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Calling all Cuban food lovers and anyone looking for a quick and easy weeknight side dish! These Cuban black beans are so flavorful everyone will think you spent hours simmering them on the stove. But the truth is, you just need a can of beans, a few basic ingredients, and 25 minutes for this easy recipe (no soaking). Get ready to treat yourself to a taste of the Caribbean without all the fuss! (healthy, vegetarian, vegan)

“I started using this recipe about three years ago when my husband decided to go plant-based. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this recipe! It is our go-to for black beans! It’s easy, versatile, and so good in burritos. Just wanted to comment after so many years of making the recipe. Thank you!”

– Val
Overhead photo of cooked beans cuban style in a white serving bowl.

Update: This recipe was originally published in February 2019. I made updates to the article below to include more information about this recipe. Plus there’s now step by step photos and a video tutorial showing you just how easy this canned black beans Cuban recipe is to prepare! 

Hey there, friends! While today’s recipe may look humble and unassuming, it is one of my all-time favorite sides. Hands down!

I kid you not, I make these black beans at least once a month… and sometimes as much as once a week. No shame.

Fast and easy to prepare, yet packed with ALL the flavor, these beans deserve a weekly spot on your dinner menu rotation!

Close-up photo of black beans from a can.

About these Cuban black beans

Savory, tender black beans cooked to perfection in a thick, flavorful, silky sauce studded with pungent onions, fragrant garlic, slightly spicy jalapeños, mild bell pepper and fresh scallions.

Dusted with chopped cilantro and finished with a generous squeeze of acidic fresh lime juice or a drizzle of vinegar, these Cuban black beans are packed with incredibly delicious, bold flavor!

With all the flavor happening in these beans you would think they take hours in the kitchen to prepare, but these Cuban black beans utilize canned black beans and are ready in 25 minutes or less!

And, another great thing about these beans? The leftovers are even better since the flavors have a chance to develop and really shine!

These epic beans are the perfect side dish, and after one bite you’ll want to triple the recipe and stash these beans in the freezer to always have on hand!

Overhead photo of sautéed onions and peppers in a large white pot.

What are Cuban style black beans?

Cuban black beans, also known as frijoles negros, are a classic Cuban side dish. Black beans are a stable in Cuban cuisine and while everyone adds their own special touch or ingredient to the dish, a vital element of Cuban black beans is a sofrito, which is a mixture of onions, green bell pepper and garlic. The sofrito adds a delicious depth of flavor to Cuban black beans.

While most recipes finish the dish with vinegar and sugar, others add a squeeze of lime juice and plenty of fresh cilantro.

As well, some Cuban black bean recipes are soupy in consistency while others call for mashing some of the beans so the dish is thicker in consistency.

How to make this cuban black bean recipe

These cuban beans are quick and easy to prepare! Here’s how:

  • Saute raw vegetables: Heat neutral oil in a large pot oven over medium heat. Add the onions, scallions, jalapeños, bell pepper, kosher salt and black pepper. Sauté the veggies until they’re soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add seasonings: Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander and smoked paprika to the pot and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add black beans and liquid: To the pot, add the black beans, water, and bay leaves. Then, season again with salt and pepper.
  • Bring beans to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove cover andcontinue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated.
  • Add herbs: Stir the fresh cilantro into the cuban style beans. Then, taste the beans and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, plus vinegar and sugar if using.
  • Serve Cuban black beans over white rice with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!

Expert tips for best success!

  1. If you need help with your kitchen knife skills, check out these tutorials: how to cut a clove of garlic and how to chop an onion.
  2. To thicken this cuban black bean recipe, try mashing the beans! You can mash the black beans using two different methods, depending upon your preference:
    • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, mash them with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon or fork, and stir them back into the pot.
    • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, transfer them to a food processor, process until a paste forms and then add them back to the pot.
  3. Traditional cuban black beans are finished with a drizzle of vinegar and a small sprinkling of brown sugar before serving. This step is entirely optional; however, delicious. I recommend using the vinegar and sugar to YOUR specific taste.
  4. Cuban black beans will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the beans to cool completely before transferring them to an air-tight container or freezer-safe zip-closure bag.
Close-up photo of cooked black beans cuban style.

FAQs: frequently asked questions

What type of black beans should I use?

The two most common types of black beans are: black turtle beans and black-eyed peas.

Black turtle beans are larger in size with a more pronounced flavor; while black-eyed peas are smaller and with a milder flavor. You can use either type of black bean to make Cuban style black bean recipes; however, black turtle beans are traditionally preferred.

How long should I soak the beans?

Since this easy recipe utilizes canned black beans, there’s no soaking necessary!

If you would like to use dry beans to make this recipe, you’ll need to soak the beans for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, and cook them prior to making this Cuban bean dish.

Do I need to add any special ingredients?

The basic ingredients for classic Cuban black beans include black beans, yellow onion, fresh garlic, ground cumin and oregano, plus kosher salt. However, many regions and households also like to include other flavoring ingredients, such as bay leaves, bell peppers, jalapeños, and fresh cilantro.

While not traditional, this cuban style recipe uses a bay leaf, green bell pepper, jalapeno, green onions, and fresh cilantro to pack BIG flavors. If you’re looking to shake things up further, try roasting garlic cloves in the oven and using them in this recipe for Cuban beans for a mild, rich garlic flavor.

How to thicken black beans cuban style?

While there are a few ways you can thicken Cuban black beans, the absolute best way is to mash some of the beans to form a paste.

Mashing the beans can be done two different ways:

  • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, mash them with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon or fork, and stir them back into the pot.
  • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, transfer them to a food processor, process until a paste forms and then add them back to the pot.

Are black beans good for you?

Black beans are a great, healthy addition to your diet!

Rich in iron and fiber, plus packed with protein and low in fat, black beans can help keep you full for long periods of time.

Black beans also contain key minerals and vitamins that contribute to maintaining bone strength and support heart health.

This quick Cuban black beans recipe also contains finely chopped vegetables such as bell pepper and onion, so they are a great way to sneak veggies onto a picky eater’s plate!

Action photo of a wooden spoon stirring cuban beans in a white pot.

Serving cuban style black beans

You can serve black Cuban beans as a side dish with your favorite type of meat, pork, poultry, or fish. Or, they make the a hearty vegetarian main course when served over spanish rice and topped with a dollop of sour cream and diced avocados.

Serving suggestions

These quick Cuban black beans pair perfectly with a wide range of dishes – from plain grilled chicken and pork to Cuban main dishes and rice! If you are looking to meal plan and prep, below are some delicious options to serve with these beans:

What can I do with leftover beans?

I definitely recommend making a big batch of these quick black beans to have on hand! Below are delicious ways to use leftover Cuban Black beans:

Storing leftovers

Let the leftover black cuban style beans cool completely to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.  Store leftovers beans in the fridge and consume within 3-4 days of refrigeration.

Can I freeze this recipe?

You can easily freeze Cuban beans! While these black beans are quick and easy to make, I normally triple the recipe and freeze leftovers to have on hand when I’m in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

To freeze, allow the beans to cool completely before transferring them to an air-tight container or freezer-safe zip-closure bag.

Cooked Cuban black beans will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Pro-tip:  Freeze the Cuban black beans in cup-sized portions for easy re-heating and serving!

To reheat, you want to make sure you avoid the black beans turning to mush by reheating them on the lowest temperature possible, while still maintaining a very gentle simmer.

Action photo of a person scooping cuban style black beans from a serving bowl.

Quick and easy to make, yet packed with bold, savory flavor, these Cuban Black Beans are the perfect side dish!

Until next week, friends, cheers – to next level canned beans!

Cheyanne

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More recipes using a can of black beans!

The best Cuban Black Beans recipe plus step-by-step recipe video👇

Overhead photo of cooked cuban black beans in a large white pot.

Cuban Black Beans Recipe

4.94 from 16 votes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 serving
This Cuban Black Bean Recipe tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen, but they're ready in 25 minutes! Made with simple ingredients and canned black beans (no soaking), these cuban-style beans are the perfect weeknight side dish. Serve these beans over white rice and transport your tastebuds to the heart of Cuba! (Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan)
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven (Large Pot or Saucepan for cooking beans)

Ingredients 

  • 1 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion – small dice (white or Spanish onion)
  • 4 Scallions – thinly sliced (green and light green parts)
  • 1 large Jalapeno – seeded, ribbed & small diced (optional – SEE NOTES)
  • ½ Cup Green Bell Pepper – seeded & small diced (about ½ a large pepper)
  • 4-5 cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • ½ tsp EACH: Dried Oregano and Ground Coriander
  • 1/8 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans Black Beans – do NOT drain
  • 1 cup Filtered Water
  • 2 small Dried Bay leaves
  • 2-3 TBS Fresh Cilantro – chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Optional to Finish Beans: 1 TBS White or Red-Wine Vinegar + 1 tsp Brown Sugar, or more to taste (SEE NOTES)
  • Serving Suggestions: White Rice, Lime Wedges, Tabasco Hot Sauce or Cayenne Red Pepper

Instructions

  • Saute vegetables: Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, scallions, jalapeno and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add seasonings: Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander and smoked paprika. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add beans, liquid, and bay leaves: To the pot, add in the beans, water, and bay leaves. Season again with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to simmer: Bring the black beans to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook: Cover the pot of black beans and let them simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Remove cover and continue to simmer: Remove cover and continue to simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated.
  • Optional – Adjust consistency: Taste the beans and adjust the consistency as you see fit using one of the methods below:
    Soupy black beans: If you would like your black beans to have a more “soup-y” appearance, adjust consistency with a bit more water.
    Thick black beans: If you would like to thicken the black beans, remove about 1/4 of the beans from the pot and use potato masher or food processor to mash them. Once mashed, stir the mashed beans back into the pot.
  • Add herbs and adjust to taste: Stir fresh cilantro into beans. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, plus vinegar and sugar if using. 
  • Serve Cuban beans over rice and garnish with more cilantro, green onions, and with lime wedges, if using. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. Traditional Cuban black beans do not have jalapenos.  If you would like this to be a more authentic recipe, feel free to omit the jalapeno peppers!
  2. To thicken Cuban Black Beans, mash them!  Mashing the beans can be done two different ways:
    • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, mash them with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon or fork, and stir them back into the pot.
    • Remove a cup (or a 1/3rd) of the beans, transfer them to a food processor, process until a paste forms and then add them back to the pot.
  3. Optional to finish beans: Cuban black beans are traditionally finished with a drizzle of vinegar and a small sprinkling of brown sugar.  This step is completely optional and should be done to taste! 
  4. Storage: Cuban black beans will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Allow the beans to cool completely before transferring them to an air-tight container or freezer-safe zip-closure bag. Pro-tip:  Freeze the Cuban black beans in cup-sized portions for easy re-heating and serving!
  5. To reheat, you want to make sure you avoid the black bean splitting or turning to mush by reheating them on the lowest temperature possible, while still maintaining a very gentle simmer.
Nutritional information is an estimate based upon 12 servings.  Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 73kcal    Carbohydrates: 12g    Protein: 4g    Fat: 1g    Saturated Fat: 1g    Sodium: 3mg    Potassium: 189mg    Fiber: 4g    Sugar: 1g    Vitamin A: 96IU    Vitamin C: 8mg    Calcium: 20mg    Iron: 1mg

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Overhead photo of a white bowl filled with ropa vieja, white rice, Cuban Black beans, and plantain chips with a hand holding the side of the bowl and another hand inserting serving spoons into the meat - photo of serving suggestion for Cuban Black Beans recipe.