Here’s how to make the best black beans and rice! This classic Latin-style side dish is perfect with tacos or as a lunch idea.
Black beans and rice are a classic Latin-style side dish: but there are so many different ways to make them! There are two main styles you may think of. First you’ve got Cuban black beans, saucy and savory, served over rice. Then you’ve got black beans, jumbled with rice and green bell pepper, and seasoned with cumin, lime and cilantro. That’s the style Alex and I have made for you in this recipe! It’s the perfect side to serve with tacos, or as a lunch idea (it saves well for eating throughout the week). Let’s get to it!
How to make the best black beans and rice
Turns out, there’s not one way to make black beans and rice. If you’re thinking of a saucy-style black beans you’d serve with rice, head to Cuban black beans. It’s one of our favorite recipes and often we serve it as a main dish. But this one: this is a mix of black beans and long-grain white rice that’s a perfect side dish! Here are the features of the best black beans and rice:
- White long-grain rice. Long-grain rice is traditional here and is the perfect contrast to the chewy black beans. Though we often use brown rice in our cooking, white rice is nice here for the color contrast (plus, it cooks faster). See below for tips on cooking rice!
- Onion, green pepper and garlic. Using these aromatics brings big flavor to the simple dish.
- A mix of butter and olive oil. Combining butter and olive oil brings big, rich flavor! If you eat vegan or plant-based, you can easily substitute more olive oil for the butter. But the butter adds a savory note that has a nice nuance.
- Cumin and lime. Of course, like many Latin-style recipes, earthy cumin and tangy lime round out the flavors.
It sounds simple, but altogether these flavors truly pop! You can get it together in about 30 minutes if you phase it as follows: Start the white rice, chop the veggies, start the saute, then add the cooked rice in at the end.
Tips on cooking rice
Rice is infamously easy to screw up! You’ll want it perfectly cooked for this black beans and rice recipe, because mushy rice plus mushy beans would be a disaster! (Ew.) Luckily, Alex and I have a method that results in perfectly al dente rice every time. It’s called the Pasta Method.
Head to How to Cook Basmati Rice for the recipe! Instead of cooking rice the standard way where you simmer until all the water is absorbed, you’ll cook it like pasta! Boil the water, then add the rice and cook until tender. Drain the rice when you’re done, and let it sit in the pot covered to steam for about 5 minutes. There you have it: perfectly cooked rice! Another plus: if you use this method for brown rice, it’s loads faster.
How to cook black beans: two ways
You can easily use canned black beans for this black beans and rice recipe, and it comes out fantastic. However, if you’re looking for an excuse to cook beans from scratch, can we bend your ear? If you have the time, here are a few advantages to home-cooked beans:
- It’s more delicious. Canned beans are fine, but home cooked beans are great. They have a firmer texture and an elevated flavor.
- It’s cheaper! It can be about ⅓ the price to cook your beans at home.
There are two ways that we have cooked beans at home. Our favorite way is to use an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) if you have one. It’s seriously fast: it takes about 1 hour to cook dried beans! Our other favorite method is using a Dutch oven: this takes about 1.5 hours. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can also cook them on the stove: it takes 2 to 3 hours, and also requires a 14 hour soak. For that reason, we prefer the first two methods!
- Instant Pot Black Beans (required equipment: an Instant Pot!)
- How to Cook Dried Beans in a Dutch Oven (required equipment: a Dutch oven!)
- How to Cook Black Beans on the Stove
Top ways to serve black beans and rice
There are so many ways to serve black beans and rice! Since they take about 30 minutes to make, they’re great for entertaining. Or, make them up ahead of time and reheat: just throw them into a skillet and reheat over medium heat until warmed through. The best ways to serve black beans and rice:
- Enchiladas. Try them with our Vegetarian Enchiladas with Quinoa.
- Tacos! Of course. Pair with Epic 5 Minute Tacos, Best Jackfruit Tacos or Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Sauce.
- As a lunch! Make for your weekend meal prep, then refrigerate and bring to the office. It’s good room temp or cold too. Top with salsa.
- With pizza. Why not? Try our Best Ever Taco Pizza or Best Mexican Pizza.
- On a salad. Throw it on greens, add some corn and Green Goddess dressing, and you’ve got a tasty salad.
- In lettuce wraps. Use up leftovers in lettuce wraps with mango salsa!
This black beans and rice recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.