This easy vegan Mexican rice recipe is the perfect side dish to your Mexican spread. This flavorful and fluffy rice is seasoned with fresh tomatoes, onion, and garlic salt. Serve it alongside black beans or as the base to burrito bowls. Ready in under 30 minutes, vegan, and gluten free!Jump to Recipe
Why this recipe works
This recipe is:
- Quick and easy recipe, ready in 30 minutes!
- It’s Vegan and vegetarian
- Rice is naturally Gluten free
- It’s a great meal prep recipe to add to your burrito bowls
- Ready in under 30 minutes
What is Mexican Rice?
Traditional Mexican rice is a Mexican dish with white rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices. The tomato makes the rice a reddish orange color, giving it the other name 'red rice' or arroz rojo.
Spanish rice is similar in idea but uses saffron to create the yellow color. In the United States some people may think Spanish rice and Mexican rice are the same thing, but they are actually different. Aside from the spices, Spanish rice is heartier, and Mexican rice is softer.
Mexican rice is almost like a Mexican-style fried rice. It is best served with lime and cilantro on top.
You just need a few simple ingredients for this recipe.
- Rice - Long-grain white rice is the best type of rice to use for Mexican rice. You can also use jasmine or basmati rice as well if you have that on hand.
- Vegetable broth - Using vegetable broth instead of water in this recipe helps to make a more flavorful Mexican rice. If you don’t need it to be vegan or vegetarian, you can substitute for chicken broth. I prefer to make my own vegetable stock to keep it low sodium. See How to Make Vegetable Stock from Leftover Veggies to learn how to make your own!
- Roma tomatoes - Typical Mexican recipes use roma tomatoes and not heirloom tomatoes. If you want to swap for canned tomatoes, use ½ cup in place of fresh tomatoes.
- Additions - This is a simple but so versatile recipe! You can add in any other vegetable or seasonings to adjust it to your taste. Try adding diced jalapeño pepper, diced green peppers, fresh garlic cloves, or spices like onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, or chili powder. You can also top this rice with some fresh cilantro and lime juice before serving.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
In a food processor or blender, blend Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic salt, and vegetable broth until smooth, about 30-seconds. Set aside.
Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toast long grain rice for 3-5 minutes, until toasted, stirring occasionally.
The rice will first become translucent and then toast in pieces. It’s okay if not all rice kernels are toasted evenly, you want at least some toasting color to know it has the flavor and has released the starches.
Add in tomato puree mixture to the toasted rice. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to low. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed into the rice.
When rice is tender and cooked, remove pot from the heat. Lift the cover and fluff gently with a fork. Place cover back and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After resting, add optional lime juice or chopped cilantro. Serve immediately or store and serve later!
- Toast the rice: Make sure to toast the rice until transparent as this will reduce the likelihood of having mushy or soggy rice. The rice might not be evenly toasted, but having some color will also help add extra flavor.
- Don’t need to rinse AND toast: There’s a common misconception that you need to rinse and toast the rice. The toasting of the rice does the same job (removing extra starches) as rinsing the rice.
- Rest and fluff: Letting the rice rest will help finish the cooking. Don’t skip this step, it’s worth waiting!
- Storage directions: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Reheat directions: Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Heat for an additional few seconds if needed.
- Freezer directions: You can freeze leftover rice in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Mexican rice is not only great to pair with your main dish, but it’s flavorful enough to eat on its own! There are so many ways to serve it. Here are just a few recipes that partner well with this Mexican rice recipe:
- enchiladas: I love adding rice to enchiladas to make it all-in-one! Try adding Mexican rice to my healthy ground beef enchiladas, or make vegan enchiladas with refried beans.
- Burritos: Try using leftover Mexican rice to burritos, like my carnitas burrito, to impart more flavor.
- Tacos: Tacos and rice is a staple pairing! Try Mexican rice with fried fish tacos, cauliflower al pastor tacos, or beef barbacoa tacos.
- Other Mains: Other great pairings with rice are: Mexican carnitas bowl, halloumi fajitas or stuffed peppers.
- Other sides: Don’t forget the Easy 4 Ingredient Guacamole and tortilla chips!
- Drinks: Definitely pair with a Skinny Margarita, Frozen Blackberry Margaritas with Mint or non-alcoholic Cucumber Agua Fresca or Orange Agua Fresca!
If you’re looking to pair this flavorful rice dish with other healthy vegan Mexican sides, try: Mexican street corn, avocado salad, or a watermelon mint salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you don’t need to rinse it. Toasting the rice in the pan removes any free starches, which would be the same as rinsing it.
There are a number of reasons why your rice may have come out soggy. You maybe didn’t toast the rice for long enough, causing the starches to remain on the rice. You may have alternatively cooked the rice at too low of a simmer, causing the water to remain. You also may have not let the rice rest.
The best and most traditional rice to use is white long-grain rice. You can use jasmine or basmati rice as well.
Typically I use the ratio of ¼ cup uncooked rice per person. This equals about ¾ cups cooked rice.
Mexican rice is not always gluten free - this is because most traditional Mexican rice recipes use Caldo de Pollo (chicken bouillon) to impart flavor. To make this recipe gluten free, we omit that ingredient for vegetable broth!
- Dutch Oven Carnitas (Authentic Mexican Carnitas)
- Authentic Mexican Chilaquiles Rojos
- Savory Mexican Breakfast Quinoa Bowl
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below so I know what you think! Follow Elise Tries to Cook on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and Subscribe via email to receive the latest recipes!
Vegan Mexican Rice
- Blender or Food Processor
- Large skillet or dutch oven
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 tablespoon oil I like avocado or canola oil
- 1 cup Vegetable Stock/Broth
- 2 roma tomatoes
- ¼ white onion
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- Cilantro and fresh lime juice for topping optional
- Blend vegetable broth, roma tomatoes, white onion and garlic salt in a high-powered blender until smooth. Leave to the side.1 cup Vegetable Stock/Broth, 2 roma tomatoes, ¼ white onion, ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toast long grain rice for 3-5 minutes, until toasted, stirring occasionally.1 tablespoon oil, 1 cup long grain white rice
- The rice will first become translucent and then toast in pieces. It’s okay if not all rice kernels are toasted evenly, you want at least some toasting color to know it has the flavor and has released the starches.
- Add in tomato puree mixture to the toasted rice. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed into the rice.
- When rice is tender and cooked, remove pot from the heat. Lift the cover and fluff gently with a fork. Place cover back and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
- After resting, add optional lime juice or chopped cilantro. Serve immediately or store and serve later!Cilantro and fresh lime juice for topping