(Vegan) Cuban Black Beans

Not Quite Cuban

These are black beans a la Elena. Cuban black beans often include ham and a sofrito (bell peppers, garlic and onion) sautéed in a tremendous amount of oil. I make a lighter, vegan version that is still bursting with flavor. You can serve these in tortillas for tacos, on rice or quinoa, in wraps or drain & puree for healthy “refried” beans.

Always Better Tomorrow

Now it is firm Cuban belief that beans are better the next day. If at all possible, make one day in advance. My brother is such a staunch believer in this that he won’t even try the beans until day #2 to check for flavor.

Food Prep

The great this about this recipe is it makes a big batch of black beans. We freeze half and use half for meal prep. You can back them for lunches with rice and roasted veggies, or however you see fit! They are also great in breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs and a touch of cheese (if you are vegan, veggies work great too!).

Balancing the Flavor

I recommend you taste your beans, though, and add touches of the following to balance the beans at the end of their cooking process:

  • salt (for saltiness, of course)

  • white vinegar (for bright, tart flavor)

  • cumin (for a smokey, earthy flavor)

  • a touch of white sugar (if your beans are bitter or too tart)

  • red pepper or hot sauce for spice (although NOT Cuban )

Cuban Black Beans


  • 3 cups dried black beans

  • Water for soaking beans + 6 cups water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 5 medium cloves garlic, diced

  • 1 large green pepper, diced

  • 2 tsp oregano

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 2 cups broth (of your choice- if you use low sodium broth, add salt to taste after cooking)

  • 1 tbsp white vinegar


1. In a large pot with a top, cover the beans and 1 bay leaf with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Boil 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Cover and let sit 1 hour.

2. Drain the beans, rinse in fresh water and return to the pot .Add 6 cups of water and 1 bay leaf to the beans. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

3. In the meantime, make the sofrito:

  1. Measure out the cumin seeds, thyme, and paprika in a small bowl and stir together.

  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a medium/large skillet.

  3. Heat over medium high heat until hot and add spices. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds or until the cumin seeds just begin to brown.

  4. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic to the spices. Stir to evenly coat the veggies in the spices.

  5. Cook over medium heat until the onions and green pepper soften, stirring frequently.

  6. Add a tablespoon of water if needed to prevent sticking. Stir in the oregano and salt and remove from heat.

4. Add the sofrito to the beans after they cooked for 1 hour. Stir in the broth. Cook the beans, uncovered, over medium heat with the sofrito and broth for 40 minutes. Add water if needed to keep the beans covered in liquid.

5. Stir in 1 tbsp white vinegar. Cook an additional 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

6. Taste the beans and use the directions in the intro to balance the flavor if needed.

7. Let cool and store overnight.

Enjoy the next day!

Buen Provecho!