi. The achiote I see at the stores near me all like boullion full of salt. Are there options out there that are just the achiote?