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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Stewed Beans

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Healthy stewed beans are the perfect comfort dish for a delicious weeknight meal. This easy recipe takes very little time to come together, making it great for busy individuals and families! We’ve also included 3 different methods for making this recipe: in the instant pot, on the stove top, and in the slow cooker! This is a budget-friendly, hearty bean stew packed with tons of flavor, and it also happens to be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free!

Healthy stewed beans served in a blue bowl with a spoon.

Caribbean inspired stewed red beans only require a handful of ingredients that come together for a flavorful recipe. It is similar to Jamaican stew peas with kidney beans, coconut, and herbs, but I made a few modifications.

While traditionally this recipe has pig’s tail or other meat, I wanted to make a stew that was customizable to meet your dietary preferences. Feel free to add any type of meat you’d like or leave it as is for a rich, aromatic vegetarian option. If you love Belizean food, try it with ham hock.

Pair these stewed beans with white rice or brown rice for a balanced meal that the whole family loves!

I’ll share 3 easy methods for making this kidney bean stew, and I promise the final product will be incredible no matter which option you choose! When you try this stew for the first time, you’ll be instantly hooked! 

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • 3 ways to make this recipe (instant pot, stove top and slow cooker method!)
  • Gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian
  • Easy weeknight dinner
  • Healthy and satisfying
  • Easy to customize
  • Budget-friendly recipe
  • The ultimate stewed red kidney beans!

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

This stewed beans recipe calls for very simple ingredients with a Jamaican flavor base. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact measurements.

Ingredients for healthy stewed beans recipe on a white background.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is great for sautéing the vegetables, but you can also use avocado or vegetable oil. 
  • Garlic, Onion, Carrots, Celery: Sautéing diced onion and minced garlic cloves adds the best aroma and savory taste. Diced carrots and celery are the perfect veggies for this stew, and a classic in many other stew and soup recipes.
  • Butternut Squash: If you do not have butternut squash, cooked and diced pumpkin will also work.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Scotch bonnet peppers are the special ingredient in these stewed kidney beans. They are popular in Jamaican recipes, with a sweet and spicy taste. These peppers are about 40 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. If you want less spice, try chile peppers, poblano peppers, or even green bell pepper. 
  • Brown Sugar: The brown sugar adds a subtle sweetness to this dish and slightly caramelizes the vegetables.
  • Tomato Paste: This is a popular choice for stewed beans. You can also use tomato sauce, but pay attention to the seasonings in it. Avoid a marinara which will give you Italian flavors that conflict with the seasonings in this dish.
  • Vegetable Broth & Coconut Cream: Vegetable broth is the liquid base for this kidney bean recipe, but other broths can be used. If you prefer to use water, simply add extra seasonings. The coconut cream adds a rich creaminess to this bean stew and gets naturally thinned out slightly by the broth. If you already have canned coconut milk on hand, that will work too. Fresh coconuts would add a great flavor to the stew, but you’ll save time with a canned option.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes add a burst of fresh flavor, but 1 large diced tomato can be used in this recipe!
  • Kidney Beans: Kidney beans are the main ingredient in this recipe, but if you have other preferred beans any will do. You can use canned or dried beans. Fun fact, in Jamaica they refer to kidney beans as red peas!
  • Thyme, Green Onions, Fresh Cilantro: Fresh thyme infuses a lovely herbal taste in this vegetable stew recipe. You can also use other sprigs of herbs or bay leaves. You will add green onions at the last step to add extra flavor and texture. You can also add cilantro at the end if you’d like more flavor. This is an optional ingredient but so delicious!
  • Worcestershire Sauce, Salt, Pepper: You can substitute for soy sauce or white wine vinegar for a vegan bean stew option. You will use classic salt and black pepper to season these stewed red beans.

🔪 Instructions

There are a few different ways to make this bean stew recipe, depending on your preference and equipment you have available. You can make it in an instant pot, stovetop, or slow cooker. Here is how to make stewed beans:

How To On Stove Top

Saute Veggies: In a deep saucepan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat and sauté the diced onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the carrots, celery, pumpkin and scotch bonnet pepper, sauté for another 4-5 minutes stirring to ensure even cooking.

Veggies and spices cooking in a large stock pot on the stove.

Add Brown Sugar: Next, add the brown sugar and cook until melted and beginning to caramelize.

Veggies and spices sauteeing in a large stock pot on the stove.

Add Liquids: Stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, coconut cream and cherry tomatoes, bring to a boil over a medium-high heat.

Red kidney beans, spices and broth added to a large stock pot on the stove.

Add Beans: Add the canned beans, thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to heat and bring to a boil again.

Red kidney beans, spices and broth added to a large stock pot on the stove.

Add Final Flavor & Serve: Finally add the green onions, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve these vegan stewed beans hot.

Green onions, red kidney beans, spices and broth added to a large stock pot on the stove.

How To Make In Instant Pot

Saute Onion & Garlic: Set Instant Pot to the “saute” setting and add oil and onion. Saute until soft. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.

Add Veggies: Add the carrots, celery, pumpkin and scotch bonnet pepper, sauté for another 4-5 minutes stirring to ensure even cooking. Next, add the brown sugar and cook until melted and beginning to caramelize.

Add Rest of Ingredients: Stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, coconut cream, cherry tomatoes, soaked dried kidney beans, thyme and worcestershire sauce. Add the green onions, salt, pepper and cilantro. Stir well.

Cook On High Pressure: Secure the lid and set the pressure cooker to the sealing setting. Select high pressure and cook for 12 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Adjust Seasoning & Serve: Open the pot and taste. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve this kidney beans stew hot.

Stewed red beans recipe cooking in a large pot on the stove.

How To Make In Slow Cooker

Add Ingredients: Add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, coconut cream and cherry tomatoes, soaked dry beans, thyme and worcestershire sauce to the slow cooker. Turn on high and cover for 2 hours.

Saute Veggies: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the diced onion until soft.

Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, pumpkin and scotch bonnet pepper, sauté for another 4-5 minutes stirring to ensure even cooking.

Mix In Veggies & Serve: After 2 hours, uncover the slow cooker and add the veggies. Stir and let the flavors meld together. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.

Vegan stewed red kidney beans served in a blue bowl with a spoon.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Don’t drain the kidney beans. For this stewed red beans recipe, add the beans and the liquid that they’re in.
  • Cut evenly diced veggies. Dice all vegetables to the same size to ensure even cooking.
  • For the creamiest stew, it’s best to use coconut cream. However, you can also use coconut milk if preferred.
  • Soak dried beans to soften. I’ve used canned kidney beans to save time, however if you’d prefer to use dried kidney beans you’ll need to use 2 cups of dried beans, thoroughly washed and soak in 8 cups of water for at least 2 hours or overnight. Do not drain the water off.
  • If using dried beans, add the soaked beans and water to the recipe at step 2, after sautéing the onions and garlic. The cooking time will need to be adjusted by an additional 1 to 1.5 hours before continuing with the remaining steps in the red bean stew recipe.
  • When to remove thyme springs: Once the sauce has thickened and the stewed beans and vegetables are soft, remove the thyme sprigs. The flavor of the thyme has cooked within the stew at this point.
  • If you prefer a thinner stew, slowly add a cup of water to reach the desired consistency.

📖 Variations

  • Different Spices: This red peas stew features Caribbean flavors, but you can change up the spices to match with different cuisines. Try it with cumin, cayenne pepper, or other fresh herbs. Using a bay leaf or fresh parsley will add a nice touch to this stewed red kidney beans recipe.
  • Different Type Of Beans: Next time you make this recipe for stewed beans, try using different types of beans. Pinto beans, white beans, black beans, or cannellini beans would be great! You can also do a mix of beans.
  • Habichuelas Guisadas: Customize this recipe into a Puerto Rican cuisine by swapping the kidney beans for pink beans and adding cumin, stuffed olives, and adobo seasoning. This is a popular side dish in Puerto Rico and pairs deliciously with yellow rice.
  • Ewa Riro: Add a Nigerian spin to this stewed beans recipe by using black-eyed peas or honey beans and bouillon powder instead of vegetable stock. You can add crayfish, catfish, or smoked turkey to this one pot meal if you don’t need to keep it vegetarian.

❓Recipe FAQs

How to cook beans with flavor?

Cooking beans with flavor is so easy! Add in your favorite spices and herbs, along with salt and pepper to taste. This red kidney bean stew will quickly absorb flavor as it cooks together in the pan. If you’re wondering, “What can I add to beans for flavor?” here are some of our favorite tips to infuse lots of flavor into cooked beans:

1) Use aromatics: Aromatics like onions, garlic, and herbs can add depth of flavor to the beans. Sauté the aromatics in a bit of oil or butter before adding the beans to the pot. From there you can try adding sauteed or caramelized veggies and peppers for more flavor and texture.

2) Add spices and seasonings: Stewing the beans with spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, a thyme sprig, and bay leaves can add a warm and earthy flavor. And be generous with salt and pepper! Beans are super dense, so it’s hard to over-season them. You can also add a bit of sweetness by adding a small amount of brown sugar or molasses.

3) Cook the beans in flavorful liquid: Instead of cooking the beans in plain water, you can use chicken or vegetable broth, tomato sauce, coconut milk or coconut cream to add more depth of flavor.

4) Cook low and slow: Cooking beans over low heat for a longer period can help to develop the flavors and create a creamy and tender texture. However, be careful not to overcook the beans, as they can become mushy.

What seasoning is best with beans?

Beans are so versatile that most seasonings will complement them perfectly. For this stewed beans recipe, I use a blend of herbs, vegetables, and coconut cream to provide flavor. You can use pre-mixed seasonings like taco seasoning or a bbq blend, and spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic, or bay leaves always go well with beans. Get creative, and try out your own favorite seasonings.

How to cook good canned beans for this recipe?

Using canned beans will save you a lot of time in this recipe. All you have to do is add them into the sauteed vegetable coconut cream mixture and cook until fully heated. The key is to just cook them until they’re tender, be sure not to overcook them!

Can red kidney beans be toxic?

Yes, surprisingly kidney beans can be toxic! Eating raw, soaked kidney beans can trigger symptoms which is why stewing these beans is important. There have also been some cases of the toxic reactions occurring even after cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. Boiling the beans for about 10 minutes or so deactivates the toxins, so be sure to do so before consuming.

How to store stewed beans?

Allow the stewed beans to cool to room temperature and place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To heat up the next day, simply add to a large pot over med flame, or warm in the microwave. 

These beans will keep for up to 2 months if frozen. To save space, you can put the beans in airtight freezer bags and freeze them flat. Defrost in the fridge overnight, and then warm in the microwave or on the stove top before serving.

Vegan stewed beans served in a blue bowl with a spoon.

🍲 More Easy Bean Recipes!

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

https://youtu.be/YPAqGHHrb0w
Healthy stewed beans served in a blue bowl with a spoon.
Print Recipe
5 from 9 votes

Stewed Beans

Healthy stewed beans are the perfect comfort dish for a delicious weeknight meal. This easy recipe takes very little time to come together, making it great for busy individuals and families! We've also included 3 different methods for making this recipe: in the instant pot, on the stove top, and in the slow cooker! This is a budget-friendly, hearty bean stew packed with tons of flavor, and it also happens to be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 308kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 2 celery sticks diced
  • 6 oz butternut squash or pumpkin diced
  • ¼ Scotch bonnet pepper diced
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar, unpacked
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 28 oz canned kidney beans, do not drain (two 14oz cans)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro optional
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Instructions

  • In a heavy based pot heat the oil and sauté the diced onion until soft.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, pumpkin and scotch bonnet pepper, sauté for another 4-5 minutes stirring to ensure even cooking.
  • Next, add the brown sugar and cook until melted and beginning to caramelize.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, coconut cream and cherry tomatoes, bring to a boil.
  • Add the kidney beans, thyme and Worcestershire sauce continue to heat and bring to the boil again.
  • Finally add the green onions, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.

Notes

  • Don’t drain the kidney beans, add the beans and the liquid that they’re in.
  • Dice all vegetables to the same size to ensure even cooking.
  • It’s best to use coconut cream however you can also use coconut milk if preferred.
  • Vegetable broth can be substituted with chicken broth or even water.
  • Cherry tomatoes add a delicious sweetness to the dish however you could also just use 1 large tomato instead.
  • I’ve used canned kidney beans to save time however if you’d prefer to use dried kidney beans you’ll need to use 2 cups of dried beans, thoroughly washed and soak in 8 cups of water for at least 2 hours or overnight. Do not drain the water off.
  • If using dried beans add the soaked beans and water to the recipe at step 2, after sautéing the onions and garlic, and cook for 1 hour before continuing with the remaining steps in the recipe.
  • You’ll need to increase the cooking time by at least 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes if using dried beans to give enough time to cook and softened the beans.
  • Once the sauce has thicken and the beans and vegetables are soft, remove the thyme sprigs.
  • Stewed beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 939mg | Potassium: 757mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 8g

16 responses to “Stewed Beans”

  1. I love this recipe. It’s so tasty, comforting, and filling. Always looking for new side dishes for the family.5 stars

  2. Oh yum! Such a wonderful way to prepare kidney beans. The flavors sound fantastic and I love how easily they come together.5 stars

  3. This stewed beans recipe was delicious! I love how flavorful and satisfying it is, and it’s so easy to make. I’ll definitely be making this again and again.5 stars

  4. Really like this recipe!! always looking for different vegetarian recipes. Thank you for making my menu more extend. Will make it for me really soon 🙂 Thanks5 stars

  5. I was looking for a slow cooker recipe with beans and this looks great. I am curious about how the butternut squash and scotch bonnet will taste – it looks delicious!5 stars

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