A bowl of red beans and rice

Belizean red beans and rice

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

You can’t really think of Belizean food without mentioning Belizean red beans and rice, which might qualify as the national dish, along with stew chicken. Most Belizeans eat red beans and rice more than once a week, but definitely on Sunday.

This home-style dish is a tradition for the “after church” family meal, and is accompanied by other family favorites. The main dish could be stew chicken or beef with gravy, along with potato salad and fried plantains.

Wherever you go in Belize, restaurants that serve up local fare will certainly include their personal version of red beans and rice (which might have been handed down in the family from someone’s granny or aunty).

A bowl of Belizean red beans and rice

It’s fun to try the variations, but the constants of this simple yet delicious dish are: red beans (kidney beans), white rice, and coconut milk. It’s the coconut milk, along with a few spices, that gives Belizean red beans and rice its distinctive flavour.

If you’re partial to rice dishes or you’re looking for something with a Caribbean-Belizean flavour, the subtle coconut-y taste of red beans and rice makes it a great vegetarian addition to your menu!


  • 450g dry red kidney beans
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk*
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 cup rice (rinsed)
  • ½ medium onion (chopped or sliced)
  • ½ medium-sized red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup water

*If you have access to dried coconuts and can make your own, that’s great! If not, canned coconut milk is perfect.


  1. 1
    Measure kidney beans, rinse and soak in water in a large bowl overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
  2. 2
    Drain the beans and rinse with clean water. Put beans, along with the crushed garlic, in a large pot. Cover with water and boil. If you have a pressure cooker, you can also use that to boil the beans.
  3. 3
    If on stovetop, let the pot come to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until beans are tender. If using pressure cooker, cook as usual for beans.
  4. 4
    When beans are cooked, add the onion, red pepper and spices to the pot and stir to mix.
  5. 5
    Add the water and coconut milk, and stir to mix.
  6. 6
    Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let cook on stove top until all liquid has evaporated and rice is cooked. Serve immediately.

Note: I use a pressure cooker for the beans and the bottom of the cooker to finish the recipe. I just cover the pot with a plate and let the beans/rice simmer until the rice is done.

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 20 January 2024

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