Black Bean Burrito Bowl

What’s a burrito bowl? A burrito without the tortilla wrapping. A bowl of steaming hot rice, topped with savory beans, and each and every taco topping you want—salsa, avocados, cilantro, guacamole, jicama, lettuce or cabbage. Here’s the thing with a burrito bowl, it can be made in 15 minutes with pantry items and toppings from the fridge. Canned beans, reheated frozen cooked rice, prepared salsa. It’s fast, it’s easy, it works.

Or you can take your burrito bowl to another level and cook your beans from scratch, or even make Spanish rice or cilantro rice. For this burrito bowl pictured here I cooked up a bag of beautiful Rancho Gordo black beans from scratch, in a cumin, garlic, and bay leaf infused broth. We also experimented with canned beans, which if you use, you will want to reheat with a few extras.

canned-beans

If you go the canned bean route, I strongly recommend using a good quality canned bean. We tested 5 different brands of canned black beans. The Whole Foods 365 brand was completely lacking in flavor; we don’t recommend it. The other four are pictured here. Of these, we like S&W Premium Black Beans, as well as Bush’s Black Beans. The Rosarita and the La Costeña were both like soupy pinto beans, nothing special, and not nearly as good as the S&W and Bush’s.

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Black Bean Burrito Bowl Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

This recipe makes a lot, but the leftovers keep well. You can easily cut the recipe in half.

Ingredients

  • 1  pound dry black beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

OR

  • 4 15-ounce cans of whole black bean (preferably S&W premium black beans, or Bush's best black beans)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

 

  • 3 cups, uncooked rice, white or brown
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 6 cups of water, depending on the type of rice (read package)
  • Sliced red cabbage
  • Ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Fresh tomato salsa
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Queso fresco Mexican farmer's cheese (or Cotija cheese) (skip if cooking vegan)
  • Sour cream or crema fresca (skip if cooking vegan)

 

Method

Preparing dry beans

1 Place black beans in a large bowl or pot. Cover with 2 inches of water, let soak overnight, then drain. You can skip overnight soaking, place black beans in bowl, and cover with 2-inches of boiling water. Let soak for one hour. Then drain.

2 Place soaked and drained beans in a large pot. Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.

3 While the beans are coming to a boil in step 2, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. Stir in the ground cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cook a minute more. Once the beans are boiling, add the cumin and garlic to the pot with the beans. Add bay leaves and salt to the pot as well.

4 Cook the beans, uncovered, until tender, but not mushy, 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size and age of the beans.

5 When the beans are done, place a strainer over a separate pot. Pour the beans into the strainer, to collect the cooking water into the pot. Set aside the beans, and boil down the cooking liquid until thickened and slightly syrupy. Return the cooking liquid to the beans and stir.

Preparing canned beans

1 Place the beans and the liquid from the can in a sauce pan. (Taste the liquid first; if it tastes good, use it, if not, drain the beans first, and add as much liquid to the pot with the beans as you strained out.)

2 Add the cumin and garlic powder to the beans. Bring to a simmer and simmer for a minute or two to heat the beans through. Stir in the cilantro and remove from heat.

Preparing the rest

1 Place 3 cups of rice in a large saucepan. Depending on the type of rice you are using (short grain, long grain, white, brown) you will add any where from 4 1/2 cup of water to 6 cups of water to the pot. Check the rice package instructions. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low to maintain a very low simmer. Cover and cook from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the type of rice (again, check the package instructions for the rice you are using). Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes, covered, before fluffing with a fork to serve.

2 To construct the burrito bowl, place a serving of cooked rice at the bottom of a serving bowl. Top with black beans. Top with assorted garnishes—thinly sliced cabbage, chopped avocados, chopped cilantro, queso fresco and sour cream.

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Links:

Burrito Bowl from Dinner A Love Story

Chipotle Style Chicken Burrito Bowl from Jeanette's Healthy Living

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowl from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Black Bean Burrito Bowl on Simply Recipes

33 Comments

  1. mimi

    good to know about the beans. i can’t get s and w where i live but i do get bush’s. and i’ve always been happy with that brand. thanks for the recipe!

  2. June

    Oooh, what a scrumptious dinner that would be! I always use canned beans, but I never thought about the quality of the brand specifically…perhaps next time.

  3. Emily

    I’m actually a fan of Target’s black beans. Real Simple ranked them the best in their test: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/food/canned-beans-00100000118044/page3.html

  4. Sade

    Hi Elise, I was surprised to not see Goya not included in the bean taste test. What are your thoughts on their black beans?

    • Elise

      I love Goya black beans! I looked for them at my local market and was surprised not to find them. So I grabbed whatever beans they were selling that day.

  5. Gayle

    This looks awesome and very healthy! Will make this weekend and prepare the cilantro rice recipe Elise suggested also.

    Love this blog and all the wonderful recipes. Keep up the great work!!

  6. Alexander

    Yum! This is one of my favorite types of meals: rice bowls and noodle bowls. It’s easy to create a bowl for just about any type of cuisine.

  7. Marie

    This looks really delicious, Elise! thanks for sharing your black bean recommendations. I’ll keep that in mind. The cans really do come in handy in a pinch!

  8. Barbara

    I strongly suspect that the difference in taste between the black beans is directly proportional to how much salt is in each can. Some googling shows that:

    – Bush’s and S&W (your “best” rated) each have 480 mg sodium (per 1/2 cup serving)
    – Rosarita has 390 mg
    – La Costena has 350 mg
    – 365 has a measly 85 mg, with no other spices added

    Unsurprisingly, plain, unseasoned black beans have very little flavor.

  9. Kathy Kreiter

    Great recipe….it’s what is for dinner tonight! I have told so many people about your site, Elise. Your recipes are the best.

  10. Matt Robinson

    This would be such a big hit here in our home and thanks so much for the black bean recommendations. Can’t wait to give this a try!

  11. Susanne

    I’ve been making these for years just never thought to call them a burrito bowl. So delicious! I’m a fan of Rosarita refried black beans — I warm them up with a little milk until they are creamy. Seasoned brown jasmine rice from TJ — all the same topping as this recipe but with the addition of a fried egg on top ! heavenly :) Thank you Elise this gives me more ideas as well.

  12. Sandy S

    Yes! This is for me. I can taste it already. And, it’s so pretty!

  13. sheila

    Elise you are speaking my love language!
    BTW we are fans of Bush’s Beans …never seen SW around.
    thanks for another great recipe!

  14. David

    I don’t use canned beans anymore, there’s to much variation in quality, how much they were cooked, and they’re all too high in salt – even the low sodium ones.
    I soak an entire bag of beans over night and then cook the whole batch. After they’re cooked I drain off the water, let them cool, and then package them in ziplocks (between 1 1/2 and 2 cups per) and freeze them.
    When I want to use them I either add them frozen to a recipe or put them in a pan with a little water and heat them up.
    I have about 10 bags of black beans and 5 bags of garbanzos in my freezer right now (I use these 2 the most as they’re my favorites).

  15. Erika

    Looks delicious, on my list of meals for the week. Any suggestions for substitutions for red cabbage?

  16. La guera tamalera

    I just wanted to share my opinion about brands of canned beans. In my household we stay away from pork so many canned beans are automatically off our list because of the lard. It is true however that lard gives a unique taste to beans, BUT I have found my favorite brand of canned beans to be Ducal or los criollos which are both imported brands from guatemala. I have gotten SO many compliments about “my beans” and I tell everyone they are canned! I live in Virginia so I dont know if those brands are available evrywhere, I normally buy them at the hispanic grocery and usually just fry them with onions and salt, or a little Goya adobo and I’m good to go. Also, I find ALOT of great recipes on this site, this beats allreces for sure :-)

  17. Candy C.

    Oh YUM!! And so much easier to eat in a bowl as opposed to wrapped in a tortilla!

  18. Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody)

    Black beans are so hard to find here in Australia. Such a pity, I think they’re delicious and would happily try this recipe out!

    • David

      Sometimes they call them turtle beans in Australia. I understand that finding them canned can be difficult, but many grocery stores carry them dried. If your local grocer doesn’t, you might have to go to an Asian grocers or a health/whole food store.

      A cup of cooked beans is around the equivalent of a 400 g/14 oz tin

    • Sara A.

      You can make a burrito bowl with whatever beans you’ve got on hand. I often like to sub out black beans for navy beans as the texture is right, but the flavor isn’t so intensely earthy. For authenticity, pinto beans cooked up with bacon can’t be beat.

  19. Amanda

    This looks so good! I made some queso fresco the other day, so I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks! :)

  20. Joanne Porter

    I made this for friends last night and it was very good. I cooked dry black beans as indicated in the recipe. However, I never did get the bean liquid to look “syrupy” and had to add water after reducing the liquid too much. Any suggestions about “syrupy”?

    • Elise

      HI Joanne, maybe syrupy isn’t the best word to describe it. “Reduced and concentrated” might be better. You just want to capture the flavor in the liquid and eat it, not discard it.

  21. Eugeniakukla

    HI. I tried this recipe last evening. I used the S & W brand. The entire dish was yummo! I would like to try the brand La guera tamalera commented about. So, I am off this morning to the local Hispanic store hoping to find the same brand.
    I enjoy your website. I log on every week and sometimes more. We have never had a dish we did not enjoy! Thank you!

  22. Nina

    I had no idea how this would turn out, but wow… it was delicious! I especially like the cheese :)

  23. Sara A.

    Making this tonight with leftover savory baked rice. It’s vaguely French, but no reason it wouldn’t taste good.

  24. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures

    I adore these flavors! So light and fresh! I’l be sure to buy SW or Bush black beans the next time I’m buying black beans.

  25. Suri

    Thanks for this! I can ALWAYS use more pantry recipes. Nice to have a non-pasta option (and this is high in protein, so even healthier!).

    Weighing in on the beans…I get the Whole Foods 365 beans when I need canned beans because I can add my own salt and spices. The amounts of salt in most canned beans (as one commenter mentioned) is insanely unhealthy, plus some of them have MSG and other chemicals in them. So the fact that it’s less flavorful right out of the can is not a big deal to me. There’s also a 365 Spicy Organic Black Beans type that’s pretty tasty (but not too spicy, sadly!) and only has 280g of sodium per serving (about half the amount as the brands you mentioned). It’s important to me, as the pregnant mom of a toddler, to use something organic, and this is the tastiest option I’ve personally found.

  26. Hilary

    This recipe looks wonderful! I will be making this tomorrow for sure. I mostly commented to weigh in, as others have, on canned beans. As much as possible now that I’ve started working for a health department (and learned about this) I’ve avoided all canned foods because the lining in cans is the biggest source of BPA, which is an estrogen mimicker. Not a big deal probably for most people unless planning to become pregnant, however if you have an easy (and cheap!!) alternative like soaking a bag of beans, why not right?

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