Cuban Black Beans

Black beans are very popular in Cuba. No wonder, as the black bean originated in Central America, where it is thought to have been first cultivated 7000 years ago.

In this article I will provide two recipes for Cuban black beans: a simple one and a more elaborate one.

Simple Recipe For Cuban Black Beans

This simple recipe is wonderful for just enjoying the amazing flavour of the black beans. Black beans have such a strong flavour that they work well with little additions; just a few extra flavours to add richness, lightness and balance.


500g (1 pound) black beans

1 tsp baking soda

1 tb olive oil

1 medium onion

4 medium cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

A bunch of leaf coriander (cilantro)

First, prepare your beans overnight. Pour enough water over them to cover amply – remember they will absorb a lot – and add a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix briefly, and leave to soak for at least 8 hours. (See also: How To Cook Black Beans)

Mince or chop finely the garlic and leaf coriander. Chop the onion well, and add to a saucepan with the olive oil and garlic. Fry until the onion has gone translucent, ~5 minutes.

Now drain the black beans and add them to the pot with the salt and leaf coriander. Add enough water to cover everything by a little margin. Cook until the beans are soft, and you have a stewlike consistency.

Serve, perhaps with a little soy cream on top. Or else you could blend it for a more souplike consistency, or ladle over mounds of rice. Yum!

Elaborate Recipe For Cuban Black Beans


2 green bell peppers

500g (1 pound) of black beans

1 tsp baking soda

6 cloves of garlic

100ml (1/2 cup) of olive oil

1 medium onion

4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp white wine

2 tbsp wine vinegar


First, prepare the black beans overnight. This means adding ample water and the 1 tsp baking soda, stirring, and leaving them to soak for at least 8 hours.

Now cut one bell pepper into squares and crush or finely chop 3 cloves of garlic. Add this to a pot with the drained black beans and the bay leaf. Cook until the beans are soft.

Meanwhile, put the oil into a pan and add the remaining bell pepper (chopped) and garlic (finely chopped or crushed), plus the onion (chopped). Fry these until tender. This is called the “sofrito”.

Remove 1 cup (200ml) of your beans from your pot (don’t throw away the cooking water!) and add it to the sofrito. Mash this all well, then put the mashed mixture back into the pot with the beans.

Add all the seasonings: sugar, wine, vinegar, oregano, pepper, cumin, salt.

Boil for 15 minutes to blend the flavours. If the mixture is very watery, boil it uncovered and continue to boil until it has reduced.

Before serving, remove the bay leaf and add the olive oil. Stir. Serve with white rice.

As a variant, consider adding chunks of firm smoked tofu. This is a healthier alternative to the cholestrol laden bacon and ham sometimes added to this dish. The dish is flavourful enough as it is, so the addition of either tofu or meat is not exactly necessary, but a bit of smoked tofu can add some welcome “smoky” flavour and bite.