This is one of the quickest and easiest Mexican-style vegan rice casserole recipes with the meatiest vegan ground beef ever, lots of black beans, and sweet corn in a spicy tomato-based sauce. You can make it in 30 minutes including baking and melting a generous amount of vegan shredded cheese on top.
If you love spicy, Mexican, or Tex-Mex recipes, I am sure you’ll love our vegan chili with beans and millet, our Mexican sweet potato “rice” bowl, this super easy sheet-pan fajita veggies, or this hummus quesadillas without cheese.
What to expect from this recipe?
When I think of a vegan rice casserole, I imagine lots of delicious ingredients with a melted cheese topping. I just dump lots of different veggies, beans, lentils, and of course pre-cooked rice in the casserole dish. Season them and mix them with a sauce of my choice. Add lots of shredded cheese at the top and bake it in the oven until everything is cooked and the cheese is melted.
The inspiration for this Mexican rice casserole recipe comes from tacos. It contains vegan ground beef, salsa, beans, corn, hot peppers (optionally), onions seasoned with a taco spice mix, and lots of melted vegan cheese on top. It is served with avocado slices, sour cream, and tortilla chips or nachos.
What is so special about this vegan Mexican casserole? It…
- is spicy and flavorful with a hot chunky salsa sauce.
- has the meatiest vegan taco meat ever with the exactly right texture to be the perfect vegan ground beef.
- has full of delicious veggies to make it Tex-Mex styled like black beans, sweet corn, avocado, and bell peppers.
- is easy to make and you can enjoy it within 30 minutes!
So what do you need to make this meaty vegan Mexican casserole with rice?
- Textured vegetable protein + seasoning -> TVP* is the perfect ingredient if you want to mimic the texture of ground beef. We explain it in detail below.
- Black beans -> You can use canned or pre-cooked dry beans. We actually like using this canned black bean soup since the black beans there are even more flavorful.
- Sweet corn -> Fresh, canned, or frozen. If you use the latter, thaw it before adding it to this Mexican vegan casserole.
- Bell pepper -> Red, yellow or green. All colors are perfect.
- Hot chili pepper -> Optional
- Rice -> White rice or brown rice. It is your choice. We used white basmati rice.
- Salsa sauce or enchilada sauce -> Choose from mild to hot and spicy depending on your taste.
- Taco seasoning mix -> We usually use a spice blend like this one.
- Olive oil
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Best vegan ground beef
The perfect ground beef substitute is TVP* (textured vegetable protein). What is TVP? It is actually only soy flour, no other ingredients. They add water to it to make a paste, then it is pressure-cooked, then dehydrated. Why is it better than any other vegan ground beef alternatives? I give you 3 reasons:
- Only one ingredient compared to store-bought plant-based beef products.
- It has a neutral taste, so it picks up spices and seasoning without altering the taste of the whole dish.
- The texture is spot on. You can see and taste the crumbles.
3 reasons why you need to pre-cook rice
It would be easy to think of it as a dump-and-go one-pot meal. However, cooking rice directly in any vegan rice casserole recipe can quite difficult. The most likely outcome is that you will either end up with uncooked rice and excess liquid or cooked rice but soggy ingredients. If you want to make a rice casserole successfully, cook the rice separately. We have 3 reasons for you:
- Hard to estimate how much liquid you would need. – Even if you stick to the 2:1 water uncooked rice ratio, you need to take into account the other ingredients as well. Will they release more liquid as mushrooms would? Or will they absorb liquid leaving the rice not enough?
- Different cooking times for different types of rice – Which type of rice will you use can determine how much time your casserole needs to be in the oven. Instant rice, white rice, brown rice, or wild rice? Instant may need only 30 minutes, but brown or wild rice will need more than 1 hour in the oven to be cooked properly. How will the other ingredients react to the prolonged cooking time? Will they get mushy and soggy at the end?
- You need to stir the casserole from time to time – I don’t know about you but when I bake something in the oven, I don’t like to open it a lot. If you look at recipes where they add uncooked rice, they recommend stirring the casserole from time to time, to make sure that the rice is not stuck at the bottom and the liquid is distributed evenly.
Making vegan taco meat
We have a whole detailed post about making the meatiest vegan taco meat ever. Here is how to do it, but if you need more tips, FAQs, and detail, please take a look at the complete post there.
- Boil water in a kettle and add the veggie stock.
- Take a heat-resisting bowl and soak TVP in the hot veggie broth for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, squeeze the liquid out. As a result, you need to have a moist, soft “ground meat” texture. (See the below picture on the left for reference.)
- Preheat a frying pan or skillet over medium to high heat.
- Add olive oil and softened TVP. Stir well.
- Add taco seasoning mix* (which is usually chili powder, smoked sweet paprika powder, cumin, and oregano). Add some extra onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well and fry it for about 5 minutes to get them crispy on the edges a bit. (See the below picture on the right for reference.)
Pre-cook the other ingredients
- Add chopped onion and bell pepper to the taco meat you just made. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add store-bought chunky salsa sauce*, and veggie broth. Stir to combine. (photo #1)
- Add canned sweet corn and canned black beans. Mix well.
- Add pre-cooked white rice and more taco seasoning mix*. Stir to combine. (photo #2)
- Bring to boil and it is ready for the oven. It should take you at most 10 minutes to get them done.
Baking the vegan casserole
The baking time is like 6-8 minutes because everything is actually already pre-cooked. Oven time is only needed to melt the cheese properly.
- Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius).
- Choose an oven-safe baking dish and add the pre-cooked casserole ingredients.
- Top it with a generous amount of shredded vegan cheese. You can even mix in some extra cheese if you like it cheezy, and gooey.
- Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until the cheese has melted.
What to serve with it?
I would say anything you would serve with chili, taco, or burrito. Anything Mexican or Tex-Mex-inspired topping would go amazingly with this casserole. We topped it this time with diced avocado and freshly chopped cilantro, but here are a couple of ideas for you to choose from:
- vegan sour cream
- vegan nacho cheese sauce
- vegan queso dip
- spring onion, chives
- tortilla chips
- flourless tortilla
FAQs and substitutions
What else can you add to it?
You can add anything to this vegan Mexican casserole that you would add to your taco: other legumes (pinto beans, red kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, lentils), more chopped bell peppers and fresh diced tomatoes, or even hot chili peppers (jalapeno for example) if you like it hot.
Can you use different vegan meat?
- Alternatively, you can add vegan shredded chicken (season it with taco or fajitas spice mix instead of buffalo sauce) or vegan shaved beefsteak we used in our vegan Philly cheesesteak recipe.
- You can also add minced walnut cauliflower instead, which we show you how to make in our vegan spaghetti bolognese recipe.
- Any store-bought plant-based meat alternatives can work as well.
What can you use instead of salsa sauce?
You can use tomato sauce, but you need to season it with an extra 1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix to avoid ending up with a bland casserole. Alternatively, you can use a homemade or store-bought enchilada sauce.
How to store it?
You can store it in the fridge covered in saran wrap/cling foil or in an airtight container for 3-4 days without a problem.
The rice will keep absorbing the liquid even if it was cooked, so the more days your casserole is in the fridge, the less juicy it will be.
A quick tip: don’t store it with sliced or chopped avocado on top as they will turn brown overnight.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, it is freezer-friendly. We recommend freezing per serving. When you decide to use it. Thaw it before popping it in the microwave, or in the oven to re-heat.
This Mexican Casserole recipe is meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.
- Vegan – All ingredients are supposed to be vegan.
- Nut-free – All ingredients are supposed to be nut-free but check for cross-contamination info on all packaging you need to use.
- WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based) – To make it compliant you need to omit any oil. You can precook all ingredients in water or veggie broth or start directly with the salsa sauce and add all ingredients after. You should also use brown rice or other whole grains as white rice is usually not favored in this diet.
- Gluten-free – All ingredients are supposed to be gluten-free. Watch out for cross-contamination issues in spice blends and in veggie stock products.
- Soy-free – The recipe uses TVP which is a soy-based product. If you need this recipe to be soy-free, use for example shredded oyster mushroom as we used in our vegan Philly cheesesteak recipe, or try making this vegan rice casserole recipe with minced walnut cauliflower instead, which we show you how to make in our vegan spaghetti bolognese recipe.
More vegan Mexican recipes
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Meaty Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole in 30 Minutes!
Vegan taco meat
- Pre-cook rice according to packaging instructions.
- Boil water in a kettle and add veggie stock or boil veggie broth. Take a heat-resisting bowl and soak TVP for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, squeeze the liquid out with your hands. As a result, you need to have moist, soft “minced meat”.
- Preheat your frying pan or skillet over medium to high heat.
- Add olive oil, soaked TVP, taco seasoning mix, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Fry the TVP for about 5 minutes to get them crispy on the edges.
- Add chopped onion and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add store-bought chunky salsa sauce and veggie broth. Stir to combine.
- Add canned sweet corn, canned black bean, pre-cooked white rice, and more taco seasoning mix. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and it is ready for the oven. It should take you at most 10 minutes to get them done.
- Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Choose an oven-safe baking dish and add the pre-cooked casserole ingredients. Top it with a generous amount of shredded cheese. You can even mix in some extra cheese if you like it cheezy and gooey. Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Can you use different vegan meat?Alternatively, you can add vegan shredded chicken (season it with taco or fajitas spice mix instead of buffalo sauce) or vegan shaved beefsteak we used in our vegan philly cheesesteak recipe. You can also add minced walnut-cauliflower instead, which we show you how to make in our vegan spaghetti bolognese recipe. Any store-bought plant-based meat alternatives can work as well.
What else can you add?You can add anything you would add to your taco: other legumes (pinto beans, red kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, lentils), or more chopped bell peppers and fresh tomatoes, or even hot chili peppers (jalapeno for example) if you like it hot.
UPDATED: This recipe was originally posted in February 2021. More tips, info, and detail have been added and it was republished in June 2022.