Pinto Beans And Rice

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Pinto beans and rice are a good cheap eat, especially when you top them with chips, salsa, and some other goodies. They make a filling meal to help you save money and eat well.

bowl of beans and rice

We eat homemade pinto beans and rice at least once a week for dinner. Sometimes they are side dishes, but often they make the bulk of the meal. While I sometimes lean on canned beans, I save money when I cook my own pinto beans to serve alongside “from scratch” Mexican rice. No boxed rice mixes around here!

We’ve found that these homemade varieties taste better than the canned and boxed versions, and generally the homemade version is less expensive as well.

What Do You Eat With Rice And Beans?

In fact, during very lean times, like when we were paying off a ton of debt, I served beans and rice three or four times a week! Sometimes we might have just beans and rice and perhaps a little cheese. But know that this humble meal can turn into something special when you “dude it up” with toppings.

I make my own fresh salsa because it’s very inexpensive. I buy the other toppings on sale whenever possible.

bowl of pinto beans and rice with fixings

Check out the price breakdown:

  • dried beans – $1 (or canned $2)
  • Mexican rice – $1.50
  • shredded cheese – $1.50
  • shredded lettuce – $0.50
  • homemade salsa – $1.25
  • tomatoes – $0.25
  • tortilla chips – $1

Total cost to feed a crowd: $8

That’s some good cheap eats, my friends! You can vary your toppings so much, it really never has to be the same meal twice. However, my people prefer cheese, salsa, sour cream, and chips at the very minimum. On your beans and rice buffet, you can also lay out small bits of leftover cooked meats. They’ll get used up in a flash. Other toppings you might want to consider: guacamole, avocado, lettuce, chopped onions, fajita vegetables, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and hot sauce.

Beans and Rice make a perfect Bowl Meal!

Here’s our very forgiving recipe for beans and rice:

Pinto Beans and Rice
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Pinto beans and rice are a good cheap eat, especially when you top it with chips, salsa, and some other goodies. It’s a filling meal to help you save money.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: beans and rice, mexican side dish
Servings: 8
Calories: 820 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 batch homemade pinto beans or 2-3 cans if not using homemade
  • 1 batch Mexican rice
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • optional toppings: sour cream, guacamole, sliced black olives, avocado, chopped green onion
  1. Lay out bowls of each of the ingredients.

  2. Allow diners to layer beans, rice, and toppings in each bowl or dish, according to tastes.
Nutrition Facts
Pinto Beans and Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 820 Calories from Fat 168
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18.7g 29%
Saturated Fat 6.9g 35%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 1773mg 74%
Potassium 1262mg 36%
Total Carbohydrates 146.4g 49%
Dietary Fiber 17.5g 70%
Sugars 9.7g
Protein 37.3g 75%
Calcium 383%
Iron 9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Originally published June 2009. Updated April 9, 2017.

bowl of pinto beans and rice

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Tracy says

    I hope you see this message, since it is on an older post of yours. I am very intrigued by this “recipe.” I’m curious about a couple things: Do you know if brown rice would work as well in your mexican rice? It takes twice as long to cook of course, but surely it would still cook the same? Of course, it’s not authentic “mexican” but it is healthier anyway. πŸ™‚ Also, do you season the pinto beans at all, or do you just throw them on top of, or mix them into, the rice? Thanks for any help you might have. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, really do enjoy reading your stuff!

    • Jessica says

      Yes, I get notifications on all comments. πŸ™‚ I have been using brown rice in this for the past two years. My family doesn’t love it as much. It does take longer to cook, but it is still good. The texture is a little stickier, though.

      As for beans, I season them the way they are in the recipe, but usually not more. With all the toppings, everybody makes his own like he likes it. And yes, it’s a non-recipe, isn’t it?

  2. harmony says

    Hi! I have to say that I love this website! You have helped me tremendously this week. Before that, I had a nice meal plan for my family, but after so many weeks and months we were getting so tired of eating the same things. I have 4 children and they all have different wants when it comes to food, so it can be frustrating to cook for them. But, they have really liked all of your recipes and ideas that I have implemented. Especially the pizza night and sandwich bar. Those were a huge success for me and now I am going to begin the beans and rice your way. It sounds great to me, as I love mexican food, and they like it too! Thank you so much!

  3. bob taylor says

    have you tried using a pressure cooker for rice and beans- the pressure cooker has been a great time saver for us, but i understand that having the time to use it depends on on your individual needs. just a suggestion.

  4. Christine says

    I have adopted your slow cooker pinto beans and Mexican rice as part of our weekly meal plan.Today I had to laugh because something came over me (an episode of America’s Test Kitchen) and I made the Cooks’ Illustrated version of Cuban rice and beans. This one pot meal has taken me, so far, three hours to make, with 30 minutes in the oven to go! Not counting the soaking of the beans overnight. My kids have had about four times their regular amount of Nick Jr. and PBS Kids – this better be good!

    It made me thank God for you and your delicious – and easy to make with three little ones under foot – recipes.

    • Jessica says

      @Christine, ha! I remember those days of spending way too much time on new recipes. I imagine that those beans were awesome, but CI definitely is time intensive.

  5. dawn says

    We have begun eating beans and rice every Sunday as part of our pantry challenge. Even though January is coming to an end we will continue to eat rice and beans on Sunday. I may have to start being a little more creative though so I look forward to searching your sight for ideas. By the way our pantry challenge was a huge success!

    • Jessica says

      @dawn, this is a great meal to add little bits of meat (maybe from other meals) or yummy toppings like salsa, guacamole, fajita vegetables, etc.

  6. Melissa says

    I took your idea and it was terrific. I made Mexican Rice, put warmed pinto beans on top, that was delicious by itself. But, then we added lettuce, cheese and salsa. Definitely will be a regular around here. Thanks for the idea.

  7. C says

    I really enjoy many of your recipes:). It is a bit embarrassing to say but we are very poor, it’s so nice that you share your recipes for REAL food for people on tight budgets! Thanks again!

  8. Dena says

    I’m Seventh day Adventist. We call it haystacks and often eat it for lunch on Saturdays after church. The beauty of it is that everything can be done ahead of time so you just pull things out of the fridge and the beans can be sitting in the crock pot waiting so they’re already heated.


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