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Cuban Red Beans and Rice Recipe (Congri)

Experience the flavors of Cuba with this delicious and easy Cuban Red Beans and Rice recipe. It’s hearty comfort food the whole family will love.

A serving bowl filled with Cuban Red Beans and Rice, garnished with cooked jalapenos and fresh cilantro - Hostess At Heart

You’ll learn how to prepare this tasty and comforting homemade Congri by using traditional Cuban ingredients and spices.

Why You’ll Love Cuban Style Rice and Beans

  • Complete Meal. No need to serve this on the side; it’s ham and beans and all the things you need in one dish.
  • Versatile. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different spices and ingredients to make the dish unique.
  • Delicious comfort food. When you need a full belly and a happy heart, this is the dish you will turn to time and time again.

What is Congri?

Congri is a dish of beans and rice cooked together, common in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine. A traditional Cuban dish, it comes together easily and can be served on its own or on the side.

Two bowls filled with Rice and red beans with chunks of ham - Hostess At Heart

What beans are used for red beans and rice?

The beans in this recipe are actually called “small red beans.” You may think that they’re red kidney beans, but they’re not. Small red beans are smaller and redder than kidney beans. I found some interesting history and distinctions about this bean here.

Ingredients for Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients for Cuban Congri including a ham hock, bacon, garlic, hot peppers, green bell pepper, red beans, rice, salt and pepper, bay leaf, cumin, and oregano.
  • Dried Small Red Beans.
  • Ham Bone Shank End. With plenty of meat or 3 cups of ham in chunks. A Ham Hock is part of the shank and can be used if you can’t find the Shank end. If you had smoked ham, your congri will have a smoked taste too.
  • Water.
  • Red Wine. Dry Spanish Red is preferred.
  • Bacon.
  • Olive Oil.
  • Yellow Onion.
  • Green Bell Pepper.  Red Bell Pepper or your favorite bell pepper can be used.
  • Garlic Cloves. 
  • Ground Cumin.
  • Dried Oregano.
  • Bay Leaf.
  • Vinegar. We used white vinegar.
  • Habanero Pepper. Jalapeño peppers can also be used. If you like more spice add more or you can use a mix of hot peppers.
  • Salt & Black Pepper.
  • Parboiled White Rice.

How To Make Cuban Rice and Beans

Please note, that the printable recipe card has ingredient quantities, complete instructions, and nutritional information. The following is a quick overview of the recipe.

The following image is for reference of sorted and discarded broken and discarded black beans. You’ll sort the red beans the same way.

Cracked and mishaped dried black beans - Hostess At Heart
Sorted Dried Black Beans

Step One. Prepare the beans for red beans and rice recipe.

Discard broken and misshaped beans. Put the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pot from the heat. Soak the beans overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain the soaked beans and add fresh water. Cook the beans for one hour.

Step Two. Prepare the ham bone.

A ham shank sitting in a Dutch oven filled with liquid. - Hostess At Heart

While your beans are cooking, cook your ham bone in the water and wine. This will take about one hour. When you remove the ham bone, keep the liquid, because that is essential to the recipe. Cube any remaining ham off the bone to use in the dish.

Step Three. Start building your Cuban Rice and Beans dish.

Start frying the bacon with the lid on in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, green pepper, and a little more oil if needed, and sauté until the onions are tender. Next, add the garlic and ham chunks and cook another minute or two. Finally, add the red beans, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, habanero or jalapeños, salt, pepper, and your stock.

Use a large, covered cooking pot. Begin by frying the bacon pieces in a little olive oil until they begin to crisp. Add the onion and green pepper and a little more oil if needed and sauté until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and ham chunks and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Step Four. Add rice.

Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Add the rinsed rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring once or twice in the first 5 minutes only, about 30 to 45 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Remove the habanero or jalapeño pepper and the bay leaf. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Parboiled Rice

This kind of rice has been partially cooked, but the cooking process happens while it is still inside the inedible hull. After the partial cooking process, the rice is removed from the hull and prepared for sale. Parboiling improves the texture and helps the rice keep longer safely. Parboiled rice also has more thiamine and niacin, fiber and protein than rice that has not been parboiled before the hull is removed. This is because these nutrients move from the hull to the rice during the boiling process.

Angled view of beans and rice and cubed ham in a bowl garnished with cilantro - Hostess At Heart

Do I have to use Parboiled Rice?

No you do not have to use parboiled rice. You can use traditional white rice or brown rice but it may take longer to cook. Check the packaging for the best results.

About Cooking with Beans

You should always sort your beans, whether canned or dry. Beans need sorted because they may contain small rocks and dirt.

You do not have to soak dried red beans, but if they are not soaked they will take longer to cook. We use the overnight method to soak the beans. It’s quick to do and reduces the cooking time. Dry beans will split when cooking because the outer seed coat isn’t soft enough when the insides of the bean rehydrates.

Soaking the beans will rehydrate the beans and will make them less likely to split. Once your pot of beans comes to a boil, turn it to low because constant boiling will make the beans fall apart. Split beans are perfectly safe to eat though. Beans need to soak for 6-10 hours for the full effect. When the skin slides off the beans, they’re ready to cook. Do not soak for more than 12 hours unless you want mushy beans.

Angled view of a dish of homemade Cuban Beans and Rice topped with cooked jalapenos and cilantro - Hostess At Heart

Serving Suggestions

Rice and beans is a simple dish and a complete meal. For extra flavor, we put a dish. of lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and hot sauce on the dinner table. For a simple side, our skillet cornbread is perfect.

How To Reheat & Store Cuban Red Beans and Rice

Best Way to Store Cuban Rice and Beans Recipe

Leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.

Can I Freeze Cuban Red Beans and Rice Recipe

Yes, you can freeze Red Beans and Rice. Place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or as you reheat.

How to Reheat Cuban Beans and Rice

Reheat rice and beans in the microwave or on the stovetop in a saucepan. You may need to add liquid if the rice has dried out.

Side angle of a bowl filled with Beans, Rice, and Ham and garnished with fresh cilantro - Hostess At Heart

Tips for the Perfect Cuban Red Beans and Rice

  • Keep extra meat on the ham bone when you carve it so you have plenty for your recipe or if you don’t have a ham bone you can use ham.
  • If you’re using a ham bone that doesn’t have a lot of extra ham on it, cook the bone in the liquid for 30 minutes and then add the additional purchased ham chunks for the final 30 minutes.
  • This recipe makes a large pot and would serve 12 people as a main dish or double that as a side dish.
  • Make sure to save the stock created from boiling the ham bone and then measure your stock exactly in the final dish. This is very important for good results.
Top down view of a bowl filled with rice & red beans with diced ham and garnished with fresh cilantro - Hostess At Heart

If you enjoyed this recipe, check these out!

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Angled view of a bowl filled with Red Beans, Rice, and ham - Hostess At Heart

Cuban Red Beans and Rice Recipe (Congri)

Author: Julie Menghini
Experience the flavors of Cuba with this delicious and easy Cuban Red Beans and Rice recipe. It's hearty comfort food the family will love.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Cuban
Keyword: Bean recipe, Congri, Rice Recipe
Servings: 12

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound dried small red beans
  • 1 ham bone shank end with plenty of meat or 3 cups ham in chunks
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup red wine (dry Spanish Red)
  • 4 strips bacon chopped
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 yellow onion diced (2 cups)
  • 2 green bell pepper diced (2 cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic minced (3 Tbsp)
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 habanero pepper quartered or 2 jalapeño peppers sliced lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb parboiled white rice

Instructions
 

  • Sort the dried beans and discard broken and mishaped beans. Cover with water and bring the beans to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat. Cover the beans and let them soak overnight.
  • The next day, drain the beans and cover them with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain.
  • While your beans are cooking, put your ham bone in a separate pot that's large enough to cover most of the ham bun with the liquid when the water and wine are added, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour.
    You can substitute 2 or 3 cups of ham chunks if you don't have a ham bone. Reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes. See the notes for additional options.
  • Remove the ham bone or ham chunks and KEEP THE LIQUID. This is your stock.
  • If you used a ham bone, remove all of the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-sized chunks.
  • Use a large, covered cooking pot. Begin by frying the bacon pieces in a little olive oil until they begin to crisp. Add the onion and green pepper and a little more oil if needed and sauté until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and ham chunks and cook another minute or two.
  • Add the red beans, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, habanero or jalapeños, salt, pepper, and 4 cups (measure exactly) of the stock you made when you cooked the ham (If you're short on stock, add a little water to make up the difference.)
  • Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Add the rinsed rice and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring once or twice in the first 5 minutes only, about 30 to 45 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.
  • Remove the habanero or jalapeño pepper and the bay leaf. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Notes

Adapted from Three Guys from Miami “Celebrate Cuban”
Note: If you’re using a ham bone that doesn’t have a lot of extra ham on it, cook the bone in the liquid for 30 minutes and then add the additional ham chunks for the final 30 minutes.
This recipe makes a large pot and would serve 12 people as a main dish or double that as a side dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 13gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 450mgPotassium: 664mgFiber: 7gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 100IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

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Bowl of Cuban-Style Red Beans and Rice filled with chunks of ham and garnished with cilantro - Hostess At Heart
Recipe Rating




Laura Ashley Johnson

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

This was the real deal! The flavor and texture was literally perfect!!

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of January 2024

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks.

Janelle

Monday 1st of January 2024

Love this twist from the traditional red beans and rice. This was delicious!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Thank you, Janelle! We love this easy recipe as a side or as a main meal.

Lynn

Monday 1st of January 2024

This was the perfect use for our leftover Christmas ham! Thanks for sharing!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Thank you, Lynn! I love leftover ham recipes!

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