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Make easy Vegan Mexican Rice (Spanish rice) with just 5 ingredients in 30 minutes – It’s super fluffy, vibrant, delicious, and a cheap, delicious side dish for Mexican-inspired meals!

completed Easy Vegan Mexican Rice plated against a white surface
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What Is Spanish Rice vs. Mexican Rice?

Mexican rice, also known as ‘Spanish rice’ and ‘arroz rojo’ (meaning red rice), is a popular, flavorful side dish to help create filling, satisfying, well-rounded meals. Traditionally, Mexican rice recipes combine chicken or vegetable broth, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and several spices to create a flavor-packed, vibrant dish. Some versions also include vegetables (like peas, carrots, and bell peppers).

The cooking process sautés the rice and aromatics for flavor depth, then combines them with the remaining ingredients to simmer until the rice is al dente and has absorbed all the delicious flavors. It’s a fragrant, beautiful, flavorful, pantry-friendly side dish.

Quick Easy Vegan Mexican Rice in 30 Minutes

All you need for this delicious vegan Mexican rice recipe is 5 simple, inexpensive ingredients (plus oil, salt, and pepper), a saucepan, and 30 minutes. It’s simple to prepare, fast, budget-friendly, satisfying, and both meal prep and freeze-friendly.

Plus, keep reading for plenty of ways to adapt the recipe to your liking – whether you want to add extra spices, heat, veggies, vegan cheese, etc. There’s no shortage of ideas. Once prepared, it makes a delicious side dish during Cinco de Mayo, at potlucks, and for mid-week meals alongside vegan tacos, burritos, tamales, and more.

The Ingredients and Substitutions

ingredients for Easy Vegan Mexican Rice measured against a white surface
  • Rice: This method uses long-grain white rice. While it’s possible to use brown rice, the liquid ratio and cooking time will differ. Quinoa would also work.
  • Broth: Use a rich vegetable broth or no-chicken broth (regular or reduced sodium).
  • Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil, like vegetable oil, light olive oil, or avocado oil.
  • Aromatics: A combination of white or yellow onion and fresh garlic helps to make a flavorful vegetarian Mexican rice base.
  • Tomato sauce: We love using a can of tomato sauce, though you could experiment with using tomato paste, a can of crushed tomatoes (or Rotel), or even tomato salsa.
  • Salt & black pepper: To season this easy Mexican rice recipe to taste.

What can I add to vegan Mexican rice?

Making Mexican rice is so simple, and there are plenty of ways to adapt the recipe to your liking, including with the addition of:

  • Seasonings: There are several popular seasonings that are common in Mexican rice recipes. I.e., smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Experiment with any/all of them added to taste. Bloom them in the oil for better flavor.
  • Vegetables: Add extra flavor, texture, and color to the homemade Mexican rice with finely diced bell peppers, zucchini, and/or carrots, canned or frozen peas and/or corn, shredded broccoli florets, or spinach (chopped, then stirred in right at the end to wilt).
  • Chiles: Add some heat with finely diced jalapeño/chili, a can of green chiles, etc.
  • Beans: Make Mexican rice and beans by adding a can of kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, or chickpeas.
  • Vegan cheese: Garnish the homemade Mexican rice with vegan shredded cheese (like a sharp cheddar) or crumbly vegan feta cheese for ‘cheesy’ Mexican rice.
  • Fresh herbs: Optionally garnish the vegan Mexican rice with fresh cilantro or green onions for extra color and fresh flavor.
  • Lime: Add some lime juice (or lime wedges) when serving to help brighten and enhance the flavors in this vegan Mexican rice recipe.  
  • Vegan butter: Stir in a little vegan butter before serving for extra rich flavor.

How to Make Mexican Rice?

Prepare this low-effort, easy Mexican rice recipe in just a handful of steps and under 30 minutes on the stovetop.

  • 1) First, peel and mince the garlic and finely dice the yellow onion.
  • 2) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic, onion, and uncooked rice, and sauté until the rice turns golden (about 4-5 minutes).
  • 3) Then, pour in the broth, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper, and stir well.

Use your spoon/spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan to get all that flavor into the homemade Mexican rice.

  • 4) Bring the mixture to a boil, lower to a simmer, then cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Don’t remove the lid during the cooking. Otherwise, it can affect the cooking time.

  • 5) Remove the vegan Mexican rice from the heat and leave it to steam for a few minutes. Then remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork or silicone spatula (to avoid rice breakage) – enjoy!

Pro Recipe Tips

  • Sauté the rice: This is an important step to enhance its flavor with a natural nutty toastiness and prevent the rice from becoming too ‘sticky.’
  • For fluffier rice: Rinse it before you sauté it to remove excess starch.
  • Deglaze the pan: When you add the broth, scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan to get the flavor into the Mexican rice and avoid it burning to the pan.
  • Don’t lift the lid: Leave the rice to simmer completely untouched. Otherwise, you may accidentally affect the steaming process and cooking time.
  • Adjust seasonings: Taste it before serving and adjust it to your liking.
  • Use long-grain rice: Short-grain rice becomes overly sticky in this recipe, and brown rice requires a different liquid-to-rice ratio and cooking time, so we only recommend long-grain white rice.
completed Easy Vegan Mexican Rice plated against a white surface

Storage Instructions

Allow it to cool (but transfer it to the fridge within 2 hours of cooking for food hygiene reasons), then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Homemade Mexican rice is also freezer friendly. Store it portioned in Ziplock/Stasher bags (spread flat and excess air removed) or airtight containers for 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge.

How to Reheat It?

To avoid overly dry rice, reheat it in the microwave or stovetop with a splash of broth/water. That way, it will steam and soften while it heats.

What to Serve with Vegan Mexican Rice?

More Vegan Mexican Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Easy Vegan Mexican Rice plated against a white surface

Easy Vegan Mexican Rice

4.84 from 43 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 – 5
Make easy Vegan Mexican Rice (Spanish rice) with just 5 ingredients in 30 minutes – It’s super fluffy, vibrant, delicious, and a cheap, delicious side dish for Mexican-inspired meals!

Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • ½ of a medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of long-grain white rice
  • 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 ¾ cups of no-chicken or vegetable broth
  • A sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • In a medium pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and uncooked rice and saute until the rice turns golden, stirring regularly, for about 4 to 5 minutes. When some of the grains of rice begin to turn a golden brown, move on to the next step.
  • Add the tomato sauce, salt, no chicken broth, and pepper, and stir.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Once you cover the rice, do not remove the lid.
  • Remove from heat and fluff the rice.

Video

Notes

  • Sauté the rice: This is an important step to enhance its flavor with a natural nutty toastiness and prevent the rice from becoming too ‘sticky.’
  • For fluffier rice: Rinse it before you sauté it to remove excess starch.
  • Deglaze the pan: When you add the broth, scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan to get the flavor into the Mexican rice and avoid it burning to the pan.
  • Don’t lift the lid: Leave the rice to simmer completely untouched. Otherwise, you may accidentally affect the steaming process and cooking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1737mgPotassium: 304mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 715IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg

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: Toni Okamoto
Course: Side
Cuisine: Mexican
Method: Stove
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

    1. Hi! It’s not recommended as the recipe will have to change. However, you can try adding the same seasonings to your rice, minus the water and adjusting as needed. Let us know how it turns out!

  1. 3 stars
    This was very easy and very tasty. I added a can of diced tomatoes at the very end, having used the can juices as part of the water called for in the recipe.

    1. Hi! The texture will just turn out a bit differently so white rice is highly recommended 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe tonight for dinner and it’s AMAZING! Perfect flavor and texture. We loved it!