Titi’s Easy Puerto Rican Beans with Calabaza

basic beans puerto Rican

These super-easy, super-good Puerto Rican beans — habichuelas guisadas — with calabaza or pumpkin were served at my aunt’s house regularly. Unlike my from-scratch grandmother’s recipe for red beans, Titi’s recipe starts by opening a can of red or pink habichuelas and uses sofrito, always a good thing in Boricua cooking.

The beans then simmer for about half an hour—and are ready to serve with flavorful white rice, or this arroz by one by one of our favorite Puerto Rican cooks, Michelle Ezratty Murphy. She and her Boricua husband Pat love to make his family’s traditional dishes.

Rico, auténtico y simple, what’s not to love about these habichuelas?

For more hearty Puerto Rican traditional dishes, check out: Michelle’s Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest-winning arroz con pollo, picadillo, pastelón (Puerto Rican lasagna made with plantain strips, fried and stuffed alcapurrias y mucho mas!

And don’t miss her winning entry to Your Family’s Favorite Picadillo Recipe Contest, which relies on the classic Puerto Rican flavors of sofrito (yes, again. It really is used in everything) and achiote oil. Michelle calls her picadillo recipe ”the Puerto Rican sloppy joe.”

To try more of her Boricua dishes, check Michelle Ezratty Murphy’s double-fried-plantain tostones with garlicky mojo saucepastelón, the Puerto Rican lasagna; her step-by-step guide to baking melty quesitos, and her contest-winning eat-every-last-bit-of-pegao arroz con pollo family recipe.

Ready to Make Traditional Puerto Rican Beans?

Titi’s Easy Puerto Rican Beans With Calabaza

5.0 from 2 votes
Cuisine: Puerto Rican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 15.5 oz red or pink beans in can, with their liquid

  • 6 to 8 oz water

  • 2 Tbsp sofrito

  • 2 ají dulce (sweet peppers)

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 4 oz. tomato sauce

  • 1 cup Puerto Rican calabaza or kabocha pumpkin, peeled and chopped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp black pepper


  • In a big caserola or pot, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the sofrito. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the chopped ají dulces and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chopped calabaza or pumpkin and let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the can of beans with their liquid plus the same can filled halfway with water (6 to 8 oz.). Stir, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • When the beans are soft and the liquid looks stewy-creamy, stir and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary—and they are ready to serve on (never beside, according to my family) your arroz favorito.


  • Substitute chopped carrots or a potato if you can’t find Puerto Rican calabaza. Use diced green bell peppers if you don’t have ají dulces.
  • Puerto Rican calabazas are sometimes called West Indian or kabocha pumpkins. Unlike the pumpkins we are used to in the States, these are medium size and usually green or yellow on the outside. Inside, calabazas’ flesh is very orange.

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