Vegan Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (Arroz con Gandules)
This recipe for vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans works as a side dish or a filling meal on its own! Each bite is full of flavour thanks to a blend of authentic Caribbean spices.
Rice and beans is a common dish found all over the world. There’s congri from Cuba, Jamaican rice and peas, and Indian food often pairs beans and lentils with rice too, like in kitchari. Rice and beans is one of those rare comfort food dishes that’s actually good for you too!
Puerto Rican rice and beans adds some Caribbean flair to the classic rice and beans formula. The rice is usually cooked with some kind of sofrito, which is a flavourful mix of spices, herbs, peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. (You may recognize sofrito from my Chipotle sofritas recipe too!) Then, instead of pinto or black beans, gandules (green pigeon peas) are added for protein.
Is Puerto Rican Rice and Beans Healthy?
Absolutely! This vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans dish is filled with healthy, wholesome ingredients like vegetables, long grain rice, and pigeon peas. The combination of these ingredients make this dish a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion – White onion works too.
- Green bell pepper
- Cilantro – In Puerto Rico, culantro is more commonly used—and nope, that’s not a typo! Culantro has a similar flavour to cilantro, but much stronger. If you happen to find culantro locally, you can use that in this Puerto Rican rice and beans for more authenticity, but be sure to use a little bit less to account for the more assertive flavour.
- Tomato sauce
- Garlic powder
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Ground achiote – Also known as annatto seeds. If you can’t find achiote, you can substitute all the dry seasonings here for some Sazon Culantro y Achiote.
- Onion powder
- Dried parsley
- Green pigeon peas – Also known as gandules.
- Vegetable broth or water – I like using my homemade vegetable broth for extra flavour.
- Long-grain white rice – Long-grain rice cooks up fluffier and drier than short-grain rice.
Are Pigeon Peas the Same as Green Peas?
No, pigeon peas are not the same as green peas. Pigeon peas are larger, dark green legumes with a nutty flavor and creamy texture. They are common in Caribbean cuisine and you can find them canned or dried at most grocery stores. In this recipe, we use the canned version.
How to Make Vegan Puerto Rican Rice and Beans
Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, making vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans is easy!
Warm the oil. Set a large pot over medium heat and add the oil.
Make the sofrito mixture. Pulse the onion, bell pepper, and cilantro in a food processor until it resembles a chunky salsa.
Cook the sofrito. Add the sofrito mixture to the hot oil and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring often.
Add the spices, peas, and liquid. To the sofrito mixture, add all of the remaining ingredients except the rice and bring to a boil.
Add the rice. Once the liquid is boiling, stir in the rice. Cover and reduce the heat to low, then cook for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
Finish. Season to taste, then serve.
Tips for Success
Making vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans is easy, but these tips will help you make sure it turns out perfect!
- Make sure your spices are fresh. When you open the jars, they should smell fragrant. If, instead, they have no aroma or a stale smell, they’re due for replacement. This is a dish that’s all about the seasoning!
- Use long grain white rice. Short grain rice will not work in this recipe, as it cooks up soft and sticky.
- Keep an eye on the rice. Stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and add more liquid if needed.
If you don’t find (or don’t like) pigeon peas, you can substitute kidney beans, pinto beans, or black beans. Basmati and jasmine rice can be used in this recipe instead of long-grain.
Serve this vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans with a side of plantains, Rainbow Fruit Salad, or Marinated Tofu, or eat it on its own as a main dish. I love using leftovers as a burrito or enchilada filling too!
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftovers of Puerto Rican rice and beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat the rice in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water or broth to loosen up the rice, or in the microwave.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, this vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans dish can be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat it according to the instructions above.
More Rice Recipes
- Vegan Arancini Fried Rice Balls (With Air Fryer Option)
- Creamy Vegan Mushroom Wild Rice Soup
- Korean (Gochujang) Tofu Rice Bowls
- Sheet Pan Fried Rice (Vegan & One Pan)
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Puerto Rican Rice and Beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, 12 grams
- 1 cup yellow onion, rough chopped (135 grams)
- 1 cup green bell pepper, rough chopped (145 grams)
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped (20 grams)
- 1 cup tomato sauce, 235 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt, 10 grams
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder, 3 grams
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin, 1 gram
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander, 1 gram
- ½ teaspoon ground achiote, annatto seeds (1 gram)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1 gram
- ½ teaspoon oregano, 0.5 grams
- ½ teaspoons dried parsley, 0.5 grams
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 0.7 grams
- 30 ounces canned green pigeon peas, also known as gandules (850 grams)
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth or water, 600 grams
- 2 cups long grain white rice, 450 grams
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add oil.
- To a food processor, add the onion, bell pepper, and cilantro and pulse into a chunky sauce resembling a salsa. Do not blend too much.
- When the oil is heated, add the blended mixture to the pot and cook for approximately 6 minutes, stirring often.
- Add all remaining ingredients except the rice and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 – 22 minutes.
- Taste and stir in any additional spices if desired before serving.
- You can also substitute the dry seasonings for Sazon Culantro y Achiote
- Beans: You can substitute canned kidney beans, pinto beans, or black beans in place of pigeon peas if preferred.
- Rice: Basmati or jasmine rice work great for this recipe!
- To store: Store leftovers of Puerto Rican rice and beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat the rice in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water or broth to loosen up the rice, or in the microwave.
- To freeze: Vegan Puerto Rican rice and beans dish can be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat it according to the instructions above.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
This is yummy! I used pinto beans and really enjoyed the dish—thank you!