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!

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Beans and Rice with Apple Salsa in a bowl

Black Beans & Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

  • Author: Sara Wells
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 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
  • 12 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
  • 46 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 



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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 🙂

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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! 🙂

  18. 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!

  19. guess what? u don’t have to cook brown and white separately. we cook them in the rice steamer/pot and just add extra liquid to accommodate the brown rice comes out really good! my kids aren’t big on the brown rice, but do good with the halved mix. thanks for the bean recipe 🙂

  20. We made this last night exactly by the recipe. Very, very good. It will be a regular for us. Also found brown basmati rice and it was delicious with the black beans. Thank you.

  21. I made this last night and it was fabulous! I am not a big cilantro fan but I did follow this recipe exactly (unusual for me) and the salsa was amazing. I’d say the lime is the main key ingredient. Thanks for this! I’m looking forward to left overs for lunch today 🙂

  22. I made this for dinner last night and we LOVED it! I was a little nervous about the apple salsa, but I loved the texture, freshness, and little bit of sweet that it added. We will definitely be having this again!

  23. Tried this last night; I felt it needed some tweaking or I did something wrong. The apple salsa was REALLY sour! I turned the rice into pineapple & cilantro rice which helped balance but I felt it needed something else…

  24. This looks really yummy. I’m definitely going to try it. Your picture makes it look so pretty and delcious, there is no way I couldn’t try it.

  25. Made this for dinner last night. Only ‘half’ a batch (just two of us old folks). Thought I’d be the only one to be brave enough for the apple salsa. We both loved it ~ Trying to eat healthier in 2012 so beans and rice are in our weekly rotation during the winter….a great change from your ‘standard’ beans and rice recipes. This one is a keeper ~ Don’t be shy ~ Try it, it was wonderful! Try jubilee rice (mixture of brown, red, black etc) actually when I was teaching my family to like brown rice I started with 1 C white 1/2 C brown and worked up from there. I don’t cook ‘plain’ white rice any longer. We actually enjoy the texture of brown.

  26. Made this and Loved it! Lime juice and apples. Who knew? Best decision ever! We added tomato and avocado with our apples. That way I could call it a salsa and my husband wouldn’t roll his eyes at me. 🙂 served it with steamed fish with a touch of lime olive oil. Yum! Thank you thank you!

  27. This was so yummy! My fam loved it too! My only problem was that my beans were a bit dry. I don’t buy canned chicken broth, so I used about 2 cups of broth. I definitely will use more next time. Sara, about how much salt did you use for the beans? I am bad at guessing on the salt and I always end up putting in too much salt.

    1. I really don’t know- you just have to go by taste. The best thing to do is just add a little and then taste as you go so you don’t get too much!

  28. Yum! This is definitely one to try. My kids are SUPER picky but a couple of things I have been able to get them to eat are brown rice and whole wheat tortillas. They actually prefer the ww tortillas now and don’t know the difference with the rice. I started off by mixing the white and brown rice, adding more brown each time until that was all they were having! I am sometimes shocked that they actually eat it, because they are so picky. But the health benefits are worth it! Can’t wait to try this!

  29. I made this tonight minus the rice…it was so good! Best meal I’ve had in a long time. I’m eating the salsa by itself…I more than tripled it after I tasted it.
    Thank you for such a good recipe!

  30. Love beans and rice. This combination is so good with the salsa. The roasted chicken from the store makes this easy to put together after a long day of work.

  31. yep, trying this this week. I’ll use rotisserie chicken. oh and i LOVE your Pin button. so easy. Thank you!! i pinned it.

  32. Made this for dinner tonight, and it was very good. We like more heat in our dishes, so we are planning to add a serrano pepper and more of the spices to the beans. Absolutely loved the apple salsa – I think I will make some more as a snack!

  33. I cooked a whole chicken Saturday night and this is what we had. We loved it. I loved the cilantro and apples together for the salsa. It was so delicious, thank you for all your awesome cooking ideas.

  34. I just have to say, that my husband and i LOVED this recipe. He just couldn’t say enough good things about it, and kept eating more. So, thanks so much for the recipe. It was great!! (Actually, all your recipes are great, this is just the most recent one I made. Thanks!!)

  35. Another great one from OBB! I loved this. I really thought the apple salsa was perfect for it. Hubby said he would have preferred regular salsa but he has a thing against red onions. Keep up the good work.

  36. So of course … this is good, but the apple salsa really makes it great, wow! I’m always amazed at what you girls can come up with the most basic ingredients.

    And made the Cowboy Quesadillas with the leftovers and it worked out perfectly. I love how once I gathered all the OBB basic pantry items, I can make just about anything with a couple simple additions. You girls are the best 🙂

  37. Made this last night and LOVED it. Question: do you have a suggestion for other things to use the apple salsa with? It was SO good that I need way more excuses to use it.

  38. This is SO yummy! My kids wanted the leftovers for lunch the next day, and have also asked a few times when we can have it again. I made mine with out any meat, because i decided five minutes befor making it to have it, however it was still very filling. Thank you for all your wonderfull food!

  39. Really wonderful! Made it last night and all six of my kids gobbled it up. I bought Texmati brown rice (they have it at out Costco here in Austin. Not sure about the rest of the country.) I’ve never had that kind of brown rice before and it was heavenly (and I say that as someone who is not fond of brown rice).

    I’m renting a beachfront house in Port Aransas this weekend with several of my girlfriends and we’re all in charge of making one meal. This is going to be mine. They’ll love it. Especially good since one of my friends eats Gluten Free.

  40. Made this for dinner last night just like the recipe said, and my family loved it. I was skeptical of the apple salsa, but we all loved it. Yummy! Thanks for another delicious dinner recipe.

    1. Not sure Nanci, you’ll have to try it! I like the tartness of the granny smith, but I bet any apple would be fine.

  41. At our house we love black beans and rice! Thanks for posting this–it looks amazing.
    Sometimes we add apple juice to the water when cooking brown rice–don’t use apple juice alone or it will be too sweet. Brown rice with green beans and mahi makes an excellent meal.

  42. This sounds wonderful! I am looking forward to trying it.
    FOR THOSE WHO HAVE THE PROBLEM WITH STICKY BROWN RICE, I too always had this problem which was very frustrating, but the solution was shared by Alton Brown at and it is so easy! Bake the rice! IT REALLY WORKS!!!!

  43. I have tried a similar salsa and it was awesome! I love the way you combined the rice and chicken to bake a wholesome meal! Yummy!

  44. My husband lived in Fortaleza, Brazil many years ago and has asked me many times to make rice and beans. I never have because I haven’t had a recipe. I made this tonight and it was delicious. He loved it. Thank you.

    Oh, and I got my 8-year-old daughter to admit the beans weren’t bad…that is an incredible compliment coming from her. Seriously, she doesn’t eat anything like this. (I suspect she thought they were pretty good but won’t admit it because then Mom would be right.)

    1. Just slightly Rachel, but only in quantities of ingredients. I cut the broth in half and adjusted the seasonings.

  45. Has anyone tried making the black bean part ahead of time and then reheating it right before dinner? I’m trying to prep as much of our dinner ahead of time as possible. 🙂

  46. This is absolutely amazing! I made it when I had a friend over for dinner recently, and it was a great meal for guests. Plus, best leftovers I’ve ever had in my life!! Thanks for sharing!

  47. This was delicious! The contrast in flavors was just perfect. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. Love love love the apple salsa.

  48. Just made this for dinner tonight. Everyone loved it. Had company so we finished it off with vanilla ice cream with homemade cinnamon syrup and your baked cinnamon tortilla chips. A total success!

  49. This was absolutely amazing!!! I have always wanted to learn how to do good black beans and rice. My kids don’t usually eat beans, but they gobbled this right down. Thanks!!!

  50. I tried it tonight and it is a keeper. Didn’t have chicken, but substituted grilled shrimp and added avocado slices. My husband and I both loved it. I especially liked the apple salsa.

  51. Just wanted you to know I had to plant cilantro because I make this so often. LOVE YOUR BLOG! Thanks and keep it up! PS – Hurry with that cookbook! I want it for Mother’s Day! 🙂

  52. I made this last night and LOVED it! The apple salsa was the best! I was skeptical of how it would taste, but it was amazing and complimented the rice/beans/chicken perfectly. I’m usually not a bean fan, but these were delicious. Thanks for another keeper recipe!

  53. This was De-yummy-lisious!!! We had this tonight and it WILL be on the retry list…. oh wait that may sound bad but it’s not that’s a good thing. My husband even likes it and was talking about making at least 3 more times and I’ll have it perfect, woohoo for OBB I haven’t been disappointed yet. I like the post about shrimp and avocado I’m going to try that. I LOVE this blog!!!!!! Thanks OBB!

  54. Hey Sara! Just wanted to let you know that I made this last night and IT. WAS. AMAZING. I’m actually going to make it again next week-it was THAT good. Loved the sweet, lime-y, saltiness going on. Just altogether a fantastic dish! I pinned it on a board on Pinterest so others can try it out too!

  55. This recipe is sooo yummy! I loved the beans so much! We were eating this and I said, Yum this is good! My two year old said it IS good Mommy! 🙂 The salsa really helps the rice out. Thanks for the recipe!

  56. I know this is an older recipe but I just have to leave a note telling your how much I absolutely love this meal. I make it all the time and it never gets old. My husband is a super picky eater and he loves this too (part of the reason we make this a lot). Thank you so much for posting this!

  57. We tried your beans tonight, but added a little bacon in as well. Served it with your Brazilian style garlic and onion rice, some chicken, a few tortilla chips on the side, and a Mexican corn salad (esquites) I combined from these two (in case you’re interested to try):

    We’ve never tried Brazilian food before, we’re in Western Australia and there’s isn’t a lot of South American cuisine over here other than those all you can eat BBQ meat restaurants. Somehow the beans were both new in terms of flavour combinations and totally perfect comfort food. Thanks so much for the recipe, it was a lot of fun to try something new.


  58. This recipe looks so good that it’s making me hungry! Those black beans look easy to prepare and delicious as well! Fact for the day, black beans contain a lot of iron, magnesium, and potassium.

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