Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

One of my very favorite meals on my site is Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk, Pollo en Leche de Coco. It’s the perfect thing for a cold, winter day – fast and easy and flavor for days! In the past, I’ve served the dish with rice cooked in coconut milk instead of how I first had it, with Guatemalan Rice & Beans.

Pollo en Leche de Coco - Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk

Pollo en Leche de Coco – Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk


And though I love that Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk over the simpler rice, and it would be good over just about anything, it always nagged at me that I hadn’t made the Guatemalan Rice & Beans to go with it! Well, that ends today. Life’s too short for little regrets and life is def too short not to make Guatemalan Rice & Beans, especially with that Guatemalan Chicken! Guys, both of these dishes are a must make in my book!

About Guatemalan Rice & Beans:

The Guatemalan Rice and Beans taste so much like the restaurant version I had in South Dakota, of all places, it makes me a bit homesick – even though I’m not from there! My folks are, though; they retired there from Iowa. Some people choose Florida, maybe Arizona, or even California. The folks? South Dakota…one of the highlights, though, was discovering Guatemalan Rice and Beans (and that chicken!). What are the odds of that, eh?

The Rice and Beans are so creamy and delish – the coconut flavor does come through just a bit and then it’s grounded by the cumin and pepper. It’s not hot, at least this version isn’t, although I like to put a smidge of optional jalapeno in it; it’s just a beautiful side dish. I love that it’s not just rice, and since it has the coconut milk along with the beans, it has a little extra protein and some additional fiber.

Guatemalan Rice & Beans, as I’ve made them, is a simple, quick version, just because it’s meant to be a foil for the Guatemalan Chicken. You’ll find more complicated versions of the dish out there, which are great, I’m sure, but sometimes when the main dish has so many flavors, you need the side to be just a bit more basic. You’ll find the cooked from scratch, long-simmered versions, too. Not this one – it takes very little effort to get it on the table and only a bit of extra time beyond making rice. That makes it perfect for even a weeknight.

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Making Guatemalan Rice & Beans:

I mentioned this is a pretty simple version of the Guatemalan Rice & Beans. You start out with sauteed onion and garlic, add in a few spices (the sugar is an oddity, but trust me on that!) then make the rice. Right after the rice is added in go the beans, and you’ll find a bit of strangeness with the canned beans. Since the home-cooked from scratch versions usually have a good bit of color that you don’t get from using canned beans, I wanted to make up for that a little. When you open the can of beans, you’ll likely find quite a bit of liquid – and the liquid on top is usually clear and the liquid on the bottom, thicker and darker colored. Just pour the clear liquid off, carefully and slowly, stopping when you start to see the thicker, darker liquid at the bottom. Use that, along with the beans, in the rice.

As far as the liquid, part is coconut milk, part is chicken stock. The proportions really aren’t that particular. If you have a can of coconut milk, use that and make up the rest with stock. I actually used what coconut milk I had left from making the Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk (have I mentioned that recipe enough yet, lol?) by adding it to my measuring cup and then filled the measuring cup up the rest of the way with water. To make the stock, I used a buillion mix, the dry powder, and I swear that was what made the Rice & Beans taste like the restaurant version. I happen to keep a Mexican one from Knorr on hand; see my post on Mexican Pinto Bean Spice. I picked mine up from a Latin market – for dirt cheap!

The cooking method is odd, too, in the recipe for Guatemalan Rice & Beans. After the rice and liquid are added, you’ll simmer the dish, stirring now and then for several minutes before turning the heat way down and adding the lid. Then several times, you’ll open the lid and stir. That’s partly because the dish is richer and thicker than most rice dishes and might stick to the bottom of the pan if you don’t stir, and partly because the stirring will make the dish even creamier.

To serve the rice, line a small portion sized bowl (a custard cup or measuring cup works well) with plastic wrap, pack in the Guatemalan Rice & Beans, then turn over onto a plate or serving dish. Lift the dish and plastic wrap off carefully and you should have a beautiful little pile of rice.

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Saving Money on Guatemalan Rice & Beans:

Watch for low prices on coconut milk and stock up. You might find coconut milk in various areas of the stores, especially if you’re in a large supermarket that has multiple sections divided by different cuisines and I often see coconut milk in the carts or shelves at the store full of gourmet ingredients priced for a quick sale. You’re likely to find coconut milk at any Asian or Latin American market, and probably for less than you’ll find it at a grocery store.

Rice is really inexpensive; shop the bottom of the aisle and pick it up in bags rather than boxes and do compare rice from different areas of the store. You may find it for less in the Asian section or the Mexican section if your store is larger and is divided.

Beans are always more inexpensive dried than canned, but are so cheap in the can that they won’t break the bank. Watch the sales; you can do worse than stock up with a few cans for quick sides and canned beans are usually at a low late summer and early fall; the warehouses are full and they’re priced to move. You may find them on sale, too, around holidays when ham is served (Easter, Thanksgiving), around the Superbowl and during Chili season and almost always during Cinco de Mayo.

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

Guatemalan Rice & Beans

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup rice, quickly rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (try water & buillion powder)
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) small red beans, excess clear liquid drained off, thicker liquid on saved

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, then the garlic. Cook for a minute or until garlic is fragrant. Add in cumin and pepper and stir in over heat for just a minute. Add in the sugar, salt, and rice, stirring.

Immediately add coconut milk and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer. Cook for about five minutes, stirring now and then, then add the beans along with any of the thick liquid in the cn. Add the lid and turn down the heat, adjusting if necessary to maintain a low simmer until rice is done and tender, stirring every now and then, about 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove the lid, fluff rice (it should be thick and moist) and replace lid; let sit for five minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings.


  • If you have on hand and like a little bit more zip, saute a bit of finely minced jalapeno with the onions.
  • Add extra liquid if needed while cooking.


I’ll be sharing Guatemalan Rice & Beans at Fiesta Friday #264 where I’m Co-hosting along with our hostess with the mostest, Angie. I’ll be visiting all the bloggers who have linked up and you might want to too! There’s bound to be many marvelous recipes and party ideas!


This is a quicker, shortcut to get Guatemalan Rice & Beans on the table; a fraction of the time, all the creamy, delish flavor! #GuatemalanRiceBeans

16 thoughts on “Guatemalan Rice & Beans

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I bet it was fab, Mimi!! I was having fun exploring different recipes and loved finding some of the old fashioned ones where the coconuts were milked and grated and so on! I can just imagine the flavors! I’ve never been to any of the latin american countries, although my daughter spent some time in Guatemala and came back with a few stories. 🙂 No recipes, though, sadly!

      • Ironically, we’ll be in Guatemala and Colombia in a few weeks. I hope to collect recipes, or at least – inspiration. Interesting how our kids have gotten to other countries before we have!!! Love that.

  1. Linda Martinez

    I am looking forward to making the rice and beans and chicken, lately chicken seems to have lost it’s flavor and this should do it.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Linda, this IS a fun recipe and I think you’re so right about the chicken. I mean it seems like ppl have been saying for years that chicken wasn’t what it was like back in the day, but I’ve noticed it, too that chicken just seems bland and flavorless. And it’s worse than it used to be – it’s like eating tofu!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks, Anne. See, you’re a kindred spirit then, Anne! I swear I can “smell” and “taste” recipes in my mind! I’ve talked to other people about this and it seems that some ppl have that ability and others don’t really seem to have it or aren’t tuned in to it…

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