Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe – Rich, Aromatic, And Flavorful! 

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Get ready to spice up your meal with our Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe! Start by sautéing onions and garlic in a pot until fragrant. Add rice and cook until lightly toasted.

Pour in vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and spices like cumin and chili powder. Simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Serve this flavorful rice alongside your favorite Mexican dishes for a tasty feast!

Why Does It Work?

  • Utilizes everyday ingredients such as rice and canned tomatoes, ensuring a straightforward and accessible cooking process.
  • Incorporates a variety of spices, like cumin and chili powder, to achieve an authentic and rich flavor profile without animal products.
  • Offers a high fiber content by including vegetables, promoting a nutritious and satisfying meal.
  • Perfect for batch cooking, allowing for easy meal prep and storage.

Don’t have time to read the full blog post? JUMP TO THE RECIPE HERE!

Finding a dish that’s both delectable and aligns with a vegan lifestyle can sometimes feel like a culinary quest. Enter the Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe, a game-changer in my kitchen adventures. I remember struggling to adapt my love for vibrant Mexican flavors to fit a plant-based diet. 

The usual options felt repetitive until I stumbled upon this recipe. It wasn’t just another meal; it was a revelation. By blending traditional spices and hearty vegetables, I unlocked a dish that satisfied my cravings without compromising my dietary choices. 

This recipe isn’t merely about substituting ingredients; it’s about celebrating the richness of vegan cooking with every flavorful spoonful. Join me as we dive into this culinary delight, where simplicity meets taste most delightfully.

vegan mexican rice recipe

What Is Vegan Mexican Rice? 

Vegan Mexican Rice is a plant-based version of the classic Mexican side dish, traditionally known as arroz rojo.” It’s made by sautéing rice with onions, garlic, and sometimes jalapeños for a spicy kick, then simmering it in a tomato-based broth infused with aromatic spices like cumin and chili powder. 

The result is fluffy, flavorful rice deeply colored by tomatoes and enriched with various vegetables. This dish complements any Mexican-themed meal and proudly stands as a satisfying main meal for those following a vegan lifestyle.

Fact-Research shows that incorporating whole grains like rice in a vegan diet can significantly improve nutrient intake, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals, supporting overall health.

vegan mexican rice recipe

Recipe Directions 

  • Start by finely chopping the onion. Use an onion press to achieve even and very small pieces for best results. This tool is perfect for getting the texture just right without much effort.
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent. This initial step is crucial for building flavor.
  • Introduce the minced garlic and chopped bell pepper to the pot. If you’re including jalapeño pepper for an extra kick, add it now. Continue to sauté everything together for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables soften.
  • Now, incorporate all the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. The tomato sauce gives the rice its signature color and taste. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a low boil, then immediately cover and reduce the heat to low. Keeping the heat low is essential to ensure the liquid absorbs slowly, preventing the rice from being undercooked.
  • Allow the rice to simmer covered for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. It’s best to stir the rice halfway through the cooking time to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • After the cooking time is up, turn off the heat, but leave the pot covered. Let it sit for 10 more minutes. This rest time is a universal rule for perfectly cooked rice, allowing it to finish cooking with steam.
  • Finally, fluff the rice with a fork and gently stir in the freshly chopped cilantro. The cilantro adds freshness and color to the dish, making it even more appealing.

vegan mexican rice recipe

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Vegetable Variations

  • Try adding diced carrots or peas for a pop of color and a boost of nutrients.
  • Corn kernels, either fresh or frozen, can add sweetness and texture.
  • Spinach or kale can be stirred in at the end for added greens.

Protein Add-Ons

  • Mix in cooked black beans or pinto beans for a hearty protein boost, making the dish even more filling.
  • Tofu or tempeh, sautéed with taco seasoning, can be a great addition for those seeking extra protein.

Spice Adjustments

  • Increase the jalapeño or add a dash of cayenne pepper for a spicier kick.
  • Smoked paprika can add a deep, smoky flavor that complements the tomato base beautifully.

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Toppings And Garnishes

  • Avocado slices or guacamole add creaminess and a rich flavor that contrasts well with the spices.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro right before serving can brighten the dish.
  • Nutritional yeast or vegan cheese can be sprinkled on top for a cheesy flavor without the dairy.

Grain Substitutions

  • Quinoa can be used instead of rice as a gluten-free alternative that adds protein.
  • Though cooking times may vary, brown rice is perfect for a whole-grain option.

Sauce Variations

  • Add a spoonful of adobo sauce or a few chopped chipotle in adobo for a deeper flavor.
  • A splash of vegan beer or vegetable broth can be used in place of water to cook the rice, adding another layer of flavor.

Sauce Variations

Vegetable Substitutions

  • Mushrooms for Beef: Their meaty texture makes mushrooms an excellent substitute in recipes requiring ground beef.
  • Jackfruit for Pulled Pork: Young green jackfruit has a remarkable ability to mimic the texture of pulled pork when cooked with savory sauces.
  • Cauliflower for Chicken: Cauliflower’s versatility allows it to take on a variety of flavors, perfect for veganizing chicken dishes.
  • Eggplant for Fish: Eggplant can be a convincing substitute for fish, absorbing flavors well when sliced and seasoned.
  • Lentils for Ground Meat: Lentils are a nutritious option for replacing ground meat in dishes like meatballs or bolognese sauce.
  • Zucchini for Noodles: Spiralized zucchini provides a low-carb, nutritious alternative to pasta in any dish.
  • Sweet Potatoes for Carbs: Their natural sweetness and hearty texture make sweet potatoes a great substitute for bread, pasta, or rice.
  • Beets for Tuna: Beets’ deep red color and soft texture can mimic tuna, especially in vegan sushi recipes.

Quick Tip -Try adding soaked cashews for a creamier texture in vegan soups and sauces. Blend them until smooth and mix in for a rich, dairy-free creaminess.

Vegetable Substitutions

Best Side Dishes

  • Black Bean Salad This refreshing mix of black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado is topped with a lime-cilantro dressing.
  • Guacamole Creamy avocado mashed with lime juice, cilantro, and diced onions, perfect for dipping.
  • Pico de Gallo A fresh, chunky salsa made with diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeños.
  • Grilled Vegetables Zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms grilled with olive oil and seasoning.
  • Vegan Refried Beans Creamy, mashed beans cooked with spices, serving as a protein-rich side.
  • Corn Tortillas Warm, soft tortillas are essential for making tacos or enjoying on the side.
  • Vegan Quesadillas Filled with non-dairy cheese and vegetables, then grilled to perfection.
  • Cilantro Lime Slaw A zesty, crunchy slaw that adds a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the rice.
  • Stuffed Poblano Peppers Poblano peppers are filled with a mix of vegetables and sometimes quinoa and then baked.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes Cubed sweet potatoes roasted with chili powder and cumin, offering a sweet and spicy flavor.

Best Side Dishes

How To Serve?

  • As a Main Dish, Serve it in a bowl, topped with avocado slices, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice for a simple yet satisfying meal.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Hollow out bell peppers, fill them with the rice mixture, and bake until tender. Top with vegan cheese during the last few minutes of baking.
  • Burrito Filling: Use the rice as a hearty filling for vegan burritos, along with beans, lettuce, vegan sour cream, and guacamole.
  • Taco Salad Base: Layer the rice at the bottom of a taco salad, adding greens, vegetables, vegan cheese, and salsa for a flavorful salad.
  • With Nachos: Spread the rice over tortilla chips, add toppings like vegan cheese jalapeños, and bake. Serve with guacamole and vegan sour cream.
  • Side Dish: Pair it alongside vegan enchiladas, tacos, or fajitas for a complete Mexican-inspired feast.
  • Meal Prep: Divide the rice into meal prep containers with a mix of roasted vegetables and a protein source like tofu or tempeh for a balanced meal throughout the week.
  • Rice Bowls: For a customizable rice bowl, top the rice with sautéed vegetables, beans, salsa, and avocado.

Quick Tip-To enhance the flavor of grains like rice or quinoa, try toasting them in a dry pan before cooking. This adds a nutty depth to the dish.

How To Serve?

Storage & Make Ahead

  • Refrigeration: Store leftover rice in an airtight container. It will keep well for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing: This dish freezes beautifully. Cool completely, then transfer to freezer-safe bags or containers. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Gently reheat in the microwave or stovetop with a splash of water to prevent drying out. Stir well to ensure even heating.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare the rice up to 2 days in advance. Keep it refrigerated, then reheat just before serving. This allows flavors to meld, enhancing the dish.

Fact-Did you know that traditional Mexican rice turns its distinctive red color not from tomatoes but from annatto seeds, used in achiote paste, giving it a unique, earthy flavor?

recipe card

Time-Saving Tips

  1. Prep Vegetables in Advance: Chop all your vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and bell peppers, ahead of time and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
  2. Use Canned Tomatoes: Opt for canned tomatoes to save chopping time and ensure consistent flavor year-round.
  3. Rice Cooker Efficiency: Consider using a rice cooker to prepare your Vegan Mexican Rice. Add all the ingredients, set the cooker, and forget until it’s done.
  4. Batch Cooking: Make a large batch of Vegan Mexican Rice and freeze in portions. This way, you’ll have a ready-to-go meal component for busy days.
  5. Pre-Measured Spices: Measure your spices into a small bowl before starting the recipe. This way, you can add them all simultaneously, saving time and streamlining the cooking process.
  6. Quick Release Cilantro: Instead of chopping, quickly tear cilantro with your hands. It saves time and brings a rustic feel to the dish.
  7. Microwave Garlic: To peel garlic quickly, microwave the cloves for 15-20 seconds. The steam allows the skin to slide off effortlessly.
Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe - Rich, Aromatic, And Flavorful! 

Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe – Rich, Aromatic, And Flavorful! 

Recipe by Julia

Vegan Mexican Rice is a colorful and flavorful dish staple in plant-based cuisine. Infused with a blend of aromatic spices, tomatoes, and various vegetables, it offers a delightful texture and depth of flavor.

This versatile side can easily become a main by adding beans or tofu, making it a nutritious and satisfying meal option.

Course: Dinner
0 from 0 votes

4 – 6

Prep Time


Cooking Time




Rest Time


Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on


  • 2 Cups 2 Long Grain White Rice

  • 1 Cup 1 Plain Tomato Sauce

  • 1 1 Medium White Or Yellow Onion, Chopped Small

  • 6 6 Garlic cloves

  • ½ ½ Large red bell pepper, very finely chopped

  • 3 Tbsp 3 Olive oil

  • 2 ½ Cups 2 ½ Vegetable Broth

  • 1 Tsp 1 Chili Powder

  • ½ Tsp ½ Dried Oregano

  • 1 Tsp 1 Salt

  • ½ -1 Tsp ½ -1 Cumin

  • ¼ Cup ¼ Chopped Cilantro

  • 1 lime 1 Juice

  • 1 1 Optional: Jalapeno Pepper, Diced

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation of Ingredients
  • Begin by finely chopping the onion. An onion press is recommended for the best texture to achieve even, very small pieces effortlessly.
  • Sauté Onions
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent. This step is vital for flavor development.
  • Add Garlic and Bell Pepper
  • Add minced garlic and chopped bell pepper to the pot. If you want an extra kick, include diced jalapeño pepper at this stage. Continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables soften.
  • Incorporate Remaining Ingredients
  • Mix in all the remaining ingredients, excluding the cilantro. This includes the tomato sauce, which is key for achieving the rice’s signature color and flavor. Ensure everything is well combined.
  • Cook The Rice
  • Bring the mixture to a low boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Maintaining a low heat is crucial to absorbing the liquid gradually, preventing the rice from being undercooked.
  • Simmer
  • Let the rice simmer covered for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stirring the rice halfway through the cooking time helps prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Rest
  • Turn off the heat once cooking is complete, but keep the pot covered. Let it sit for an additional 10 minutes. This rest period allows the rice to finish cooking through steam, ensuring it’s perfectly cooked.
  • Finish And Serve
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and gently fold the freshly chopped cilantro for freshness and color, making the dish more appealing.
  • Equipments List
  • Large Pot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Cutting Board
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Onion Press (optional)
  • Rice Cooker (optional)
  • Colander
  • Mixing Bowl


  • Rinsing Rice: Always rinse your rice before cooking to remove excess starch, resulting in fluffier rice.
  • Onion Press: Utilizing an onion press saves time and ensures uniformly small pieces for even cooking.
  • Low Heat Cooking: Low heat prevents the rice from becoming mushy and ensures even liquid absorption.
  • Stirring Midway: A mid-cook stir prevents sticking and promotes even cooking.
  • Resting Time: Allowing the rice to rest after cooking ensures it absorbs the remaining steam, enhancing texture.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Adding fresh cilantro at the end preserves its vibrant color and flavor.
  • Adjust Spices: Tailor the spice levels to your preference for a personalized taste experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Vegan Mexican Rice Gluten-Free?

Yes, Vegan Mexican Rice is naturally gluten-free as long as all the ingredients you use, including vegetable broth and spices, are certified gluten-free.

Rice is a gluten-free grain, making it a safe choice for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Always check labels to ensure no hidden sources of gluten in your ingredients.

How Can I Make This Recipe With Brown Rice Instead Of White Rice?

Substituting brown rice for white rice is a great way to add fiber to your Vegan Mexican Rice. Remember that brown rice requires a longer cooking time and more liquid.

Generally, increase the cooking liquid by an extra ½ cup and extend the cooking time to about 35-40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. You may need to adjust the seasoning slightly, as brown rice has a nuttier flavor.

Is It Possible To Add Protein To This Dish?

Absolutely! Adding a plant-based protein can turn this side dish into a hearty main course. Consider stirring in cooked black beans, lentils, or diced tofu after the rice has finished cooking but before resting.

These proteins add nutritional value and enhance the dish’s texture and flavor. If using canned beans, ensure they are drained and rinsed to remove excess sodium.

Vegan Mexican Rice

Can I Use Fresh Tomatoes Instead Of Tomato Sauce?

Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes as a substitute for tomato sauce. To mimic the consistency of tomato sauce, blend about 2-3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes to make 1 cup of pureed tomatoes.

Remember that the flavor might be slightly lighter and fresher with fresh tomatoes, so you may want to adjust the seasonings accordingly, possibly adding a small amount of tomato paste for depth.

How Can I Store Leftovers, And How Long Will They Last?

Leftover Vegan Mexican Rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can freeze the rice for up to 3 months for longer storage.

To reheat, simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm it in the microwave or stovetop with a splash of water to prevent drying. Stir well to ensure even heating. Freezing in individual portions can make for a quick and easy meal or side dish later.

Leave a Comment

Author picture


Greetings from the heart of Vie De La Vegan, where each dish we share is a chapter in a larger story of discovery, wellness, and the transformative power of a plant-based diet. My name is Julia, and I am thrilled to be your guide on this delightful culinary adventure.

More About Me