Stewed Red Kidney Beans

(Habichuelas Coloradas Guisadas)


I love my stewed beans! The rice and beans combination is considered a staple in our native Puerto Rican cookery.  We add pieces of pumpkin (West Indian Pumpkin) to thicken the bean sauce.  We also stew our beans with fresh herbs and vegetables (known as sofrito) in a tomato-oil based sauce.  Furthermore, this recipe is a great dish for vegans and vegetarians because it is a good source of plant-based protein.  With this basic recipe, you can definitely stew a variety of cooked beans for a delicious high protein meal.

A Little History!

The Taíno Indians cultivated the red kidney beans, white beans and black beans.  However, they preferred the red kidney beans because they were larger and cooked more rapidly than any other variety of beans.  As a result, the red kidney beans became the preferred beans in the Puerto Rican culture.  I always think of the Taíno Indians when I  cook this tasty recipe for stewed red kidney beans.

If you are looking for a recipe to add more beans into your diet, this recipe is yours truly!

Let’s Get Started!

The ingredients that you will need to prepare this dish are pumpkin (West Indian Pumpkin), cooked dry beans, olive oil, tomato sauce, salt, sofrito (puréed condiments), garlic, lean ham (if you so desire), cilantro and seasoning envelopes.

How to Stew Red Kidney Beans!

Add cooked beans into a 3-quart saucepan.

I cook a variety of dry beans and store them in the freezer.  Whenever a recipe lists cooked beans as an ingredient, I can just add my cooked dry beans that were prepared in advance.  Here is how you can learn to cook dry beans!  Just click on the link Cooked Dry Beans and also discover why we use the term habichuelas to refer to our beans as opposed to frijoles.”

Add the remaining ingredients (except for the ham for those individuals that are vegans or vegetarians).

Alternatives for Special Ingredients!

You can substitute Butternut Squash for West Indian Pumpkin.  Learn How to Prepare and Package West Indian Pumpkin for future use.

The seasoning envelope with coriander and annatto is a special blend of different seasonings (herbs and spices).  It is mainly used to add color and flavor to our cuisine.  If you are unable to purchase our seasoning envelope at the supermarket, just click on this link to find my method of creating your own Special Blend of Seasonings.

What is Sofrito!

Our Sofrito is a special blend of herbs and vegetables sautéed in annatto oil and tomato sauce.  It is the basic condiment that gives the Puerto Rican cuisine its unique flavor and aroma. Today the puréed herbs and vegetables that is prepared in advance for future use is commonly referred to as “Sofrito.”  If you do not want to make a large batch of sofrito, then here is an easy recipe on How to Make Sofrito for a Single Meal

Add the lean ham to the saucepan.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, omit this step.

We traditionally add pork meat to our beans (pig’s feet, salt pork, etc.).  However, I use lean ham because most of my recipes are a healthier version of the Puerto Rican cuisine.

Stir all the ingredients until well blended.  Bring to a boil. Cover saucepan with lid and reduce heat to low.  Cook beans for 20 minutes or until pumpkin pieces are tender.  Stir occasionally.

If you prefer a thicker sauce after 20 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and continue cooking the beans until sauce thickens to your liking.

The consistency of the bean sauce can be varied according to the preference of the individual.  For instance, my mom prefers a thicker sauce while I enjoy a thinner sauce.

Serve over White RiceYou can also prepare brown rice if you so desire.

Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Prepare Stewed Red Kidney Beans!

Recipe and Nutritional Facts

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.  Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.


Stewed Red Kidney Beans

  • Author: Aida's Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


The rice and beans combination is considered a staple in our native Puerto Rican cookery.   This is an excellent recipe for stewing cooked beans for a delicious high protein meal.  Therefore, it is also a great dish for vegans and vegetarians.



  • 4 cups cooked dry red kidney beans
  • 4 ounces calabaza (West Indian pumpkin) or Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito (puréed condiments)
  • 3 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium) or to taste
  • ⅓ cup lean ham, diced (optional)


  1. Add cooked dry beans into a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.   Omit ham for a vegan or vegetarian dish.
  3. Cover saucepan with lid and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook beans for 20 minutes or until pumpkin pieces are tender.  Stir occasionally.
  4. If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove the lid and continue cooking the beans until sauce thickens to your liking.  Serve with white rice.  You can also substitute brown rice for the white rice as well.


You can use 2 cans (15.5 ounces each can) of red kidney beans.  If you are using canned beans, pour beans along with liquid into saucepan, add ⅓ cup of water and omit the salt.

  • Category: Lunch and Dinner
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican

Keywords: Stewed Red Kidney Beans

Nutritional Facts Disclaimer


Category: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Recipes

8 Comments. Leave new

  • I made this recipe and it is delicious. There are only two of us so there are plenty of leftovers. I made this without the meat because we don’t eat meat but it is still flavorful and yummy.

  • Love the easy recipe. Great for a bachelor with little cooking skills who still wants to eat healthy meals. Thanks for the great wortk.

  • Mary Johnston
    October 13, 2020 6:15 pm

    Where do you get the seasoning envelope and what is sofrito?

    • Hi Mary, Most Latin markets carry the seasoning envelopes but if you click on the link “Special Blend of Seasoning,” you will find the ingredients to make your own blend of seasoning. In addition, click on the “Sofrito” link and you will get a history of our sofrito. These links are found in the Stewed Red Kidney Beans recipe – the links are in maroon color.

  • Love your recipe! It is most certainly a Puerto Rican staple! But I am even more thankful for the added touch of history insight. I was reading up on some journals of Christopher Columbus, in which he mentions the types of beans he found on the island of Cuba, but there was no specific information on which beans exactly. All that is mentioned is the finding of kidney beans and other beans different from those of his country. So I was curious to know which beans exactly he found on the islands. Happy to know now, and to say that the red kidney bean is indeed my favorite of all! XO

    • Hi Sheila, I recommend highly the book “Eating Puerto Rico” by Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra. Since the Cubans and Puerto Ricans have similar ethnic backgrounds (Taíno Indians, Europeans (mainly Spain during Columbus era) and Africans), most of the produce cultivated on the island were probably the same but cooked or named differently. The Garbanzos were brought from Spain, the gandules from Africa and the Taíno Indians cultivated the white beans, black beans and the red kidney beans. The Cubans, however, prefer the Black Beans as their plant base staple.


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