This vegan Mexican rice is super simple and easy, yet loaded with amazing flavors. Include tomato sauce, spices, brown rice and garlic. Perfect side dish for your favorite Mexican recipe!
This is such a simple but tasty vegan side dish recipe! Perfect for taco night, to use in Mexican buddha bowls or to stuff in bean burritos, this vegan Mexican rice is very simple and pantry-friendly to make your weeknight dinner planning easier.
We eat lots of brown rice already as we often make grain bowls topped with varied veggies, protein and sauce. But, this tomato-flavored Mexican rice is SO fun and makes for an amazing change from the regular plain rice we are used to. And I bet you will love it too!
And if you love Mexican rice served in restaurants, then you will definitely also love this vegan twist on the classic recipe. It has the same savory flavor with a slightly creamy consistency, but made without butter or chicken broth. Also, this version is healthier as you can adjust added oil and salt to your taste.
This rice is so fragrant and rich in flavor featuring strong umami yumminess from the tomato sauce and just the perfect amount of spices without being overpowering. You can adjust the flavor to your taste and also add more ingredients, such as vegetables or beans, if you want. As long as you keep the ratios of rice/liquids right, then you can make this recipe your own!
Also, I used brown rice to make it, although I will share tips on how to make it using white rice. Brown rice adds more nutrition, especially fiber, but will also bring a pleasant chewiness that simply is addictive.
Let me know if you tried it in the comment section below! ❤️
What's to love about this recipe
- Pantry- and budget-friendly
- Healthy, low-in-fat and high-in-fiber
- Easy and not much hands-on prep time
- Great side dish to accompany other Mexican recipes
- Easily customizable
- Vegan, healthy, fiber-rich and naturally gluten-free
- Absolutely delicious!
Ingredients you'll need
- Rice: I used long grain brown rice, which is my favorite rice to make this recipe. It is chewy and so much healthier than white rice! But, you can also make it with long grain white rice, see tips below.
- Tomato sauce: I used organic tomato sauce, you will need a small 8 ounce can for this recipe, which is equivalent to 1 cup.
- Yellow onion: To flavor the rice, you can also use red onion.
- Garlic: use fresh garlic and not the powder for best flavor. Also, add more than 3 cloves if you want a stronger garlicky flavor!
- Vegetable broth: I used concentrated vegetable broth from the brand Better Than Bouillon combined with water, but use your favorite brand of broth. I would also make this recipe simply with water if I didn’t have broth or if I was looking for a lower in salt recipe.
- Spices: I used 1 teaspoon of paprika, but you can also swap for cumin powder or chili powder. Also, feel free to add a mix of different spices.
- Cilantro: optional, but I like to add a small handful of fresh cilantro once the rice is done for more flavor.
How to make it
Cook the aromatics
Warm up a little oil in a medium pot and then, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes or until softened.
Then, add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the rice and stir to coat the grain with the aromatics. Let the rice cook and toast for maybe 1-2 minutes watching carefully so it does not burn.
Then, add the broth, tomato sauce, stir well and cover. Bring to a simmer and then, turn down the heat to medium-low and keep simmering for at least 45 minutes or until the rice is tender and the grain has absorbed all the liquid. I like to stir mid-way through cooking to check on the rice and make sure it is not sticking to the bottom (but do not overmix).
Once done, remove from the heat, keep the cover on and let the rice rest for about 10 more minutes.
Add the cilantro (if using) and taste to adjust spices.
Serve right away while still warm with more cilantro, green onion and lime wedges.
Watch how to make it
- If you don't have tomato sauce, then feel-free to use salsa or diced tomatoes instead (about 1 cup)!
- I recommend to toast the rice before adding the liquids to help get a nice nutty flavor.
- If the rice tends to stick too much to the bottom, tend turn down your heat a little.
- If your rice if still "crunchy" even after cooking for 50 minutes, then add a little more liquid and keep cooking for another 10 minutes or so. Sometimes I have to cook brown rice for almost an hour to get it tender, which can depend on the heat level and how much moisture evaporated.
You can serve this vegan Mexican rice as a side dish, but also, use this recipe to add more ingredients to make it a full meal. Here are a few ideas:
- Vegetables: green peas, red pepper, corn, green onion, zucchini, etc. Simply cook the vegetables with the onion before adding the rice and liquids.
- Plant-based protein: lentils or black beans would work well in this recipe. I would recommend to stir them in (already cooked) once the rice is done.
- Spices: chopped jalapeño, cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper or hot sauce. Add them to the rice before cooking to add a nice kick to the recipe.
The way I actually like to serve it is to simply thaw some corn and warm up some canned black beans, and then pile those over the Mexican rice alongside some avocado, green onions and cilantro. Makes for a easy weeknight dinner that's super healthy.
How to make it using white rice vs brown rice
I love using brown rice for its chewy bite, but also, brown rice adds a heaping serving of fiber to your meal!
You can use white rice instead of brown rice if you prefer. In that case, I would recommend using long grain white rice, such as basmati. It will cook faster and white rice requires a little less water than brown rice to become tender.
So, if using white rice, then I recommend to use ½ cup less of the broth and check for doneness after 15-20 minutes.
I found this recipe to be at its best when just done since rice tends to dry out a bite or get chewy-ier after a while.
If you do have some leftovers, then keep them in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Add a splash of water before reheating to help rehydrate the grain. I love to simply use a microwave to reheat rice, but you could reheat it on the stove as well.
More vegan Mexican-inspired recipes to try
- Mexican buddha bowl
- Mexican pickled red onions
- Vegan Mexican horchata
- Black bean rice burrito
- Chipotle sauce
- Vegan fish tacos
- Pineapple pico de gallo
- Mexican bean soup
- Vegan white queso sauce
- Cucumber pico de gallo
- Lentil walnut tacos
- Mexican avocado and black bean toast
- Mexican loaded baked potatoes
I hope you like this vegan Mexican rice recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Mexican Rice
- 1 small yellow onion - diced
- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 tsp ground spice (cumin, paprika or chili powder)
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- ½ tsp salt - or to taste
- handful cilantro - chopped , optional
- lime wedges - optional, to serve
- Warm up a medium pot with a little oil and then cook the onions for about 5-6 minutes on medium-high heat stirring often.
- Then, add the garlic and spice and stir well. Cook for one more minute.
- Then, add the rice and stir well. Toast the grain stirring often for 1-2 minutes, then pour the broth and tomato sauce over. Stir well, cover and bring to a simmer. Then, turn down the heat to medium-low and keep cooking (covered) for about 45-50 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed. Then, remove from the heat and keep covered for another 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm garnished with green onion and cilantro.
- If the rice is still "crunchy" even after cooking for 45-50 minutes, then add a splash of water and cook for 10 more minutes or so.
- This rice is amazing served as a side dish for Mexican dishes, such as tacos, enchiladas, in burritos, buddha bowls and much more.
- Keep leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat using the microwave or on the stove. Add a splash of water before reheating if the rice dried out.
- I love serving this rice simply with thawed and warmed up corn, canned black beans and avocado.