Spanish rice and beans is a quick and easy vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free weeknight dinner. Serve as a side dish, vegan main dish, or top with baked chicken or shrimp for a little extra protein. It’s ready in just 30-minutes and made with pantry staples like rice, kidney beans, and olives.

spanish rice and beans on a plate with a fork.
Photo Credits: Andrea Gralow

Spanish Rice and Beans checks all my favorite recipe essentials—it’s ready in minutes, has complex, vibrant flavors and is easy to adapt to your liking. 

I will usually eat this as a vegan main dish, but it’s equally delicious paired with chicken, fish or shrimp. When it comes to flavorful meals without the fuss, this one is at the top of my list.

If, however, you'd like to add a few extras, be my guest! Top Spanish Rice and beans with Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Thighs and sliced avocado or treat it like a side dish. It’s wonderful served alongside fish like my Oven Roasted Mackerel or my quick cooking Spanish al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp).

So simple and delicious you might consider Spanish Rice and Beans a weeknight wonder! 

Table of Contents
  1. What You’ll Need to Make Spanish Rice and Beans 
  2. How to Make Spanish Rice and Beans
  3. Rice and Beans: A Complete Protein 
  4. What to Serve with Spanish Rice and Beans
  5. Other Rice Recipes We Love
  6. Spanish Rice and Beans Recipe
ingredients for spanish beans and rice including spices, diced tomatoes, olives, green pepper, vegetable broth, rice, garlic, onions, kidney beans and tomato paste.

What You’ll Need to Make Spanish Rice and Beans 

My favorite thing about Spanish Rice and Beans is the simplicity of the ingredients. Any time I’m digging through my pantry instead of going to the store is a win in my book! And, in case these ingredients aren’t already living in your pantry, the good news is they’re all very easy to find. 

  • Extra virgin olive oil: Any high quality extra virgin olive oil you have on hand will work perfectly for this dish, but I especially love our Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Southern Andalusian region of Estepa in this recipe. 
  • Smoked or sweet paprika: Smoked and sweet paprika are both equally delicious in this dish, so don’t worry too much about this one! For a milder flavor, use sweet. Or, you can turn things up a notch with smoked paprika for a slightly bolder flavor. While you can substitute paprika with cayenne pepper, it packs a lot more punch! I would lower the amount to ¼-1/2 teaspoon. 
  • Basmati rice: I love basmati rice because, when rinsed, the long, aromatic grains don’t clump. It's tender, fluffy and my favorite rice to use in dishes like this. If you’re looking for a substitute for basmati rice, any long grain rice–like jasmine or long grain white rice—will also work. 
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: Smokey and lightly caramelized, fire roasted tomatoes are made by first charing fresh tomatoes at the peak of the season over an open flame. They are intensely sweet, with a bold charred tomato flavor that I absolutely adore. That said, if you have  standard tomatoes on hand, use them up. They will work equally well in this recipe.. If you’d like to go the extra mile, add an extra pinch of smoked paprika and a pinch of sugar to mimic the flavor.  
  • Cumin: Ground cumin adds an aromatic element, as well as a warm and earthy flavor to the rice. 
  • Red pepper flakes: I love a light kick with my Spanish rice, but if you’re looking for a milder flavor you can leave the pepper flakes out. Or, to mix things up substitute red pepper flakes with Aleppo pepper.  
  • Kidney beans: Creamy, slightly sweet, and a great source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, a couple can of kidney beans holds their weight in this recipe. 
  • Tomato paste: Concentrated tomato paste adds a depth of flavor and sweetness to the broth. 
  • Vegetable broth: Keep the recipe vegan and use a low sodium vegetable broth. If you aren’t a vegetarian feel free to substitute store-bought or Homemade Chicken Stock
  • Green bell pepper: While red or yellow bell pepper will work in a pinch, green bell peppers are slightly less sweet and provide better flavor for this dish. 
  • Kosher salt: Don’t skip the salt! A good 5-finger pinch of salt here and there draws out the flavor.
  • Garlic: You know I love garlic! I found two cloves perfect for this recipe, but you can always add more if you’re feeling brave. 
  • Finishing touches: Green olives and fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley are optional, but I never skip them! They add so much freshness to this simple dish.  

How to Make Spanish Rice and Beans

This Spanish rice and beans is the ideal side dish: it comes together in just one pot, is super versatile, quick, and easy. Follow my step-by-step instructions for making this simple recipe below: 

  • Saute the onion and pepper: In a large, deep pan heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. When the oil  shimmers, add the onion, bell pepper and a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, tossing regularly until the vegetables soften a bit. chopped yellow onions and green peppers being sauteed in a pot.
  • Add the garlic and spices: Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 more seconds. chopped yellow onions and green peppers with a sprinkle of spices being sauteed in a pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the rice, beans and tomatoes: Add the rice and season with another pinch of kosher salt. Toss to combine, then add the beans and fire roasted tomatoes. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the tomato paste and broth together, then add it to the rice mixture. spanish rice and beans ingredients simmering in a pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Boil then simmer: Raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low. You want it to simmer gently. Cover and allow the rice to cook until tender and the liquid is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes. spanish rice and beans ingredients simmering in a pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Garnish and serve: Garnish with the olives and fresh herbs, if using, and serve. 

Rice and Beans: A Complete Protein 

A “complete protein” boasts all of the 9 amino acids we need to survive that our bodies don’t naturally produce. 

If you’re a meat-eater or pescatarian, filling your diet with the essential amino acids is easy–meat and poultry, seafood and fish, and eggs (like my favorite Turkish Poached Eggs with garlicky yogurt), are all considered complete proteins. If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet, getting all of the amino acids you need takes a bit more thought.

Enter rice and beans: a complete protein that’s completely vegan! On their own, rice and beans don’t have the necessary amino acids to be considered complete proteins. But, like with so many things in life, they get better when they work together! 

Brown and white rice both have low levels of lysine and high levels of methionine. Beans are their perfect match: high in lysine and low in methionine. 

According to the American Heart Association, "A vegetarian diet based on any single one or combination of these unprocessed starches (eg, rice, corn, potatoes, beans), with the addition of vegetables and fruits, supplies all the protein, amino acids, essential fats, minerals, and vitamins ... necessary for excellent health."

This is what makes rice and beans a complete protein: they’re high in nutritional value, essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they’re super filling, inexpensive, easy to store, and delicious! What more could you ask for in a vegan recipe?  

spanish rice and beans on a plate with a fork.

What to Serve with Spanish Rice and Beans

This dish is the definition of versatile: it’s flavorful enough to stand on its own, but mild enough to complement the flavors of a wide variety of dishes. 

I love serving Spanish Rice and Beans as a vegetarian main dish, especially for a healthy lunch, where I pair it with a fresh salad like Simple Lemony Arugula Salad with Avocado, or Traditional Greek Salad.  

Or, for a hearty dinner, this Spanish Rice and Beans is the perfect side to a lemony roast fish, like Mediterranean Baked White Fish, or grilled meat, like Grilled Harissa Chicken

Other Rice Recipes We Love

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

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Try our Smoked Spanish Paprika

Take your Spanish rice and beans to a whole new level with this bold and smoky spice! So much flavor and a subtle heat you'll love.

a jar of smoked spanish paprika from the mediterranean dish.
4.88 from 57 votes

Spanish Rice and Beans

Suzy Karadsheh
spanish rice and beans on a plate with a fork.
Healthy, hearty, and full of flavor, this Spanish Rice and Beans is one of my favorite 30 minute, one pan recipes. Add chicken or shrimp or serve it as a vegetarian main with a green salad on the side.
Prep – 5 minutes
Cook – 25 minutes
Total – 30 minutes
Cuisine:
Spanish
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 cups basmati rice or similar long grain rice, rinsed very well
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • cup sliced green olives, optional, for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, optional, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Saute the onion and pepper: In a large, deep pan heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chopped onion, chopped bell pepper and season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, tossing regularly until the vegetables soften a bit.
  • Add the garlic and spices: Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 more seconds.
  • Add the rice, beans and tomatoes: Add the rice and season with another pinch of kosher salt. Toss to combine, then add the beans and fire roasted tomatoes. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the tomato paste and broth together, then add it to the rice mixture.
  • Boil then simmer: Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. You want it to simmer gently. Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow the rice to cook until its tender and the liquid is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  • Garnish and serve: Garnish with the olives and parsley, if using, and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Leftovers? Cover, refrigerate, and turn this Spanish rice and beans into a delicious and healthy bowl for lunch the next day.
  • On rinsing rice: Rinsing your rice may seem like an extra step, but I promise it’s worth it! You want each grain of rice to be nicely cooked without clumping, so you’ll need to remove the starch. Make sure to rinse your rice until the water runs clear.
  • Visit our shop to find my favorite high quality spices and olive oil for this dish, including sweet Spanish paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, and extra virgin olive oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 487.4kcalCarbohydrates: 90.5gProtein: 18gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 0.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.7gSodium: 554mgPotassium: 778.6mgFiber: 12.9gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 865.1IUVitamin C: 21.8mgCalcium: 92.6mgIron: 5.7mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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4.88 from 57 votes (29 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Carolyn says:

    3 stars
    I needed a lot more liquid to cook the rice. Loved the taste and more importantly, my husband liked it. I probably used a additional cup of liquid to get it done.

  2. Scott says:

    5 stars
    Made it. Loved it. Using brown rice (that's what I had on hand) was my only adjustment. Your recipes never disappoint

  3. Richard Bumgarner says:

    5 stars
    Made this last night….was great! Made the full recipe as it will freeze well for later use on days when I am tired. I left out red pepper but olives add a great tang and I went heavy on the spices and the tomato paste. Soaked thte basmati rice in water for half hour first. Excellent plant based dinner!

  4. Emma says:

    5 stars
    Just made this for lunch - super easy, very filling, & really nice!

  5. Marla says:

    5 stars
    I really appreciate the amount of detail you go into about prepping everything before preparing the recipe. I had never used the rice in this recipe. The prep instructions worked great. The rice was not sticky at all. Great meal for make ahead work lunches.

    1. TMD Team says:

      That really means a lot, Marla! Thank you!

  6. Gayle B. Damelin says:

    Do you think this will work with quinoa instead of rice? Tha ks so much for your wonderful recipes!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Gayle! I think it could! You may just have to make a few adjustments, but I love this idea. If give it a try, please stop back and let us know how it went!

  7. Michelle says:

    4 stars
    I just made this for the first time, and the rice never got soft. I followed the exact recipe, and even cooked it for a few extra minutes, but the rice is still a little crunchy. Any suggestions on what I should do next time?

  8. Nan Kazsmer says:

    Made this recipe tonight and included chicken thighs- loved it!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Nan! We are big chicken thigh fans around here and the whole team agrees adding them to this dish is a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Judy says:

    Would this work with Freekeh instead of rice?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Judy! It might, but it's not something we've tried before. If you give it a go, we'd love to hear your thoughts!!

  10. Cindy says:

    5 stars
    I love all of Susie's recipes 😋. I need to buy her spices.

  11. Sheri Mason says:

    What can you use instead of fresh tomatoes? Out of season now and dish sounds delicious

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Sheri. You can use a can of fire roasted tomatoes here. This recipe IS delish! Hope you give it a try!