Mexican Brown Rice Bake

Mexican style rice is so popular why not spin it into a full meal? By using the whole grain rice this Mexican Brown Rice Bake is much more nutritious making it a fabulous gluten free choice the family will gobble up.

Mexican Brown Rice Bake

Cheesy Mexican rice casseroles are right up my alley.

They are usually tasty, filling and so useful as leftovers because they reheat so well.

This particular casserole is inspired by Mexican brown rice and beans, spinning the side dish into a spicy, zesty family friendly dinner. It is ready for you to customize with toppings like fresh avocado, sour cream or chopped cilantro.

A piece of cheesy Mexican casserole on a spatula


This Mexican Brown Rice Bake is my homage to home cooking. I made the refried beans and the enchilada sauce from scratch, like a true home cook, which was my culture growing up.

My mom was a real housewife, but not like one from the OC, that’s for sure. 😉

She got up before everyone, packed school lunches consisting of sandwiches on homemade bread, fresh baked cookies, and fruit from our trees. Then it was onto hot breakfasts for us four kids, followed by cleaning and organizing our massive home, and picking veggies from our garden to go with dinner.

I feel like it’s a life I would love for myself. Minus the four kids, of course. Louis the cat works for us. 😉

Healthy gluten free casserole in a white dish

This tastes fabulous with some creamy fresh avocado or a dollop of sour cream.

I hope you make it with love and share it with the ones you cherish. 🙂

Mexican Brown Rice Bake

This casserole heats up well the next day. It’s not sloppy or messy, so toting it around in your lunch bag is pretty easy.

I like to spin the leftovers into a new meal and use them as a burrito filler!


I have two tried and true methods to cooking perfect brown rice.

Easy brown rice on a stove – Stovetop Method for Brown Rice

Brown rice for meal prep – Instant Pot Method for Brown Rice




Be sure to follow me on social media! I love pinning to Pinterest, sharing on Facebook and posting pics to Instagram. See you there.  🙂

Originally posted March 18, 2015. Updated February 5, 2020.

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Mexican Brown Rice Bake – Gluten Free

Sharon Rhodes
Mexican style rice is so popular why not spin it into a full on meal? By using the whole grain rice this Mexican Brown Rice Bake is much more nutritious making it a fabulous gluten free choice the family will gobble up. Packed with protein, this cheesy chicken dinner will become a staple in your home.
4.12 from 151 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 306 kcal


  • 2 cooked chicken breasts shredded
  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 1 cup refried beans
  • 3/4 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 pepper diced
  • 2 tsp chili flakes optional


  • Cook brown rice –> I use this stove top method or this one for your Instant Pot
  • Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9×9 baking dish
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the shredded chicken and enchilada sauce. Mix in the rice and beans and stir until it’s all combined
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared 9×9 dish and top with the shredded cheese, diced peppers and chili flakes
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 to get a bit of crispiness to the layer of cheese


Calories: 306kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 26gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 661mgPotassium: 258mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 570IUVitamin C: 0.6mgCalcium: 129mgIron: 1.9mg
Keyword dinner recipes, gluten free chicken recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This was great! I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9×13 pan. For the “pepper” portion I diced an orange and a yellow pepper and sautéed in some olive oil. I added a can of diced green chilies to the the “layers.” Next time I might try it with black beans instead of refried beans, and I might add some corn, too. For toppings I had peppercinis, pickled jalapenos, salsa, sour cream, avocado, and guac. It was a hit!

    1. You can double it for sure! The baking time should be close to the same since everything is already cooked. Check at thirty minutes to see if the cheese is bubbling and you should be good to go.

    1. Yes! Green pepper is great. You could also use jalapeno pepper if you wanted some heat. Thanks for pointing that out. I should update the recipe.

  2. I like to prep a large batch of plain brown rice to use for quick meals during the week. How much cooked rice is needed for this casserole, please?

    1. Use your favorite! Bell peppers are good – green, red, or orange. Jalapenos are awesome too if you like it spicier. 🙂

    2. 4 stars
      I changed mine a great deal but the used the same cooking process and ideas of the brown rice Mexican tray bake. Added hot chilli and other spices and some stock and additional veggies. Used turkey instead of chicken. Used a can of kidney beans and thickened the sauce with corn flour as veggies had a high water content.Turned out a treat ! Thank you.

      1. I’m glad it turned out! I have been thinking of making this with turkey. Thanks for the tips!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times for lunch for my grandchildren and they love it. Now they know how to make it. It is extremely easy to put together, especially if you have cooked chicken in the freezer already. Great recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    This was delicious I used hamburger and cauliflower rice worked great.
    Thank you for a new recipe to make for dinner.

  5. This looked, at first, like the very type of casserole I like to make and eat. Then I saw that you’ve mixed refried beans into it. That was the deal breaker. I don’t personally think pinto beans in any form should be paired with chicken. I know a lot of people do that, but it really turns my taste buds off. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE pinto beans and make all sorts of dishes with them, just not with chicken.

    I would either substitute some beef or pork for the chicken, OR I’d substitute canned condensed split pea soup for the refried beans. But that’s not at all what your recipe is about, now, is it?

    1. I definitely have been testing out a beef based version of this recipe! I am a fan of the beans and chicken combo but I totally get that not everyone likes everything. Is it just the pinto beans with chicken or is any type of bean?

  6. Hey right back at Cha. Let me know what you think of the Baked Brown Rice method.I never worry about it. I leave it covered until needed, and freeze any left overs in one cup measures to thaw and add to whatever. Pam

  7. Hi Olivia – First off, I loved your intro – re: minus the four kids. – HA! My husband and I thought that was hilarious 😆 I make brown rice often, especially since my husband has become disabled and we are living on a very limited income. You posted a couple of cooking methods for brown rice. Here is one that you might try, especially during the cold months and you need an excuse to heat up the kitchen.
    Baked Brown Rice
    2cups brown rice rinsed well and placed in a 2 qt oven safe dish coated in cooking spray
    Bring to a boil 3 and 1/2 cups water, a TBSP butter and 1/2 tsp salt.
    Pour the boiling mixture over the rice
    Cover tightly with foil and bake ina 375 degree oven for 1 hour.
    Carefully remove foil and fluff with a fork. – PERFECT
    Try it!
    I am looking forward to your brown rice casserole!

    1. Hey Pam!! Loved your comment. 🙂 Thanks for the new method to try! And I have yet to attempt cooking rice in the oven. I hope you enjoy the dish! Let me know.

  8. I would love to try this and wondering if I leave the chicken out if I would need to use fewer of the other ingredients?

    1. Hey Kim! I would maybe add some black beans or kidney beans instead of the chicken to make it vegetarian and still have some protein. But, if you just wanted to leave the chicken out I would still follow the recipe as is but maybe less of the enchilada sauce as it may make it a bit ‘soupy’.

  9. Made it for dinner. Very tasty. I made everything from scratch as suggested. I think next time I would layer it with rice, beans, chicken and enchilada. Each ingredient was so tasty I would prefer tasting them rather than mixing all together. I would cover it part time as one person suggested so it is more moist.

  10. Sharon this looks delicious! I’m always looking for new ways to make brown rice tasty 🙂 Hubby eats a lot of brown rice when he’s working out but for me it can be a bit boring. Pinning this for later. PS I also love a lot of cheese 😉

    1. Very nice to meet another cheese lover! And lucky you with a brown rice loving hubby … mine despises it! haha Hope you enjoy this one!

    1. Hey Jenn! I’m not sure, sorry. The nutrition stats are linked though, if that helps. 🙂 Have a great week!

    1. The sauce definitely has chili powder spice but not a fiery heat. Maybe just crushed tomatoes would work for a milder taste?

  11. Needed to go food shopping but I was able to make this with what we had – just needed to do a salsa concoction instead of enchilada sauce. So fast and easy and it was a hit with everyone. Will definitely make again!

  12. You saved two halves of a rotisserie chicken breast from being thrown out, in two days. Strangely, when I saw your recipe, my thoughts leapt, thinking how I could make this simple and easy recipe with those two and some of my favorite ingredients. I really dislike cooking because it takes up too much of my time and it is just too much. But then there it was looming out at me, as if saying – you can do this. I had the perfect amount of T.J.’s left over bottled enchilada sauce and the perfect amount of previously shredded Tilamook mild cheddar. I used T.J.’s refried black beans butI didn’t want to waste the rest of the beans. To the beans I mixed in a little EVOO and Garlic salt then added to the mix of rice sauce and chicken. With the left over beans in the can I did the same with the oil and garlic salt and a piece of chili powder, then spread them on the bottom of the baking dish. I layered the mixture over the beans and then did an all over sprinkle with garlic salt. Next. I layered the pickled Jalapeño rings, a thick covering of the cheese and then the red pepper seeds. Absolutely satisfying and delicious and what a great way to use leftover but somewhat tasteless chicken breast. This s a repeat recipe and might also try it with Ground Beef. P.S. I never write comments but for some strange reason I just did…

    1. Thanks for the great comment, DC! And I love the idea of doing this with beef. Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

    1. No worries! I always cook extra rice when I make a batch. It will last in the fridge for up to a week. Then you have it on hand to throw into other meals. 🙂

  13. I have a question, on the recipe for the Mexican Brown rice bake, it says 3/4 cup dried brown rice…. Do you cook the rice before hand or do you just throw it in the ingredients uncooked? Sorry for asking a dumb question. Thanks for your reply.

  14. Great recipe! This is one of the only dishes I can fix that will feed my whole family agreeable..that includes a 10 month old and 3 year old and a husband ? I left out the chili flakes for the kids..then made a soup from the leftovers..just added corn tortilla strips that I cut up and some more enchilada sauce a water and boiled it up..dinner again! Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much Shannon! I love when the kiddos are happy – it’s the true test of recipe success. 😉 Happy holidays to you and the family!

  15. This was a very easy and tasty recipe to make. I used black beans, which gave the bake a very robust flavor and texture. I like the possibilities of variations that can be done with the existing recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Covered or uncovered? Well, mine is covered and in the oven now. I added diced jalapeño and fresh cilantro. Oh and only 1/2 cup of cheese, it’s my downfall so I use it sparingly. Can’t wait to try this tasty little number!

    1. I don’t cover mine, but I can’t see how it would hurt. I hope it turned out and you loved your meal Sue!

    1. You can use any cooked chicken. I use this marinade and cook in the oven at 375 for 40 minutes. You could totally grill it in much less time. I like to make extras when I cook up chicken, then I have it in the fridge for meals such as this one. 🙂

  17. I am made this tonight. I used ground turkey and cooked it with cumin seed, cyenne pepper, salt, pepper, onion and garlic, then put pepper jack cheese blend on top.. I am very happy how this has turned out!

  18. This is the second time making this, the first time I did not have any re-fried beans because someone (boyfriend) ate them so I used black beans. This time around I have the beans but I am using ground beef instead of chicken. Both times I used white rice instead of brown, a can of green chilies instead of green peppers, and added a can of drained corn. The first time was really good but did not hold together very well, I am hoping this time it will hold together since I am using the re-fried. I like recipes like this because you can play around with it and it still turns out great. 🙂

  19. This was amazing. I didn’t have green pepper so I used scallions and instead of brown rice is used Jasmine rice. Thanks for sharing it will certainly be a staple in our home

    1. Thank you Judi! So happy that you enjoyed it. 🙂 I love finding those ‘staple’ dishes. Have a great week!

  20. I have been to Tijuana once also, had a drink at the original “Caesar’s Palace” hotel where they invented Caesar salad. Love the sound of this recipe, pinning for my son’s family who are all gluten intolerant. Thank you 🙂

    1. Thanks Robyn! Sounds like Tijuana was a bit more fun for you than me. We just crossed the border then came back. No time for drinks. 😉 I hope your son and family enjoy the recipe! We love it. 🙂

      1. Hi Sharon. Is 1/4 cup chilli powder supposed to be 1/4 tsp? Also the 3 tbsp cumin in refried beans right?

    1. I haven’t tried it using the white, but I would assume so. Cook the rice separately and it should turn out the same. 🙂

    2. Nobody cares. This is not a platform for wannabe food critics. It’s a delicious recipe. Pinterest is about creativity.. no one said it was authentic. If you can’t respect the blogger than start your own blog.

  21. This looks delicious! I spent the better part of a year travelling around Mexico and it’s well worth a longer visit. All the states have different food traditions and there is so much history and art in the cities there.

    1. Wow! What an adventure that must have been. It does look beautiful and some of the nicest people I’ve met are from Mexico. One day …

      1. P.S. Not to say I don’t like Americanized Mexican food. I do casseroles and love cheese. I’m just saying don’t confuse this with real Mexican food you’d find in Mexico. That’s So enjoy! I like to use different colored peppers and sometimes green chili’s instead or white rice and brown rice mix. I also change out the meat as well. Yum

  22. Haven’t ever been to Mexico either; but LOVE their food. I think it would be the trip where I would actually gain weight, rather than lose. 😉 Love how easy this dish is, and plus…all that protein! & cheeseeeee!

    1. Karen – I hope you have since been to Mexico. It is a wonderful country with warm and friendly people and great food!

    2. This is an American Mexican style dish. Mexicans don’t eat all the cheese in Mexico. They don’t make “casseroles” either. Actually you won’t gain weight going to Mexico cause their food is good and not cheesy. It’s fresh, usually just a meat and some rice with tortilla. Or fish with fresh salsas. All the casseroles and cheese Americans use in Mexican style dishes is just that, American. They don’t have Nachos nor cheesy greasy casseroles nor giant stuffed burritos. America is the only country where everyone gains so much weight from food. Most other countries including Mexico have their food mostly just fresh with other foods. Not drenched in cheese nor grease and usually the right proportions for a normal one person meal. Not big servings, nor lots of melted cheese. And their sweet treats aren’t even as sweet nor rich as American sweets. And people WALK in other countries……everywhere! So enjoy this recipe and that someone who’s Mexican may have made it but it’s not true Mexican food nor recipe. And definitely not with all the cheese.

        1. 5 stars
          So delicious 😋
          But I’ve just made it and there’s only enough for 3 people.
          Next time I’m going to double the recipe

      1. Ok, we get it. You don’t approve of America’s food. So, may I suggest that you simply shouldn’t eat it. No one is forced to eat food that they don’t like. But, please don’t rant on those of us who do like Tex-Mex. To each their own.

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