Puerto Rican Rice And Beans

$8.24 recipe / $0.69 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 16 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

4.75 from 16 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 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 55 minutes

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.
  • 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

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
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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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. We made this last week and it’s delicious! We make a lot of beans/rice dishes, so I’m glad to find a new flavor profile. Made the batch of sofrito (froze the extra), so will be looking for more dishes to use that in. :)

  2. Our family just got back from Puerto Rico for vacation and we HAD to make beans and rice! The recipe was well written and directions easy to follow. I found the Sofrito in the freezer section, used pancetta rather than salt pork and left out the sweet potato because of a picky eater – next time I will put it in just to see the difference. The directions for making the rice were AWESOME since I have NEVER been able to make rice very well! (Rinsing must be key!) This was delicious – I served it with a lime marinated chicken we grilled. This will definitely go in our regular rotation of meals!

  3. Followed the recipe exactly and it was SO GOOD. My boyfriend loved it too. It was a little confusing putting the green pepper and sweet potato in the thick tomato sauce since they didn’t have much to simmer in, and knowing how much water to add in the next step (I kept adding some to make it look like the pictures at the end). If you could add clearer instructions for those I think it would help. Thanks!

  4. I’m Latina, but a very beginner chef. I can’t compare to my mom’s rice and beans but this is pretty dang close!! This is one of my husband’s favorite meals, he’s always happy when I make it. Thank you!

  5. I followed the vegan adaptations suggested in the recipe, leaving out the salt pork and making the sazón. I used pumpkin instead of sweet potato (that’s what I had) – it was helpful to know the recipe is usually made with pumpkin! It was delicious and satisfying and I’ll definitely be making it again.

  6. As someone who makes a ton of rice and bean recipes, this is legitimately one of my favorite I’ve ever had. Delicious! So glad I have a ton more sofrito in the freezer because this is definitely going in the regular rotation.

  7. Under “how to use leftovers” it says to use equal parts, and also 1 part beans to 2 parts rice. I’m sure both ways are good but it’s a bit confusing!

  8. I’m confused about the use of sofrito in this recipe. Is this the new Better Than Bouillon Sofrito base or something else.

  9. This recipe was fantastic and easy to follow. Replaced the salt pork with turkey bacon due to dietary restrictions in our household, but it was still delicious. Will be making it again!

  10. This was excellent even though in the middle of making it I discovered that I had one can of black beans even though I distinctly buying the red beans.They are probably hidden in my pantry somewhere. If I had the correct ingredients, it would probably be five stars. Also, even though I love plantains, I had never tried the frozen ones. Thanks for encouraging that. Very easy and tasty.

    I have no idea if this is “authentic” or not, but who cares? It tastes great, and great recipes can evolve from traditional ones.

    1. Hi, Joanne! The diced sweet potato should be raw when it’s added. As you can see in Step #6 on the recipe card, it will soften after 20 minutes of cooking.

      If you want to be absolutely sure they are done–take a toothpick, cake tester, or the tines of a fork, and gently poke a few potatoes. It should slide in easily without needing to use any force. — Marion :)