Cuban Black Beans


The key to these meatless Cuban-style black beans is to cook them at least a day in advance to allow the garlicky flavors to develop.

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs 15 mins
12 cups

This Cuban black beans recipe comes courtesy of chef Alex Garcia's grandmother. Instead of pre-soaking the beans, start with unsoaked dried black beans and cook them with aromatics until tender. Then, make a sofrito — a fragrant flavor base — with red, yellow, and green bell peppers, white onion, cumin, and oregano, cooking it until the vegetables are meltingly tender. Infuse olive oil with a generous amount of garlic, then add the garlicky oil and sofrito to the black beans along with tomato paste for a deeply savory essence. Our soaking moment happens at the end of the cooking process. Let the mixture “sleep” overnight so all these delicious flavors meld together. 

Unless you're feeding a crowd, your pot of beans will be the gift that keeps on giving over the course of the next few days. If you like, you can balance out the beans with a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of vinegar or squeeze of lime. Eat them as the main event, serve them as a side dish, or enjoy them as part of a salad, breakfast burrito, or tostada. 


  • 1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

  • 2 green bell peppers, 1 quartered lengthwise and 1 minced

  • 8 cups water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 red bell pepper, minced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, minced

  • 1 large white onion, minced

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1/2 cup minced garlic

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • Kosher salt


  1. Put the black beans, quartered green pepper, and bay leaves in a large saucepan; add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the saucepan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the green pepper pieces and bay leaves.

  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the minced bell peppers and onion; cook over moderate heat until softened. Stir in the cumin and oregano. In a small saucepan, cook the garlic in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil over moderately low heat until golden brown.

  3. When the beans are tender, add the sautéed pepper mixture, the garlic in its oil, and the tomato paste. Season with salt and simmer gently for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to three days. Reheat gently before serving.

Related Articles