Classic Cuban Black Beans Recipe

Black beans are so good for you! They are delicious, create a healthy gut biome, are an amazing source of protein and give instant good karma ‘cuz they are vegan! Your friends will admire and love you for feeding them this wonderful meal. Your family will want to do the dishes in gratitude.

Traditional Cuban food is not spicy—but feel free to add whatever hot-ness you like. This recipe will be mild, creamy and delicious.



  • Dried black beans, black turtle beans, frijoles negros—about 1 pound
  • A yellow ceramic bowl (any other color or material is also acceptable)
  • A good and loving heart (your own.)
  • 2 onions
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic (or even more)
  • Green pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • 1-2 Bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Spoonful of sugar
  • Hot white rice (sorry, classic Cuban black beans MUST be eaten with white rice. But if you are partial to brown rice, I won’t tell.)


Get your black beans from your favorite grocer or bodega.
Pour the beans onto a table. Enjoy the musical clink clink clink
With your yellow ceramic bowl (or other) in your lap, carefully check each bean before dropping it into the bowl (clink clink clink)
Take out any small stones, or weird little shaped beans, and set them outside for animals to enjoy.
Play Secretos*
Rinse the beans.
Cover the beans with cold water (about an inch over the top) and let them sit overnight


Q: Do I drain the bean water?

A: There is no right answer, and lots of debate! Some people say ‘Yes! The water is full of bean gas, and draining it will make your beans less gassy.’ (no science backing this up.) Other people say, ‘No! The water is full of nutrients! And makes the beans taste better. Don’t drain. You are a crazy malcriao! My farts smell like flowers!’ I don’t drain.

Put the beans and water (in a nice size pot) on the stove, medium high. Add one big slice of onion. Bring to a boil and then simmer (covered) on low for an hour.


In another pot or frying pan, drizzle the olive oil in a pleasing rhythm, circling the bottom of the pot, one, two three swirls (or 3 Tablespoons.) Set on medium heat.

Chop the onion and rest of the other onion. Chop it fine.
Chop the garlic. You can never have too much garlic. Chop it fine.
Chop the green pepper (wash that pepper, and remove stem and seeds.) Chop it fine.

When the olive oil is shimmering, add the onion. Cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes.
Add the green pepper. Cook until the pepper softens, another 3 minutes.
Add the garlic. Cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring.
Wachalé! If it cooks too fast or sticks, turn the burner down or add more oil.
Don’t let it burn!
Don’t walk away!
Don’t look at your phone!
Burnt sofrito can’t be saved!
When the sofrito look nice and caramelized, and smells divine, you can turn the burner off.


Check the black beans. Are they tender? If not, keep cooking. If they are tender (not mushy,) take a healthy sized ladle full of black beans—maybe a cup—and add to another bowl.
Take about half the sofrito, and add to the bowl.
Mash them up.
You can use a wooden spoon or a potato masher. You can use a food processor or blender or any other mechanical marvel. Smash everything together to make a soft mash-y paste-y blend.

Add it all back to the black bean pot, along with the rest of the sofrito.
Add two healthy pinches of salt, one pinch pepper, some shakes of cumin, oregano and two bay leaves.
Simmer on low heat, uncovered.
If the beans are too thick, add more water. They should always be very sauce-y, never clump-y.
Stir them occasionally.

They should smell and taste delicious in about 30 minutes. If they don’t, add more: salt & cumin.


When your beans are beautiful and cooked and magical, chop some parsley (chop it fine) and add it to the pot.
In Cuba there is a saying about someone who is very busy and prosperous.
Es como el perejil. Esta en todo.
(They are like parsley. They’re in everything.)

Get a lovely bowl or dish, and a nice cloth napkin. Maybe a flower in a vase. Set yourself a beautiful table. Turn off your phone.

Add a scoop of white rice (or your preference) to your bowl. Ladle glorious, fulgent and flavorful black beans all over your white rice. Add one cap full of red wine vinegar over your beans (this brings out the flavors!) You can also add a swirl of nice olive oil if you like.

Sit at your table with a loved one, or your favorite book of Neruda love poems (or a suitable alternative) and enjoy!


You can do so many things with black beans!

Mexican-ish—add frozen corn when you add the spices. Garnish with cilantro and lime juice instead of parsley and vinegar. You can also add shredded cheese.

Soup—run everything through a food processor. Serve with sour cream or yogurt and some roasted pepitas. You can add leftover chicken for extra super-power.

Black Bean Bowl--Brown rice, black beans, sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, arugula and other greens, any leftover anything else. Drizzle with oil and vinegar

*Secretos can be played with two to infinity number of friends or family.
As you sort black beans, the oldest member of the group starts. Tell your group something about yourself that you never told anyone before. Then travel clockwise around the table. Continue until the beans are sorted.
*Secretos might include:
Food you don’t like
People you have a crush on
Places you want to see or things you want to do
Your secret dreams, hopes, wishes or fantasies (age appropriate.)
*Secretos is not meant to take the place of confession or therapy! If you need a priest, a babalao or a shrink, please call one!
*Secretos cannot ever ever be shared outside of the Black Bean Posse.


My husband lived in southern California in the summer of 1981. The summer of…Fernando-Mania (a real thing. Please Google!)

Fernando Valenzuela, a Mexican Southpaw, was the rookie pitcher for the LA Dodgers. In 1981, he won the Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year, led the National League in strikeouts, and the Dodgers won the World Series.

Also, while he warmed-up, the PA system would play ABBA's 1976 hit song Fernando.

In honor of Valenzuela’s heritage, folks ate ‘Fernando Dogs’ all summer (I have no proof. There is no Fernando Dog Wiki page.) This made up delicacy unites the traditional Ball Park Frank with the Mexican All Star.

  • Take a tortilla (corn or wheat, your preference)
  • Add a Ball Park Frank (or Tofu-dog, or your preference!)
  • Smother in Black Beans
  • Add mustard, salsa, cilantro, hot sauce, pickles (sweet or sour)
  • Wrap the tortilla coat closed, and eat it fast! You’ll need napkins!
  • You will want more!!

Best if served with an ice cold Modelo.


I hope you enjoyed my favorite frijoles recipes.
Stay healthy!
Have a beautiful summer!
Be kind to animals!

& I’ll see you at the theatre



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