This Vegan Mexican Rice, also known as Spanish Rice is a gluten free recipe that adds tons of flavor to all of your favorite tacos, burrito bowls, and more! It’s made in just one pot, freezer friendly and ready in about 30 minutes.
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I used to eat boxes and boxes of Mexican rice as a kid, alongside my giant plates of pasta of course, so safe to say I’m kind of a Mexican rice expert at this point!
This vegan Mexican rice recipe is seriously the best I’ve ever had. It’s SO easy to make (one pot!), incredibly flavorful, naturally gluten free, and stores well in both the fridge and freezer.
I love having it with tacos and burrito bowls with my walnut taco meat since it’s an easy way to spice up any dish. It’s way better than any of the boxed stuff I had as a kid, and you get to be in control of all the ingredients that go into it which is always a plus!
Don’t love cumin? Leave it out or swap it for saffron for a Spanish rice. Love spice? Add in a chopped jalapeño pepper for a little kick. The options are endless with this quick and versatile recipe.
How to make this recipe
Chop the onion very finely and add to a large pot with the olive oil. I love using this vegetable press to get the onion chopped into even and very small pieces. You can also use it for the bell pepper.
Saute on low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion starts to look translucent.
Add in the minced garlic and chopped bell pepper. Saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. If using the jalapeno pepper, add it at this step. If anything starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil.
Add in all remaining ingredients aside from the cilantro and stir well.
Bring to a low boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Be sure the heat is low, you don’t want the liquid to absorb too quickly which will cause the rice to be undercooked.
Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered, or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir halfway through to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes to finish cooking. This will allow the rice to steam and get nice and fluffy.
Fluff with a fork and stir in chopped cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro or think it tastes like soap, feel free to leave it out!
Mexican vs. Spanish Rice
The names Spanish rice and Mexican rice are often used interchagebly, but they’re actually not the same! They have very similar ingredients though. A base of white rice, onion, garlic, spices and tomato.
The main difference is that Mexican rice uses cumin which gives it a deeper red color and Spanish rice uses saffron which gives it a more orange color.
I absolutely love Saffron and therefore Spanish rice, but it is very expensive and I wanted this to be an affordable recipe, so I went the cumin route!
I’m glad I did because the cumin adds a subtle but delicious flavor to the rice and pairs really well with the other ingredients and spices in the recipe.
Tips & tricks
- Once prepared, this rice recipe will store in the fridge for 5-7 days. Be sure to let it cool completely before transferring to an air tight container.
- If you are not vegan, you can sub the vegetable broth for chicken broth which does add a bit more flavor.
- This vegan Mexican rice is freezer friendly! Allow the rice to cool completely before transferring to a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep in the freezer for about 1 month. To reheat, add the rice to the stove with a splash of oil and let warm over low heat.
- As written this recipe is not super spicy. To increase the spice, add a chopped jalapeno pepper (with seeds for extra spice) to the pot when you add the garlic and bell pepper, or add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
- You may need to adjust the amount of broth you are using based on your rice. I used long grain white rice, but you can also use white basmati rice or white jasmine rice. The back of the package of the rice should tell you how much liquid to use based on 2 cups of rice. Take that number and subtract 1/2 cup to account for some of the liquid in the tomato sauce. For example, long grain white rice calls for 3 cups of liquid for 2 cups of rice. I used 2 1/2 for this recipe.
- You can use brown rice in place of the white rice. I only suggest using long grain rice, just be sure to check the back of the package and make the necessary alterations to the amount of liquid used. If using brown rice, you will need to cook it for an additional 10 or so minutes.
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Easy One Pot Vegan Mexican Rice
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 cup plain tomato sauce
- 1 medium white or yellow onion (chopped small)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 large red bell pepper very finely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth*
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ -1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Juice from 1 lime
- Optional: 1 jalapeno pepper (diced)
- Chop the onion very finely and add to a large pot with the olive oil. I love using this onion press to get the onion chopped into even and very small pieces.
- Saute on low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion starts to look translucent.
- Add in the minced garlic and chopped bell pepper. Saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. If using the jalapeno pepper, add it at this step.
- Add in all remaining ingredients including the tomato sauce but leave aside the cilantro.
- Bring to a low boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Be sure the heat is low, you don’t want the liquid to absorb too quickly which will cause the rice to be undercooked.
- Let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir halfway through to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
- Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes to finish cooking.
- Fluff with a fork and stir in chopped cilantro.