35 Delicious Rice and Bean Dishes


Whether you're a vegan or meat eater, beans and rice make a hearty meal, any way you choose to prepare them. If you buy your beans in bulk, and soak them, they are even cheaper than canned. The same goes for rice; however, even buying the instant rice and canned beans makes for an affordable meal. Choose brown rice for a more nutritious meal. From Cuba to Italy, here are 35 rice and bean recipes that add flare to this classic combination. (See also: Cheap and Healthy Black Bean Recipes)

1. Mexican Tomato Rice & Beans

This classic recipe for Mexican tomato rice and beans combines ingredients that you already have in your pantry at home. Not only is it quick and easy, but you can also leave out the jalapeno if you don't like dishes that are spicy. This makes a perfect meal for a cold day!

2. West African Beans and Rice

Although this West African beans and rice recipe is very simple, it is packed with flavor. If you can find the West African cayenne, you can make it extra spicy.

3. Indian Dal

One of the most popular Indian dishes is dal, which you can eat with rice or naan. This curried chickpea dal recipe calls for traditional ingredients. You should be able to find the spices in the International aisle at the grocery store. (See also: Delicious Ways to Enjoy Garam Masala)

4. Smoky Pinto Bean and Brown Rice Soup

This pinto bean and rice soup recipe is great for the vegan and gluten-free crowd. Top the soup with sour cream and chopped scallions, or try pairing it with jalapeno cornbread to kick it up a notch! (See also: Frugal Items for Your Vegan Grocery List)

5. Caribbean Pigeon Peas

While you may love Caribbean food for the flavor, the best part about Caribbean cooking is that the ingredients are often cheap and easy to find. This recipe for rice with pigeon peas has some of the most basic ingredients, and the addition of coconut milk gives it a creamy texture and adds flavor.

6. Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Cajun red beans and rice is a classic way to prepare beans and rice, and the andouille sausage makes this dish. Have a potluck to attend? This is an excellent and affordable dish to bring. (See also: Cheap and Easy Potluck Dishes)

7. Black-Eyed Peas and Rice: Hoppin' John

Traditionally this dish is served on New Year's Day for good luck. Also known as Hoppin' John, this recipe is made with black-eyed peas simmered with ham or bacon (use turkey bacon for a healthier choice), and then it's served with collard greens.

8. Sticky Rice Balls With Beans

This sticky rice dish from East Asia consists of hand-held rice balls that are dipped into a variety of sauces. This is a fun dish for kids, and you can make it less spicy for sensitive taste buds.

9. Black Bean Tacos With Mango Salsa and Rice

You can leave out the fish from this fish tacos recipe, or serve the rice and beans in addition to the fish tacos. Try mixing the mango salsa with black beans and rice to create a cold salad, which is also a quick and easy dish for potlucks.

10. Vegetarian Paella

While there are several versions of vegetarian paella, the whole cloves of garlic and saffron really make this dish. Saffron can be extremely strong If you're looking for a taste of Spain, this recipe is the way to go!

11. Saffron Rice With Peas and Garbanzo Beans

If you already have the saffron from the paella dish above, this saffron rice combined with peas and beans adds some variety and bold flavors to the weekly menu. This can make a meal, or it can be a side dish for grilled veggie and meat kabobs.

12. Beans and Rice Biryani

If you are looking for a savory vegetarian dish with lots of spice, this beans and rice biryani recipe is for you. While this recipe is slightly more complicated than some of the others, it is well worth it. Make sure you have plenty of time before trying this one.

13. Cast Iron Refried Pinto Beans and Rice

Anything cooked in an iron skillet is going to be tasty, in my opinion, and this classic refried pinto beans and rice dish is so simple even a rookie cook can handle it. The secret to caramelizing onions is to use low heat and lots of oil. Serve with corn tortillas and cheddar cheese, or use black beans if you don't like pinto beans.

14.Middle Eastern Fava Beans

Another dish that calls for saffron, this Middle Eastern dish uses fava beans, which may be difficult to find, unless you find a specialty foods market. Some co-ops and health food stores will have them in produce during certain times of the year. But if you can find fresh or canned fava beans, this recipe for fava beans with potatoes and saffron rice is a sophisticated addition to your nightly menu.

15. Tuscan Bean and Rice Soup

If you are looking for a low-calorie and hearty dish, this Tuscan bean and rice soup from Tuscany is the perfect choice. Try serving it with a dry Riesling and crusty bread, or top it with freshly grated Parmesan for a real taste of Italy. (See also: Flavorful Foods Worth Splurging On)

16. Mung Bean Crepes

You can get all the nutritional benefits of beans and rice in a mung bean crepe. This is also a gluten-free dish if you want a savory crepe without the gluten.

17. Backpacking Rice and Beans

Most of this recipe comes from a package or can, but we had to include a recipe for backpacking trips. The canned salmon adds an interesting twist to this classic combo. This is perfect for picnics and travel food as well. (See also: 50 Ways to Use Canned Salmon)

18. Black Bean Turkey Chili

This black bean turkey chili recipe doesn't call for rice, but you could easily add brown rice for a heartier stew. You can even use the turkey from Thanksgiving leftovers instead of ground turkey.

19. Spanish Rice and Peas With Steamed Mussels

Another recipe from Spain, this rice and bean paella includes steamed mussels, shrimp and artichokes. You may not be able to find squid, but it's fine without it, and the mussels make a great presentation for guests.

20. Kosher Rice and Bean Fritters

While steamed mussels are definitely not Kosher, these rice and bean fritters are from Joy of Kosher. They were originally intended as burgers, but the cook who adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart thinks of them more like fritters.

21. Kid-Friendly Rice and Bean Burritos

If you are a parent with picky eaters, try these rice and bean burritos. The recipe lists a few alternatives that are healthier than the original version. Bonus: they are ready in 30 minutes!

22. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

You don't need the tortilla to make this cauliflower rice burrito bowl. It's a great choice if you are on a budget or don't have a lot of time. The rice is actually made from grated cauliflower, so it takes less time to cook than regular rice.

23. Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Rice and Beans

This is a perfect fall recipe if you are looking for something to do with all those winter vegetables available now. This one also makes a lovely presentation for a small dinner party.

24. Golden Split Pea Soup With Smoked Ham

While it's not vegetarian, what sets this split pea soup apart is the smoked ham and homemade crispy onions. You can always take out the ham and add liquid smoke for the same flavor. Serve it over brown basmati rice.

25. Vietnamese Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Rice Pudding

Similar to the sticky rice balls, this black-eyed pea and sweet rice pudding provides plenty of opportunity to get creative with it. Note the additional ingredients at the bottom of the recipe: tapioca, lotus seeds, taro root, crunchy seaweed, or cinnamon and vanilla.

26. Lentil Stuffed Peppers

Even though this lentils mexicanos and pea-stuffed peppers recipe calls for tortilla chips, you could easily replace the chips with rice. You can do the same for the pea-stuffed pepper recipe below that. Make it vegetarian and replace the beef with brown rice. (See also: Mouth Watering Lentil Recipes)

27. Jamaican Lentil Stew With Coconut

Looking for another lentil recipe? This lentil stew combines the spice of Jamaican food with creamy coconut to ease the burn. You could eat it with or without rice.

28. Bolivian Spicy Lentil Stew (Aji De Lentejas)

As another lentil option, this Bolivian spicy lentil stew provides plenty of spice if you are into spicy food. The longer it sits, the spicier it will be, and it's also vegan.

29. Deconstructed Fish Tacos With Black Beans and Rice

If you've never made a "deconstructed" meal, this is a good one to try. The preparation for this unique fish taco with beans and rice recipe is a little more complicated, but it is well worth it when it's time to serve it up.

30. Green Beans With Brown Rice and Garlic

This recipe for green beans with brown rice and garlic is perhaps the simplest recipe on the list. It's a great choice if you are looking to simplify your meals, and if you are a garlic lover.

31. German Rice With Bratwurst

While this German rice recipe doesn't call for beans, you could add black-eyed peas or northern white beans to give it more texture and flavor.

32. Rice and Bean Collard Wrap

You could take any of these rice and bean recipes and stuff them into a collard wrap for a healthier choice! The Hoppin' John recipe would be a good one since it is typically service with collard greens.

33. Calypso Rice and Beans

This is Calypso rice and beans dish another easy meal to prepare. The pineapple and jalapeno give it a sweet and spicy flavor.

34. Okra Rice

As someone originally from the South, I am a sucker for anything with okra. You can add fried okra for another variation of this okra rice recipe.

35. Ethiopian Beef and Peanut Stew

This Ethiopian Beef and Peanut Stew recipe is probably the spiciest recipe on this list. It puts a spin on this classic Ethiopian dish, especially with the scallion brown rice. All of the ingredients are easy to find and may already be in your pantry.

What's your favorite recipe for beans and rice?

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Guest's picture

You are so right--beans and rice are cheap and yet many (including myself) still avoid them. Thank you for these ideas--I am going to try some out this week.

Guest's picture

Thanks so much for posting this! I've been making curry with chickpeas/garbanzo beans as my go-to "frugal, healthy, vegetarian main course" for the past few weeks, and while it's still delicious, the repetition is starting to wear a bit thin. I'm looking forward to trying these, especially the West African recipe.

Last night I made lentil curry, which was a big mistake – I used to eat them all the time when I was a student, but I didn't know how to cook very well yet, so they never came out right. It turns out I can't eat them at all without having flashbacks to my barely edible attempts in my early 20s...bah.

Guest's picture
Mary Ellen

This is an epidemic among Americans, esp. the younger generation. Many of them can't boil water much less make something as simple as a curry. All it takes is practice but few are wiling to invest in that.

Guest's picture

Excellent post. My fave way to enjoy chickpeas is quick and easy: toss in olive oil and cayenne pepper (with garlic salt to taste) and plop it into the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, and voila. Crunchy, spicy and healthy.

Guest's picture

Yum! Beans and rice are my favorite easy and low-key go to's. Note that there's apparently a mung bean shortage going on right now. I discovered this when trying to make kitchuri a couple weeks ago and searched 4 different stores that usually have them.

Meg Favreau's picture

One of my favorite rice-and-beans recipes is African Chickpea Stew. I'll usually make a recipe like this one and throw in some spinach or kale: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/African-Curried-Coconut-Sou...

Guest's picture

Rice n Beans are a frugal food lifesaver! When our family has a "clean out the frig night", depending on what meals i made that week...i make a large pot of rice. Everyone starts with rice as a base for adding their creative toppings. Since we cook alot of meals that are bean based, the "re-creations" can be quite yummy!!! one person can have tex-mex (pinto peans or chilli) with cheese & sour cream, while another can have curried veg & rice, or leftover chinnese takeout over rice...we have found that most food taste great with rice if you add alittle garnish like fresh chopped tomatto or cheese or spice....we've even had leftover chocolate pudding & icecream over rice!!!! lol (the kids loved it)

Guest's picture

Plenty of recipe ideas to put to work here - pretty sweet! Any time you can combine beans and shrimp is a double bonus for me!

Guest's picture

I love black beans with cumin and fresh salsa and a side of rice, green chiles, greek yogurt and jack cheese baked in a casserole. The yogurt is almost like sour cream, but slightly sweet. Delicious.

Meg Favreau's picture

Uh, YUM. Do you have a recipe you could link to?

Guest's picture

Some of these actually sound really good. Cooking beans and rice in the crockpot can allow you to do so many different things to them by adding various spices. Also, throw anything into a casserole and douse it in cheese and its bound to be good!

Guest's picture

Beans and rice are a fantastic dinner or lunch staple for a number of reasons -- not just because they're cheap (though that's also great), but also because they're healthy and they can be served SO many different ways, like you highlight here. I personally love spicy food, so "burrito bowls" with extra-hot salsa and Cajun-spiced bean-and-rice bowls are two of my favorites!

Guest's picture
Karen Mok

You are forgetting one - a traditional Japanese breakfast of rice and nado (a type of bean).... not the tastiest, but should at least be mentioned!