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Recipe Connection: Mexican Beans and Rice

I do a lot of complicated things in the kitchen sometimes. This, luckily for you, is NOT one of them. I’d been making homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni for a while but still needed a substitute for boxed Mexican rice as a side with tacos. I came up with something so delicious and so easy, even kids can make it!

Mexican beans and rice
Find this recipe, updated and with even more frugal tips and transformation options, along with 29 other bean recipes and a ton of information on cooking dry beans, the health benefits of beans, and ideas for bean haters in The Everything Beans Book, available now at Kitchen Stewardship®!
Mexican Beans and Rice
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beans and rice

Katie’s Mexican Beans and Rice

  • Author: Katie Kimball


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney or black beans (or dry equivalent)
  • 2 Tbs. taco seasoning
  • Optional add-ins:
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • chopped onion
  • chopped green peppers
  • colored peppers
  • chili peppers
  • *For me, adding chopped onions and peppers keeps it as easy as a box mix because they’re always already prepped in my freezer. I just froze a bunch of farmer’s market peppers for the winter!

ship kroger


  1. Here’s the trick to make it really taste like the boxed mix: Saute the rice first either in a dry pan or in a tad bit of butter (or both, one after the other). Keep stirring CONstantly, just like it says on the Rice-a-Roni boxes! You’re shooting for browned, not blackened, of course, so keep a close eye.
  2. THEN add the water, tomato sauce and taco seasoning.
  3. This works whether you’re soaking (see below) or not, and totally changes the mouth-feel and taste of the finished dish, definitely for the better.
  4. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low, covered, for 45 minutes (no peeking!).
  5. Add the beans and optional add-ins and simmer 5 more minutes until heated through.


To soak rice: Follow this method to soak brown rice. Drain the rice, saute dry rice (it will take almost 10 minutes to fully dry out and brown), and add the water and tomato sauce. If a lot of water seems to evaporate hitting the hot pot, add a few extra tablespoons.

White rice works great, you just use the cook time for the rice (usually 15 mins. for short grain and 20 mins. for basmati).

This recipe makes at least twice as much as your basic boxed mix, so be ready for leftovers.

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Mexican Beans and Rice

What in the World Is Soaking Grains?

What does the recipe mean when it says “to soak rice?” See this post for a very quick explanation of why soaking grains is a good idea and this one for specifics on soaking rice.

RELATED: Cooking Rice In The Instant Pot & Pressure Cooking Beans Without Soaking

Find more healthy food and healthy you inspiration:
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

20 thoughts on “Recipe Connection: Mexican Beans and Rice”

  1. I have a big bag of bulgur wheat I bought and don’t want to waste it. Can this be soaked and used instead of the rice?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Worth a shot, although the texture and taste would be different – I bet it would still be good! 🙂 Katie

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  3. How can I use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce? Can I use 4 oz. of tomato paste and mix it with 4 oz. of water? Do you know what the ratio might be?
    Btw…I’ve been going through your website all day and planning my menu and shopping list for the week. Thank you for sharing with us all 🙂

    1. Farhaana,
      Very cool, hope you enjoy the recipes! For this one, I do think just making sure you have the right total amount of liquid – 8 oz. – will be key in success. Using paste w/some water instead of sauce will probably just result in richer tomato flavor. 🙂 Katie

  4. I made this for the second time tonight. My husband loves the spanish rice, and this was more mexican, so tonight I made it spanish! I used a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (all out of jars 🙁 ) instead of the paste, cut out the beans (we had them on the side) and did the rest as above. My husband said that they were “almost” as good, but I think it’s because I went shy on my seasonings, and next time I will increase that, and they will be perfect. Yay! Thank you so much!

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  6. Hi Katie,

    Should the beans be drained and rinsed before adding them to the rice? The chili recipe I use says to drain and rinse the beans before adding them. I always hate to throw out all that good cooking water. It seems like it would have so many nutrients in it, but it would definitely affect the consistency.


    1. Angie,
      Yes, drained and rinsed! The only way to keep the water for this one is if you could determine a way to cook the beans and then add the rice at just the right amount. That would be a possible way to use the water, but might change the taste.
      🙂 Katie

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  8. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

    Was strolling down memory lane and forgot to say thanks for linking to Slightly Indulgent Mondays!

  9. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

    I could actually eat this as is…it looks great. I just asked my husband if he likes mexican rice – he does. So I’m putting it in the to make file.

    My mom never made Rice-A-Roni or anything like it…everything was always from scratch. I think the first time I had Rice-A-Roni was when I was in high school at a friends house. 🙂

  10. I love all mexican food and rice is always a wonderful thing!
    .-= Cole´s last blog ..Tuesdays At The Table – Cake Pops =-.

  11. This looks delicious! I haven’t tried soaking grains before, so that will be a new thing for me too. I just love the info you offer here on your site 🙂 Thanks.
    .-= Greta´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday =-.

  12. THANK YOU for posting this. We have been gluten-free for 3 months and I have missed Rice-a-Roni mexican rice. This recipe is GF as long as you check the taco seasoning!

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