Cuban Black Beans Done Quickly

cuban black beans

We all need shortcuts in our busy lives and this easy recipe for Cuban Black Beans is perfect for one of your weeknight meals. When you don’t have time to soak dried beans and cook them for several hours, try this quick recipe using a few simple ingredients from your pantry. You can transform canned black beans into a delicious, healthy and inexpensive side dish that you and your family will enjoy.

cuban black beans
Cuban Black Beans Served With Roast Pork And White Rice

Years ago, a friend who was originally from Cuba, shared her recipes with me for slow roasted lechon asado (roast pork) and frijoles negros (black beans). Over the years, I have made a few changes to the quantities listed in the recipes she gave me but they are still true to her original. I’ve shared my version of Cuban roast pork but never the recipe for Cuban black beans.

If you have a big family, cooking a large pot of beans is a wonderful way to serve a healthy, satisfying and economical meal BUT if you are cooking for just one or two, you might be more inclined to cook a smaller amount and that is where using can beans is a good alternative. In fact, many canned beans today match the quality of dried beans so I make no apologies for using shortcuts when I want a meal on the table in less than an hour.

cuban black beans
Cuban Black Beans

Quick Cuban Black Beans

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly.

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper*, diced (while most recipes call for green, I often use red bell pepper for added color and flavor)
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  15 oz. can of black beans
  • 1/2 c., more if needed, chicken stock, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • wedges of lime and finely chopped onion (optional)

Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and pepper then sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the beans, stock, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid thickens and the flavors meld, adding a little extra liquid if necessary. Add the remaining oil and the vinegar, stir then taste for any additional seasoning, if needed. To serve, remove the bay leaf then garnish with the cilantro, if desired. Lime wedges and  finely chopped onion, as a side for the beans, can be served at the table.

Notes:

  • There is a question among cooks and food experts on whether you should drain and rinse canned beans. If you do rinse canned beans, add some water, stock or broth to make up for the drained liquid as the beans will thicken as they cook.
  • A sofrito of onion, green pepper and garlic is traditionally used in Cuban cooking. Some people find that green bell peppers are hard to digest and if so, red or yellow bell peppers can be substituted. If you like spicy dishes, you could use a hot chili pepper as well.
  • If you are serving 4 to 6 people, I suggest using 3 cans of beans and double the other ingredients. I would also suggest the same if you want to make the recipe using dried black beans, cook as directed on the packaging…double the vegetables and seasonings.
  • The beans can be prepared ahead of time, just add a little water when reheating.
  • The added bonus of the Cuban black beans is that they are high in fiber, low in fat, vegetarian and vegan (if using water instead of chicken stock) as well as gluten free.

****

I grew up having a bowl of beans, usually navy or pintos, as a main course about once a month when my mother had a leftover ham bone. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Miami, that I tried black beans at a local Cuban restaurant. I was thrilled when my friend gave me her recipe and have been cooking Cuban style black beans ever since. While I love beans cooked from scratch, you need to plan ahead. There is the long soak, usually over night, before simmering the beans for several hours. When you are like me and don’t have the time yet want a healthy and quick side dish, try this recipe using canned black beans.

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42 thoughts on “Cuban Black Beans Done Quickly

  1. This sounds so delicious! I discovered Cuban black beans when we used to go to the Florida Keys every year. I’m going to try your recipe next time I make black beans. Maybe tonight! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Karen, Malcolm and I love black beans and rice but I must admit, I always use beans from a can. I have dressed them up a bit with onion, cilantro and pepper, but nothing like your recipe suggests. That sounds really good. I have cooked dried large lima beans with ham (a staple from my childhood) but only infrequently because of the time required.I’m flipping pages to read your pork recipe next. That plate looks amazing.

  3. I use both canned and dried, depending on what’s going on in my life. There’s no shame in that game! This sounds marvelous. I was actually just looking at some photos I took of Cuban black bean soup when I saw your post come up!

  4. Moros y Cristianos! I normally cook beans and pulses from dried, generally using a pressure cooker to cut down the time, but occasionally the long way if I’m doing something special. Black beans, however, can be temperamental if they are too old and will refuse to soften, so I do have a can of them, along with a few other varieties in the store cupboard for emergencies. The liquid in the tin contains a lot of starch from the beans and does help to thicken them with cooking. I just had lunch, but looking at your beans makes me want to go straight back into the kitchen!

  5. That is almost the way I do it, but I’ll bet that the chicken stock really makes a difference, Karen. I’ll try it. I gave up dried beans years ago because I couldn’t get that wonderful creamy texture regardless of how long I soaked or cooked the beans. The only thing I’ve never tried is a pressure cooker, and that would probably do the trick. I, too, first had black beans prepared by two Cuban friends…. sometimes with pork roast, sometimes just rice.

  6. I love Cuban black beans! Such a flavorful dish. And I use canned beans a lot — so convenient, and as you say, the quality can be quite good. Excellent post — thanks.

  7. Love, love! So great how you transformed a can of beans into a delicious, savory, satisfying and appealing meal! I am giving this recipe a whirl. I am in a cooking slump, so I really appreciate this!
    Happy New Year,
    Jemma

  8. These sound wonderful, Karen. I love beans of all varieties and eat them about once a week. Lately I’ve been using my instant pot and that’s saved me a lot of time, but there are those times when I really am interested in an average portion. I have these ingredients on hand and I think tomorrow is the day to give these a try. Yum!

  9. The only time I went to Cuba – years ago and I loved it – they served black beans as a side with everything. This sounds delicious. And I always use canned beans rather than go through the soaking method … I’m too impatient 🙂

  10. Oh, I totally want to make these beans now, Karen! There is a local restaurant that serves a side of black beans that is amazing…it make me want to lick the bowl. I’d never thought about black beans as a ‘main ingredient’ like that before. Now I want this for dinner tonight!

  11. yum. now i need to go look at your Cuban roast pork. I always rinse beans because there’s a lot of sodium in that slimy stuff. But that’s just me. I’d rather add my own ingredients, like broth. I have a Cuban recipe for black beans and it includes sherry at the end. I’ve actually never added it because I always thought it sounded odd!

  12. It’s interesting how we discover some of our favorite foods later in life. We didn’t have black beans either when I was growing up, but now they are my favorite bean. I most always use dried beans, then use them in various dishes. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Happy 2020!!!!

  13. I was introduced to black beans when we lived in Kansas and they have been my favorite bean ever since. I always have a couple cans on hand and can’t wait to try out your recipe.

  14. I love a good bowl of delicious black beans. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who enjoys the convenience of canned black beans when time is not available! We have a friend from Cuba whom I will share this recipe with as well. Thanks Karen!

  15. This recipe sounds wonderful. And, it was nice to hear that you use canned beans. Except when making old recipes, I generally substitute canned beans for dried ones – and sometimes I even think that the results are better with canned beans. It’s good to know that I’m not the only person making this substitution.

  16. I have super great memories of ham and bean soup; and I make it now with leftover ham from Easter. We can get small cuts of ham, even ham steaks so I have no excuse!!😒

    Your recipe sounds fantastic. I’ve been doing a lot of Cuban and spicy dishes lately and this is now going into use.

    Thanks, as always, Karen!

    Jane😘

  17. Cuban pork with black beans is a favorite of mine, but it’s been years since I made the dish but with your simplified recipe for the beans, I’ll be making it soon.

  18. Karen, thank you (and your friend) for this “quick fix” recipe for Cuban black beans. One of my favorite meals since I moved to the South is “red beans and rice” — but, I like to mix things up. 🙂 BTW, I had a marvelous time in New England during the holidays… wish we could’ve connected, but I only had so much time. I’ll think of you every time I enjoy Cuban Black Beans out of a can!

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