Is there anything better than being greeted by the tempting aromas of a bubbly, cheese-laden casserole after a long and hectic day? I can practically guarantee there’s no faster way to warm up a chilly night than with a big spoonful of this hearty comfort food.
As soon as I get home and open the front door, I love knowing my One-Pot Mexican Rice Casserole is simmering away on the stove, filling the whole house with its incredibly mouthwatering Tex-Mex spices and making my stomach rumble! This oven-to-table meal has become a favorite for its simplicity, huge flavors, and the way it transforms basic pantry staples into something really special.
I know weeknights can be an endless cycle of homework, activities, chores – exhausting! So I’ve streamlined this dish into a simple, throw-everything-in-one-pot wonder that’s ready to eat after a short 30 minutes with no fussy techniques. Saving time and effort without sacrificing any of those big, spicy flavors? Now that’s my kind of easy weeknight dinner!
All you need is rice, onions, garlic, tomatoes, broth – odds and ends you likely have on hand – plus a few fun add-ins like zippy salsa, creamy cheese, and whatever veggies or protein you want. Endless ways to customize! Then let everything meld and mingle into cheesy, saucy perfection.
I promise, after one big spoonful layered with all those textures and flavors – the fluffy rice, melty cheese, salsa kick – this will become a regular rotate-in meal on your dinner lineup. The richness of the beans and cheese is so comforting while the Tex-Mex spices keep things interesting. And the excitement of customizing each component with different mix-ins every time you make it means we never get bored.
So if you’re looking for a no-fuss way to switch up Taco Tuesday or just feed the family fast, don’t sleep on this simple yet totally scrumptious casserole! Ready to give it a try? Keep reading for my step-by-step method, plus tips on making this recipe your own with fun add-ins. I can’t wait for you to experience these huge Tex-Mex flavors layered into cozy, melty perfection. It’s about to become your new family favorite comfort food, I guarantee!
What type of rice works best?
I prefer basmati or jasmine rice since they soak up all the delicious flavors.
What proteins can I add?
Try cooked ground beef or turkey, chopped chicken, canned black beans or pinto beans.
Can I prepare this ahead of time?
You bet! Assemble everything in your baking dish the night before and refrigerate. Add 15 minutes to the bake time.
How spicy is this dish?
That’s up to you! Adjust the cayenne and chili powder to suit your taste.
Do I need to use a certain type of cheese?
A Tex-Mex blend or Monterey Jack gives great flavor. Sharp cheddar also delicious.
Can I swap out vegetables?
Go for it! Try corn, zucchini or bell peppers instead.
What kind of salsa should I use?
I prefer a medium red salsa, but any will work. Tomatillo salsa also delicious!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup shredded Tex-Mex cheese blend
- 1/4 cup salsa
- Chopped cilantro, lime wedges, diced avocado for serving
- heat the olive oil in a nice wide skillet or deep sauté pan with tall sides (I love using my 12-inch cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Once hot, toss in the chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until it becomes translucent and softened. The onions will start smelling fragrant sweet!
- Up next, stir in the minced garlic and let it become aromatic for just 1 minute. Don’t walk away as garlic can burn quickly! As soon as you get a whiff of that garlic perfume, it’s time to move on.
- Now for the rice’s turn to shine! Add your dry rice to the pan and stir constantly for 2 minutes until all those grains are fully coated in oil and start toasting. I love this step, as you’ll start smelling those toasty, nutty flavors develop. So appetizing!
- Time for our flavor base – pour in those diced tomatoes and broth, which will really amplify the spice and seasoning. Give everything a good stir, making sure all the rice grains are submerged. Once mixed, let it come up to a steady boil.
- Immediately decrease the heat to low and pop a lid on top. We want everything to simmer away for 15 minutes, allowing that rice to get perfectly fluffy and tender. Set your timer because we don’t want to overcook it!
- When the 15 minutes is up, remove the lid and you’ll see that beautiful ruby red tomato color. Now to make things fun! Scatter those beans and corn over the top along with all the spices – I do a pinch at a time for even coverage. Gently fold everything together using a wide spoon or spatula. Be careful not to mush the rice!
- Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer across the rice mixture. Put the lid back on and let it simmer for 5 more minutes. At this point, your kitchen will smell absolutely heavenly! By now, the rice should be cooked through and the liquid absorbed into a slightly sticky casserole.
- Turn off the heat but don’t serve just yet. Let it sit, lid on, for 5 minutes. This resting time allows all those flavors to soak into the rice for a perfectly seasoned dish! Finally, fluff lightly with a fork. Now it’s ready for that gorgeous topping of cool, vibrant salsa to contrast with the spice and creaminess. A garnish of cilantro adds freshness while lime wedges let guests drizzle on more acidity. I also love adding rich, creamy avocado dice! A sprinkle of crispy tortilla strips never hurts either.
- For extra flavor, use homemade or low-sodium vegetable broth.
- Stir the rice halfway through simmering for perfect texture.
- For spicier flavor, garnish with sliced jalapeños.
- Love that crispy cheesy edge? Broil for 2-3 minutes before serving.
- Switch up the protein with cooked ground beef or turkey.
- Make it veggie by using all beans instead of meat.