If there’s one Puerto Rican dish you have to try, it’s my mom’s habichuelas guisadas (also known as habichuelas rojas or stewed beans). Made with sofrito, sazon and lots of love, these hearty beans are the definition of comfort when served over a bed of warm rice.

habichuelas guisadas on a plate

In the Latin world, rice and beans are as classic a pairing as bread and butter. This rule is no exception to Puerto Ricans whether you’re using red beans, black beans, or gandules.

My Puerto Rican family was practically raised on rice, plantains, and habichuelas (the Puerto Rican word for beans). If you enjoy this Puerto Rican rice recipe, chances are you will love my family’s versions of Arroz con Gandules and Arroz con Pollo.

This recipe in particular is a wonderfully convenient family favorite that only takes about 15 minutes to prep. These beans make the easiest weeknight dinner.

bowls of sofrito, sseasoning, oil, and more

What You’ll Need

You will need a few Puerto Rican cooking staples for this dish, so check out the ingredient list below before heading to the store:

See recipe card for exact quantities.

How to Make Habichuelas Rojas

Using Dry Beans

If you’d like to make this recipe using dried red beans instead of from a can, here are my recommendations:

  • Rinse the dried beans and add to a pot of water (using a 1:4 ratio, 1 cup of beans to 4 cups of water)
  • Add a sprinkle of salt and some bay leaves to the pot for flavor
  • Bring everything to a boil before lowering and simmering for an hour, or until tender
  • From there you can follow the recipe as instructed, adding a few cups of the water the beans simmered in (to substitute for the canning liquid)
A bowl of stewed red beans (habichuelas guisadas)

How to Develop Maximum Flavor (Sofrito & Sazon)

There are a few essential ingredients that will take your habichuelas guisadas from your average can of beans to a truly impressive dish in both flavor and presentation.

For starters, you will need sofrito.

But don’t worry, sofrito isn’t something you need to run to the store and buy. Simply pulse garlic, onion, cilantro, culantro (if you can find it) and peppers in a food processor and you’ve got the secret to many savory Puerto Rican dishes.

This magic sauce is the perfect base for beans as it infuses them with flavor from the start of the cooking process.

The next ingredients that will help create maximum flavor in this dish is sazon. Sazon is a well known Puerto Rican spice blend made up of spices like cumin, achiote, oregano, and garlic powder.

If you can’t find sazon seasoning at your local grocery store, you can create a blend of your own using spices from your pantry.

Variations

There are so many ways to enjoy these habichuelas guisadas that I’ve lost track of all of my favorites.

Here are a few fun ideas to experiment with:

  • Spicy – add a jalapeno to your sofrito to give these beans a little kick!
  • Pork – many Puerto Ricans will brown a bit of ham at the beginning of this recipe to add a meaty flavor to the dish.
  • Amp up the sweetness – soften a diced onion & bell pepper with the sofrito, to add some natural sweetness and more veggies to the beans.
  • Potatoes – they is a traditional addition to Puerto Rican beans. If you want to try them out, dice up a yellow potato and add it in just before you add the tomato sauce. This addition helps make the dish even heartier.
  • Pimento stuffed olives – these olives are another very traditional Puerto Rican ingredient and I love using them in many of my rice dishes. If you want to incorporate them into this dish, feel free to dice up a quarter cup and add them at the same time as the spices.

Or keep it classic, stick to my recipe and and serve them over a bed of rice with a splash of your favorite hot sauce or pique.

A bowl of stewed red beans (habichuelas guisadas)

Equipment

Here are the tools I used to make this recipe go smoothly:

Storage

This recipe should keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

habichuelas guisadas on a plate

Top tip

Looking for a trick to take your habichuelas to the next level? Try swapping the olive oil in this recipe for achiote oil.

Achiote oil is a commonly used Puerto Rican oil infused with annatto seeds or ground annatto powder. Making it from scratch requires only 2 ingredients and less than 30 minutes of your time.

Happy cooking!

Salima written in cursive
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habichuelas guisadas on a plate

Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Stewed Beans)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Dinner, Lunch, Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

If there’s one Puerto Rican dish you have to try, it’s my mom’s habichuelas guisadas (also known as habichuelas rojas or stewed beans). Made with sofrito, sazon and lots of love, these hearty beans are the definition of comfort when served over a bed of warm rice. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or achiote oil)
  • 3 tbsp sofrito
  • 1 tsp sazon seasoning
  • 1 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 3 cans (16oz) red or pink beans (DO NOT DRAIN)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • cilantro to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about 1/2 teaspoon of each)

Instructions

  1. Simmer the oil & sofrito. In a large soup pot heat your oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Toss in sofrito and sautee for a few minutes. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Next, add in sazon, adobo, and bay leaves. Mix for another minute to allow the spices to bloom. Pour in the tomato puree, beans (with their liquid), and water or broth before bringing liquid to a boil.
  3. Simmer until reduced. At this point, lower the beans to a simmer and cook over low heat for at least a half hour. Make sure to stir every 10-15 minutes. The longer they cook, the better the flavor! 
  4. Season to taste & serve. Taste to see if they need any salt and pepper before serving over rice and garnishing with cilantro. 

Notes

If you’d like to make this recipe using dried red beans instead of from a can, here are my recommendations:

    • Rinse the beans and add to a pot of water (using a 1:4 ratio, 1 cup of beans to 4 cups of water)

    • Add a sprinkle of salt and some bay leaves to the pot for flavor

    • Bring everything to a boil before lowering and simmering for an hour, or until tender
    • From there you can follow the recipe as instructed, adding a few cups of the water the beans simmered in (to substitute for the canning liquid)