brown rice with black beans

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Of all the whole grains, brown rice has been the hardest for me to accept. I realize now that I’d been cooking it wrong for years. I just couldn’t seem to cook it through all the way, and I tried a bunch of different recipes, but it was always crunchy.

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Then sometime last year, Cooks Illustrated sent me a recipe to test for them for brown rice with andouille, and not only does it have andouille, which, come on, andouille, delicious, but at the time I was religiously making every recipe they sent for me to test. (It got to the point where I’d get the magazines and I’d already have made half the recipes. I’ve since slacked off.) So I only made the recipe because I felt like I had to, plus of course the andouille. But it was fantastic, just so, so good. It was a revelation for me, because it was the first brown rice I’d made that was not just edible, but delicious.

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But that isn’t the recipe I’m telling you about today. Ha! When the magazine issue came out, it had a few other variations, and one is just perfect for me. Brown rice, black beans and a bunch of aromatics, how healthy and tasty does that sound?

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The first time I made it, I followed the directions fairly closely, just adding the scraped-off kernels of one cob of corn at the end of cooking. That was a great addition, especially visually. Corn isn’t in season anymore, so I skipped it this next time. I doubled the black beans the second time, because you can never go wrong with more black beans. I also added an avocado and wow! I mean, it goes without saying that avocado improves almost anything, but it was particularly complimentary with this.

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If you’ve ever had doubts about brown rice, this recipe will make a believer out of you. And if you’re already a convert, this dish will be a great addition to your repertoire.

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One year ago: Sushi Bowls

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Brown Rice with Black Beans and Cilantro
(from Cooks Illustrated)

I like to double the black beans. Corn, either cut off of the cob or 1 cup frozen and defrosted, is a good addition stirred in with the black beans. One diced avocado is delicious added with the cilantro. I used red pepper, because I like them better than green.

Serves 4 to 6

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2¼ cups water
1½ cups brown rice, long-grain
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

2. Add broth and water; cover and bring to boil. Remove pot from heat; stir in rice and salt. Cover and bake rice until tender, 65 to 70 minutes.

3. Remove pot from oven, uncover, fluff rice with fork, stir in beans, and replace lid; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and black pepper. Serve, passing lime wedges separately.


  1. Amanda says:

    Hey Bridget,
    Have you ever tried the Saveur method for cooking brown rice? It’s now my standard, and the only way I will eat brown rice (any other methods just produce a way-too-mushy result). You’re basically just cooking it a ton of water, and then draining it off, so that none of the grains stick together. Nicole at Pinch My Salt mentions it here ( if you’re interested. It’s really delicious.


  2. Beautiful photo and seemingly versatile recipe! I too have been challeneged with cooking brown rice. Looking at your recipe however, it seems as though I’m missing the note you’re referring to next to the brown rice ingredient line…could that hold the secret to properly cooking the rice??

  3. bridget says:

    Ashley – Oops, thanks. I deleted the “see note.” CI’s original note just says that you can also use short-grain brown rice.

  4. This is the brown rice recipe I use! I’ve never tried it with the black beans though, although I know I would love it. David always said that he didn’t like brown rice until he tried this. He just never had it prepared correctly.

  5. Just yesterday, I found a recipe for brown rice that calls for baking it. This looks more flavourful; can’t wait to give it a try. I have some chorizo sausage meat in the freezer, so I might cook up some of it and then fry the onions and such in that grease. Mmmmmm meat.

  6. I love brown rice! I actually bake mine following the Alton Brown recipe…delicious and perfect every time! I love the addition of the black beans too….yummy:)

  7. Yummy! You’ve used so many ingredients I love in this dish. I could seriously eat just this for a meal 🙂

  8. This recipe looks great. Definitely something I’d enjoy. I’ll wait until the Omnivore turns the heat off and the temperature drops, though, because this long baking time will be a secret weapon to keeping my kitchen nice and warm.

  9. bridget says:

    Kelsey – Yup, we ate this on its own for a meal. I’m all about one-pot meals.

  10. Your brown rice with black beans looks amazing! I have had trouble with brown rice in the past also. I will have to give this a try. I love the addition of avocado – I’m a big fan!

  11. Your brown rice looks delicious. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I often make a caribbean flavored brown rice/black bean dish but this looks like a great variation. Avocado sounds like the perfect garnish too!

  12. We (but especially me) love brown rice. It’s nice to have a new way to prepare it!

  13. that looks so satisfying and tasty! i get their testing e-mails, too, but only make about one in every ten.

  14. Hannah says:

    I want to try this so much! Buuuut my benchtop oven would never handle it, does anyone know how I could make this work in a crockpot/rice cooker? I got a shiny new one recently and have never used it for anything other than simple “for crockpot” recipes so I’m not sure on whats involved to make this work.

  15. I made this and it was delicious – thanks!!

  16. Sorry to have come to the party so late! Wonderful site & delicious recipe! Thank you!

  17. shannon says:

    This dish has become a weekly tradition for us, and it is soooo healthy!!

  18. Rebecca says:

    This looks great. I want to try it somehow with brown rice that is already cooked. Any suggestions??

  19. Rebecca – I think you could pretty much follow the recipe as it is, except instead of adding 3.25 cups of water, add maybe 1/2 cup, just so the dish doesn’t dry out, and bake just until it’s heated through, about 30 minutes.