Caribbean Rice and Beans with Chicken

A classic rice and bean dish made with coconut milk and chicken from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
chicken with thyme in pot
Chicken with thyme and spices ready for cooking


  • 1 1/2 cups red beans 
  • 4 cups white rice
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 1 head of garlic 
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 Liters coconut milk 
  • 4 stalks celery and leaves
  • 1 Chile Panameño 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for cooking the chicken)
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken and thighs with skin on
  • 3 Tbsp Cilantro 
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle paste 
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 packet of dried chicken stock or bullion
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic paste
  • Salt to taste



  • Put the beans in a pot with just enough water to cover them, turn the stove on low heat, and let them simmer. 
  • Add 7-10 sprigs of thyme, 1 diced onion, and one liter of coconut milk to the pot and let everything simmer for around 1 hour. 
  • After an hour, dice 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 of the red bell pepper, celery, and one chile panameño, and add to the mixture.
  • Then add another 1/2 liter of coconut milk. 
  • Let simmer for 1-2 more hours until the beans are tender.


  • Put skillet on low heat
  • Put sugar in the pan and let it melt until it turns golden brown. 
  • Add a small amount of oil to the pan (around 2 tablespoons) and add chicken. 
  • Cook and coat the chicken until the skin is covered with the golden brown sugar mixture. 
  • Dice the second onion, one more clove of garlic, 5 sprigs of cilantro, the second 1/2 of the red pepper, celery (with the leaves) and add to the mixture. 
  • Add 7 more sprigs of thyme and let sit for about 20 min on low heat.  
  • Add a Liter of coconut milk to the pan, add spices, pepper, the packet of chicken stock, a dollop of garlic paste, and a dollop of chipotle paste. 
  • Let sit for 10-15 more minutes until the coconut milk is simmering. 
  • Once the coconut milk is simmering, add another 1/2 Liter of coconut milk, 4 bay leaves, about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and salt.
  • Cook until chicken has cooked all the way through.

Put Chicken and Beans Together

  • Dump the bean mixture (juices, sprigs and all) into a deep skillet or pot and keep simmering over low heat. 
  • Add 4 cups of white rice to the mix. 
  • Cook until rice is fully cooked. 
  • To serve, scoop a generous amount of the rice and beans mixture into a bowl and top with chicken. 
  • Make sure to pour a hearty amount of the sauce from the chicken onto the rice. 
  • Typically, rice and beans is served with sweet plantain sautéed in butter. 

#maindish #glutenfree #staplefood

Recipe submitted by Maddy Eldrege - Peace Corps Volunteer, Costa Rica (2018)

Host mom in Costa Rica mixing rice
Maddy's host mom is mixing the rice and beans together

Related lessons

View all
Read More
Read More
Read More

Help us understand our audience

If you are in the U.S., please enter your five-digit zip code to help us better understand who uses our resources for educators.
Skip this