Black Bean Bowls

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These saucy Black Bean Bowls are one of our new favorite vegetarian meals! They start with coconut-lime rice and are loaded up with ultra-flavorful and saucy black beans and a quick mango-jalapeño topping. A simple (and optional) cashew-cilantro sauce gets drizzled on everything, adding a citrusy freshness.

Overhead view of Black Bean Bowls with all the toppings.

Black Bean Bowls

These bowls are part of my mini-series “cook once enjoy all week long” recipes.  Starting with homemade, from-scratch black beans, there are loads of options for fixing delicious dinners–and many of them are vegetarian-friendly, too! A quick run-down: Prepare some dried black beans (I promise, it’s so easy!) in the slow cooker or instant pot at the beginning of the week (or whenever you’ve got a free moment). Enjoy those beans as a side dish that day for dinner and then use the leftovers in recipes throughout the week. (Or freeze the leftovers and use them in place of canned beans for future recipes.) 

Black Bean Bowls come together insanely fast with pre-made black beans. And even better, those black beans have only gotten more flavorful as they’ve sat overnight!

Beyond these bean bowls, I also share how to use those homemade black beans in these Southwest Egg Rolls and this Chipotle Chicken Salad. Cook once and enjoy some kitchen short-cuts for the remaining meal preparation throughout the week!

QUICK TIP

Love this series? We did a similar series (cook once, enjoy all week) using these homemade Pinto Beans in these Bean and Cheese Burritos, Pinto Bean Tacos, and Bean Tostadas.

Overhead image of a pan of black beans cooking in their liquid.

Let’s talk black beans

  • Don’t have the time to make beans from scratch? It’s okay! Canned black beans work in these recipes, too. Here’s how to jazz up canned beans: Follow the “black bean” portion of the recipe in these Black Bean Tacos.
  • If you do make the homemade black beans (highly recommended!), warm them through in a small pot over medium-low heat. Stir gently to avoid breaking them. If you like the sauce surrounding the beans (we love it!) spoon some of that on top of the beans and rice too! If not, drain the beans in a strainer before adding to the rice.
  • Even if you just crack open a can of black beans (and warm them through), you’ll love these Black Bean Bowls, thanks to all the other components!

Process shots to make the cashew-cilantro sauce: soak cashews, blend with the remaining ingredients; chill; drizzle over the Black Bean Bowls.

Cashew-Cilantro Sauce

I am so excited about the sauce for these Black Bean Bowls! It’s incredibly nutritious, but you’d never know it without reading the ingredient list!  Most of my creamy cilantro sauces rely on mayo or sour cream, but I was determined to make a vegan sauce equally tasty!  I replaced the typical mayo/sour cream with cashews and the sauce is a total winner! A few quick notes:

  • Use a powerful blender to get an ultra-smooth consistency. Otherwise, there may be unpleasant chunks of cashews.
  • Soak the cashews to ensure they’re softened. Since I usually forget to soak the cashews overnight, I’ve found a short-cut: Pour boiling water over the cashews and let them stand for 45 minutes to an hour. Soft cashews in a fraction of the time!
  • Use roasted and salted cashews. The cashews can make or break this sauce! Be sure to get whole cashews that have been roasted and salted for maximum flavor.

Process shots for making Coconut-Lime Rice: Combine rice, water, salt and coconut milk; mix and cook until rice is tender; fluff rice, add lime juice and zest; divide among the bowls.

Coconut-Lime Rice

Be sure to use a good-quality, full-fat coconut milk, and don’t forget to give the rice plenty of time to sit (covered) after it’s done simmering; this will keep the rice from becoming sticky and gooey.

A few time savers when making this rice: Using a microplane (like this one) and a citrus reamer or this citrus juicer make getting lime zest and juice quick and easy.

QUICK TIP

For more tips and trouble-shooting, be sure to check out this coconut rice post!

Overhead view of the components of Black Bean Bowls.

Topping Ideas

The mango, jalapeño, and red onion topping add texture, freshness, and sweetness to these Black Bean Bowls! We just love this combo. A few other topping ideas:

  • Additional fresh lime juice
  • A few cilantro sprigs (or finely chopped cilantro)
  • A few extra crushed up cashews
  • Additional thinly sliced jalapeños for even more heat

Black Bean Bowls shortcuts

  • Make the black beans ahead of time. I discussed this earlier in the post, but having the beans already prepared makes these bowls come together so fast!
  • Purchase mango. If you don’t have time to prepare mangoes, a lot of stores have peeled and cut mangoes in the produce section of the store. It’s a little more spendy, but can help save time. Alternatively, a ripe mango can save time because they’re a lot easier to chop! See the quick tip below.

QUICK TIP

We love honey mangoes (also known as Ataulfo or yellow mangoes) best in these black bean bowls, but regular mangoes work great as well. (Honey Mangoes are sweeter and creamier than regular mangoes.) To tell if your mangoes are ripe, gently squeeze the fruit. If it’s ripe, it will give slightly. Wait to make this recipe until the mango is at peak ripeness for the best flavor and texture. Here’s a quick and helpful visual guide on how to cut a mango!

Process shots for creating the mango topping: Combine all ingredients and mix well; add to the beans and rice.

Black Bean Bowls Variation Ideas

  • Don’t love coconut? Use plain or cilantrolime rice as the base. (Check out the “recipe notes” in this Cilantro Lime Chicken for a cilantro-lime rice recipe.)
  • Can’t have cashews? I’d recommend using the creamy cilantro sauce on these shrimp tacos instead.
  • If you don’t love cilantro, I’d recommend the sauce on these Loaded Sweet Potatoes instead
  • Vegetarian: to make this recipe vegetarian, cook the black beans in vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Vegan: same change as vegetarian and leave off any optional cheese.

Close-up view of Black Bean Bowls, ready to eat.

Other Black Bean Recipes

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Black Bean Bowls

5 from 1 vote
These saucy Black Bean Bowls are one of our new favorite vegetarian meals! They start with coconut-lime rice and are loaded up with ultra-flavorful and saucy black beans and a quick mango-jalapeño topping. A simple (and optional) cashew-cilantro sauce gets drizzled on everything, adding a citrusy freshness.
Print Recipe

Black Bean Bowls

5 from 1 vote
These saucy Black Bean Bowls are one of our new favorite vegetarian meals! They start with coconut-lime rice and are loaded up with ultra-flavorful and saucy black beans and a quick mango-jalapeño topping. A simple (and optional) cashew-cilantro sauce gets drizzled on everything, adding a citrusy freshness.
Course Dinner, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword black bean bowls
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 black bean bowls
Calories 491kcal
Cost $7.82

Ingredients

Rice & Beans

  • 1-1/2 cups (432g) prepared black beans (or 1 (15.25 oz.) can, rinsed and drained) See Note 1
  • 1 cup (184g) basmati rice (other varieties don't cook up as well and become overly mushy)
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.; 400mL) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (100g) water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice + 1 teaspoon zest (1 lime)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fine sea salt and cracked pepper

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup (52g) roasted and salted whole cashews
  • 1 cup (26g) cilantro (leaves & stems)
  • 3 tablespoons (47g) lime juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest (1-2 limes)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Toppings

  • 1 cup (145g) diced ripe mango
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) finely chopped jalapeño (stems & seeds remove)
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) finely chopped red onion
  • Optional: Fresh lime, additional cilantro, cotija cheese, additional cashews Omit cojita for vegan recipe

Instructions

  • THE SAUCE: Place cashews in a heatproof bowl and pour about 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let stand for 1 hour and then thoroughly drain. Add drained cashews, cilantro, lime juice & zest, water, olive oil, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) to a small powerful blender. Blend until completely smooth. Place in the fridge to get cold and for the flavors to intensify and meld. The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated; simply stir before serving.
  • BLACK BEANS: See Note 1.
  • COCONUT-LIME RICE: Rinse the basmati rice in a fine-mesh sieve. Combine the rinsed rice, coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste) in a large pan with a lid. Stir and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and cover the rice with a lid. Allow to simmer for 13-18 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keep covered, and let stand for 10-15 minutes; don't rush or it will be sticky! Fluff the rice with a fork and then add in the zest and juice of one lime. Stir to incorporate.
  • TOPPINGS: Add the diced mango, jalapeño, and red onion to a small bowl. Drizzle with some lime juice if desired (I add 1 tablespoon) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  • ASSEMBLY: Divide coconut rice evenly among 4 bowls or plates. Divide black beans and the mango topping evenly. Add any other desired toppings like additional cilantro, cotija cheese, crushed up cashews, and/or a fresh lime wedge. Drizzle cilantro sauce (as much or as little as you'd like) over the bowls. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: This recipe uses leftovers from these homemade black beans
  • Don't have the time to make beans from scratch? It's okay! Canned black beans work too. Here's how to jazz up canned beans for this recipe: follow the "black bean" portion of the recipe in these Black Bean Tacos.
  • If you do make the homemade black beans (highly recommended!), warm them through in a small pot over medium-low heat. Stir gently to avoid breaking them. If you like the sauce surrounding the beans (we love it!) spoon some of that on top of the beans and rice too. If not, drain the beans in a strainer before adding to the rice.
  • Even if you just crack open a can of black beans (and warm them through), you'll love these black bean bowls thanks to all the other components!
Vegan: This is a vegan recipe. Omit the optional cojita cheese as a topping.
Nutritional information includes rice and toppings.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 748mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 4722IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 4mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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