Flavor packed and make ahead easy for those busy week nights; Spanish Brown Rice (aka Mexican Brown Rice) for a good mouth party! This Mexican seasoned rice recipe is vegetarian, vegan and easily gluten free [see recipe card for VIDEO]
~ This recipe was first published in May 2016. I’ve updated the photos and recipe notes. The original recipe remains unchanged. ~
Growing up on Spanish Rice
Spanish rice, also known as Mexican rice, has been a staple in my kitchen for so long, I can hardly recall when the creation of this recipe started. It’s a recipe that’s taken on many forms through the years.
But then after getting married and hardly knowing a thing about how to make Mexican rice, I often yielded to pre-packaged or canned Spanish rice. After-all, I wasn’t wise enough to ask my Ma for her Mexican seasoned rice recipe.
I was going for convenience anyway due to a full college and work schedule. And the Spanish rice looked decent enough. Little did I know at that time the importance of reading ingredient labels or preparing my own food. Oh what I would teach my younger self.
Mexican Seasoned Rice Recipe Development
Between then and now, I’ve learned how to cook and have tried many different Spanish rice recipes. Given my native Texas roots, I’m pretty particular when it comes to Tex-Mex food, especially when it comes to the spices. After all, this is a big factor in Mexican food.
Most Spanish rice recipes call for white rice and I’ve used white basmati for years. However, I decided somewhere down the line, brown was better. I’ve learned since, it’s only slightly higher in fiber and protein; still a win/win for a healthy brown rice recipe. An advantage in my book, but I also love the texture of brown rice anyway, so why not?
I first tried simply subbing the white rice for brown. I tried this again and again tweaking the recipe here and there, but for some reason, I couldn’t get it to work. The rice never absorbed the liquids or cooked through. It was if the spices were impeding the ability of the rice to absorb the water.
I ended up with a mess of undercooked Spanish brown rice several times before I decided to cook the rice first, chill it overnight, then add the veggies and spices. Mexican seasoned rice success!
How to Make Mexican Brown Rice
Similar to fried rice, cooking and chilling the brown rice prior to adding the Mexican spices and veggies produces grains of rice that don’t stick together. Fluffy, not sticky and texture rich Spanish brown rice? Yes please! In summary, here’s how to make this healthy brown rice recipe (see recipe card for details):
- First, saute the onions and then add the spices and adobo sauce.
- Second, stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Next, stir in the cooked brown rice.
- Last, warm through, then squeeze in the lime.
Spanish brown rice whips up in 17 minutes with a batch of pre-cooked brown rice.
Take that, week-night dinner!
A Few Recipe Notes
- Bulk Buying: Look for long grown brown basmati rice in the bulk bins for best value and reduced waste.
- Meal Prep: Prep and chill your brown rice at least a day prior to making this recipe. This helps create fluffy and separated Mexican brown rice.
- Adobo Sauce: Look for chipotle chilis in adobo sauce on the Mexican food isle of the grocery store. The leftovers freeze with ease!
More Vegetarian Mexican Food Recipes to Love
- Mexican Inspired Tofu Tacos
- Stuffed Poblanos with Smoky Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans
- Cheesy Vegetarain Tofu Enchiladas
- Easy Black Bean Tostadas with Fajita Veggies
- Roasted Cauliflower Tinga Tacos with Chili Lime Slaw
- Skillet Vegetarian Enchiladas Verde
Spanish Brown Rice
- 1 Tbs Cooking Oil I like coconut or olive oil
- 1/2 C (110g) Purple Onion small dice
- 2 tsp Adobo Sauce** from a can of chipotle chili peppers or 1 tsp of minced pickled jalapeños, adjust to taste - look for gluten free if needed.
- 1 tsp Cumin ground
- 1 tsp Chili Powder ground
- 1/4 tsp Smoky Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 2/3 C (200g) Fire Roasted Tomatoes one can, diced, freeze the leftovers
- 1 Tbs Tomato Paste
- 2 1/2 C (350g) Cooked and Chilled Long Grain Brown Rice* see note for cooking instructions if needed
Serve With (optional):
- Additional Limes
- In a large saute pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook on medium-low for about 8 minutes or until softened.
- Add the adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic and salt. Stir until the onions are coated and the spices release their fragrance. About one minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir for another minute or until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Stir in the cold rice and mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Squeeze lime juice over the rice, and stir. Warm on low for about five minutes or until heated through. Adjust salt to taste.
- Serve with additional limes, cilantro, salsa and/or jalapeños.
- Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze for up to two weeks.