This Vegan Mexican Risotto is ultra creamy and delicious! It’s full of veggies, black beans, spices, and flavor! A tasty meatless dinner the whole family will love!
Similar to my Vegan Chili Mac, but with rice instead of pasta, this Vegan Mexican Risotto is a cross between traditional risotto and Spanish rice. It’s creamy and flavorful, has plenty of texture thanks to the addition of black beans and corn, and we can’t stop eating it!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Rice ~ Arborio rice is the most popular choice for making risotto. It’s an Italian short grain rice that absorbs liquid easily and cooks up creamy. Even though we’re making a Mexican risotto today, it’s still the best choice.
Carnaroli is another widely available high starch choice. Vialone Nano is another option for risotto rice, but I personally have never tried it.
If you can get your hands on Acquerello, a type of carnaroli rice, I would highly recommend giving it a try. I first learned of this rice during a class I took at Eataly, in Chicago. This rice cooks evenly and perfectly al dente from the outside to the inside.
Aromatics ~ Onion and garlic never disappoints.
Wine ~ A dry red wine works best for this risotto recipe. Not all wines are vegan due to the use of animal derived products used in production. Check out Barnivore to find wines that are vegan friendly.
For an alcohol-free option, simply skip the wine.
Broth ~ I like to use a low-sodium vegetable broth to better control the salt content of the dish. If you use broth that is not low-sodium, I suggest holding off on adding any additional salt until you taste at the end for seasoning.
You may only use 4 to 5 cups of broth, but I suggest warming up 6 cups just in case you need a little extra. Leftover broth can be stored in the fridge or even frozen for later use.
If you don’t like spicy heat or are serving someone who doesn’t, leave out the cayenne. A few dashes of hot sauce or sriracha can be added to individual servings for those that like a spicy kick.
Pumpkin ~ Pumpkin might seem like an odd choice here, but it has a creamy texture and a very mild nutty sweetness that complements the Mexican flavors so well. You won’t really taste it in the finished risotto, but you’ll miss it if it’s not there.
Sweet potato purée or mashed butternut squash would both work in a pinch, but I don’t find either option quite as creamy as canned pumpkin.
Nutritional yeast ~ Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that comes in flaked or powdered form. It imparts a savory, umami, somewhat cheesy flavor that is a great addition to dairy-free and vegan recipes.
Beans ~ Canned black beans are a convenient choice and always at the ready. I think they are the best choice in this Mexican risotto, but you can use white beans if you prefer. You can also leave them out if you don’t like beans.
Corn ~ Fresh or frozen corn works. Or leave it out.
Extras ~ I like to garnish the dish with fresh chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, and sliced green onions. Sliced jalapeños, pickled red onions, a sprinkle of shredded vegan cheese, or a drizzle of Chipotle Crema or Southwest Vegan Ranch would all be excellent additions, as well.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
First, warm the broth in a sauce pot on the stove and keep it warm over low heat.
Sauté the onions and peppers in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until softened (1).
Add the spices and sauté until fragrant (2).
Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted (3).
Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has absorbed (4).
Add ½ cup of broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has absorbed (5).
Continue adding more broth about 1 cup at a time while stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid. You’ll notice the rice getting more plump and creamy (6).
Once the rice is tender, but al dente (meaning “to the tooth”), add the pumpkin purée, diced green chiles, nutritional yeast, lime juice, and maple syrup (7) and stir well until smooth and creamy (8).
Add the black beans and corn (9) and stir to combine (10).
If your Mexican risotto seems too dry at this point, add additional broth to loosen it up.
As always, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
This vegan black bean risotto is a hearty main meal by itself.
Feel free to add any toppings you like. Anything that would go well on tacos would likely work well here. We love cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, and green onions.
Fridge: Store leftover Mexican risotto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezer: While technically this rice dish can be frozen, it won’t retain the creamy texture that risotto is known for after thawing and reheating. For this reason, I don’t suggest freezing it.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Warm the broth before you start and keep it warm over low heat.
~ Use arborio or carnaroli rice. Do not sub with another rice variety. And do not rinse the rice!
~ Cook over medium heat. It’s a process, but you don’t want the rice to cook too fast or it won’t be as creamy.
~ Use about 1 cup of broth at a time and allow all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. This will allow the starches to thicken and create a super creamy texture.
~ Stir the rice frequently, but not continuously.
~ Stop adding broth when the rice is al dente. Like pasta, it should be tender with a little bite, not mushy.
~ Add the beans and corn after the risotto has cooked to retain the texture.
~ To make this alcohol-free, simply skip the wine.
Carnaroli or arborio rice is best! They are short grain varieties with a high starch content, which is perfect for absorbing liquid and creating a creamy finished dish.
No, you shouldn’t stir risotto constantly. The rice needs time to jostle about and release the starches. Stir frequently, about every 30 seconds or so, but not continuously.
No, do not rinse the rice before cooking risotto. You want all of the starchiness in order to create the creamy texture that risotto is known for.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Black Bean Mexican Risotto
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry red wine
- ½ cup pure pumpkin purée
- 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or agave syrup
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans drained and rinsed (or 1 ½ cups cooked beans)
- 1 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
- sliced avocado
- chopped tomato
- chopped cilantro
- diced green onion
- Gently heat the vegetable stock in a sauce pan keep it warm on low heat.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat the butter (or oil) over medium heat. Add the diced onion and red bell pepper and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, chili powder, cayenne, and black pepper. Stir well to combine and sauté 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until toasty.
- Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
- Add ½ cup of warm broth and stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth ½ to 1 cup at a time until it's absorbed, stirring frequently, until the rice is creamy and tender yet still al dente. This whole process could take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. You may not use the full 6 cups of broth, but it's better to have too much than too little. Any leftover broth can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- When you are happy with the texture of the rice, add the pumpkin purée, diced green chiles, nutritional yeast, if using, lime juice, and maple syrup. Stir well until creamy.
- Add the black beans and corn. Stir to combine. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes to heat through. Add additional veggie broth to loosen the risotto, if needed.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary. Serve hot with the toppings of your choice.
~Nutrition facts calculated without any toppings.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.