Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas (Stewed Red Beans)

Dominican Beans Recipe (Habichuelas Guisadas)

“Dominican cooking? It’s more than just arroz y habichuelas (rice and beans) you know”… that statement could be this site’s motto, and probably would be if it were a little more snappy.

Most visitors to the country cannot be blamed for thinking on first sight that Dominican food is just rice and beans. It is the plato del dia (dish of the day) in every typical comedor, and the daily lunch on most traditional family tables: habichuelas  guisadas (stewed red beans), white rice, either chicken or beef , and salad.

Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas (Stewed Red Beans)

“Don’t they get tired of eating the same thing every single day?” says the visitor. Where are you from, Sir or Madam? Italy? What do you eat every day? Pasta? “Va bene… si“. England? Chips with everything isn’t it? Or do you sometimes break from routine with mashed potatoes and even allow yourself the indulgence of roast potatoes on high days and holidays? “Can’t argue with that one, mate”. I could go on like this for a while, but before you jump in and remind me that this argument is a bit petty, and not really that convincing, let me give my real reply to the charge of gastronomic monotony.

The ‘Dominican Flag’, the central plate on the Dominican lunch menu has its variations. Rice and beans is not just rice and beans. It can be rice and beans prepared together or separately. When they are mixed together they are known as moro. I can think of at least four types of moro: red bean moro, black bean moro, pigeon pea moro and any of these with coconut.

Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas (Stewed Red Beans)

So far we have six variations. Add four more to the list: stewed red beans, stewed black beans, and stewed pigeon peas (guandules), the latter with or without coconut. Then the Bandera‘s other important item, the stewed meat can comprise of goat, beef, pork, chicken or fish (usually cod). Allora! Our beloved ‘Bandera Dominicana’ has at least fifteen permutations, old bean.

Not every single Dominican kitchen will produce a ‘Bandera Dominicana‘ type meal every day. There are plenty more choices available, including Dominican style chow fan and pasta, and vegetable based bakes which can be made with or without meat. Just look in the list of recipes on the site to see what I am driving at. Dominican Cooking – much more than rice and beans!

Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas (Stewed Red Beans)

What I do find strange still, although I’m used to it, is the fact that in some restaurants, if you order a rice as a side dish, to accompany your fish for example, you are presented with a little bowl of bean stew without having asked for one. Is this because it is unthinkable, treasonous or sacrilegious to serve rice without beans?

About habichuelas guisadas

Habichuelas (Dominican beans) is an inherent part of the Dominican culture, and one of the components of La Bandera Dominicana (The Dominican Flag), the traditional Dominican lunch meal.

Buen provecho,

Aunt Ilana
Dominican Beans Recipe (Habichuelas Guisadas)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dominican Beans are part of La Bandera Dominicana (dominican traditional lunch meal). "Habichuelas Guisadas" lies between stew and sauce, perfect with rice.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 cups of dry pinto, cranberry, or red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion cut into four quarters
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup of diced auyama (West Indies pumpkin)
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • Leaves from a celery stalk, chopped (optional)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Remove the beans from the soaking water and boil in fresh water until they are very soft (may take up to an hour, or about 20 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  3. Separate the beans from the boiling water. Reserve both.
  4. In a pot heat the oil over medium heat.
  5. Add oregano, bell pepper, onion, garlic, auyama, tomato sauce, celery, thyme and cilantro. Cook and stir for half a minute.
  6. Add the beans and simmer for two minutes.
  7. Add 6 cups of the water in which the beans boiled (complete with fresh water if necessary).
  8. Lightly mashed the beans with a potato masher to break them out of the skin.
  9. Cook until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  10. Season with salt to taste.
  11. Serve with arroz blanco, a side dish (or salad) and meat.
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{ 49 comments… add one }

  • Marcelle May 15, 2015, 2:22 AM

    Hello ! I have a question ..once it is ready and I want to freeze them..Do I need to wait until is cold ? Outside ?

    • Aunt Clara May 17, 2015, 7:31 PM

      Yes, you should only freeze after food is at room temperature. Putting hot food in the freezer (or fridge) creates a spike in the temperature, affecting other foods and stressing the fridge.

  • maggy July 17, 2014, 7:31 PM

    After adding all that water my beans taste like nothing! I followed the recipe exactly and there is no flavor. What should I do!?

  • Monique June 6, 2014, 11:05 AM

    Love your website! My husband is Dominican and when I make your recipes he says my food is as good as him mom’s. That’s a huuge compliment! Gracias!

  • linda matias May 3, 2014, 4:57 PM


  • Julie Sittner April 14, 2014, 1:28 PM

    I just got home from vacationing in Punta Cana. While there I fell in love with the red beans. I came home and instantly wanted to make them. Trying this recipe today but I have a question – is the thyme and cilantro fresh or dried? I’m assuming fresh but, curious.

    • Aunt Clara April 16, 2014, 2:23 AM

      Fresh, when it is dried I’ll specify it. Good luck, and thanks for visiting!

  • Janice Brazeau February 24, 2014, 7:05 PM

    Love your recipes. I checked some for veracity and can attest: she knows her Dominican cuisine. Thank you for this effort.

  • Zenevia February 4, 2014, 9:20 AM

    Hello aunt Clara..I would like to know if i could also us the red kidney beans in the can and if its the same process to cooking with it too?

    • Aunt Clara February 5, 2014, 10:15 AM

      I highly recommend you boil your beans instead of canned. But if you definitely must, you can use canned. Just get rid of the water it comes in, it’s loaded with sodium.

  • ishamar January 17, 2014, 3:07 AM

    this is great thank you so much! i am dominican and unfortunately i don’t know how to cook the dominican style and I am trying to learn now and this page have helped a lot!

  • Julieta January 8, 2014, 3:41 AM

    Tia Clara, you are the bomb! I originally stumbled upon your site while trying to find a straight forward recipe for Dominican Cake at four years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter and having a ridiculously strong craving for some at 12am. It was with your recipe that I was finally able to eat hot dominican cake at 4am because I was NOT going to wait another minute for that thing to cool (had to do everything old school because I didn’t have a hand mixer or even a grater for the lime zest so imaginate).
    With that said, I’ve been lurking on your site for years now and have to admit that I like it not only for your FANTASTIC recipes but also your writing. I loved the way you wrote this particular entry so much that I wanted to high five my computer screen.

    Keep it up Tia Clara!

    • Aunt Clara January 10, 2014, 1:54 PM

      You are so sweet! Thanks so much for following us.

  • Catherine Castillo September 6, 2013, 4:40 PM

    Do you have an app for iPhone? i just discovered this page and im so excited… I’m 21 and don’t know how to cook rice and beans… i just make mangu, mofongo, yuca, you know anything boiled or fried lol. My mom is always complaining because i dont know how to cook but she never made an effort to show me and when i ask her how to make things she gets annoyed. Can’t wait to start cooking up with your help

    • Aunt Clara September 7, 2013, 1:05 PM

      We don’t (it’s in our plans), but our blog has a very smart phone-friendly version. Check it out.

  • Al July 14, 2013, 4:21 PM

    how do i know the beans are nice and soft?

  • Daryl July 4, 2013, 6:38 PM

    I love the recipe… After 16 years with a saintly “tatica” a great cook. I moved to California no more beans… Today I made your recipe! Que maravilla! Though my beans lacked tomato paste my Dominican son quickly added “catchu” arreglada!

    • Aunt Clara July 6, 2013, 5:30 AM

      My recipe does not call for tomato paste. I never use it. I use my homemade tomato sauce, or, in a pinch, I use sugar-free tomato paste from the supermarket.

  • Tony July 23, 2012, 11:09 PM


    I have been trying to “learn” how to make those delicious red beans that I used to buy from the dominican restaurant in the past. But one question, when I mash the beans, its only some not all…correct?


  • Cristina July 9, 2012, 1:53 PM

    can i make this with canned beans instead of dry??

    • Aunt Clara July 9, 2012, 1:59 PM

      Yes, you can. It won’t taste the same though, dry or fresh beans are best.

  • Dana March 9, 2012, 4:33 PM

    I’m a novice cook and I hope this doesn’t sound dumb but where you list the ingredients you say tomato sauce. Then in the directions you say tomato paste. Is it one or the other? Or do I use both?

    • Aunt Clara March 9, 2012, 4:32 PM

      Thanks for asking! It was a brain hiccup, I will fix it now.

      • Dana March 10, 2012, 10:01 AM

        Thanks :) I tried it with paste anyway because that's all I had and it came out amazing! My boyfriend is Dominican and I have never made a Dominican dish in my life lol. These taste exactly like his Mother's beans. I am so glad I found your site and this recipe. Can't wait to try your other dishes :)

  • LVNY February 15, 2012, 4:27 PM

    uhhh dumb question…when you say "mashed garlic" do you mean ajo molido or do you mean to crush the clove and then remove once the beans are done?


    • Aunt Clara February 15, 2012, 6:32 PM

      Yes, crushed to a pulp. And that wasn't a dumb question. :)

  • KG November 19, 2011, 1:13 PM

    How many servings will this recipe make?

  • Rachel September 2, 2011, 8:23 PM

    I'm haitian and I love bean soup. But over the past year I had Dominican red beans and fell in love with bean soup even more. I finally tried your recipe and it was right on the money. Only thing I was missing was the thyme but the flavor was on point. Thanks Aunt Clara.

    • Aunt Clara September 15, 2011, 9:45 AM

      Thanks for sharing. I loved to hear that you liked the result.

  • Teresa August 26, 2011, 1:56 PM

    I cannot find calabaza in upstate New York. Any suggestions for a subsistute?

  • Damiana Sears August 14, 2011, 10:03 AM

    when asked what he wants for dinner, my 4 year old wants, "crunchy rice, beans, and chicken."

  • Cindy Shaw August 4, 2011, 8:51 AM

    I made these today and they taste like a Dominican made them!! I'm American and look forward to inviting my friends over to taste my Dominican skills! :) Thanks so much for posting.

  • Elle August 3, 2011, 7:59 AM

    Are you using canned beans? Or the bagged hard ones that have to be put in water over night?

  • Aunt Clara August 2, 2011, 5:52 AM

    Boil the beans in abundant water, no seasoning, until they are very soft. It's the simplest thing.

  • Felica August 2, 2011, 5:45 AM

    Tia help me please before I begin the guisada, am I using hard beans that I am to sit in water over night to soften them before I boil them or are you using canned beans? How much water when I boil the beans and do I add any seasoning to the boil?

  • yasmine July 29, 2011, 1:29 PM

    TIA!!!!This recipe comes out to taste the same as my Dominican husband's mother. I am Persian, but am married to a Dominican Puerto Rican, and I had been learning cooking from his mom and aunt, PERO…. their recipes never worked when i got home, ( i swore they were teaching me something different than what they cooked…lol) anyways I am also in search of the perfect POLLO GUISADO, which is my fave dish, but it never comes out right…. any tips?

  • Susan June 8, 2011, 5:54 AM

    If I use a pressure cooker for beans, will I have to add more water to boil it?

    • Aunt Clara June 14, 2011, 7:02 AM

      Yes, you might have to as you can not readjust the water mid-boil.

  • Corey June 3, 2011, 12:39 PM

    my beans are like this too, but i also add calabaza. :)

  • Gatita April 9, 2011, 8:24 AM

    I am a Carolina countrygirl who has fallen hopelessly in love with a 'Platano'…. and though legumes are a cornerstone to both our native cuisines, the types and flavors are altogether different. As my sweetheart cannot seem to learn to love the black eyed peas, limas and other white beans from my childhood and pines endlessly for the taste of his homeland, I diligently search for the most authentic Dominican recipes to appease his finicky appetite. I find that I am constantly referring back to you when he yearns for any 'Dominican style' plate, dear Aunt Clara. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your dishes. Because of you I have been able to replicate the distinctive flavor and texture of this diet staple he so loves. Thank you for helping us little gringas please the palates of our beloved Dominican transplants!

    • Aunt Clara April 14, 2011, 12:59 AM

      I am glad to hear that!

    • zayri August 9, 2012, 2:33 PM

      thats really dedicated of you to do for your loved one homegirl . shout out to you!!!

  • Shin March 21, 2011, 3:38 PM

    Me ma adds squash to the bean stew. It makes a good thickener agent and adds a subtle, bittersweet flavor.

  • Judy March 3, 2011, 8:36 PM

    You can try putting half of the beans in the blender and then slow boiling them.

    • Aunt Clara March 5, 2011, 7:06 AM

      Or like the recipe suggests, you can mash them a bit. That's what I do.

  • barbara March 1, 2011, 6:01 AM

    my beans always come out watery =( as much as try to make them the real dominican style, thick… how do i make them like that?

    • Rosie September 11, 2011, 1:56 PM

      if u want it thicker u can add pumpkin (calabasa o auyama) o papa (potatoes)

  • Maddy Cruz February 16, 2011, 9:58 AM

    These beans were soooooo good!!!!!! Taste just like my grandmother used to make! I give it 5 stars