These Puerto Rican Rice and Beans are naturally vegan and gluten free and loaded with flavor and protein.
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Matrimonio (“the marriage”)
Growing up with my Puerto Rican mom, I heard a lot about rice and beans. “I grew up eating nothing but rice and beans”, she’d tell us.
Her dad wasn’t around much and her mom was busy enough with work and two young girls; like so many, she barely had time to make dinner, much less to be inventive with it. As a result, many of my mother’s childhood memories at the dinner table consisted of rice and beans.
As an adult, my mom and I both have a newfound appreciation for the classic Spanish dish.
Not only are these Puerto Rican rice and beans super affordable, with the right ingredients, they are a truly satisfying and flavor packed meal.
This dish is a staple in many Latin cultures around the world, often referred to as matrimonio (which means, the marriage) for how well they pair together. Today we are giving it that Puerto Rican flair using homemade sofrito, lots of high quality spices and my favorite bean, gandules!
Heading to the store this week and need a list? I’ve got you covered!
To make this dish you will need:
- Olive oil
- Sofrito (optional)
- 2 yellow onions
- One jalapeno pepper (or bell pepper if you don’t like spice)
- 2 cans of gandules
- A cup of tomato puree
- Fresh cilantro
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Spanish oregano
- Vegetable broth
- White rice (jasmine)
- Cherry tomatoes
How to make Puerto Rican rice and beans
Making rice and beans could not be easier. I’m talking 1 pot, 1 cutting board, a knife and thirty minutes of your time. Make a double batch and you’ve got lunches for the week!
Start by heating up some oil in a nice sturdy pot. If you’ve got sofrito, now is the time to add it in! Next, toss in your onions and pepper. I’m a fan of spice so I like the heat from a jalapeno, but more traditional Puerto Rican recipes will likely call for a bell pepper or milder pepper instead. Think about who will be eating and pick a pepper that suits everyone!
Once your onions and peppers begin to turn translucent, it’s time to toss in your garlic and let it release some of its fragrance. Next, it’s time to add everything else, except the rice. The gandules (with their canning liquid), the tomato puree, all of your spices and broth. Turn the heat up and bring this mixture to a boil.
While we wait for that to boil, let’s talk quickly about the spices we just used. Some are traditional in Puerto Rican cooking while others are my own personal favorites.
More traditional Puerto Rican spices:
- Smoked paprika
- Spanish Oregano
Less traditional Puerto Rican spices:
- Garlic powder
I decided to add the turmeric for color (and health benefits) and the garlic powder to really amp up that garlic flavor. You can totally leave those two out if you want to keep it more traditional.
Ok, now your broth should be boiling and ready for the rice! Pour in your 2 cups of rice, lower the heat and cover your pot. This mixture will cook, covered for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is perfectly cooked and fluffy.
And just like that, you’re a rice and beans pro!
To add a pop of extra flavor and acidity, I like to garnish my rice and beans with chopped cherry tomatoes mixed with more cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil! I guess that's the Moroccan in me 🙂
A not-so-secret ingredient
If you started reading this recipe and thought to yourself, what the heck is sofrito!? Yet again, I’ve got you!
Sofrito is a magical mixture used in Puerto Rican cuisine as a base to many dishes. It’s sole purpose is to add flavor.
Sofrito is usually made with a mix of onion, peppers, culantro or cilantro, recao and a few other ingredients. It comes together in under 5 minutes and can sit in your fridge for a few weeks and be used as a starter or substitute for onions and garlic in so many dishes.
If you don’t have the ingredients to make sofrito on hand... no worries, your Puerto Rican rice and beans will still be super flavorful! Sofrito is a wonderful addition but not necessary in making this dish.