Easy Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole – Oven Bake or Instant Pot

White enamel skillet filled with baked mexican inspired rice served with avocado slices

Making a delicious and healthy vegan meal does not get any easier than this Mexican inspired rice casserole. Perfect for busy weeknights and filled with the goodness of beans, corn and rice for a budget friendly plant-based dinner!

Oven and Instant Pot Friendly

How easy is this Mexican inspired vegan rice casserole? SO EASY. There’s no chopping, peeling or slicing, just mix the ingredients together and let your oven or Instant Pot do the work for you! I’ve included instructions for both methods.

The cooking time for this rice casserole is about 10 minutes less if using the Instant Pot which isn’t much when you consider this meal is pretty hands-off so the method is up to you! That said, I prefer the oven-baked option as the rice gets a bit crispy on the sides which is my favorite part.

One of the best things about this vegan dinner recipe is that you probably have the ingredients already! Pantry staples such as canned black beans, corn and rice are nutritious, but are also easy to make into a hearty and delicious vegan meal. We cheat a little bit to get the flavor punches: instead of chopping and frying onions and garlic, we use use taco seasoning and some salsa. This saves time and dishes!

This baked rice makes for amazing leftovers as the flavors marry more overnight in the fridge. You can use the rice in burritos the next day, or simply reheat for a lunch bowl you’ll really look forward to. No sad soggy leftovers here!

Gluten-Free Option

If you’re looking to make this vegan casserole gluten-free as well, use gluten-free vegan ground “beef” (or the tofu option) and make sure your taco seasoning is gluten-free (some brands contain wheat.)

Skillet containing baked rice, black beans and corn, with melted vegan cheese on top ready to be served into white bowls

How to Bake Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole:

  1. sauté the vegan ground “beef” or crumbled tofu for 2-3 minutes
  2. stir in the rest of the ingredients
  3. bake for 35-40 minutes
  4. stir in the vegan cheese and cilantro, if using, and serve!

How to Cook Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole in an Instant Pot:

  1. sauté the vegan ground “beef” or crumbled tofu for 2-3 minutes
  2. stir in the rest of the ingredients
  3. put on the lid, bring up to high pressure for 3 minutes
  4. natural pressure release for 10 minutes, followed by quick release
  5. stir in the vegan cheese and cilantro if using and serve!

What to Serve with Mexican Rice Casserole?

This baked rice is a main dish so it’s great as is. It’s also great with all the toppings. Think: more salsa, sliced avocados or guacamole, extra cilantro, sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes, lime slices, tortilla chips, or a side of refried beans.

Close up of vegan Mexican rice casserole with corn, black beans and avocado slices

Tips for Making Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole:

What Kind of Dish Do You Bake Rice In?

I use a 3.3 qt (or about 12”) enamel coated cast iron skillet when baking this rice casserole.

If you use cast iron which does not have an enamel coating on the cooking surface, the acidity from the salsa may pull some of the iron out of the skillet. You’ll get some extra iron in your meal which is a plus if you’re looking to increase your intake, but the dish may have a mild metallic taste. The taste is not obvious to most people, but if it’s something you’re sensitive to, use cast iron which is coated, or a stainless steel heavy bottomed oven-safe skillet.

You can also bake the rice casserole in a 9″ x 13” heavy (ceramic or glass) baking dish. Avoid using something thin like a cake pan because it won’t hold the heat the same way heavy bake-ware does. This will affect the baking time and hydration of the rice.

Vegan Ground “Beef” or Tofu?

Both work well in this Mexican rice casserole. The vegan ground “beef” will give the dish more of a meaty flavor, but if you’re like me and only use it as a treat, tofu may be a healthier option. Tofu takes on the flavor of the yummy ingredients around it, especially the taco seasoning. (For those wondering: vegan ground “beef” is available in the cooler and frozen sections at the grocery store. It’s simulated beef crumbles made with plants like soy and/or wheat, seasoned and often fortified.)

Taco Seasonings Are Not All the Same

I’ve tested this recipe with different brands of taco seasoning and have found big variations in the spiciness level and flavor. For example: Using 2 tablespoons of the Trader Joe’s brand was delicious but made this pretty spicy for our kids. Meanwhile, 2 tablespoons of Club House brand was flavorful but not hot. If you like heat, you can increase it to 3 tablespoons.

Cook Rice in Water or Soup Stock?

If you’re using the vegan ground “beef”, I recommend just using water instead of soup stock as the ground tends to be already quite salty and flavorful. Plus there’s already salt in the taco seasoning and salsa. If you’re using tofu, adding soup stock adds a bit more salt and flavor that the tofu doesn’t have but will absorb. That said, I’ve used tofu with just water and the rice was still amazing. The choice is yours and how salty you like things!

Temperature of the Water or Soup Stock: Use boiling water or soup stock to give the rice casserole a boost in temperature before it starts cooking. If you add cold or room temperature liquid, the cooking time will inevitably be longer. The trouble you may run into with a longer cooking time is not knowing exactly when it is done. This isn’t a dish that can “peeked on” because you’ll let the steam out each time you check. The steam is important for hydrating and cooking the rice.

If you’re using the Instant Pot, it’s risky to bring the pressure back up once it’s come down. The element will be on much longer overall and you risk burning the food on the bottom. Long story short: use boiling liquid and life will be so much easier.

What Kind of Rice to Use in Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole:

I’ve used white Jasmine (totally not traditional, I know, but it works well!) and generic long-grain rice in this recipe with delicious results. The ratio of rice to liquid is different for other types of rice (brown, short grain, etc), as well as the cooking time, so I don’t recommend substitutions. I’m looking forward to testing other types and reporting back!

Angled view into a white skillet filled with vegan Mexican rice casserole,  2 glasses of beer and white bowls being served in the background

Love Vegan Rice Casseroles?

If you love easy, quick and healthy vegan meals like this Mexican rice casserole, I think you’ll love my One-Skillet Baked Greek Lemon Chickpeas and Rice recipe which is a reader favorite.

If you make this easy Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole, please give it a rating in the recipe card and leave a comment below! Follow along on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes, I love seeing what you’re cooking! You can also follow me on Pinterest for vegan recipe inspiration and on Facebook. Thank you for reading!

White enamel skillet filled with baked mexican inspired rice served with avocado slices

Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole – Oven Bake or Instant Pot

Making a delicious and healthy vegan meal does not get any easier than this Mexican inspired rice casserole. Perfect for busy weeknights, it's filled with the goodness of beans, corn and rice. A super flavorful meal that's a hearty, crowd favorite!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Baked Rice, Easy Vegan Dinner, Healthy Vegan Meals
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 299kcal
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 390 g vegan ground "beef" or 350 g firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 2-3 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2-2 cups water or soup stock, boiling
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed (398 mL can)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, frozen, canned (drained) or fresh
  • 1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed until water is clear
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • handful of torn up cilantro, optional
  • 1-1 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheese, optional
  • Avocado slices or guacamole for serving, optional

Instructions

Oven Baked

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a large cast-iron enamel coated skillet over medium, heat the oil. (If you don't have an oven safe skillet, do this in a frying pan and then combine everything later in a heavy ceramic or glass 9×13” casserole dish.) Brown the vegan ground "beef" or tofu for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. You're looking for some extra texture.
  • Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the ground or tofu, stir well to coat. Deglaze with 2 cups boiling water or soup stock, scraping the bottom to lift any stuck bits. (This is when you add everything to the casserole dish if you don't have an oven-safe heavy skillet).
  • Stir in the black beans, corn, rice and salsa. Turn off the heat. Cover with tight fitting lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
  • Optional: stir in the cilantro and/or vegan cheese. If adding the vegan cheese, to the top instead, cover for 5 minutes so it melts. Serve with avocado slices, guacamole, more salsa or other toppings as desired.

Instant-Pot

  • Set the Instant-Pot to Sauté. Heat the oil and then sauté the vegan ground "beef"/crumbled tofu for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. You're looking for some extra texture. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the ground or tofu, stir well to coat.
  • Deglaze with 1 1/2 cups boiling water or soup stock, scraping the bottom to lift any stuck bits. Stir in the black beans, corn, rice and salsa.
  • Put on the lid, ensuring the steam valve is closed. Set to Pressure Cook on high for 3 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pressure to come down naturally for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, release the steam valve.
  • Optional: stir in the cilantro and/or vegan cheese. If adding the vegan cheese, to the top instead, cover for 5 minutes so it melts. Serve with avocado slices, guacamole, more salsa or other toppings as desired.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 543mg | Potassium: 375mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 387IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 2mg
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The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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