Cilantro Rice and Bean Bowls

I have made this dish more times than any other recipe in my life. First of all, it’s delicious and the base of the cilantro and garlic-scented rice plus the seasoned beans on top are a perfect canvas for any Mexican-inspired toppings you wish to add — the more the merrier! It’s supremely easy to throw together, especially on a weeknight, and can be on the table in 20 minutes. While the rice cooks, you get busy preparing the beans and prepping any of the toppings you want to serve. It’s also quite inexpensive for the base (just rice, beans, butter, garlic, cilantro, seasoning packet) and you can make four servings for under $5. The main ingredients are all pantry staples that I make certain I always have on hand so I always have at least one dinner up my sleeve if the cupboards are otherwise bare, or mental energy is nil. The recipe is easily multiplied if you’re serving for a group. Set up a colorful bar of toppings and everyone can build their own bowl! Filling, satisfying, healthy, easy… shall I keep going? Here’s how:

Cilantro Rice and Bean Bowls


  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided in half

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup basmati rice

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 can pinto beans (do not drain)

  • 1 McCormick’s taco seasoning packet

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves chopped


  • Shredded cheddar cheese

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken

  • Avocado

  • Tomato

  • Scallions

  • Jalapeños

  • Cilantro, torn leaves

  • Salsa, hot sauce

  • Sour cream


  1. For the rice, add 1 tablespoon butter to a heavy-bottomed pan (I use a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Once melted, add half the chopped garlic to the pan. Once garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds — do not burn!), add the rice to toast for about a minute. Stir all around the pan and coat in butter.

  2. Once toasted, add the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the salt and turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. In a small sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the remaining garlic. Once fragrant, add the entire can of pinto beans (including the liquid), plus the seasoning packet, and stir to combine. Simmer until heated through then turn off heat.

  4. When your rice timer is up, the liquid should be gone and the rice should be perfectly steamed. Stir in the chopped cilantro .

  5. I like to melt cheese over the top of the bowls to finish them before adding any of the toppings so when the rice and beans are ready, I turn off the stove burners and turn the broiler on high in the oven. I scoop rice, then beans in porcelain bowls (oven safe), sprinkle cheese over top, and broil for about 30 seconds, or until the cheese is bubbling. Be very careful removing the bowls from the oven, and warn your diners of the hot dish!

  6. Then add whatever extra toppings your heart desires! Shredded chicken, chopped scallions, avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, salsas…

Cilantro Rice and Bean Bowls | @beesandbubbles

What are your quick and easy pantry meals?

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