Brazilian Rice and Beans, a classic dish that brings the vibrant flavors of Brazil to your table! Discover a recipe that's not only easy to make but also packed with nutritious ingredients, perfect for busy families seeking a taste of authentic Brazilian cuisine.
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- 👪 Why This Recipe Works
- 🥒 Tips for Kids: Will My Kid Eat This?
- 💡Recipe Tips
- 👩🏽🍳Step-By-Step Instructions: Stove-top & Instant Pot
- ⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
- 🥡Storaging and Reheating
- 🍚Substitutions & Canned Beans
- 🍴Leftover ideas
- 🧠Brain Benefits
- 🥣More Brazilian-Inspired Dishes
- 📖 Recipe
- 📝Information Source
A Taste of Brazil: My Family's Brazilian Rice and Beans Recipe
Brazilian rice and beans are the ultimate authentic Brazilian food, with a comforting aroma and nutty savory flavor! I have a very personal connection with this dish! Not only is it my mother's recipe but eating Brazilian rice and beans is one of my very first life memories!
Picture a young child, me, perched in a highchair at my mother's São Paulo kitchen table, playfully hiding beans under mounds of fluffy rice (in an attempt not to eat them, cue eye roll). My mother always caught me! But it seems fitting that this would be a core memory for me because this recipe has been a daily part of my life ever since.
Growing up in a Brazilian family, rice and beans, made it onto our table every single day of the week! No really! I mean rice and beans are pretty much the national dish of Brazil for a reason. Not only because they are delicious, which they undeniably are, but also because this recipe is practical and cheap. In a Brazilian household, you learn early that good food doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. This simple dish offers the perfect balance of proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, essential for a growing family.
After immigrating to Canada, this dish continues to be a part of my diet. It has been a comforting reminder of my roots and a connection to a life that once was. Now, I share my mother's Brazilian rice and beans recipe with my children. They also LOVE our dairy-free Brazilian Pao de Queijo. It makes me proud to share a little taste of Brazilian life, our culture, and traditions.
I have enjoyed so much sharing my Brazilian recipes and finding ways to make them gluten-free and vegan! So if you want a vegan (dairy-free) Brazilian dessert check out our Vegan Brigadeiro!
👪 Why This Recipe Works
Our Brazilian rice and beans recipe is a family favorite for good reason. It's a testament to how simple ingredients can create a meal that's both delicious and nourishing.
- Family-Friendly: I often make this recipe with my kids, turning cooking time into family bonding time.
- Meal Prep Friendly: It's perfect for meal prepping, ensuring a healthy meal is always ready during busy weekdays.
- Versatile Leftovers: The leftovers can be transformed into various dishes, making it a practical choice for any household (see our Leftover Ideas section).
- Nutritious and Economical: This recipe is not only packed with essential nutrients but also easy on the wallet, proving that healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive.
🥒 Tips for Kids: Will My Kid Eat This?
As a parent of three, I understand the challenge of introducing new dishes to kids. But this Brazilian rice and beans recipe has been a hit in our household, and here's why it might be in yours too:
- Kid-Friendly Flavors: The dish is flavorful without being overpowering, which is perfect for young palates.
- Fun Presentation: Serve it in a way that's visually appealing to kids. Think colorful bowls or letting them 'decorate' their plate with toppings.
- Involve Them in Cooking: Kids are more likely to try something they helped make. Let them assist with simple tasks like rinsing the rice or beans.
For more tips on handling picky eaters, check out my post on navigating meal times with picky eaters.
Brazilian pinto beans are not just a dish; they're a journey into the heart of Brazilian cuisine. Here's a list of the main ingredients, each selected for their role in creating this authentic Brazilian rice and beans.
Pinto Beans Ingredients:
- Dry Pinto Beans: The star of the show, these beans are hearty and flavorful. This recipe uses dry beans as it helps create a richer flavor. By seasoning the beans as they cook this helped create a more authentic Brazilian recipe as well.
- Fresh Onion: Adds a sweet, aromatic base. I always use fresh onions for that authentic taste.
- Fresh Garlic: Essential for that depth of flavor; minced garlic infuses the beans beautifully.
- Bay Leaf: A must for the traditional Brazilian touch. They add a subtle, herbal aroma.
- Paprika: I prefer smoked paprika for its rich, smoky undertone.
- Cumin: Brings a warm, earthy spice that's unmistakable in Brazilian cooking.
- Salt and black pepper: Just a pinch to enhance all the flavors.
- Olive Oil: I love using olive oil for its health benefits and smooth flavor.
- Optional - Chili Peppers: For those who like a bit of heat.
Brazilian Rice Ingredients:
- Long Grain White Rice: The foundation of our dish, providing a fluffy and light texture.
- Olive Oil: For sautéing the rice, giving it a wonderful aroma and a hint of richness.
- Fresh Onion: Finely chopped, it adds a subtle sweetness.
- Fresh Garlic: Minced, for that essential punch of flavor.
- Salt: To bring out the natural flavors of the rice.
- Water: The key to cooking the rice to perfection.
For full quantities, see the recipe card.
To ensure your Brazilian rice and beans turn out perfectly every time, here are some tried and true tips:
- Rice Cooking: For authentic Brazilian rice, rinse the rice until the water runs clear to remove excess starch. This helps in getting that fluffy and non-sticky texture. Cook the rice with a little olive oil before adding water; this is a classic version of preparing traditional rice in Brazil.
- Bean Consistency: The key to perfect beans is not to overcook them. They should be tender but not mushy. Keep an eye on them, especially if it's your first time making this recipe.
- Balancing Flavors: Don't shy away from adjusting the seasonings. Brazilian cuisine is all about robust flavors. If the beans taste bland, a little more salt can make a big difference.
- Simmering: Let the beans simmer gently. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
- Resting Time: After cooking, let the beans rest for a few minutes off the heat. This helps in thickening the sauce and intensifying the flavors.
- Storing Leftovers: If you have leftovers, they will taste even better the next day as the flavors continue to develop.
- Farofa: Traditionally we add some farofa to our rice and beans to add texture. Forafa is essentially roasted cassava flour or manioc flour. You can buy Farofa or check out this delicious farofa recipe by Brazilian Kitchen Abroad!
👩🏽🍳Step-By-Step Instructions: Stove-top & Instant Pot
Cooking brand Brazilian style, easily be achieved on the stove or in an instant pot. I have provided both stovetop instructions and instant pot instructions so you can choose either option for this recipe!
How to Cook Brazilian Pinto Beans
Step 1: Start by Soaking Your Beans: This is crucial for reducing the cooking time. I usually soak mine overnight, but if you're pressed for time, 3 hours should suffice.
Step 2: Drain and Cook: After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Transfer them to a large pot and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches of water. Toss in 3 bay leaves, cover, and cook over medium-high heat. Cook until they are slightly soft, about 60 minutes.
INSTANT POT: If you're using an instant pot, set to bean and cook for 45 minutes.
Step 3: Preparing the Flavor Base: Start this step once your pinto beans finish cooking and are soft (can squeeze them between your fingers).
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and spices and sauté until the onions are translucent. About 3 minutes. This step is where the magic happens – slow cooking the onions and garlic allows their flavors to fully develop and infuse the oil.
Step 4: Mash in Some Beans: Scoop out about a third of the cooked beans (leave the broth in the pot) and add them to the onion-garlic mixture. Gently smash them with your spoon. This technique thickens the beans and creates a creamy texture, which is a hallmark of Brazilian-style beans.
Step 5: Final Simmer: Combine the two pots. Add the mashed beans mixture back into the pot (or instant pot) with the remaining beans and their liquid. Stir well and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. The smashed beans will work their magic, thickening the broth and melding the flavors together.
INSTANT POT: Set to simmer and cook for another 30 minutes.
How to Cook Traditional Brazilian Rice
Step 1: Rinse the Rice: Start by thoroughly rinsing the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This step is crucial for removing excess starch, which helps in achieving that classic Brazilian rice texture - fluffy and non-sticky.
Step 1b: Cook: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Continue to cook until the onion is translucent.
Step 2: Sautee the Rice: Next add the rinsed rice and stir it for a couple of minutes. This technique, typical in Brazilian cooking, coats the grains with oil and aromatics, enhancing the flavor and texture of the final dish.
INSTANT POT or Rice Cooker: If using an instant pot, set it to sautee and follow the same steps. If using a rice cooker you may have to skip this step. Just add all the ingredients, stir, and set to cook. The rice will still be flavorful but may lack the extra flavors achieved when sauteeing beforehand.
Step 3: Boil and Simmer: Add water and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remember, the key to perfect rice is not to stir it too much while it's cooking.
INSTANT POT: Add water and set to cook for 12 minutes on rice setting.
Step 4: Rest and Fluff: Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for a few minutes. This allows the rice to steam and become perfectly fluffy. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
- Overnight Soaking: Soak the beans overnight. This not only reduces cooking time but also makes them easier to digest.
- Batch Cooking: Make a larger batch of Brazilian beans and freeze in portions. This way, you have a ready-to-go meal for another day.
- Use a Pressure Cooker: If you have a stove-top pressure cooker or an instant pot, use it to significantly cut down the cooking time of the beans.
- Use Canned Beans: While not traditional, if you are very pressed for time you can opt for canned beans. Skip the pre-cook step and go right to step 3.
- Use a food processor: One trick I learned is to add the onions and garlic to a food processor to mince them up. I make extra and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge. This helps me throughout the week as well.
🥡Storaging and Reheating
Proper storage is key to enjoying your meal for days to come.
Fridge Storage: Allow the rice and beans to cool to room temperature before storing. Store them in airtight containers to maintain freshness and prevent any fridge odors from seeping in. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer Storage: Freeze the rice and beans in separate containers for better texture upon reheating. Use freezer-safe containers or bags to prevent freezer burn. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Reheating: For a quick option, reheat in the microwave. Add a little water to the rice to keep it moist. Reheat on the stove over medium heat. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent drying out.
🍚Substitutions & Canned Beans
We all know the kitchen mantra: "use what we have." It's perfectly okay if you're missing an ingredient or two. This section is here to help you adapt the recipe to what's available in your pantry.
- Rice Varieties: No white rice? No problem! Brown rice is a great alternative. It adds a nutty flavor and extra fiber. Just remember, it might require a longer cooking time.
- Type of Beans: While pinto beans are traditional, feel free to use other types like Brazilian black beans or even kidney beans. Each type brings its unique flavor and texture. Keep in mind that each bean will require a different initial cook time.
- How to Use Canned Beans: If you prefer to use canned beans simply drain and rinse your beans. Then skip to Step 2 in the step-by-step instructions.
- Spice It Up or Down: Adjust the heat preference to your liking. If you're out of chili peppers, a dash of cayenne pepper or even hot sauce can do the trick.
Leftovers can be a delightful opportunity to get creative. Here are some ideas to repurpose your Brazilian rice and beans:
Burrito Filling: Use the leftovers as a hearty filling for burritos or wraps.
Rice Bowls: Top the rice with a variety of toppings like avocado, salsa, and sour cream for a quick lunch.
Bean Soup: Blend the beans with some broth to create a comforting bean soup. Add some veggies for extra nutrition.
As a neuroscientist, and mom who cares deeply about brain health, I can fully stand behind this recipe. Beans are not just a staple in Brazilian cuisine; they're also a powerhouse for brain health. Here are the top three brain health benefits of incorporating beans into your diet:
- Rich in Antioxidants: Beans are loaded with antioxidants, which are crucial for combating oxidative stress in the brain (1). This stress is linked to aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. The antioxidants in beans help protect brain cells and maintain cognitive health (1).
- High in Folate: Folate, or vitamin B9, found abundantly in beans, is essential for brain function (2). It plays a significant role in DNA production and repair and is vital for healthy brain development and functioning. Researchers have shown that getting enough folate is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline (2).
- Good Source of Iron: My favorite reason to eat beans! Iron is key for brain health as it aids in oxygen transportation and the production of neurotransmitters (3). Beans are particularly rich in iron, which supports overall brain function and cognitive abilities (3).
If you didn't need any more reasons to eat our Brazilian beans and rice then this should seal the deal for you. When looking for plant-based protein sources, or when eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, beans should be a staple in your diet.
If your beans are still hard after cooking, they might be old, as older beans take longer to cook. Always check the expiration date and try to use fresher beans. Soaking them longer can also help.
To avoid sticky or mushy rice, make sure to rinse it thoroughly before cooking to remove excess starch. Also, be mindful of the water-to-rice ratio and avoid overcooking.
If your Brazilian pinto beans taste a bit bland, don't hesitate to adjust the seasonings. A bit more salt, garlic, or spices can make a big difference. The flavors also develop more upon resting.
If the beans are more liquid than desired, let them simmer uncovered for a bit longer. This will allow some of the liquid to evaporate and thicken the consistency.
To use canned beans, skip the soaking and initial cooking steps. Rinse and drain the beans to remove excess sodium. Add them to the sautéed onion and garlic, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, just long enough to absorb the flavors. Adjust the amount of liquid since canned beans are moister and require less added water.
🥣More Brazilian-Inspired Dishes
I hope you enjoyed our Brazilian beans and rice recipe. I you are looking for more allergy-friendly or Brazilian-inspired recipes be sure to check out these below! My favorite has to be the dairy-free pao de queijo!
Brazilian Rice and Beans (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
- 2 cups pinto beans, dry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 bay leaved
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (regular is also fine)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili peppers optional
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
Cooking Brazilian Pinto Beans
- Star by soaking the pinto beans overnight or for at least 3 hours to reduce cooking time.
- Drain and rinse the beans, pick through and remove any bad beans. Then to a large pot, add beans and water to cover by 2 inches. Add bay leaves. Cook over medium-high heat for 60 minutes. Instant Pot version: cook on bean setting for 45 min.
- Once the beans are soft, in a separate pan, heat the olive oil. Add int he onions, garlic, and spices for the beans. Then saute until translucent, roughly 3 minutes.
- Next, take ⅓ of the cooked beans and add them to the pan with the onions. Mash the beans in the pan, this will help thicken the recipe.
- Return the mashed beans and onion-garlic mixture to the pot with the remaining beans. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.Instant pot version: Set to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Making Brazilian Rice
- Start by rinsing the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Continue to cook until the onion is translucent. Then add in the rinsed rice and cook for a few minutes. This steps helps flavor the rice. Instant pot version: Set to sautee and follow the same steps.
- Add water and salt to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.Instant pot version: Add the water and salt and then close the lid. Set to Rice setting and cook for 12 minutes.
- Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for a few minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
- Baroni, L., Sarni, A. R., & Zuliani, C. (2021). Plant Foods Rich in Antioxidants and Human Cognition: A Systematic Review. Antioxidants, 10(5), 714.
- Mullins, A. P., & Arjmandi, B. H. (2021). Health Benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition: Focus on Beans in Cardiometabolic Diseases. Nutrients, 13(2), 519.
- Anjom-Shoae, J., Sadeghi, O., Hassanzadeh Keshteli, A., Afshar, H., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Adibi, P. (2020). Legume and Nut Consumption in Relation to Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress in Iranian Adults. European Journal of Nutrition, 59, 3635–3645.