This Cuban-Style Black Beans recipe uses canned beans, so no soaking is needed! That means it can be on your table in under 30 minutes! It's made with tender black beans, onions, peppers, and some spices, making a flavorful and satisfying dish.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Fast: Using canned black beans cuts down so much time so it's ready to serve in about 25 minutes. And since it uses fresh vegetables and savory spices you still have the flavor of traditional Cuban black beans! It's the perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
Comforting: This delicious recipe is surprisingly complex in flavor.
Great for Meal Prep: Leftovers are even more flavorful, so this is a great dish to prepare and enjoy throughout the week!
Here are a few more of my favorite soup recipe:
What are Cuban Black Beans?
Black beans (also called frijoles negros) are a staple in the traditional Cuban diet. It starts with sofrito, a base of aromatic vegetables used in many Cuban dishes. Sofrito is similar to the Holy Trinity used in Creole cooking (onions, bell pepper, and celery), but Cuban sofrito is made with garlic instead of celery.
The beans are simmered on the stove with spices and broth and then a touch of acidity (usually red wine vinegar) is added just before serving.
Growing up, my family enjoyed black beans and rice all throughout the winter months. It's such a comforting meal! We even ate it on New Year's Day to bring in good luck instead of black-eyed peas! I hope you enjoy my family's Cuban Black Beans recipe as much as we do!
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Black Beans: Since we are adding our own spices you'll want to use plain, unseasoned black beans. There is no need to drain them. Using the liquid makes the broth more velvety.
Chicken Broth: Using broth adds flavor to the recipe, but water can be used if you want a vegetarian or vegan dish, or you just don't have chicken broth on hand.
Bell Peppers: I like to use a mix of red and green bell pepper, but using just green pepper works fine.
Spices: Cumin and oregano are two of the most popular spices in Cuban cuisine and they add so much flavor to this recipe. The bay leaf not only flavors the beans but also helps to tenderize them.
Red Wine Vinegar: This adds acidity and brightens the flavor. You can substitute apple cider vinegar if you need to, though I think red wine vinegar really makes the dish!
1) Prepare Sofrito
- Cook the onion and peppers over medium heat.
- After they are soft, add the minced garlic cloves and spices and continue cooking just until they become aromatic (30-60 seconds).
2) Add Beans and Liquid
- Add the beans and broth (or water) to the onion mixture.
- Stir to mix everything together, then add the bay leaf on top.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to low and place a lid on the pan.
- You'll want to stir it frequently as it cooks so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
4) Finish with Red Wine Vinegar
- After everything has simmered for 15 minutes, remove the lid.
- If the soup is more liquidy than you'd like, continue cooking it with the lid off until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Stir the red wine vinegar in just before serving.
Thicker Soup: For a thicker consistency, transfer ¾ cup of canned black beans to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a fork to form a paste. Stir them into the cooked vegetables and cook for one minute before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Bacon: Cook 5 strips of bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Once cooked, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pot and cook the sofrito in the fat instead of using olive oil.
Spicy: For a kick of heat, add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or 1 diced jalapeno pepper.
How to Prepare in an Instant Pot
I recommend using dried beans when preparing in a pressure cooker, as canned will become too mushy.
Instant Pot Black Beans makes a double recipe, so multiply all of the recipe ingredients (except the beans) by 2.
- Turn your Instant Pot onto SAUTE and add the oil. Saute the peppers and onions until soft, then add the garlic and spices.
- Meanwhile, rinse and sort 2 cups of dry black beans. Discard any pebbles or shriveled beans. Place beans in your Instant Pot.
- Stir in the broth or water, then add the bay leaf.
- Cover and seal your Instant Pot. Use the BEANS function or cook at HIGH PRESSURE for 20 minutes for firm beans, or up to 30 minutes if you like them really soft.
- Allow the steam to release naturally for 10 minutes, then open the valve to release the remaining steam.
- Black beans are traditionally served over white rice as a main dish. Pair with cornbread for a complete meal.
- This recipe also makes a perfect side dish and can be served for breakfast with eggs or breakfast tacos.
- For dinner, pair it with any Latin-style dinner, like Ropa Vieja, Lechon Asada, or even tacos or enchiladas! It is a delicious complement to practically any grilled meat!
- You can even enjoy it as a snack with fried plantains.
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Cuban Black Beans are vegan as long as you use water instead of broth for your liquid. They are a great source of protein making them a wonderful staple in a vegan diet.
I love to use the whole can of beans without draining them, as it adds flavor and makes a velvety broth. However, if you are on a low-sodium diet you may wish to drain and rinse your beans to reduce the added sodium. In that case, use 1 ¾ cups of water instead of just 1 cup.
The sodium content in canned black beans and chicken broth varies by brand. I recommend using a low-sodium chicken broth. If your broth is not low-sodium then leave the salt out of the recipe. Before serving, taste and add additional salt, if needed.
Yes, for slow cooker black beans place all of the ingredients, except for the red wine vinegar, rice, and cilantro, into the slow cooker. Cover the cooker with a lid and cook on LOW heat for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the red wine vinegar before serving.
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Easy Cuban-Style Black BeansRecipe by:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely diced red or green bell pepper
- ⅓ cup finely diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans (do not drain)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- steamed rice to serve
- chopped cilantro optional
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Then add the garlic, oregano, cumin and salt and cook an additional 30 seconds.2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ cup finely diced red or green bell pepper, ⅓ cup finely diced onion, 3 cloves garlic, minced, ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Add the black beans with their liquid, along with the water, and bay leaf.2 15-ounce cans black beans, 1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water, 1 bay leaf
- Once the liquids begin to boil, reduce to low heat and place a lid on the saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- If the black beans are too liquidy, remove the lid and simmer for several minutes to burn off some of the water. If they are too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time, until it has reached your desired consisteny.
- Remove the bay leaf. Then stir in the red wine vinegar and serve over steamed rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, steamed rice, chopped cilantro
- Use 2 cups of dry black beans (rinsed and sorted). DOUBLE all of the other ingredients.
- Use the SAUTE function to cook the onions, peppers, and garlic in olive oil. Turn off.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except vinegar), close and seal the lid, and cook on HIGH pressure for 20 minutes for firm beans and 30 minutes for soft.
- Allow the steam to naturally release for 10 minutes, then open the valve and allow the remaining steam to escape.
- Remove the bay leaf and stir in the red wine vinegar.
- Put all of the ingredients except for the red wine vinegar into the slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW heat for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the red wine vinegar.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.