Rich and flavorful Spanish rice and beans, the perfect weeknight dinner for vegetarians & vegans alike. Also, a tasty side dish for meat-eaters or pescetarians! Easy to make in one pot, with all the aspects of a supreme comfort food. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and a great source of complete proteins.
Vegan Spanish rice is super easy to whip up in about 30 minutes. It’s a meal I eat about three times a week, sometimes even more often. This dish is a staple food in Central America (Mexican rice and beans), many Latin American & South American countries, and also in the Caribbean, where I currently live. Dominican rice and beans are quite popular, well seasoned, and tasty!
Why are rice and beans so popular in so many countries? Because the dish is cheap, easy to cook, delicious, healthy (rich in fiber), and furthermore it contains all essential amino acids. So if you are a vegan and get asked “but where do you get your protein from?!”, simply reply “from rice and beans (and other plants)”. 😀
Below are the main ingredients and their substitutes. All ingredients, measurements, and also the calories in Spanish rice are listed in the printable recipe card below.
- Beans – I prefer using red beans (e.g. kidney beans), however, you can also use pinto beans or black beans. Either cook the beans from dry (for example in a pressure cooker/Instant Pot) or use canned beans. Cooking the beans from dry takes much longer, of course.
- Rice – My favorite rice is Basmati rice or Jasmine rice, even though it’s not typical for Spanish rice but I love that it cooks so fast. Sometimes I use brown rice, because it’s healthier, containing more vitamins and minerals.
- Bell pepper – I prefer red or orange peppers, but feel free to use yellow or green ones.
- Salsa – Use your favorite salsa or tomato sauce from a jar! My favorite brand contains basil, oregano, garlic, and onion (so yummy!)
- Fresh onion and garlic – Do not skip! Fresh onion and garlic add so much flavor to the Spanish rice and beans. Furthermore, the health benefits are unbeatable!
- Vegetable broth – I recommend using a store-bought veggie broth or stock to save time. Or simply dissolve a veggie bouillon cube in water.
- Spices – Paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper are a must. You can also add veggie sazon seasoning, red pepper flakes (cayenne pepper), hot sauce, and dried oregano.
- Olives – I also love adding green olives but you can leave them out if you don’t like olives.
How To Make Spanish Rice And Beans?
STEP 1: Start by adding the uncooked rice to a bowl with water and let it soak for about 10 minutes, then discard the water. Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and prep the other ingredients.
STEP 2: Heat oil in a large skillet or pot (use veggie broth if avoiding oil), add onion and bell pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, and all spices and sauté for a further one minute.
STEP 3: Next, add the rice, salsa & veggie broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
STEP 4: Cover the skillet or pot and let simmer on the lowest heat setting for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Do not uncover the lid, and do not stir while cooking! The cooking time depends on the rice variety (check the package instructions of your rice brand). Jasmine rice or Basmati rice cook much faster than e.g. brown rice.
STEP 5: Turn off the heat, remove the lid and taste the rice. Adjust seasonings if needed, adding more salt, black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. to taste. Stir in beans & olives (optional) and garnish with fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley) to taste. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Helpful Tips And Variations
- Coconut rice and beans: Coconut is very often used in Dominican cooking (also in many other Caribbean countries). I love adding a splash of canned coconut milk to enhance the flavors!
- Rice and bean casserole: Interested in a variation? Check my Rice And Bean Casserole recipe for inspiration.
- Spanish rice stuffed peppers: I love making vegan stuffed peppers and this rice and beans recipe makes a great filling for bell peppers. Check out my Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers recipe for the instructions.
- Instant Pot method: Press the sauté function of your Instant Pot, add oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and all spices. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add rice, salsa, vegetable broth and seal the IP. Set to high pressure for 8 minutes. Quick release, open the Instant Pot, stir in beans & olives (optional) and fresh herbs.
Perfect For Meal Prep
This red beans and rice recipe is perfect for meal prep. Store in individual lunch boxes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Add in other ingredients of choice, for example, cherry tomatoes, avocado or corn for a variation.
This Recipe Is:
- Vegan (dairy-free)
- Easy to make
- A great weeknight dinner or side dish
- Also, great for kids
- A healthy 1-Pot recipe
- Perfect for meal prep
- Read in about 30 minutes
Should you give this healthy Spanish rice and beans recipe a try, please leave a comment and rating below and tag me in your Instagram or Facebook post with #elavegan and use @elavegan.
If you love easy rice recipes, make sure to check out my other vegan recipes, that also happen to be gluten-free:
- Vegan Mushroom Risotto
- Creamy Vegan Risotto with Broccoli
- Turmeric Rice
- Vegan Chickpea Curry with Rice
- Sweet Potato Curry With Rice
- Rice And Bean Casserole
Spanish Rice And Beans
- 1 tbsp oil use veggie broth if you avoid oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt & black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) white rice uncooked (*see notes)
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) vegetable broth or more, depending on rice variety
- 1 1/4 cups (300 g) salsa
- One 15 oz can (270 g) kidney beans drained and rinsed (*see notes)
- 1/2 cup (65 g) green olives halved (optional)
- Fresh herbs to garnish, e.g. cilantro or parsley
- Add rice to a bowl with cold or lukewarm water and let it soak for about 10 minutes, then discard the water. Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and prep the other ingredients.
- Heat oil in a large skillet or pot, add onion and bell pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, and all spices and sauté for a further one minute.
- Add the rice, salsa & veggie broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Please note that you'll need more vegetable broth and salsa if using rice that requires a longer cooking time.
- Cover the skillet or pot and let simmer on the lowest heat setting for about 15-20 minutes. Do not uncover the lid, and do not stir while cooking! The cooking time depends on the rice variety (check the package instructions). Jasmine rice or Basmati rice cook much faster than e.g. brown rice.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid and taste it. Adjust seasonings if needed, adding more salt, black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. to taste. Stir in beans & olives (optional) and garnish with fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley) to taste. Store leftovers uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Rice: My favorite rice is Basmati rice or Jasmine rice, even though it's not typical for Spanish rice but I love that it cooks so fast. You can use any other white rice or brown rice, simply adjust the cooking time and add more vegetable broth and salsa.
- Beans: You can also use cooked pinto beans or black beans.
- Tips: Read the blog post for more helpful tips and variations and for instructions on how to make the recipe in an Instant Pot.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
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