Mexican rice is traditionally made using chicken broth, but this Vegan Mexican Rice is just as flavorful without it!
You may have seen many Mexican rice recipes using tomato paste, but I chose to use whole tomatoes for a couple of reasons.
First, I try to avoid using any canned ingredients that are acidic (like tomatoes) because the acid tends to leach harmful toxins into the food. Also, tomato paste is often used to color the rice and make it appear redder, but I find it unnecessary to add ingredients just to color your food. The taste is all that matters!
Instead of tomato paste, I used whole tomatoes. Because they are waterier than tomato paste, I use less vegetable broth than you would usually need to cook rice, and it turns out perfect!
My vegan Mexican rice recipe lists all of the essential ingredients, but make sure to check out the Recipe Adjustments section for optional flavor enhancers and add-ins!
How to Make Vegan Mexican Rice
Step 1: Rinse 1 cup of rice and allow it to dry while prepping the other ingredients. Because you are going to be toasting the rice in oil before cooking, you want the rice to be as dry as possible to avoid popping.
Step 2: In a food processor or blender, blend the following ingredients: onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes, cumin, and salt. Set aside.
Step 3: Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in the washed rice and stir for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Step 4: Once the rice has been toasted, add in the blended ingredients along with 1 bay leaf. Stir for an additional 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. (Be careful when adding the sauce as it might pop when added to the hot pan.) Add in 1 cup of vegetable broth and stir. Then add in any optional flavor enhancers, and bring to a boil. Cover the rice, turn the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 5: After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, and don’t touch it for another 15 minutes to avoid the rice becoming mushy. Once slightly cooled, open the lid, remove any extra ingredients, and lightly fluff the rice with a fork or spoon. Add in any optional add-ins, and serve!
Optional Flavor Enhancers
If you want to add a little more flavor to your vegetarian Mexican rice, try adding one or more of these flavor enhancers! Simply place these ingredients on top of the rice before you put the lid on and they will infuse the rice with extra flavor. Remove these before fluffing the rice.
- Cilantro Stems — If you like the flavor of cilantro, add some cilantro stems to the water before cooking. Cilantro stems carry more flavor than the leaves but are often discarded because of their texture. Don’t let them go to waste — they are perfect for infusing this rice with flavor!
- Jalapeño Pepper — Jalapeños are a staple of Mexican cuisine, so adding this to the rice will add an authentic flavor. You can just drop a whole jalapeño in, and it will release flavor without adding any heat. If you want the rice to be spicy, poke some holes in the pepper before adding. If you want it to be extra spicy, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise, and place them in the water seeds down.
After your rice has finished cooking, it will be delicious plain, but you can also mix in a number of ingredients to make it more interesting. Some recommended add-ins are listed below!
- Chopped Cilantro Leaves — Adding some chopped cilantro will add both a pop of flavor and color.
- Black Beans — Black beans are not only the perfect addition to Mexican rice, but they also add some extra protein.
- Corn — If you’re a fan of corn, feel free to mix some corn in, but I suggest charring it beforehand.
Vegan Mexican Rice
- 1 food processor or blender
- 1 cup long-grain white rice washed
- 1 cup vegetable broth low-sodium
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 tomatoes I use tomatoes on the vine. See notes if using other types of tomatoes.
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp salt see notes
Optional Flavor Enhancers
- Cilantro Stems
- 1 jalapeño
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Allow it to dry as much as possible while preparing the other ingredients.
- In a food processor or blender, blend together onion, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, and salt. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in washed rice and stir for about 10 minutes or until most of the rice has been browned.
- Add in the blended ingredients and the bay leaf. Stir for 5 more minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Then add in the vegetable broth and stir. Here you can add in the optional ingredients if you'd like, and then bring everything to a boil. Cover the rice, turn the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid, remove any optional ingredients, and lightly fluff the rice with a fork or spoon. Add any optional add-ins, and serve.