Appetizers and Sides/ Cuban Food/ Main Course/ Recipes

My Cuban Great Grandmother’s Black Beans

For my first blog post EVER I thought it would be fitting to share my family’s Cuban black beans recipe. This is the HOLY GRAIL of black bean recipes! It comes from my great-grandmother Abuela Mercedes, who was the epitome of a classic Cuban Abuela.

UPDATE: I now have a recipe for QUICK Cuban Black Beans if you’re short on time! 

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

I am part of the first generation in our family to be born in this country, so when I tell you that this recipe is authentic, it’s about as authentic as they come!

Everyone should have a good black bean recipe. Aside from being delicious, they are so versatile! You can eat them on white rice, you can eat them alone as a soup, on tacos, in a salad, I could go on but you get it…they’re great on anything! Even my 1-year-old son will devour a pile of these beans!

So with all that said, here it is in all its glory. THE BLACK BEAN RECIPE:

Now, these Cuban black beans do take some planning ahead and do take some time. But I promise they are worth it! I like to make them ahead and freeze them in smaller batches to use as needed. As a matter of fact, the photos I have for this recipe are a double batch. The recipe I’m sharing is for a single batch but I figured if I’m going to take the time to make them, I might as well make a lot!

  • The first thing that you need to do is soak your beans the night before you are planning to make/eat them. I use a 12 ounce pack of dry Goya brand beans. Soaking helps soften them and allows them to cook in less amount of time. So add your dry beans to a heavy bottomed pot LIKE THESE and add enough water to cover them (about 2 or 3 cups depending on your pot size). Let them soak over night or  at least 12 hours. I usually end up soaking a little longer since I make them the next evening.

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • After your beans have soaked all night they will have absorbed most of the water and look like this.

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • When you are ready to cook them, add 5 cups of water to the pot and half of a chopped green pepper. Save your other half for later in the recipe. Bring the beans and the green pepper to a boil and then reduce your heat to a simmer for 60 minutes stirring frequently. If you notice that your beans are absorbing a lot of water, add 2 cups of water and continue to simmer. When you boil the beans for the first time, they will suds up a lot. No need to worry, it’s totally normal 🙂

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • While your beans are cooking, go ahead and chop the other half of your green pepper, your onion, and 2 large cloves of garlic. By the way, that scooper/chopper thing in the picture below is a life saver. It saves you from having to lift your cutting board and try to aim things into your pot. It scrapes up left over crumbs, smashes garlic, and you can chop with it too! Mine was given to me and I don’t think it’s sold anymore but HERE’S a link to a bunch of others that will do the same job – they are totally worth buying!

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • After your beans have been simmering for 60 minutes, you can go ahead and bring out a separate small skillet to cook your onions, garlic, and green pepper. Heat your skillet to a medium high heat and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. (Also, you can leave your beans simmering while you do all of this even if it’s past 60 minutes)
  • Once your skillet is heated, add in your remaining half of the chopped green pepper, and 3/4 cup of chopped yellow onion. I used a red onion in these pictures because I had a giant one left over that I was trying to use up, but a yellow onion is what my family recipe calls for. So if you can, use a yellow onion 🙂

Authentic Cuban Black Bean Recipe

  • In the skillet cook the onion, green pepper, and garlic until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Make sure not to let the garlic turn brown.
    Authentic Cuban Black Bean Recipe
  • Once you’ve cooked the vegetables, take a ladle full of black beans from your pot with a slotted ladle (so you don’t get too much liquid) and add this to the skillet with the onion mixture. Now I know everyone’s ladle sizes are different but it doesn’t have to be exact, as long as you have somewhere around a half a cup(ish) of beans in the skillet, that’s fine.
  • You will want to get a sturdy ladle (much sturdier than the one I used in that picture 🙂 ) and smash the beans into the onion mixture. this will help incorporate all of the flavors and give your beans a richer texture. (You don’t need to make a paste out of the beans, just smash them enough so that most of them are popped open and incorporated into the onion mixture)

Authentic Cuban Black Bean Recipe

  • Once you have smashed your beans, add all of the contents of your skillet and 2 cups of water to the large pot of your simmering beans.

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • Stir your beans and put them to simmer for another 60 minutes on low-medium heat.
  • After that 60 minutes, add 3 more cups of water to your beans and add in your salt, oregano, sugar, black pepper, cumin, and vinegar.

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

  • After adding your seasonings and vinegar, cover your pot and simmer on low-medium heat for one last (I promise) 30 minutes stirring frequently.
  • THAT’S IT!! You’ve now made authentic delicious Cuban black beans. You can eat them plain as a soup garnished with a little bit of chopped onion and cilantro, or you can add them to any dish you like. I prefer to eat mine how I’ve pictured below – on a big bed of white rice with a side of cuban bread. THIS is the rice cooker that I use to make my rice…super easy!

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

Please let me know how you like them or if you have any questions about the recipe! I will be happy to comment back!

 I now have a recipe for QUICK Cuban Black Beans if you’re short on time! 

Print Recipe
4.85 from 13 votes

Cuban Black Beans

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce package of Goya dried black beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 large green pepper - chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

Instructions

  • Add your dry beans to your heavy bottomed pot and cover with water (about 3 cups)
  • Allow your beans to soak over night. (If you don't have time to soak overnight CLICK HERE to see my version of Quick Cuban Black Beans using canned beans!)
  • The next day, your beans will have soaked up most of the water. When you are ready to cook them add 5 cups of water and half of your chopped green pepper to the pot.
  • Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 60 minutes stirring frequently.
  • If you notice that your beans are absorbing most of the liquid, you can add water (1 cup at a time) to keep them simmering.
  • While your beans are simmering, heat a small skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Once your skillet is hot add the remainder of the chopped green pepper, your chopped onion, and garlic. Sauté over medium/low heat until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
  • Once your vegetables are softened and your beans have simmered for 60 minutes, take a slotted spoonful of black beans (not the liquid) from your pot and add to the skillet with the onion mixture.
  • Using a wooden spoon or a meat mallet, smash your ladle of black beans into the onion mixture and stir to combine. (they don't have to be completely smashed but just enough to pop them open and incorporate them into the onion mixture)
  • Add all of the skillet contents and 2 cups of water back into the large pot of black beans and stir.
  • Cover and simmer for another 60 minutes.
  • After those 60 minutes, add 3 cups of water and remainder of ingredients (oregano, salt, black pepper, sugar, cumin, vinegar) into the pot and stir.
  • Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Give yourself a pat on the back...YOU'RE DONE!

Notes

UPDATE: I now have a recipe for QUICK Cuban Black Beans if you're short on time! 

Authentic Cuban Black Beans

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Milo
    April 20, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Excellent post! I will definitely try this. I also remember my dad’s black bean recipe. He sometimes used to add a tablespoon of sugar to sweeten the beans just a little. This made the beans a little less savory but a lot more complimentary to other savory dishes.

  • Reply
    Tia Mercy
    April 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Loving this blog!! I love this black bean recipe too! So delish!

  • Reply
    Shawna Kiser
    April 21, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Liz
    December 3, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    How many does this serve

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      December 4, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Hi Liz, how are you planning to serve it? On rice or in a bowl on it’s own, or as a side dish? It makes about 8 cups of beans 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    January 23, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Hi, I plan to make this very soon. I found the recipe on Pinterest. Just to clarify, do I use 1/2 pound of black beans or 1 and 1/2 pounds? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      January 24, 2019 at 7:19 am

      Hi Stephanie, Sorry for the confusion. It’s just a 1/2 pound of dry beans 🙂

      • Reply
        Stephanie
        January 25, 2019 at 4:59 pm

        making it today! smells amazing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris
    March 24, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Outstanding recipe. Everyone loves the bean and they are a great compliment to Cuban pork loin I grilled after marinating it for 3 days.

  • Reply
    Debby
    April 1, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for this recipe. I’ve been using it over and over again for the past year to feed my husband (whose parents are native Cubans), and our children. I have tried many Cuban black beans recipes over the years, and yours is simply the best. I thought it was time to say THANK YOU for sharing it.

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      April 2, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      Thank you!! That makes me so happy 🙂

  • Reply
    Tanya
    April 14, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    These came out great! I’ve tried a few recipes and they always come out lackluster. I attribute the success of these to the sugar and the vinegar. Just perfect.

  • Reply
    Ragan
    April 28, 2019 at 3:16 am

    I’m making these beans right now as I have been wanting to reduce our grocery budget, yet stay healthy (as a vegetarian). I haven’t even added the dried spices or vinegar yet and they smell amazing. So excited to eat these and to have plenty of leftovers! I’m going to have mine on brown rice with avocado and a salad. Thanks for the recipe 😀

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      April 29, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Awesome! That sounds delicious!

      • Reply
        You g
        August 18, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        To clarify does this only require 1/2 lb and not the entire 1 lb of black beans the package comes in? I ask because it does not seem like enough beans yield.

        • Reply
          Coco and Ash
          August 19, 2019 at 8:38 am

          I actually use a 12 ounce bag. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Reply
    Lazy Cook
    May 30, 2019 at 1:44 am

    I made this today and it was delicious. It tastes very similar to the recipe used by our favorite local Cuban restaurant. Even my fussy teens enjoyed it. I hate green bell peppers so I subbed yellow bell peppers & it worked just fine. I add extra garlic to everything, so I did the same here.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    July 24, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Wow! You are spot on with this recipe. Being a Cuban descendant myself, this is the exact recipe we use. This is the first website that I’ve seen that has this recipe without varying ingredients. Usually you’ll find “Cuban” black bean recipes that are more similar to other hispanic cultures, but this is the real deal. Your great grandma’s picture brought nostalgia, looks so much like my own grandmother. I’m signing up! Looking forward to browsing your site.

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      July 24, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you!! I made zero changes to her recipe so it’s as authentic as it gets!! 🙂

  • Reply
    dynamiteroll
    July 29, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    This is the best recipe for black beans I have used! I’ve made it a number of times, and they always turn out wonderfully! I am making a big batch tonight for a work potluck this week 🙂 Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe

  • Reply
    Jessica
    August 7, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Hi there…
    I am making this recipe as I type…wanted to try to reduce the bean cook time by using my Instant Pot. Is that a bad idea?
    should the beans be firm or soft, when done?

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      August 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      I haven’t tried the instant pot with these yet but the beans should be tender. Easily smashed with the back of a spoon or your fingers.

  • Reply
    Alexa
    September 5, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    These are yummy enough to make me leave my first comment in years! Although they take a long time to cook, much of it was hands-off – I even went and got my shower during the second 60-minute simmer. I used a full pound of dried beans with heaping tsps and tbsps for the spices. Next time I’ll probably up the spices just a little bit more and add a pinch of cayenne for a touch of heat. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      September 8, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much Alexa!! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Kathryn
    September 10, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    This is my first time to make this recipe and I am really looking forward to it! I accidentally soaked my black beans a day early. What do I do?

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      September 12, 2019 at 9:33 am

      No problem! Just drain the water and let them sit until you’re ready to cook.

  • Reply
    Barbara Mills
    December 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Since visiting Cuba and discovering black beans I have tried many recipes. This is the best recipe I have found and will use it from now on. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Nahid
    February 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    I got addicted to Cuban Black Beans when I was in Miami last month and decided to finally make them today after coming across your recipe. My dietitian recommended that I eat more beans to reduce my cholesterol levels, so I should’ve done this a while ago. These were amazing…thank you for helping me eat healthier!

  • Reply
    Kristofer
    February 6, 2020 at 12:57 am

    My wife and in laws all still live in guanábacoa , I’ve been married 4 years and travel to Cuba 3 or 4 times a year and have become addicted to my seguras Aroz y frijoles every morning with a fried egg. I have been missing my family a lot lately and used your recipe. The first thing that hit me was the smell in my kitchen , secondly when I took my first bite I shed a tear because it brought me right back to my families kitchen . Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  • Reply
    Instant Pot Black Beans and Rice | Use a single pot!
    March 15, 2020 at 8:58 am

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  • Reply
    jadzia
    May 28, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Your grandma’s pic pops in my head when I make this. it is really clever to catch to include pseudo-refrying beans. using that to thicken the stew. red kidney beans are a hit too I also add a lot of rib tips and that “Jamon” Goya packet. with white rice… thanQ grandma!!! <3 <3 <3 you got me more popular with the boys!

  • Reply
    Surati
    August 31, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Making it now. You really inspired me, with all your careful notes. This is the way I talk and explain my very favorite recipes, esp the ones that came to me in this kind of family way. You care so much. This dish has got to be good ! But, your additions of white vinegar and sugar; that combination in beans is something I’ve not heard of. Are they slightly sweet and sour ? I cringe at using white cane sugar, because I think of beans and rice as healthy. I may want to sub the cane sugar for coconut sugar, date sugar or even honey or maple syrup, and the white vinegar for a white wine vinegar, or even apple cider veingar. Can’t hurt, right ? What do you think ?

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      September 1, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! The sugar is to balance the acidity and all the savory flavors in the dish. It does not taste sweet in any way. So you could definitely try a substitute to achieve the same flavors. I hope that helps!

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