Puerto Rican Rice And Beans

$8.24 recipe / $0.69 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
5 from 6 votes
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Boricuas (i.e., people from Puerto Rico) eat Puerto Rican Rice and Beans almost every day because the dish has bold flavors, is easy to prepare, and is budget-friendly! Arroz Con Habichuelas, as it’s called on the island, can be a meal on its own with a side of ripe yellow plantain slices, or you can serve it as a sidekick to any protein. Welcome to your new favorite weeknight staple!

Overhead shot of a white bowl of red beans and rice.

A Note On Authenticity

This is not a historically authentic recipe. We strive to create recipes that are accessible to everyone, which means ingredients need to be available at a mainstream budget grocery store. We test recipes using the least amount of steps, tools, and ingredients while still honoring the spirit of the recipe. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and look forward to a time when our ingredients are available in mainstream markets. Until then, buen provecho!

Can I Substitute The Canned Kidney Beans?

I love how versatile this recipe is. If kidney beans are not your favorite, you can substitute them with almost any other canned bean. Try chickpeas, white, pink, or black beans to keep it truly island-inspired. If you’re working with dry beans, prepare about 3/4 cup of the dried to substitute for a 15-ounce can of beans.

Can I Substitute The White Rice?

Since the medium grain white rice cooks in its own pot, making substitutions is easy. Don’t skip rinsing the rice, as it removes excess starches, so the rice won’t clump together. Also, make sure to toast the rice in the oil, which develops nutty flavors and allows the rice to come to a boil faster since it is already warm. The only thing you really have to change is the amount of water you use to make the rice, as different grains require different amounts of liquid to cook fully. Follow these easy guidelines:

  • Brown Rice: 1 cup rice – 1 3/4 cups water
  • Basmati Rice: 1 cup rice – 1 3/4 cups water
  • Jasmine Rice: 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water
  • Long Grain White Rice: 1 cup rice to 2 cups water
  • Medium grain White Rice 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water
  • Short Grain White Rice: 1 cup rice to 1 1/4 cups water

How To Make Vegan Red Beans And Rice

You can make this recipe vegan by omitting the salt pork and substituting the chicken bouillon with vegetable stock. You should also make your own sazón, the all-purpose spice blend that gives Puerto Rican food its deep earthy flavors and orange hues. Many brands of sazón are made with a mineral salt that is animal based. Once you make your sazón, your first step will be to bloom it in the oil. Blooming is chef speak for warming the spices in oil until fragrant, a great trick to keep up your sleeve when you want to add deeper flavors to any recipe. Then just follow the rest of the recipe for Puerto Rican Rice and Beans. Here is a recipe to make your own sazón:

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground annatto
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
Overhead shot of a white bowl of red beans and rice with a side of ripe plantain slices. and a black spoon in it

Storing Red Beans and Rice

This is the best recipe for meal prep because it’s easy to store and holds up for five days in the fridge. Just place the rice in an airtight container, and do the same with the beans. Then, refrigerate until you’re ready to reheat them. You can also freeze individual portions. They will keep for up to six months.

Reheating Beans and Rice

You have a few options when it comes to reheating. I prefer to use a non-stick pan for the rice because I like the added crunch it gives to the grains on the bottom of the pan. I also sprinkle a little bit of water over the rice (about 1/8th of a teaspoon per cup) to rehydrate the grains. Finally, I reheat the beans in a microwave-safe container until they steam. Of course, you can reheat the rice in the microwave as well. Just remember that sprinkle of water.

WHAT TO DO WITH LeftoverS

If you want to go all out, reheat equal parts of rice and beans and make “Arroz Mamposteao.” Most Puerto Ricans do it with day-old rice and beans, and it is a DELIGHT. You’ll use 1 part beans to 2 parts rice. First, dice some salt pork, about 1/4 cup, and render the fat in a large pot. When the pork is crispy and golden, add a few more tablespoons of sofrito and cook until fragrant. Then add the beans and heat until they are steaming and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Finally, add the rice, mix, and cook until the rice absorbs the sauce. Boom! You’re welcome!

Side shot of a white bowl of red beans and rice with a side of ripe plantains and a spoon in it.
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Puerto Rican Style Red Beans and Rice

5 from 6 votes
Puerto Rican Rice and Beans is a dish with bold flavors, it's easy to prepare, and it's budget-friendly! Make it a meal with a side of ripe yellow plantain slices, or serve it as a sidekick to any protein.
Overhead shot of a white bowl of red beans and rice.
Servings 12 1/2 cup beans + 1/2 cup rice
Prep 15 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 55 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp cooking oil, divided ($0.16)
  • 1 packet sazón ($0.17)
  • 1/2 cup salt pork, small dice ($1.83)
  • 1 onion, diced ($0.42)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 cloves) ($0.14)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce ($0.59)
  • 4 Tbsp sofrito ($0.72)
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon, Roasted Chicken Base* ($0.12)
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar ($0.07)
  • 1 large sweet potato, large dice ($0.74)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced ($0.79)
  • 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained ($1.68)
  • 2 cups white medium grain rice, rinsed ($0.76)
  • 3 cups boiling water ($0.00)
  • 2 tsp salt, plus more to taste ($0.05)

Instructions 

  • Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once it has warmed, add the salt pork and sazón. Fry until the fat has rendered and the salt pork is golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato sauce, sofrito, chicken bouillon, and vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, reducing the sauce and developing the flavors.
  • Add the green bell pepper and the sweet potato. Cook for five minutes.
  • Add the beans and enough water to cover them. Stir and taste the broth. Add salt to taste.
  • Cook uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes until the sweet potato has softened. If halfway through the cook, the liquid in the beans reduces too much, add 1/4 cup of water.
  • For the rice, set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil has warmed, add the rice, mix it into the oil and let it toast for a minute. Next, add the boiling water and 2 teaspoons of salt to the rice and stir.
  • Cook uncovered until the water begins to evaporate and you see little steam holes form over the surface of the rice, about 5 minutes. Stir the rice once, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot tightly with a heavy lid, so steam does not escape.
  • Cook the rice without stirring until the grains are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. After you portion out the rice, scrape up the crispy bits on the bottom of the pot to serve on top of your rice.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*A packet of sazón contains about 1.5 teaspoons of sazón.
*If you cannot source Better Than Bouillon, Roasted Chicken Base, use 1 cup of chicken stock.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 314kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 4gFat: 17gSodium: 885mgFiber: 2g
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How to Make Puerto Rican Red Beans And Rice – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of salt pork frying in a silver pot.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot over mid-high heat. Once it has warmed, add 1/2 cup of diced salt pork and a packet of sazón. Fry until the fat has rendered and the salt pork is golden, about 4 minutes.

Overhead shot of salt pork, onions, and garlic, frying in a silver pot.

Lower the heat to medium and add the diced onion. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tablespoon of minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Overhead shot of gray rubber spoon with wood handle scraping the bottom of a silver pot to part sofrito.

Once the garlic releases its aroma, add the 8 ounces of tomato sauce, the 4 tablespoons of sofrito, the teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon, and the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, reducing the sauce and developing the flavors.

Overhead shot of diced green bell peppers and diced sweet potatoes in a silver pot with sofrito.

Add the diced green bell pepper and the diced large sweet potato. Cook for five minutes.

Overhead shot of water being added to a silver pot full of red beans.

Add the 2 cans of beans and enough water to cover them. Stir and taste the broth. Add salt to taste, but don’t over salt. As water evaporates, the salt will become more pronounced.

Overhead shot of finished red beans in a silver pot with a spoon scooping a cup full.

Cook uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes until the sweet potato has softened. If halfway through the cook, the liquid in the beans reduces too much, add 1/4 cup of water.

Overhead shot of water being poured into toasted rice in a silver pot.

For the rice, set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil has warmed, add the 2 cups of rinsed rice, mix it into the oil and let it toast for a minute. Next, add the 3 cups of boiling water to the rice. Finally, add the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir.

Overhead shot of a silver pot of rice with steam vents on the surface of the rice

Cook uncovered until the water begins to evaporate and you see little steam holes form over the surface of the rice, about 5 minutes. Stir the rice once, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot tightly with a heavy lid, so steam does not escape. Cook the rice without stirring until the grains are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Overhead shot of cooked rice in a silver pot.

After you portion out the rice, scrape up the crispy bits on the bottom of the pot to serve on top of your rice. No, you did not burn your rice. The crispy bits are called “pegao,” and in Puerto Rico, it’s the part of the meal that everyone wants a piece of.

Side shot of a white bowl with red beans and rice and slice ripe plantain with a black spoon in it.

To serve, scoop a 1/2 cup of rice into a bowl and top it with a 1/2 cup of beans. If you want to take it one step further, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and add a few slices of ripe plantain on the side as we did. It’s a knockout!! As we say in Puerto Rico, “Buen provecho!”

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  1. Absolutely unreal – this was so good it made me giddy! Followed the recipe exactly, except for adding a bit more sofrito (didn’t measure, probably a 1/4 cup in total), and used pumpkin vinegar instead of distilled white vinegar (it’s what I had on hand). I used Luisa sazon and it was a little salty, so I didn’t let it reduce down all the way. Incredibly, incredibly yummy. So good with plantains. You crushed it, Monti! Thank you!

  2. Oh my gosh, this is so good! I used frozen sweet potato, Badia sazon, jarred sofrito, no pork, & mild canned chili peppers in place of green bell peppers because I had no choices. I added warmed up banana slices on the side because I had a boss from PR & he made us dinner one night with plantains & I know they’re different but I could get bananas. I’d do it again because yum!

    1. Susan!! I love all those subs. PS we eat them with bananas as well. Love a banana with rice and beans! XOXO -Monti

  3. Am I able to substitute another type if vinegar like apple cider vinegar if I don’t have white distilled vinegar?

  4. When I rinse rice, it’s hard to fry/pop afterwards. I wind up having to choose either rinsing or popping the rice. Any advice? Thank you!

    1. Place a tea towel in a sheet pan. Rinse the rice. Spread it on the tea towel and top it with a second tea towel to dry. Then toast. XOXO -Monti

    1. W°e used frozen plantain slices, which often are easier to find than fresh, and reheated them in the microwave. You can simply slice a fresh (very yellow) plantain and fry the slices, or place the slices on a sheet pan and bake at 350° until cooked through. XOXO -Monti

  5. I can’t get salt pork where I live. Can I just use regular pork and up the salt?

  6. This looks delicious! My husband is allergic to one of the ingredients in sazón, any suggestions on a sub?

    1. Hi Cynthia! Thanks for the compliment. I have a recipe for sazón in the post. You can make your own and omit any ingredient he is allergic to. XOXO -Monti

      1. Monti – I think the recipe linked above is to the sofrito, not the sazon. I looked at both because I was wondering how much different the sofrito in the recipe is from jarred sofrito and clicked on both. Am still wondering since you said the sofrito is not traditional, but the recipe looks easy, so am now wondering which to use!