Stewed Red Kidney Beans

(Habichuelas Coloradas Guisadas)


I love my Stewed Red Kidney 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, the Stewed Red Kidney Beans is a great dish for vegans and vegetarians because it is a good source of plant-based protein, fiber and iron.  With this basic recipe, you can definitely stew a variety of cooked beans for a delicious high protein meal.

A Little Food History – Red Kidney Beans!

The Taíno Indians cultivated the red kidney beans, white beans and black beans.  However, they preferred the red kidney beans because of their large size and they cooked more rapidly compared to the other 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.

Why do we refer to our beans as “habichuelas” and not “frijoles” like most other Latin countries?   Because the moors and castillians referred to the bean pods as favichiela or judihuelas so they decided to combine both terms to come up with the name for all our beans as “Habichuelas.”     If you are looking for a recipe to add more beans into your diet, this recipe is yours truly!

I have listed below our three (3) special ingredients for this recipe:  West Indian Pumpkin, Seasoning Envelopes and Sofrito.

West Indian Pumpkin!

As I mentioned earlier, we add pieces of pumpkin to our stewed beans to thicken the sauce.  You can substitute Butternut Squash for West Indian Pumpkin.  Click on this link to learn How to Prepare and Package West Indian Pumpkin for future use.

Seasoning Envelopes!

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 local market, then click on this link to learn how to create your own Special Blend of Seasonings.


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 are 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

Preparing the Stewed Red Kidney Beans!

For this recipe, I will be using 4 cups of cooked dry red kidney beans.  However, you can use 2 cans of red kidney beans (each can 15.5 ounces) if you prefer.  If you do decide to use the canned beans, omit the salt and add ⅓ cup of water to the saucepan.   Click on this link for preparing Cooked Dry Beans.

Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 3 sprigs of chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon Lite salt (or to taste).

We can now add the two special ingredients:  2 tablespoons of sofrito made with culantro and 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto.   

Add ⅓ cup of lean ham to the saucepan.   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.

Note:  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, omit the ham. 

The last step is to place 4 ounces of Caribbean pumpkin into saucepan.  The pumpkin will serve as a thickener to the bean sauce.

Stir all the ingredients until well blended.  

Cooking the Stewed Red Kidney Beans!

Cover saucepan with lid and cook the beans over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until pumpkin pieces are tender.  Stir occasionally.

Stewed Red Kidney Beans

After 10 minutes of cooking, the bean sauce is starting to thicken.  Stir the beans.  Cover saucepan with lid and continue cooking.

Stewed Red Kidney Beans

Once the red kidney beans have been cooking for 20 minutes, the bean sauce has the thickness that I prefer and the pumpkin pieces are tender.  

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.

Stewed Red Kidney Beans

The Stewed Red Kidney Beans are ready.  

Stewed Red Kidney Beans

The bean sauce is full of Caribbean flavors.  Serve over White RiceYou can also serve over brown rice if you so desire.  You really don’t need any meat to accompany this dish. The beans are a good source of fiber, protein and iron.  It is a perfect meal for those individuals that are vegans and vegetarians if you omit the ham.

Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Prepare Stewed Red Kidney Beans (Habichuelas Coloradas Guisadas)!

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 or 2 cans (15.5 ounces each can) of red kidney beans.
  • 4 ounces calabaza (West Indian pumpkin) or Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1 to 1½-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 sauce pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.   Omit ham for a vegan or vegetarian dish.
  3. Cover saucepan with lid.  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.


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: Recipes, Rice and Beans, Vegan and Vegetarian

10 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.

  • I was in Puerto Rico last year and ate stewed beans almost daily. This recipe is the closest that I have made to the real thing! It’s delicious!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

A Food Blog with Classic and Contemporary Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine

Order your cookbook today!

  • 42 authentic Puerto Rican recipes
  • Cookbook written in English and Spanish
  • Each recipe contains a picture
  • Healthier version of Puerto Rican cookery