Black Beans & Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Black beans and rice are aBlack Beans & Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa staple at my house.  I fell in love with them in Brazil and it’s been a comfort food ever since.  If you’re trying to eat healthy and/or affordable, beans are a great thing to be adding to your diet.  Another thing I love are sweet and salty combos.  I’ve experimented a lot with fruit and Latin food. If apple salsa sounds strange, just think of Peach BBQ Sauce or Mango Pico, or Mango Salsa. I even made red grape salsa last summer that was amaaazing.  It may sound funny, but trust me when I tell you that all of the flavors of this dish together are great.  It’s just a simple, fresh, healthy, filling meal.

The salsa comes together quickly; just a tart Granny Smith apple, some diced red onion, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.  I added a sprinkle of salt and pepper too.

Apple Salsa

Saute some diced green pepper and red onion until soft

sautéed veggies

And then add beans, garlic, and seasonings.  Pretty much the Sara special:  garlic, chili powder, coriander, and cumin.  You should saute the beans with the garlic and seasonings for a few minutes before adding some chicken broth.  Unless you’re doing crazy things like trying to take pictures while cooking while trying to shake a toddler off your leg.  Then you might just dump everything in there at once.

black beans with chicken stock

Now, the original recipe calls for 2 whole cans of broth and I think that’s way too much; it would be like soup.  One was just fine, so I cut the seasonings back to compensate.  So feel free to add more of the seasonings at the end if you feel like it needs it.

Simmer that mixture for 10-20 minutes.  While it’s cooking, use the back of a spoon to smash a bunch of the beans; this will help thicken up the sauce.

black beans

When you’re ready to eat up, just spoon some of the beans over brown or white rice and top with some grilled chicken (or a rotisserie chicken to make things even easier) and the apple salsa.

Black Beans & Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

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I love brown rice, but if you don’t eat it regularly, you might not like it.  And lots of kids won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.  So here’s a couple of tips.  One is to try instant brown rice.  It doesn’t have quite as many health benefits as regular brown rice but it’s super quick to make and it’s a lot softer and less…brown-rice-ish.  My kids can’t tell the difference between instant brown and white, or at least they’ve never once complained or noted it wasn’t like normal.  I think of it as training-rice 🙂  Another thing to try is mixing half white with half brown.  You have to cook them separately, but then you can mix them together and that’s a good way to get your family used to brown rice as well.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  I loved the apple salsa combined with the beans and chicken all together.  There are so many flavors and textures and they go wonderfully together.  And if you have kids at home and you’re thinking they’ll never go for this, you can try what I did and just throw a little of everything in a tortilla with some melted cheese.  Seriously, kids will eat almost anything in a tortilla.  My boys all asked for seconds, and they ate the seconds without tortillas!

Beans and Rice with Apple Salsa in a bowl

Black Beans & Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

5 from 1 vote


  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion divided
  • 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 13.5 ounce can chicken broth
  • 2 15- ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium rotisserie chicken or 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 4 grilled chicken breasts
  • 4-6 lime wedges


  • Combine apple, cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, and the juice from half a lime.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and black pepper.  Set aside.
  • Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6-7 minutes.  Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes.  Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of hte beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes (or longer if needed).  Season with salt and pepper to taste and a big squeeze of lime juice.  Divide rice and beans among plates.  Top with some chicken and apple salsa.  Garnish with additional cilantro and lime wedges.


Feel free to play around with the quantities in this recipe, like I did.  You can add more onion to the salsa, or increase seasonings in the beans.  Taste as you go and make it your own!
Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012 
Author: Sara Wells
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I made this for dinner tonight too and we loved it! Thanks so much for a great dinner idea. We will definitely be making this again!

  2. Looks fabulous! We eat s lot of beans and rice over here but I get bored of the same old, same old. This would change up things nicely! 🙂

  3. I made this for dinner tonight and it was so delicious. It’s my new favorite bean dish. Thanks for posting!

  4. This recipe looks and sounds delicious – I wish you could fax it to me (the actual food) so I could eat some right now! Thanks!

  5. Keep the healthy recipes coming!! Thanks for the time you take to do this blog. I can see how it would take so much time, and with litltle ones to care for, too, this is a sacrifice I really appreciate. I bought your calendar and made the punch for New Years Eve. It was a hit!

  6. This looks really good. I am looking for more vegetarian dishes. Do you think I could eat the beans without the meat? It looks good enough not to need the meat!

  7. Yum! I can’t wait to try it! I’m addicted to Granny Smith apples but my hubby hates the bitter tart taste, so this way I can sneak them into a recipe and he’ll never know 🙂

  8. LOVE the Pin It button! I use Pinterest to organize my online world, much appreciated, along with all your wonderful recipes and ideas and just plain awesomeness.
    Thank you!

  9. Can’t wait to try this. I love beans and rice. My husband is just now starting to let me make them once in a while (about once every 3-4 months), after he swore 15 years ago that he would never again eat beans and rice. (After 2 years in Brazil) 🙂

    1. People are always one way or the other- either they’ll never eat them again, or they can’t live without them. Your husband and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum! haha

  10. this is another recipe I will definitely try – not sure whether my family will go for apple salsa, but the beans and rice with chicken sound good, and adding cheese and wrapping it all in a tortilla will DEFINITELY be a winner, so thanks for that suggestion. I have been wanting a way to liven up black beans for burritos, so this is perfect. I like the idea of cooking half and half brown and white rice – will have to try that next time I use my rice cooker, because my fussy family don’t like brown rice so maybe “sneaking” some in with white will work!

  11. This is definitely a recipe that’s going on the January menu plan. Thanks!

    P.S. You mentioned that you need to cook brown rice and white rice separately. Well, no one ever told me that, and so I never have. Several years ago I started using half white and half brown rice whenever we had rice and it didn’t bother any of our kids. In fact, if I did just plain white rice now, they would notice. Our usual “recipe” is 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup white rice, pinch of salt, smidgen of butter, and 4 cups of water; bring to a boil and simmer until done. So, feel free to give it a try.

    1. Honestly, I just buy whatever the store as at the moment- I’m not tied to any particular brand 🙂

  12. My husband served in Recife and loves, loves, loves rice and beans. I never make any Brazilian food for him, but with your recipes, I’m going to do it! I predict he’ll be so overcome with joy, he’ll beg to rub my feet as a thank you! Thanks!

  13. I love pairing fruit with savory dishes, the boyfriend not so much. Hopefully I can sneak this one by him because to me it looks amazing!

  14. I found that cooking my rice in a mixture of broth and water helps the rice taste better. This looks yummy!

  15. Sara,
    Wondering why it is that you need to cook brown and white rice separately? My hubbie doesn’t love just straight brown rice so I have always mixed it with white and cooked it in my rice cooker. I think it’s ok but wondering if there’s something I should know in the art of rice cooking. Thanks! Love your blog by the way and totally tell everyone about it here in New Hampshire!

    1. Someone else just mentioned that too, so maybe you don’t! Brown rice takes much longer to cook than white (like, twice as long) so I always assumed cooking together wouldn’t work- one would be overcooked. But I’ll have to experiment now!

      1. I’ve cooked different rices like this together by adding the slower cooking rice to the same pot later (starting with enough water for the combined amount of rice). No dishwasher here, so I’m always looking out for ways to save making a dirty pot!

  16. Thanks, Sara! I love beans, and I love fruit with most any meats and definitely in salads! I’ve never tried an apple salsa, though. It sounds great. I’ve taken to sauteeing apples with balsamic vinegar to top any pork dish, including my New Years ham because I’d finally gotten tired of cranberries.

  17. Anything we can substitute for cilantro or can we leave it out? My husband hates it and I’m not a big fan myself. And do I have to buy coriander or can I do something for that too? I don’t have any.

    1. Well, my suggestion for skipping the cilantro is to use coriander in its place! You could leave both out, but if I were you and you’re skipping the cilantro (you could sub parsley) then I’d definitely use the coriander (which comes from the same plant). There’s not really a good sub for the coriander, so if you skip it you’d just have to leave it out. Could still be good, but I love coriander!

      1. Sara, would you just use ground coriander? How much? I am an anti-cilantro-ite and just can’t stand it in anything, but I’ve got coriander in my spice rack and don’t mind it.

        1. Yes, just ground coriander. You’ll have to do it to taste, but I’d probably do 1/4-1/2 teaspoon?

  18. this sounds like my kind of meal! if we feel like going veggie one night i could even leave out the chicken and it would still be a complete protein, love it.

  19. Ok, I am not a beans and rice fan – I have a hard time combining rice with other things, it’s a texture thing – but this is actually sounding really good. And I know my hubby would probably love it for the same reason – having lived in Brazil for 2 years. In fact, we have some left over rotisserie chicken so this just might be dinner tonight! 🙂

    1. I have that exact same problem with rice – especially in soups. Ew. This does look tasty though – kind of nervous about the apple salsa.

      1. Oh! Rice in soups is the worst!! My other issue is rice and/or corn in burritos. Gag. My husband thinks I’m crazy. 🙂

  20. My family (4 kids) likes short grain brown rice. Regular long grain brown rice can be so tough/chewy to them and can ruin the enjoyment of the meal. Once cooked the short grain brown rice stores better in the fridge or freezer as well because it absorbs more water than the long grain kind…but has the same health benefits.
    I’m about ready to add some freshness and crunch to the winter comfort foods so this looks fabulous!

  21. Nice of Nicole to encourage you to continue with the cilantro recipes (yes, you are two for two this week).

  22. I love anything with cilantro in it. Seriously. This looks like a great recipe to use up the black beans in my food storage. Time to rotate.

  23. I have to try this – it has all my favorite foods and flavor combinations. I love brown rice and my kids aren’t too particular, if I can cook it right, which is about 20% of the time. Any suggestions on how to cook brown rice, because I usually end up with a mushy mess, or grains to hard to eat.

    1. Brown rice isn’t any harder to cook than white – it just takes longer. Use 2 parts water to 1 part dry rice (I sometimes add a little extra water; I also like to pop a bouillon cube in there). Bring the water to a boil, stir in your rice, bring it back to a boil, give it another stir, cover it, and reduce the heat to barely a simmer. Then: Leave. It. Alone. No peeking!

      I generally check it about 5 minutes before the time on the package, usually 30-35 minutes. Dig down with a spoon and see if there is much water left in the bottom. If yes, then give it another few minutes then check it again. If it’s very dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of water, turn off the heat, put the lid back on and let it sit, undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Fluff it up with a spoon or fork and you’re good to go.

  24. Can’t wait to try this … Looks like another dinnertime staple, and love the tortilla idea too!! Thank You!!

  25. This looks SO yummy! I LOVE beans! Thanks for a great diet recipe! I am actually dieting and exercising this year…I make the resolution every year, but this year I’m following through!

    We cook our brown rice in chicken or veggie broth and it softens up pretty well. I don’t know if my three year old daughter thinks it’s like white rice or not because she doesn’t have a lot of white rice. But we don’t make instant of either anymore and I think that helps. Instant rice has a TOTALLY different texture than non-instant.