One Pot Rice and Beans

Whether you serve it as a side or eat it as your main meal, this vegan one-pot rice and beans is as easy as it is delicious. Simple ingredients and simple methods combine to craft a compelling collection of flavor, all in one pot! Serve it as a hearty side dish with vegan carnitas, taquitos or our enchilada casserole. Or just warm some tortillas, saute some veggies or slice an avocado and you’ve got a quick and easy, not to mention delicious, complete main dish.


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I love a good, simple, and delicious meal. And no meal I can think of is better, easier, or more delicious than a big bowl of rice and beans topped with some sliced avocado and diced tomatoes and served with corn chips or a warmed tortilla. This is one of my top comfort foods and absolute favorite things to eat.

As a matter of fact, not only is a big bean and rice protein bowl usually the very first thing I’ve ordered in every country B and I have traveled to, it’s also one of our favorite travel meals to make. The main components can be found in grocery stores absolutely anywhere, they’re always cheap, and it’s a super-filling, complete protein rich meal for when you’re doing a lot of walking and sight-seeing. The perfect travel meal.

There’s a reason why rice and beans is a popular, staple dish in just about every culture. And this delicious recipe is about to become a popular staple dish on regular rotation in your household, too.

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Rice and Beans Recipe

  • Easy but delicious. It’s a simple meal with a big, big flavor.
  • Less dishes. It’s a one-pot meal. Less mess equals less stress.
  • Makes great leftovers. It’s perfect for your meal prep, either as a side or as a whole meal.
Overhead photo of all the ingredients you need to make one-pot rice and beans

Healthy Rice and Beans Recipe Ingredients

You only need 4 simple ingredients and a few spices to make this delicious beans and rice dish.

  • Yellow onion – small diced 
  • Vegan chicken bouillon powder – To replace the use of chicken broth or chicken stock in vegan cooking. We like to use our homemade chicken bouillon powder for a great chickeny flavor
  • Spice Cabinet – chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder
  • Olive oil – to saute the onions
  • Long-cook rice – I use whole grain, brown rice that requires 45 minutes to cook for this recipe. The type of rice you use is VERY important.
  • Pinto beans – canned, including the liquid

Substitution Options for This Easy Rice and Beans Recipe

If you need a substitution for one of the above ingredients, here are our best tips. Please keep in mind that substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a difference in the final product. This difference may not always be a pleasant one! Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you.

For the onion: You can use white or yellow onion. You can even use shallots. I’d stay away from red or purple onions as the color tends to bleed into the dish. Plus they have a more pungent flavor than their counterparts. You can also add red or green bell pepper along with or instead of the onion.

For the bouillon powder: You can sub half as much vegan chicken bouillon paste or 1-2 ground up bouillon cubes. You can also use vegetable broth instead if you don’t want the light chicken flavor. In this case, you might need to adjust or add more spices / salt.

For the spices: I kept the spices pretty simple here, but you can add smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper for an extra kick. Add some Italian herbs or cumin seeds for a little earthiness. Feel free to play around.

For the olive oil: The extra virgin olive oil adds great flavor, but you can use other oils too. Avocado oil or sunflower oil are great options to replace the olive oil. You can also make it oil-free and just saute the onions with a little water.

Rice Options

Rice is pretty integral to this recipe. But you can change the types of rice you use. Long-grain rice, jasmine rice or white rice. Just be mindful that not all rices have the same cooking time or water to rice ratio, so you may need to adjust the recipe if you try this. You definitely don’t want mushy rice.

If you are using a long grain rice that only needs to simmer for 20 minutes or so, like jasmine or basmati, I’d recommend adding the beans about halfway through the simmer time. I would not recommend instant rice for this recipe.

Bean Options

You can substitute canned black beans, red beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas, etc. for the pinto beans.

You can also use dry beans that have been pre-cooked, being sure to reserve some of the liquid.

I wouldn’t necessarily use garbanzo beans aka chickpeas, but I think that’s more of just a personal preference. You do you.

A grid with 5 photos showing the process of making rice and beans in one pot

How to Make Rice and Beans in One Pot

The cooking process couldn’t be easier. It only takes four simple steps to make this delicious beans and rice recipe. 

Step 1: Saute the onion.

First, in a medium pot, heat the oil on high heat and saute the diced onions for 3 minutes until fragrant and soft. Next you’ll add all the spices and the water, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. From this point, we’ll be mostly following the package directions for the rice.

Step 2: Cook the brown rice.

When the water is at a boil, add the rice. Stir and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Add the pinto beans.

After the rice has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the entire can of beans, liquid and all. If the rice already seems really dry at this point, you can add 2 – 3 Tbsp more water with the beans. But remember, you are adding the bean liquid as well, so don’t add the water until after you’ve added the beans and checked the liquid.

Step 4: Finish the one-pot rice and beans

Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally as the rice cooks, until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.

Overhead close up photo of a plate of rice and beans topped with sliced limes and scallions.

What to Eat with Rice and Beans (Vegan)

This recipe can serve as a hearty side dish or be a main course all its own.

As a side, it goes well with:

​As a main meal, we like to serve it:

  • In rice and bean burritos with a handful of vegan cheese or drizzle of tofu queso
  • In a bowl topped with diced tomatoes or chunky salsa, some sliced or diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and a little hot sauce (This is my favorite way!)

What to Do with Leftover Rice and Beans

Always make sure hot food is cooled thoroughly before refrigerating or freezing any leftovers.

In the fridge: Make sure the rice and beans is completely cooled before refrigerating. Leftovers should be sealed in an airtight container and are best eaten within 3-4 days. If there is any noticeable sour odor, throw it away.

To reheat: Reheat in the microwave on 75% for 3-4 minutes until warmed through.

Can you freeze beans and rice?

You can most certainly freeze rice and beans. When sealed properly in an airtight container, it will last 6 months in the freezer.

​We like to freeze beans and rice in our 1/2-Cup Souper Cubes, so we can defrost single portions easily as needed.

To reheat: Defrost either in the fridge overnight or in the microwave at 50% for 3-4 minutes. Stir and heat again on high for 2-3 minutes until warmed through completely.

Overhead photo of a plate of rice and pinto beans on a wood board topped with lime wedges and green onions.

Beans and Rice FAQs

There are quite a few questions about rice and beans, and we’ll attempt to answer some of the more popular ones. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to ask in the comment section below and we’ll answer to the best of our ability.

Is rice and beans enough for a meal?

Yes! Rice and beans is a fantastic meal on its own.

What is the correct ratio of beans to rice?

There really is no “correct” ratio, but most people usually just go half rice and half beans, or 50-50.

What is rice and beans together called?

Being a staple in so many cultures, the names for rice and beans are as varied as they are colorful. A few popular names are “Matrimonio” or “Casamiento”, both meaning “marriage”. I think the concept of marriage fits perfectly for the bringing together of rice and beans. Another name is the Central American “Gallopinto” meaning “spotted rooster”. In the southern United States, black-eyed peas and rice is commonly referred to as “Hoppin’ John”.

Is it healthy to eat beans and rice everyday?

Yes, it is perfectly safe and healthy to eat beans and rice every day. Though I wouldn’t recommend it for every meal.

Is rice and beans healthy?

Absolutely! The dish is packed with protein, fiber, essential amino acids, and the daily values of a wide variety of required nutrients and vitamins making it a complete meal.

Overhead close up photo of half a plate of pinto beans and brown rice garnished with sliced scallions and lime wedges

More Healthy Beans Recipes:

If you make this delicious one-pot meal, we’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and star rating in the section below. Adding the rating helps more people like yourself find our vegan recipes! 

Until next time!

Yield: 6 servings

Simple Rice and Beans Recipe

Overhead photo of a round white plate loaded with pinto beans and rice topped with lime wedges and sliced green onions

Whether you serve it as a side or eat it as your main meal, this vegan one-pot rice and beans is as easy as it is delicious. Simple ingredients and simple methods combine to craft a compelling collection of flavor, all in one pot! Serve it as a hearty side dish with vegan carnitas, taquitos or our enchilada casserole. Or just warm some tortillas, saute some veggies or slice an avocado and you’ve got a quick and easy, not to mention delicious, complete main dish.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, small diced (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup long-cook brown rice*
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 (15-oz) can pinto beans (including liquid)

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil on high heat and saute the diced onions for 3 minutes until fragrant and soft. Then add all the spices and water, stir, and bring to a boil.
  2. When the water is at a boil, add the rice. Stir and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. After the rice has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the can of beans, liquid and all. If the rice already seems really dry at this point, you can add 2 - 3 Tbsp more water with the beans.
  4. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is done and all the water is absorbed.

Notes

  • I used whole grain, brown rice that requires 45 minutes to cook for this recipe. If you are using a long grain rice that only needs to simmer for 20 minutes or so, like jasmine or basmati, I’d recommend adding the beans about halfway through the simmer time.
  • Feel free to sub out your favorite beans, but note that not all canned beans have the same end result.
  • Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    6

    Serving Size:

    1/6 the recipe

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.

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