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Rice and beans are some of the most affordable food staples you can buy. They also can be a rather boring and bland combination. However, if you spice them up just right, the whole family can enjoy them as a dinner side.

rice and beans in black bowl with cilantro garnish; orange and red plaid cloth

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Are rice and beans healthy?

Rice and beans are both carbohydrates so one might think they aren’t the best dietary choice, but let’s look at these ingredients a little closer. The truth is we need to look at the nutritional value in both rice and beans and make an informed choice based on personal preference.

One thing that is controversial is the discussion that rice and beans combine to make a complete protein. While some believe they must be combined to make a complete protein, there are other sources that say they are complete on their own. If you’re interested in knowing more about that feel free to do some research yourself. It’s a fascinating discussion.

Are rice and beans gluten-free?

Rice and beans themselves are gluten-free. If you use canned beans you need to check the ingredients to be safe. Also, if someone you know is allergic to gluten or highly sensitive you will want to check that the spices you use do not contain gluten or have the potential for cross-contamination.

Are rice and beans keto friendly?

Sorry friends! Since both rice and beans are high carbohydrate ingredients, I’m afraid they are not a ket0-frienly dish.

Are rice and beans vegan?

As long as you follow this recipe without adding any animal fats or meat, or swapping out water for a meat-based broth, it certainly is a vegan rice and beans recipe.

What kind of rice should I use?

To get the maximum benefit of nutritional benefits from rice, you need to choose the right rice. The main rice options to choose from are some type of white rice, brown rice, or wild rice. Brown rice and wild rice (not really rice but a type of wild grass, who knew?!)  are your best options as they contain more fiber and nutrients than white rice.

Brown rice carries a minimal amount more protein than white rice while wild rice has double the amount of protein. So, if you’re trying to add some protein go with wild rice. That being said, wild rice can be an interesting flavor choice for rice and beans so I would generally stick with brown rice like I do in this dish. Feel free to experiment and find which rice works for you, but keep in mind different types of rice will take longer/shorter to cook and need slightly different amounts of water.

What kind of beans should I use?

Beans themselves are not only packed with nutrients, but are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and fiber. Do a little research to find which one you prefer. However, if  you’re looking for a more traditional rice and beans I would choose a red bean (like this, not kidney beans), black beans, small white beans, or pinto beans.

Should I use dried beans or canned beans?

Dried beans are so easy to cook there sometimes seems like no point in buying them canned (Check out all the ways you can cook dried beans easily). Plus, they are super budget-friendly, but canned beans are also an affordable option and sometimes we all just need easy solutions that don’t require a ton of prep.

I’m giving you permission to buy the canned beans if you need to. Just remember to check the servings on the can to see how much is in a can as opposed to going by the weight since you will need to rinse and drain them. Generally, one can has between one and one and a half cups of beans once drained and rinsed.

Protein + fiber + a sucker punch of vitamins and minerals all “packaged” in affordable food staples? I’ll let you decide if that makes them starches worth eating, but I say they are a great addition to our food budget and dinner table.

What if I try this recipe and feel like the spices are too strong?

Most people say the spices in this recipe are just right, but others have tried it and feel the spices are too strong for them. If you give it a taste before serving and it tastes a bit too strong, add a 15-ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes and simmer the liquid off over high heat for a few minutes. That will help tone it down a bit.

The next time you make the recipe you can simply cut back a little on the chili powder.

Tip for getting kids to eat food they aren’t a fan of: Keep a good supply of spices on hand for flavoring their least favorite dishes. Using a heavier hand with spices can help disguise the flavors they don’t care for a bit.

How do I get my family to eat this dish?

I don’t know about your family but my kids have never exactly jumped up and down when they hear “rice and beans for dinner.” But rice and beans are so affordable and filling so I tackled it head on and looked for ways to make rice and beans a thing to be enjoyed. This rice and bean dish is a great start. The seasonings add a punch of chili-like flavor without being too spicy for the more timid taste buds.

Here are some ideas to get your family used to rice and beans dishes.

  1. Pair it with several other dishes you already know they enjoy and require they eat just a small portion.
  2. Mix shrimp, chicken, or sausage into the dish.
  3. Make a soup that includes rice, beans, and chili powder before giving this recipe a try so they start to become familiar with the flavors.

Easy Rice and Red Beans

  • Author: Heather McCurdy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked rice (I use brown rice)
  • 2 cups cooked red beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/21 tsp. salt (I go with 1/2 since I like less salt)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper


  1. Put rice, beans, and water in a pan.
  2. Add seasoning and stir.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Cover and turn burner to low to simmer.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes then check for doneness.

rice and red beans in a black bowl; orange plaid cloth under it; fuschia colored flowers in jar in top left corner; text overlay that says easy rice and red beans,

Original Images and Post: October 27, 2016 — Updated: 7/20/2019
Easy Rice and Beans Recipe
Easy Rice and Beans Ingredients
Easy Rice and Beans Cooking
Easy Rice and Beans Recipe

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  1. Not good at all! Very very bland and I even used the exact amount of seasonings that the recipe called for. I was very disappointed.

    1. I’m sorry you are disappointed. This may be a matter of taste because, if you read other comments, some people feel it tastes too strong. You could add more spices. But also, because of how much seasoning it calls for, is it possible your spices are losing their freshness and aren’t as potent anymore?

  2. Rice and beans is great! To be honest, I’m not good at cooking but I like them, they give me joy and excitement every time I finish the dishes, which is a great thing. With your recipe, just need to follow the instructions and the rest is simple, thank you for sharing them.

  3. So in love with the flavor and how easy it is!!! I’m vegetarian and always looking for recipes with good amount of protein in it. Going to have leftovers with my granddaughter tomorrow and top it with a little bit of sour cream

  4. My kids prefer rice and beans to bread. This is a great easy recipe. I’ll try it tomorrow for my family.

  5. Doesn’t brown rice take a long time to cook if it is a good organic brown rice? i don’t do instant anything, especially rice.

    1. I generally use Della organic brown rice but I have used other brown rice with very little difference in cook time. That being said, I haven’t tried every brown rice so cook time can vary a bit.

    1. You can definitely try instant rice. It will not have the flavor infused the same way so I can’t guarantee the flavor will be the same. You will also need to cook it per the instructions for instant rice versus this cooking method.

  6. By “dry rice” to you mean uncooked rice? 15 minutea seems like a quick cook for rice, and I don’t wanna ruin this

        1. I’m not sure why I replied to you as if I was making it in my Instant Pot. Apparently I’m confusing MYSELF. Maybe cushion your time a bit in case it takes a bit longer. It can’t hurt to be ready 5-10 minutes ahead of time versus done late. I’ve always used Della brown rice with these results but it may vary. I would hate for you to make it and the timing not work out right.

          If you do have an Instant Pot, I would make it easy on yourself and throw it all in there and set on the rice setting for 12 minutes. I’m thinking I replied that way because it’s the way I’ve been making it lately and I plain out forgot the recipe is stovetop.

  7. I didnt care for the recipe,the taste was overpowering from the chili powder,wont make again

  8. This looks delicious! Have you tried it with brown rice? Any recommendations for changing ratios if I go that way? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah, I should have noted the rice I use. I actually use Della organic brown rice already so you should be fine. Now I need to try making it with white rice and see how it changes! Thank you for your note.

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