This quick and easy vegan Spanish rice (or Mexican rice) is just like the restaurant dish and full of flavor from the onions, garlic, vegetable broth, and spices. It's made with pantry staples and will be ready for your burrito bowls or taco dinner in less than 30 minutes!
Spanish rice (or Mexican rice) is a flavorful rice dish tinted orange from the tomato base with flecks of garlic, onion, and oregano. It's made from pantry staples and only requires one pot, so you likely have everything you need to whip up a batch for a quick meal.
While the terms Spanish rice and Mexican rice are used interchangeably, the dish is definitely a Mexican dish, similar to the rice served at Mexican restaurants (be sure to check if it's vegan though!). This rice is studded with tomato pieces, but this recipe includes a few variations to try whether you prefer fresh or canned tomatoes, or want no tomato pieces at all.
You can serve this vegan Spanish rice alongside a full meal, or by itself as a more flavorful alternative to plain rice. Use it as the base for a burrito bowl and add a meat alternative like vegan chorizo or Jackfruit Tinga, alongside tacos and beans for a taco dinner, or with roasted veggies for fajitas.
- Olive oil
- Vegetable broth or vegan "chicken" broth
- Diced tomatoes
See recipe card for quantities.
Vegetable broth or vegan "chicken" broth
Much of the flavor in this rice comes from the broth, so be sure to use one you like. You can use regular vegetable broth, but I'd recommend using a vegan "chicken" broth or bouillon. The "no chicken" Better Than Bouillon is a popular one, and I also like this vegan chicken base from BulkFoods.
I use bouillon all the time as a base for soup, rice, stir fry sauce, and marinade for tofu. Keeping cubes or powder in your pantry takes up a lot less space than cans or cartons of broth too.
Tomatoes give Mexican rice its vibrant orange color. In addition to color, the canned tomatoes in this recipe add flavor and liquid. If you'd prefer to use fresh tomatoes or prefer not to have tomato pieces in the rice, you can replace the canned tomatoes with chopped tomatoes and water, or replace the diced tomato with tomato sauce.
See the Variations section at the bottom of the post for quantities and instructions.
The oregano adds a peppery, herbal flavor to this rice that pairs well with the savory garlic and onion, and acidic tomato.
You can use any type of oregano, but I recommend using Mexican oregano if you have it! Mexican oregano differs from the more commonly used Mediterranean oregano with its floral and citrus undertones.
While these two types of oregano taste somewhat similar, they are actually from two different species of plants. Mexican oregano is from the verbena family and is used in Mexican cooking, whereas "true" oregano is from the mint family and is used in Mediterranean, Italian, and Greek (it's a supporting flavor in Greek Lemon Potatoes) dishes.
If you'd like more info about Mexican oregano and how it differs from "true" oregano, this article from Bon Appétit provides a more detailed explanation.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until golden.
Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the rice, stirring to coat with the onions and garlic.
Add the broth, tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper.
Stir to make sure there's no rice stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft.
Let the rice rest for 4 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.
Spanish Rice with Fresh Tomatoes
If you'd prefer to use fresh tomatoes, replace the canned diced tomatoes with 1 cup chopped tomatoes plus ½ cup water. The rice may not be as orange when cooked.
Spanish Rice with No Tomato Pieces
Not a fan of tomato pieces? Use 1 cup tomato sauce in place of the canned tomatoes to get the color and flavor of the tomatoes without the chunks. You'll get a dish more like the rice served at Mexican restaurants.
Spanish Rice with Salsa
Want to kick up the flavor? You can replace the canned tomatoes with 15 ounces chunky salsa. The salsa will add extra salt to the recipe, so taste before adding salt. You can also dilute your vegetable or vegan chicken broth with water to further reduce the amount of salt.
Spicy Spanish Rice
Like some extra spice? There are lots of options to spice it up!
Add 1 chopped jalapeño to the pot when you add the garlic. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons canned green chiles for a milder spice or use canned diced tomatoes with chiles added instead of plain (brand name Rotel).
Spanish Rice with Brown Rice
Although this recipe calls for white rice, you can use brown rice if you'd prefer. It will just take longer to cook—30-40 minutes. I recommend soaking the brown rice before cooking to cut down on the cooking time and so the onions don't get too soft, but it's not totally necessary.
Many times these terms are used interchangeably for the same rice dish made with tomato, garlic, and onion so I am using both terms in this recipe, but there are technically slight differences between the two. Spanish rice is sometimes made with saffron for a brighter yellow color, and the rice may have a chewier texture.
It depends! Some Spanish rice recipes (and rice at Mexican restaurants) use chicken broth. This recipe calls for vegetable broth or vegan "chicken" broth.
Yes, Spanish rice is gluten free! All of the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten free, but if you or someone you are cooking for has a severe gluten allergy, there is a small chance that the rice or other ingredients were manufactured in a facility that also processes items containing gluten.
Use it in a burrito, burrito bowl, or alongside tacos, fajitas, or your favorite Mexican dish.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups rice
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth, or vegan chickenless broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until golden.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the rice, stirring to coat with the onions and garlic.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper.
- Stir to make sure there's no rice stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft.
- Let the rice rest for 4 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.
- If you'd prefer to use fresh tomatoes, replace the can of tomatoes with 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes and ½ cup water.
- You can replace the canned tomatoes with 15 ounces chunky salsa. The salsa will add extra salt to the recipe, so taste before adding salt. You can also dilute your vegetable or vegan chicken broth with water to further reduce the amount of salt.
- You can use brown rice in place of white rice, but you'll need to cook the rice for at least 40 minutes. The onions will be a lot softer as well.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: ⅙ recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 467mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on seitanbeatsyourmeat.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.