~ A fun, easy way to shake up Taco Night! This Mexican Rice Skillet Dinner is so simple (with mostly hands-off cooking time), plus we’ve got make-ahead strategies, too! Loaded with yummy Tex-Mex flavors, it’s a quick, one-pot dinner recipe your whole family will love! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead •
Happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!
You know I’ve been dragging out my party bins to find all our festive decorations …
Tchotchke ponchos, Mariachi vests, and cactus-shaped stir sticks? Check, check, and double-check!
Psssst … while we’re making checklists … check out our little video that shows how EASY this recipe is to throw together, in just one pan!
Like I’ve said before … “everything we need to make Cinco de Mayo memorable … even on a school night!”
But wait … what do I NOT have on a school night in early May?!?!
You know what I mean. Once you become a parent of school-age kiddos, May is high season for the scheduling crazies! We’ve got lacrosse (both kids!), track, soccer, student government, writing club, plus plenty of awards ceremonies, get-ready-for-next-year meetings, and final concerts. And, of course, it all happens more or less exactly at the dinner hour … and often at conflicting times on opposite ends of town.
So how do you still manage to have a family meal, with balance and nutrition and even a little time together to connect and talk?
You work fast, you prep ahead … and you keep recipes like this on hand at all times!
Because while this Mexican Rice Skillet is the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo tonight … you’ll love how quick and easy it is, and your whole family will love how delicious it is … so you’ll no doubt want to keep this recipe in your back pocket year-round!
It’s got all the yummy flavors of taco night, in one easy skillet dinner that’s ready in just over 30 minutes (with mostly hands-off cooking time)! And with a few nutritional upgrades and simple tips, you can make this even faster, even easier, and healthy, too!
Extra-Lean Meat – Be sure to choose extra-lean ground meat for this recipe. We typically use ground beef, but you can substitute ground turkey if you prefer. For ground beef, at a minimum, we suggest selecting 90% lean, but we almost always use 93% or even 96% when we can find them (our local stores sometimes vary in exactly what they carry). Don’t automatically assume that choosing ground turkey will make this recipe lower in fat. Depending on the exact blend, ground turkey can actually be higher in total fat than very lean ground beef. Just check the nutrition labels to be sure.
Brown Rice – Brown rice, which still has the fiber and germ intact, has more vitamins, minerals and fiber than white rice. It’s an easy, healthy upgrade, especially now that brands such as Minute Rice offer quick-cooking versions. It’s also a great starting point if you’re just easing your family into eating more whole grains, since they probably won’t notice any flavor difference at all in recipes like this Mexican Skillet. (Precisely the same strategy we use in our super-popular Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls.)
Veggies, Veggies and More Veggies! – Not only is there a lot of nutrient-rich produce cooked right into the Mexican Rice itself – onions and corn, plus a little garlic and all the lycopene-rich tomatoes in the salsa – but the big nutritional hit comes with all the fresh veggies you can pile on top. From green onions and chopped fresh tomatoes, to avocado and minced cilantro – make sure to offer plenty of fresh, healthy choices for toppings!
Make-Ahead Options and Time-Saving Tips
This is one of those recipes that’s very flexible and forgiving. There’s not a whole lot of work involved, and you can time the prep and cooking to fit into your schedule!
First, most of the veggies and toppings can be chopped and prepared ahead, then kept in the fridge until dinner. This skillet meal also reheats just beautifully! You can cook the meat, garlic and onion in advance, and then finish the final cooking step at mealtime. Or, you can go a bit further and cook this all the way through in the morning or even the day before – just reheat it at dinnertime, adding your fresh toppings at the table.
So easy, right?!?
All in Just One Pan, Too … Nice!
Did you notice the glorious side benefit of this recipe? All the yummy, taco-inspired action happens in just one pan!
That means fewer dishes to wash later, and fewer cooking methods to manage while you’re simultaneously trying to fold laundry or help with math homework. Yahoo!
Psssst … if you adore the simplicity of one-pot dinners as much as I do, be sure to check out these other faves, too:
- One-Pot Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- One-Pot Whole-Wheat Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan
- Cheesy BLT Pierogi Skillet Dinner
- One-Pot Jamaican Rasta Pasta
Dinner is totally do-able, even on the busiest of evenings!
And, no matter how crazy your May evenings are … with this quick Mexican Rice Skillet Dinner, you can still manage a little Cinco de Mayo festiveness, too! Sombreros and maracas are optional … but highly encouraged, of course! 😀
Psssst … need even more festive Cinco de Mayo ideas? Maybe you’re planning a really big party and need lots of different dishes to share ? (How fun!) Level-up your taco game with this showcase of seriously unexpected, ultra-unique tacos! Pick one to serve alongside this taco skillet for more great buffet options!
Happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey
- 2 cups chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 (16-ounce) jar of your favorite salsa
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (no need to thaw if frozen)
- 1 cup uncooked instant brown rice
- 7 teaspoons taco seasoning (see note)
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tapatío)
- 1/2 cup shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
- Optional toppings: additional cheese, additional salsa or hot sauce, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, minced fresh cilantro, guacamole or chopped avocados, chopped green onions, reduced-fat sour cream
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef (or turkey), onions, and garlic, stirring to crumble, until meat is browned and onions have begun to soften (about 8-10 minutes). Drain if needed.
- Add water, salsa, corn, rice, taco seasoning, and hot sauce to skillet, stirring to combine. Cover and continue cooking over medium heat until rice is done, stirring occasionally (about 18-20 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
- Serve with desired toppings.
Taco seasoning: We recommend avoiding taco seasoning mixes that contain MSG. Also, there are differences in the amounts of sodium (and other ingredients) in various brands, so it's a good idea to read the nutrition information for the brands offered at your store.
Make-ahead tips: Most of the veggies and toppings for this recipe can be chopped and prepared ahead, then kept in separate, sealed containers in the refrigerator. In addition, this Mexican Rice Skillet reheats well, so it's a good make-ahead dinner option. You can cook the meat, garlic and onion in advance, and then refrigerate that until you're ready to finish the final cooking step at mealtime. Or, you can actually cook this recipe all the way through ahead of time – in the morning or even the day before – refrigerating it until you're ready to reheat it at dinnertime, then adding your fresh toppings at the table.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 servings Serving Size: About 1 1/4 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gFiber: 4gSugar: 8g
Nutrition calculation includes extra-lean beef (not turkey), and analysis does not include optional toppings, but a final serving size will probably be around 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 cups, depending on choice of toppings. Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may additionally vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.