Easy 20-Minute Black Beans and Rice

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by Sil Pancho

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04.03.2023


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This vegan Black Beans and Rice Recipe is such a CHEAP, easy, healthy, and QUICK vegan side or main! It comes together in only about 20 minutes, using canned beans and fast-cooking basmati rice as a shortcut. This beans and rice recipe is simply flavored (making it a perfect food for everyone from toddlers to grown-ups). It’s delicious as is with a wonderful creamy texture, but it’s easy to add spices and flavors to make it your own.

Over head photo of a bowl of black beans and rice topped with jalapeños, tomatoes, and onion, surrounded by cilantro and lime.

The best part about this recipe is that you probably already have most of the ingredients right this very moment in your kitchen. If you keep canned black beans, onions, and white rice in your pantry, you’re pretty much set! Add some cumin, fresh lime, and cilantro and you’re good to go.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, protein-packed, plant-based meal you can feed your whole family, this is it. My daughters have loved this meal since they were 1 and 2 years old – they cleaned their plates in record time when I served them this. These black beans are perfect for baby-led weaning or for toddlers, but tasty enough for the whole family!

Let’s get to it – in this post, I’ll explain how to make black beans and rice quickly but still get a beautiful creamy texture and flavor, and suggest variations to make this meal your own.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Canned Black Beans – if you want to use another bean like red beans/kidney, or pinto, go for it! If you use dry black beans, you’ll need to cook and prepare them in advance for this recipe.
  • White Basmati rice – feel free to use any other kind, but keep in mind white basmati is the fastest to cook. You’ll need to adjust timing and the water to rice ratio according to the directions on the package.
  • Onion – I used yellow, you can use any onion you have and any other alliums you want – shallots, garlic, etc.
  • Cumin – feel free to use this and/or other spices – see below for some ideas.
  • Fresh lime – this is highly recommended but if you don’t have one, you can still make this recipe and leave it out.
  • Cilantro – this can be omitted if you don’t like the flavor of cilantro. If you don’t have fresh cilantro, feel free to use ground coriander instead.
  • Olive oil – or any other kind of cooking oil you want or butter or ghee.

Why this black beans and rice recipe is so quick to make

This black beans and rice recipe comes together in only 20 minutes, which makes it perfect for busy weeknights. Here’s how.

  1. Cook the rice first. While the rice is cooking, it’s easy to whip up the beans in only about 15 minutes.
  2. Use white basmati rice. Nothing against brown rice, but white rice cooks in about HALF the time. If you want to use brown and have a little extra time, check out this recipe for cilantro lime brown rice.
  3. Use canned black beans. Dry beans take HOURS to cook, but these canned beans only take 15 minutes!

How to make black beans and rice

First, cook the rice. Mix water, rice, oil, and salt together in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover, and cook on low for 10 minutes, then turn the heat OFF and keep the pot covered and let it sit for another 5 minutes to finish steaming. When it’s done, you’ll stir in lime zest, lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

Process collage showing how to make cilantro lime rice with basmati rice.

While the rice is cooking, sauté an onion in another pot, add cumin and salt, and add black beans and water. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so, then mash a few black beans with a potato masher. Stir in fresh cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice to the beans, and serve with the rice!

Process collage showing how to make simple black beans from canned beans in a pot with onions, cilantro, lime, and spice.

How to make canned black beans CREAMY and FLAVORFUL

Some people think using canned beans results in less flavor and you lose the creamy texture, but I’ll explain how to get lots of yummy flavor and still that awesome creamy texture below!

  1. DRAIN and RINSE the beans. This is super important- the liquid the black beans may cause digestive unpleasantness when ingested. Draining and rinsing them well will help make sure they’re more easily digestible.
  2. Use salt. The amount will depend on whether the canned beans you use have added salt or not, so make sure you taste them when you’re done. If it seems like it’s lacking something, add a little more salt to see if that helps.
  3. Use onions, fresh cilantro, and lime juice for added flavor. Lime and lemon juice has a similar purpose as salt when added to foods- it brings out the flavors of the ingredient you are using. These ingredients add fresh flavor to the beans that compliment their natural deliciousness!
  4. When cooking the beans in some water, leave it uncovered. This will allow the liquid to reduce and have more concentrated flavor and better texture.
  5. Mash a few of the beans. I recommend using a potato masher to mash the beans just a few times once they’re done cooking. This will create an awesome creamy texture. You can use a fork and mash some of the beans on the side of the pot if you don’t have a potato masher, or a few brief pulses with an immersion blender.

Variations

You can add all kinds of spices and flavors to this black beans and rice recipe! Add garlic or other alliums with the onions, and/or add more spices in addition to cumin. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground coriander, or even a prepared taco seasoning work well here. Add hot sauce or adobo and a chopped chipotle chili to the beans… you get the picture.

Make the leftovers into burritos!

You can use the rice and black beans as the filling for burritos. I like to do this with the leftovers, if I have any! Just add the rice and beans to a tortilla, add anything else you want (I like cheese), wrap, and enjoy. You can eat it as is or save for later in the refrigerator or freezer – just pop in the microwave to reheat. It helps to wrap them in a paper towel then microwave, to keep them from drying out and also to keep your microwave clean. Here’s more on how to make freezer burritos with beans, rice, and cheese.

Close up photo of a bowl of black beans and rice with a spoon scooping some out.

What to serve with Black Beans and Rice

The recipe below states that it serves four as a full (light) meal. If you are serving it as a side, you can likely stretch it to 8 or 10 servings. You can serve this black beans and rice with chicken or sausage or veggies- here are some recipes I recommend!

Other Easy Recipes that use Canned Black Beans

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Overhead square photo of a bowl of black beans and rice with a spoon in it.

Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice

This Black Beans and Rice recipe uses fast cooking ingredients – canned beans and basmati rice – for easy, super cheap cooking without sacrificing any creamy texture or flavor! This version is delicious and simple, but you can add different spices and flavors to this and make it your own. Plus, you can use the leftover beans and rice as a filling for burritos!


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Course: Dinner

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 429kcal

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Equipment

  • 2 Small – Medium pots

  • Potato Masher

Ingredients

For the Rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice (see notes for other kinds of rice)
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ lime (juice and zest – you’ll use the rest in the beans)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (more if you like, omit if you don’t like cilantro)

For the Beans:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 28 oz. canned black beans (drained and rinsed, see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ lime (juice and zest, the rest of the lime from the rice)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (more if you like, omit if you don’t like cilantro)

Instructions

  • To make the rice: In a small or medium pot, stir together the 1 ¾ cups water 1 cup basmati rice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Stir once, cover, and simmer on low for 10 minutes, or until there is no more water around the rice if you tilt the pot. Turn off the heat and keep the cover on for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and juice and zest from ½ lime, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

  • While the rice is cooking, make the beans. Sauté the diced 1 small onion in the 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, in a medium pot, until softened and beginning to brown (about 2-3 minutes).

  • Add the 1 teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and stir to coat. Add the drained and rinsed 28 oz. canned black beans and 1 cup water. Stir, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

  • Turn off the heat. Use a potato masher to mash the beans a few times, thickening the mixture, but leaving most of the beans intact. If you don’t have a potato masher, you can use a fork on the side of the pot, or a few brief pulses with an immersion blender.

  • Stir in the juice and zest from the remaining ½ lime and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

  • Serve the beans on top of the rice as a side or meal. Top with fixings such as shredded cheese, pico de gallo, diced avocado, hot sauce, etc., if you want.

Notes

  • For other kinds of rice: I like using white basmati because it cooks the fastest. Feel free to use any other kind of rice you want – brown, parboiled, short grain, etc. all will work. You will need to adjust the cooking time and water to rice ratio according to the directions on the package,
  • If you don’t have the fresh onion, cilantro, and/or lime juice on hand, dry pantry ingredients can be substituted. Use ground coriander and onion powder in the beans.
  • Cilantro may be omitted if you don’t like it!
  • Other spice recommendations: This recipe is purposefully simple. It’s delicious as is, but feel free to add your own twist to it. Fresh garlic may be added with the onions, and other spices with the cumin and salt such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, ground coriander, cumin, etc. Use what you have!
  • You can use these rice and beans as the filling for burritos. Here’s more on how to make freezer-friendly bean, rice, and cheese burritos!

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 1356mg | Potassium: 733mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition Information Disclaimer

The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:

Very Well Fit Nutrition Information Calculator

This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious in October, 2017. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.



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