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The Best Vegan Mexican Rice

This vegan Mexican rice recipe has diced tender peppers, onions, and sweetcorn popping in your mouth, carried there by some incredibly savory moist yet fluffy rice.

front view of mexican rice in a brown dish with lemon slices in the background

It’s a totally inauthentic, but completely tasty recipe. It’s based on this delicious Mexican rice I used to love at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Dublin my dad part-owned when I was a kid, with a little more tomato flavor and some added sweetcorn to what I remember.

It’s an easy one-pot recipe and makes lots so feel free to cut the recipe in half or freeze any extras to enjoy later.

You’re just going to finely dice up some peppers and onions and fry them in some oil, then add spices to toast, and finally add some rice, sweetcorn, and vegetable stock along with some crushed garlic and tomato paste.

Trust me, I’m very particular about my rice (I will not eat overcooked rice, I banish it back to the kitchen to become rice pudding) and this recipe is SO good. If you love Mexican rice then I’d also suggest checking out my even easier lemon rice with coconut recipe.

top down view of yellow-orange rice with vegetables on a blue background

Serve it with:

This vegan Mexican rice is seriously tasty enough to eat by itself but also goes really well:

Some delicious vegan chickpea chocolate chip cookies (super low in sugar, flourless, healthy really!) with a kick of cayenne would also make a great dessert after your tasty meal with this rice on the side…Just saying…in for a penny in for a pound!

Which rice should you use?

I want to say any rice…but no. I still haven’t figured out why but rice tends to wildly misbehave and needs more liquid in the presence of tomatoes.

close up of a pile of orange rice with peppers and cilantro

It takes quite a bit of testing to get the right ratio depending on the other ingredients in the recipe, and I haven’t tested this yet with other types of rice so stick with plain old (white, not brown) long-grain rice for now.

I feel like basmati and extra-long grain would be great, but basmati is way more prone to overcooking and needs a little less liquid than sturdy long-grain, so watch this space and I’ll update in the future!

How to make it

As tends to be the case with most of the recipes you’ll find here on this website, my version of vegan Mexican rice is pretty easy to make. Having said that, here I’ll included detailed instructions and progress photos so you can make sure you’re on the right path.

First things first, gather your ingredients. You can check out the image below to make sure you’ve got the right ones.

Top down view of labelled ingredients for vegan mexican rice (turmeric, paprika, cumin, rice, vegetable stock, onion, peppers, tomato paste, hot sauce, garlicetc.)

Next, finely chop the onion and the red and green pepper (image numbered one below). Note that you can use any two peppers of different colors or even two of the same color, it won’t make a huge difference flavorwise, it’s just prettier with those pops of red and green.

Add the oil to a large non-stick pot and heat on high. You can use any flavorless oil such as sunflower, grapeseed or canola.

Fry the peppers and onions on medium-high heat for five minutes stirring often, you want them to quickly soften, not burn (image numbered two below). Now would be a good time to rinse your rice.

Do not skip this step please – getting rid of all that gluey starch gives the final rice dish much better-separated grains.

first four numbered steps of making vegan Mexican rice, 1 chopping onions and peppers, 2 frying them, 3 adding spices and 4 adding rice, corn, tomato paste and stock

You can either place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear, or add to a bowl, add in cold water and swirl the rice around with your hand until the water is cloudy and pour off the water (you’ll have to repeat at least four times). Make sure the rice is well-drained as any residual water will put off the rice to water ratio.

Measure out the cumin, turmeric, and paprika and add to the pot with the peppers and onions and mix well. Toast no longer than 30 seconds, stirring continuously to avoid the spices burning (image numbered three above).

I like the extra color turmeric gives the rice and the subtle flavor, and before you get angry with me I assure you that here in Spain, where I live, turmeric is commonly added to Spanish rice dishes seasoning packets instead of the super-expensive saffron, so it isn’t a huge jump.

As an aside, the dish called “Spanish rice” in the USA doesn’t exist here although I hear it is very similar to Mexican rice.

Add the drained rice in and mix well. Add in all the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice (image four above: vegetable stock, sweetcorn, onion powder, garlic powder, crushed garlic cloves, tomato paste, hot sauce, and salt) and mix well (image five below).

The sweetcorn can be canned or frozen, and the hot sauce is optional but does give a nice mild kick of heat. Any vinegar-based hot sauce like Tabasco or Frank’s will do, and double the amount for more spice.

Allow to come to a lively simmer uncovered, then cover with a tightly fitting lid or aluminum foil, and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible.

A split view with one numbered five showing a pot with tomato sauce and vegetables and the one numbered six featuring a pot of orange rice

Leave for twenty minutes with no peaking, then remove from the heat. Remove the lid (image six above), add in the lemon juice, quickly stir, paying special attention to lifting up the rice at the bottom and mixing it well through the pot, then replace the lid and leave to one side for ten minutes.

Done! You can serve immediately, but I prefer to remove the lid and fluff the rice up really well with a fork and let cool to just above room temperature uncovered as the flavors really intensify, but you do you.

And if you really want to kick your rice up a notch, and you laugh in the face of calories, you can add two-three tablespoons of vegan butter or plant-based spread and mix through once melted.

Leftovers

This recipe for vegan Mexican rice does make around eight large portions, so if you don’t end up with leftovers don’t worry because the flavors get even better with more time to develop.

You can keep your leftover rice in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to four days, and reheat on high in the microwave for three minutes.

front view of orange rice and vegetables piled high in a terracotta dish

Sometimes after the second day or so, the grains of rice can dry out a little- if this happens just add in two-three tablespoons of water before microwaving.

In the same container or in a freezer bag, this rice will keep for up to four weeks. To reheat, defrost and add to a pan with no oil and cook over low heat until heated through.

You can also heat it up in the oven uncovered for about ten minutes on 300ºF, stirring halfway through.


Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.

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front view of mexican rice in a brown dish with lemon slices in the background

Best Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe

Yield: 8 large servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes

This tasty one-pot vegan Mexican rice recipe is perfect to eat alone or serve as a satisfying side.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp oil (canola, grapeseed, or sunflower)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 3.75 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup sweetcorn (frozen or canned, drained)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Peel the onion and chop it and the two peppers into small dice.
  2. Heat the oil on medium-high in a large pot with a lid and fry the peppers and onions for five minutes.
  3. Rinse the rice well with cold water until the water runs clear, and drain well.
  4. Add cumin, paprika, and turmeric to the pot and cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
  5. Add drained rice, vegetable stock, sweetcorn, onion powder, garlic powder, garlic cloves, tomato paste, salt, and hot sauce (optional). Mix well and when it's at a lively simmer, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and leave for 20 minutes to cook.
  6. After 20 minutes remove from the heat. Take off the lid and quickly mix in lemon juice, and replace the lid. Leave aside for ten minutes. remove lid, fluff up rice with a fork and serve.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 158Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 644mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 3g

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