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 1/2 lb 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! 

Cuban Black Beans
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lb 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
  1. Add your dry beans to your heavy bottomed pot and cover with water (about 3 cups)

  2. 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!)

  3. 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.

  4. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 60 minutes stirring frequently.

  5. 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.

  6. While your beans are simmering, heat a small skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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)

  10. Add all of the skillet contents and 2 cups of water back into the large pot of black beans and stir.

  11. Cover and simmer for another 60 minutes.

  12. 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.

  13. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

  14. Give yourself a pat on the back...YOU'RE DONE!

Recipe 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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5 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 🙂

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