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!
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
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!
Puerto Rican Style Red Beans and Rice
- 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)
- 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.
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How to Make Puerto Rican Red Beans And Rice – Step by Step Photos
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.
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.
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.
Add the diced green bell pepper and the diced large sweet potato. Cook for five minutes.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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!”