The Best Spanish Rice Recipe (Vegetarian)

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This easy Mexican restaurant style rice is the perfect vegetarian Mexican rice recipe; it’s simply spiced, and fluffy, this rice is easy to put together and goes wonderfully with any Spanish-Mexican dish. Lots of customizable ideas, plus it’s vegan and gluten-free.

Growing up in So. California I ate my weight in Mexican food. We had dear friends who were Mexican and taught us how to make some delicious foods, by far one of my favorite sides for Taco Tuesday is this easy Mexican rice, it goes hand in hand with refried beans!

If you love Mexican food as much as we do, you will want to try my Easy Carnitas (Instant Pot, Oven or Slow Cooker), Chile Relleno Casserole, and don’t forget dessert, this yummy Healthier Fried Ice Cream Cake.

Simple Ingredients

Be sure to print the recipe card at the end of the post, with all the measurements.

  • Long grain rice | I use organic Basmati which is a white rice, rinsed and drained — try a long grain brown rice too, but you might need to cook a bit longer
  • Oil | I like Avocado or Grapeseed Oil, you can also use Olive oil if you prefer
  • Tomato sauce | I use organic tomato sauce, not to be confused with tomato paste
  • Garlic Cloves | here is your flavor!
  • Seasoning | I used Cumin powder and Onion Powder, traditional flavors in Mexican rice recipes
  • Broth | if you are keeping it vegetarian, use a good vegetable broth or try chicken broth.
  • Cilantro | don’t forget the cilantro, it adds just the right finish
  • Lime | Just a little at the end.

This is an easy and authentic Spanish rice recipe, sometimes called red rice or arroz rojo. It will become a family favorite and your go-to recipe when needing a side dish for your Mexican foods.

How to Make Mexican Rice

This skillet rice assembles in a few minutes, I love making it in my cast iron skillets.

Heat oil in large skillet (at least 10.25 inches) over medium heat. Carefully add rinsed rice and cook, stirring until golden brown, it will “pop” a little and some rice won’t quite brown, but will turn opaque.

As the rice browns, scoot the rice to the side and reduce to low heat, quickly saute the minced garlic for a minute, then combine with the rest of the rice.

Browning the rice in a cast iron skillet in oil.
Brown the rice in hot oil
Sauteing garlic with the browned rice.
Scoot rice aside, add garlic
Pouring in broth to spanish rice ingredients.
Add tomato sauce, spices and broth
Fluffy Vegetarian Spanish Rice in cast iron skillet.
Cover and cook until fluffy!

Once rice and garlic are browned, add remaining ingredients; tomato sauce, kosher salt, cumin, onion powder, give it a stir, then pour in the broth.

Cover and bring to simmer on low for 30-40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork just before serving and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired and a squeeze of lime juice.

Variation & Substitutions

  • Technically this is Vegan Spanish Rice, as long as you stick with vegetable broth, but I enjoy using chicken broth as well. You can also add pinto beans, kidney beans or black beans for more protein.
  • Add some KICK! Try adding a can of diced chiles, a teaspoon of chili powder, red pepper flakes, diced jalapeno pepper or poblano pepper.
  • Use salsa instead of tomato sauce, it will have more of a kick, and have the chunks of tomatoes, but go for it!
  • Flavor Boosters | Saute half of a chopped onion or red onion just before the garlic.
  • Make it a Main Dish | add frozen green peas, carrots, corn and/or diced green bell pepper or red bell pepper. It would also be delicious with some sweet potato.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store Vegetarian Mexican Rice Recipes

  • Cool completely and store leftovers in quart sized freezer bags or airtight container. Keeps well up to 5 days in the fridge, 3 months frozen.
  • Reheating | poke a couple holes in the baggie and microwave on high heat 2-3 minutes until steamy hot. Or thaw in fridge and add to covered pot with a little water and heat over low heat until warmed through.

This was easy to make and good 👍🏼

Jenn – Pinterest comment

What to serve with easy Spanish Rice?

  1. I’m a simple girl and this tasty recipe is perfect with some delicious refried beans along with these cheese enchiladas.
  2. Serve this old fashioned Spanish rice recipe in burrito bowls, use this Copycat Chipotle Chicken.
  3. Go simple and serve with chips, salsa and guacamole, maybe with a little squeeze of sour cream.
  4. Grab a pretty pitcher, and a few simple ingredients and mix up a delicious, natural margarita in a salt and lime rimmed glass or try this beautiful Hibiscus Margarita!

More Easy Recipes with Mexican Flavor

  • Creamy Chicken Poblano Soup
  • Best Mexican Barbacoa Tacos
  • White Mexican Cheese Dip
  • Colorado Green Chile
  • Healthy Crack Chicken {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}
  • Cilantro Lime Rice

Don’t forget dessert! As mentioned above try my Fried Ice Cream Cake, but this Key Lime Pie, or this No Bake Lemon pie would be fabulous.

Love It? Pin It!

What is your favorite Mexican dish? Comment below the recipe card! And don’t forget to give it a 5 start rating!

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