Classic and Simple: Black Beans and Rice

In the past, the thought of making beans and rice for dinner was utterly and absolutely not exciting to me. I don’t know why. I think I’ve been ruined by the rush of making exciting recipes that aren’t made up almost entirely of beany beans (no offense to the humble legume).

Enter my husband who has spent the last eight years begging me to make this dish since he enjoyed it every day when he lived in Brazil.

I ignored him, like the loving wife I am. That is, until my 4-year old bought me a cookbook for Mother’s Day (that little dude knows his mother pretty well!) and when I let him pick out the first recipe to make – he chose black beans and rice. Big sigh. I couldn’t very well deny the tike when he was the one who gave me the cookbook.

And now I owe my newfound love of this simple and classic dish to my 4-year old and my begging husband.

This meal is so incredibly flavorful, it tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove for hours. Not to mention that it is cheap, healthy, and absolutely filling. It really is a one-pot wonder and is so very fantastically tasty!

Make it today!

Classic and Simple: Black Beans and Rice

What To ServeSimple Shredded Chicken
Chips and a really great dip, like this Spinach Artichoke Dip
Fresh, seasonal fruit

Classic and Simple: Black Beans and Rice

Yield: Serves 4-6

Classic and Simple: Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (16-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups hot, cooked white or brown rice

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and saute, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and tender. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf, oregano and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or two of hot water to thin to desired consistency.
  2. Stir in the fresh cilantro and season with salt and pepper; discard the bay leaf. Serve over the hot rice.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/classic-and-simple-black-beans-and-rice/

Recipe Source: adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

102 Responses to Classic and Simple: Black Beans and Rice

  1. That does sound really delicious. Mexican is our favorite cuisine, so I’ll be sure to whip some up. Would need to include some chicken for my hubby. :)

  2. chrissy says:

    And I know u know that black beans are high in fiber as well as brown rice… Black beans go well even sprinkled on a salad.

  3. Kim in MD says:

    Awww….that is so sweet that your 4 year old son bought you a cookbook for Mother’s Day! :-)

    I love black beans in chili, soups, dips, etc., but I have never made black beans and rice. You have inspired me to try it, but like Jessica @How Sweet, I will need to serve this dish with a piece of grilled chicken, pork or beef (for my meat eating family)! :-)

  4. Claire says:

    My husband, who also spent 2 years in Brazil, is always asking me to make the same thing! I will have to try it! Thanks!

  5. Marcela says:

    Ahhh… the famous beans and rice dish! I too lived in Brazil and married a Brazilian so this is a favorite staple in our house! Only difference is that we use a pressure cooker to make them, beans from the bag and pork products so that the beans get all of that yummy flavor! (Bacon, smoked sausage or even ham seasoning!) De-lish!

  6. Jenna says:

    I confess I use pork and beans from a bag as well, but I am going to try to this one as we could use a meatless dish with flavor. I love black beans. Thanks Melanie!

  7. Cindy says:

    Add some fresh chopped tomatoes and some cashew for one of my husbands favorites. Beans and rice make a complete protein without meat.

  8. grace says:

    he is his father’s son. :)
    i love dishes like this–it doesn’t take any effort on your part to convince me of its tastiness! i love the thyme in there–that’s a happy surprise.

  9. Sook says:

    I love beans and rice. This looks great, Melanie. :)

  10. cindi says:

    my husband was born in brazil and this is a must for our house.
    I actually have my beans soaking right now.
    I will have to include some of your ingredients to my pot!
    You could try adding in some sausage or a lighter meat such as chicken or turkey!!
    thanks

  11. anoldguy says:

    My wife introduced me to your site, and I find it VERY refreshing. Love your humorous approach to cooking. It would be a joy to watch you in the kitchen. I wouldn’t normally think of beans and rice as great food, but after reading your recipe, that seems to have changed. I will be making this one for sure. And being a husband, don’t think for a minute that your husband didn’t point out that recipe to your unsuspecting son. And bribes could have been involved. THX again.
    Michael

  12. Amy Weaver says:

    Hey I bought that cookbook for myself last year! It gave me lots of ideas for all of our fresh garden produce last summer. My favorite recipe that I have tried out of there is the Vegetable Quesadillas. (I haven’t tried the rice and beans yet, but maybe now I will!)

  13. Kelly says:

    I hate to admit it, but when we are really not in the mood to cook or go out, we skip 90% of the recipe and just combine one can of black beans and a half of a can of RoTel. This over brown rice is a lazy gal’s dream come true. Yours looks positively gourmet in comparison.

  14. Ashlee says:

    I love that when I have no desire to cook, being 8 months pregnant, I can come here and find something quick, easy, and yummy! My husband has been loving life since I found your site! Thanks! I just need to find a bunch of recipes that freeze well for after the bundle of joy makes an appearance!

  15. Kelli says:

    Beans, beans… I love them! This recipe sounds like a great summer dish for when you want something filling without meat. I enjoy your witty sense of humor and beautiful pictures!

  16. Cherine says:

    This looks really good!

  17. Scoggdog says:

    I loved this recipe. I have only had Red beans and Rice before and I am not a huge fan, but this version with the black beans was fantastic! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Mel says:

      Scoggdog – thanks for checking in to let me know this version worked out for you! I’ve never had red beans and rice – but I’m glad you liked this better than the other versions you’ve tried.

  18. Nina Smith says:

    I tried this recipe for dinner this evening. I loved it. A good recipe that does not use meat. It is a keeper ! Thanks.

  19. Kim says:

    This was great! I didn’t have any black beans so I used dark kidney bean. I’m anxious to see how it tastes with the black beans. I noticed this was from a Weight Watchers book. How many points is it?

    • Mel says:

      Kim – glad you liked it with the dark red beans. Yes, it is a Weight Watcher’s recipes, but I adapted it quite a bit and I don’t know how to calculate the new points, which is why I didn’t include them. I increased some amounts in the recipe to give me a little more quantity and subbed ingredients here and there.

  20. Jessica says:

    Ooooh this sounds fantastic! I love black beans and I’ve been trying to find really good recipes that call for them. If this recipe is anything like the Weight Watchers Smart Ones Red Beans and Rice, then I’ll be sooooooooooooooooo happy!

  21. Jillian McGregor says:

    I had to tell you: I made this for dinner tonight. Hubby came home, looked in the pot and said “what is THAT!” with a frightened look on face. I replied, ” Dinner”…. turns out, he loves it, as well as my kiddos! It was good enough for a Facebook posting by him. LOL. I did switch the diced tomatoes for cilantro and lime diced tomatoes, added cheddar cheese and fat free sour cream. I forgot the cilantro though. My 5 year old girl asked to have leftovers tomorrow, “‘cuz I love this!” She is very picky!! If you ever publish a cookbook with all of your recipes, let me know!! Then I can replace the binder of print outs I keep in my cupboard :) Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Jillian – I laughed at your comment because my husband has done that same thing on occasion – kind of turned up his nose to what was cooking on the stove and then ended up loving it. I’m glad this was a hit!

  22. Jenny says:

    Making this for dinner TONIGHT! It’s all done and simmering in the pot, and YUM. I served a mission in Colombia many years ago, and this dish reminds me of the same rice and beans I ate and loved there. I’m also going to try to fry some plantains and yuca to go with it. THANK YOU for a delicious rice and beans recipe.

  23. Mary says:

    If you published a cookbook, I would buy it. I know I never comment, sorry about that, but I’m just saying: I’m a big fan. -Mary

  24. Danielle says:

    I made this the other night. I’m assuming it was wonderful, because I got up from the table for a few minutes, and when I came back it was ALL GONE! I didn’t even get to taste any of it. There have already been requests to have it again. This time I will stake my claim early, and double the recipe, just to be safe.

    • Mel says:

      Danielle – that is so sad that you slaved over dinner and then in the end, didn’t get to taste it! I’m glad it was a hit, although, I’m still miffed over you getting jipped. :)

  25. Damaris says:

    Great recipe to have on hand. Only had one can of black beans so added a couple of cans of brown beans in tomato sauce; tastes great already and it has just started to simmer. I’m also going to serve it over black sweet rice which has alot of fibre in it. Thanks

  26. Brittany says:

    Do you cover it when it is simmering?

    • Mel says:

      Brittany – no, I leave it uncovered while I simmer. It reduces more this way. You could definitely partially cover it but it might take longer to achieve the thick consistency.

  27. I made this last week. EXCELLENT. We loved it the night I made it and then devoured it as an after-church lunch. This will be a regular in our house, especially with the ingredients being so simple.

    I am so glad you posted this.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Whitney! I’m honored that with you and your husband’s culinary expertise, you would even want to try one of the recipes from here. Glad you liked it! This meal has become a staple in our home, too.

  28. Stacy says:

    Thanks for this recipe- I love your blog! I made this last week and we absolutely loved it. Served it over brown rice. We had it for leftovers for several days after- my husband liked his with a fried egg on top like the way he always ate beans and rice in Venezuela where he lived for two years. It was delicious! Thanks again!

  29. Andrea says:

    I’m simmering this delicious recipe right now! I concur with the other postings- you should publish a cookbook. Have you seen Julie and Julia? If not watch it because that movie reminds me of you -even though I’ve never met you ;)

    • Mel says:

      Ha, Andrea – you are so funny! I have seen the movie Julie and Julia and that is a high compliment, even though I’m not half as talented (and cute) as Julie OR Julia. :) Thanks for the smile and I hope you liked the black beans and rice!

  30. Natasha says:

    I have been meaning to try this and yup….good stuff! Kids loved it too. They said it tasted like Chipolte and asked for lime, sour cream and cheese on top. So that is what we had along with cilantro and green onions….this is going in the rotation of regulars for sure! Thanks and delish!

  31. I just came back to write down this recipe. We are having again for dinner tonight. Huge hit at our house.

  32. Suzi says:

    We had this for dinner tonight- followed your recipe exactly and it was wonderful. My 4 year old LOVED it, my husband said he would like it again and I loved it too.
    thanks!

  33. Dasha says:

    Do you drain the tomatoes before adding them or add the juice as well?

  34. Smirking says:

    This dish was a hit with my husband, who usually will not eat a meal without lots of meat. He’s also extra picky about black beans because he lived in Brazil for two years. I was pleasantly surprised that he approved. In his words, “the cilantro and tomatoes make this taste fresh”. Thanks for sharing this super healthy, tasty meal!

    • Mel says:

      Smirking – my husband also lived in Brazil for two years and is a snob about black beans, too. I’m glad this meal won your husband over!

  35. Jen says:

    Shoot! I didn’t see the fresh Cilantro, in the ingredients list when I was at the store and left it out. Hopefully its still good.

  36. Jen says:

    My bean mixture didn’t reduce for some reason, but even with that and without the fresh cilantro it was REALLY good!

  37. Annie says:

    Just made this for dinner, and it was tasty! My kids loved it! (surprise, surprise…) Thanks for the recipe.

  38. Leslie says:

    Wow!! This dish was AMAZING. Who knew beans and rice could taste that good?!?! Thanks so much for sharing – a new favorite dish in our house!

  39. AnnetteBrunette says:

    Mel, I wonder if you have a magic way to convert a recipe calling for a can of black beans into a recipe using dried black beans as I can’t find a can of black beans ANYWHERE in England.

  40. Brandy says:

    I found your recipe last night and tried it today. It is soo good!! Since I had to soak my black beans I decided to cook it in the crock pot instead. That way the beans could soak and cook at the same time. This dish is really full of flavor! Mmm!! I will have to make it again!! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  41. Erin says:

    Hi Melanie, super excited to try recipe. I am living in Senegal, West Africa and this dish will be super easy and super tasty cheap, good for you meal. Woot! Woot! So, excited to try it.

  42. […] the look out for recipes which I can make in my slow cooker. I came across this wonderful recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and it was exactly what I was looking for! Take a look at Mel’s site, it’s excellent. […]

  43. […] the look out for recipes which I can make in my slow cooker. I came across this wonderful recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and it was exactly what I was looking for! Take a look at Mel’s site, it’s excellent. […]

  44. Nikole says:

    I made this for dinner tonight. I used dried black beans, which I cooked completely first, and then followed the recipe as written. I served it over your Cilantro Lime Rice and it was DIVINE! I loved it. What more can a girl ask for than a recipe that is cheap, healthy, easy to make, and DELICIOUS? Thank you for a great recipe!

  45. Ariane says:

    Huge hit with the kidlets last night and I told them it was the kind of food people from Brazil eat, it seemed to get them eating and then of course the taste took over. Thanks for a home run on this one!!!

  46. Donna Lee says:

    We love black beans and rice too! We use brown rice as well

  47. Kristin R. says:

    Just made this tonight and it was delicious! We added a fried egg on top just like my husband used to eat in Brazil.

  48. […] made this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe a few times, but I usually buy dried beans from the bulk bins because […]

  49. Sarah ONeal says:

    I followed a FB link to this page. I try to think up meals that go with black beans and rice, just so I can have them as often as possible. My version uses lemon and cumin, an awesome combination. I wanted to tell you, though, for a great consistency, I cook it for 20-40 min, stirring often, then smash some of the beans at the end with the back of a spatula. Soo good!

  50. Yasmeen says:

    I just finished making this and had a small bowl to taste…YUM!!!

    I’ve just starting teaching myself to cook and needed some guidance, enter Mel’s Kitchen Cafe :)

    I always think everything I make comes out just okay. But this came out amazing! Very flavorful. Don’t even miss the meat. Could make some chicken with it next time, but this is definitely a stand alone dish. Simply delicious!

    Thanks Mel!

  51. Elise says:

    Looking forward to making this over the weekend as a side dish to some pork carnitas… I hope there are leftovers for lunches! Yum

  52. lisa says:

    It was good! I added green chili’s and chili powder, For spiciness!

  53. Kylie says:

    Would this recipe work in the crockpot? I’m just trying to come up with some super fast crockpot/freezer/husband prepared meals for when our new baby comes in a few weeks. I don’t know if it’d work or not to get everything prepared, throw it in a ziploc in the freezer, so we can just throw it in the crockpot.

  54. Mel says:

    Kylie – I’m not sure how it would fare in the slow cooker since I haven’t tried it. Sorry I’m not more help – but I figure anything is worth a try in the slow cooker. Let me know how it works out if you try it!

  55. Michelle says:

    I just made this for dinner for the first time, and we all liked it- even my picky 5 year old said it was good! :) He also liked last night’s dinner, your Coconut Shrimp Curry! The only difference I made was to use 1 can of beans (I only had one on hand), and to simmer it for 30 minutes, since I didn’t have 45 minutes. It turned out great!

  56. Kylie says:

    I ended up just cooking it according it to directions and froze it. It froze very well! And it was a HUGE hit with our whole family. Including our three year old!

  57. […] & Beans (adapted and combined primarily from this, this, & […]

  58. […] Black Bean and Rice I feel like I need to re-name this recipe to ‘AWESOME, not bland, tasting black beans and rice,’ because sometimes people overlook beans and rice. I used about all the same ingredients, except cilantro because I didn’t have any on hand. It does take a little while to thicken, about 45 minutes, but it was great- definitely proves that beans can be flavorful. Ryan said that this dish was a great improvement on how I used to make beans, which was black beans with stemmed veggies and no seasoning, poor guy that he had to suffer through that one. My picture may look bland, so go check out the original blog to be persuaded! Also, I like sending the little kids (my nephews and niece) mail, so this time I sent them a secret message to decode. I am trying to come up with creative things we can do via mail or skype. Now Liam is starting boy scouts and Mck is doing preschool, I miss them so much! […]

  59. Jenny says:

    I can’t get the recipe print out links to work on this page??

  60. Mel says:

    Hi Jenny – the printable links work for me. What’s happening when you click on them?

  61. Jenny says:

    It just keeps bringing me to the Google Docs page and asking me to sign in but I don’t have a log in. This hasn’t happened with any other recipes I printed off today. Not sure what’s going on

  62. Kathy says:

    This was delicious! I was very reluctant to make it because it sounded so boring, but I was looking for a meatless dish to make. So based on the comments I decided to try it. My husband loved this too and he didn’t even ask “Where’s the Beef”!

    Two additions I made was to add 1 tsp. of ground cumin and the juice of one lime. It really gave it the zing it needed! Served it with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of Texas toast. Very yummy and I love the cilantro in it!

    A tip I have for always keeping “fresh” cilantro on hand is to freeze it. When I buy a bunch, I rinse it well under cold water and then shake it until almost dry. Put the whole bunch in a ziplock freezer bag and stick it in the freezer until you need it. Then when it’s still frozen, use a scissors to clip off what you need, but don’t thaw it or it will turn to mush. It always tastes fresh.

  63. Michelle says:

    Hi Mel! I just made this for my family and it was a hit! Very Flavorful. I added 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes and a tiny dash of cayenne and it gave it a vey nice subtle heat. Thanks for the great recipes!

  64. […] Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from weightwatchers New complete cookbook and melskitchencafe.com here […]

  65. Dana says:

    This was AMAZING! Only change I made was to use Fire Roasted tomatoes because that is what my hubby got for me. :) But it was super good and filling. I also topped it with sour cream.

  66. […] Black Bean and Rice I feel like I need to re-name this recipe to ‘AWESOME, not bland, tasting black beans and rice,’ because sometimes people overlook beans and rice. I used about all the same ingredients, except cilantro because I didn’t have any on hand. It does take a little while to thicken, about 45 minutes, but it was great- definitely proves that beans can be flavorful. Ryan said that this dish was a great improvement on how I used to make beans, which was black beans with stemmed veggies and no seasoning, poor guy that he had to suffer through that one. My picture may look bland, so go check out the original blog to be persuaded! Also, I like sending the little kids (my nephews and niece) mail, so this time I sent them a secret message to decode. I am trying to come up with creative things we can do via mail or skype. Now Liam is starting boy scouts and Mck is doing preschool, I miss them so much! […]

  67. Tiggerr says:

    My husband can’t/won’t eat tomatoes but loves black beans. Do you think I could use tomato sauce instead?

  68. Joan Wigfield says:

    This was a hit last night with me meat loving husband. We both had the leftovers for lunch today.Wonderful!

  69. Katie says:

    I have this on my menu for tonight but realized I won’t be home in enough time to simmer it due to kids lessons. Do you think it would be better to make it earlier and just keep on low on the stovetop covered or put in a crockpot on low after cooking. Other possibility is to keep it covered while it simmers to slow the process down which would add an extra hour with my timeframe. Hope that makes sense?? Thanks in advance!

  70. Katie says:

    This was super tasty! My kids loved it too!

  71. Karen says:

    Made this for dinner last night. Mmmm good! The kids loved it too. We are having the leftovers for lunch today. Keep the recipes coming. Makes my life easier :-)

  72. Cearrow says:

    I’ve been trying to stay away from canned foods because it seems like there’s so much sodium in them..how would I make them with beans from a bag? And do you know how to incorporate some pork like others suggested? Also I highly suggest making red beans and rice it is a southern traditional dish where I’m from. Haven’t made it myself but it’s so easy. Let your red beans from a bag soak overnight, add them with some water to a crockpot in the morning, add some spices and sausage like the hills hire farm long link kind sliced 1/2 inch thick, and cook for a few hours. Serve over rice. Very popular south dish. Idk exact measurements but you could find it in many cookbooks or online. If you don’t load it down with salt it’s very healthy! I would just LOVE if you would investigate some southern dishes and make them your own for me to make lol. Like chicken and dumplings, haven’t found a perfect recipe for that yet. Or gumbo. :)

    • Mel says:

      Hi Cearrow, I’ve never made these with dry beans so you’ll have to experiment – you might even try googling a recipe for black beans and rice made with dry beans. You’d probably want to soak them overnight and then cook them quite a bit longer with more liquid. You could definitely toss in cooked, leftover pork or chicken but if you are using uncooked, you could saute and cook it first before adding the beans (and maybe even take it out as the beans simmer, especially if they are simmering for a long time if using dry beans) and add in at the end. Good luck! My dad loves red beans and rice so I’ll have to try a recipe!

  73. Dana says:

    I have made this with dried beans I cooked. You want them to be pretty firm but not hard in the center and not mushy at all. Just cook them a bit shorter than you normally would. And then follow the recipe as normal.

    This recipe is so good that it makes a regular appearance on our table. I use Fire Roasted tomatoes to add a smoky flavor.

  74. Sheila says:

    Made these black beans and rice for dinner tonight . . .the family loved it! Thank you, Brian, for begging and thank you, Mel, for posting these in your “Recipes the World Forgot (Part 7)” series.

  75. Barbara says:

    Here’s what I do, and did today, actually! I cook about half a bag of black beans in water until they are soft – about an hour or two (don’t add salt or they will toughen). Rinse, then cool them, and store in 2 quart sized zipper bags if you’re feeding only 2 or 3 people like I do, then toss them in your freezer. A whole can of black beans is too much for us most of the time, so I freeze them in order to have smaller amounts to use in a variety of my recipes that call for them.

  76. Candra says:

    I made these last week with Quinoa instead of rice. It was delicious and I was kind of stunned because my kids ate it — even my picky-picky eater who cries every night at dinner. He didn’t cry that night. Guess what’s on the menu again this week. Thank you!!!

  77. Jocelyn says:

    My family loved this, even my picky daughter. There ended up being a bit too much liquid for our liking, so I thickened the beans up with some white rice flour. Great dish! Thank you!

  78. Melissa says:

    Hi Mel,

    I was wondering which one of your rice recipes – the Mexican Rice or Cilantro Lime rice would be the better choice to complement this recipe? Thank you.

  79. Jane Maihan says:

    could you tell me the nutritional breakdown? specifically how many calories per serving? and what is a serving? 1 cup?
    Thank you.

    • Mel says:

      You can google an online nutritional calculator for the information you need as I don’t provide that. The meal serves 4-6; I’m not sure exactly how much that is per serving in cups, sorry!

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