The Ultimate Cuban Style Black Beans Recipe

In my humble opinion, a Cuban meal isn’t complete without a generous serving of Cuban style black beans!

Cuban black beans and rice is my ultimate comfort meal, and one of the first recipes I truly mastered. 

This dish is special because it’s made with Cuban sofrito, which adds the signature flavor to Cuban cooking. 

This recipe does take a while since we’re starting from dried beans, but most of it is time spent letting the beans simmer. I usually spend that time cleaning the kitchen or making the main dish. 

Plus, these beans taste even better as leftovers. So they’re perfect to make over the weekend or for meal prep.

cuban-style black beans with white rice

What do you eat Cuban Beans with?

Black beans are perhaps the most common side dish in Cuban food. You’ll find them at most meals. 

However, the most essential food to serve with black beans is white rice. 

Besides white rice, I recommend serving black beans with a main dish and a side salad. Here are some ideas for dishes you can serve with black beans:

Black beans and rice is also one of my favorite breakfasts. Check out this list of some of my favorite Cuban breakfast foods.

Are Cuban Black Beans Good for you?

Yes, Cuban black beans are very healthy for you!

Black beans are a great source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. In addition to the health benefits of black beans, they are cooked with sofrito. 

A blend of vegetables like green pepper, garlic cloves, onion, and tomato sautéed in olive oil, sofrito adds a lot of extra nutrients to the black beans. Read more about the health benefits of sofrito here. 

Recipe Tips

I use a variation of the quick soak method in this recipe. You may choose to soak overnight instead or not soak the beans at all. This will slightly change the cooking order and timing, but the ingredients will be the same.

Do not skip adding the vinegar at the end! This final touch seems small, but I swear they don’t taste the same without it. 

Similarly, placing the onion and bay leaves in the pot with the beans to soak is essential to getting flavor infused into the beans themselves. Do not skip this step!

So gather your ingredients and let’s get to the recipe!

Cuban Style Black Beans Recipe

Cuban Style Black Beans

Perfect Cuban-style black beans for your table
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Resting Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: vegetarian
Servings: 8


  • 1 Sauté Pan with lid
  • 1 Wooden spoon
  • 1 stock pot


Sofrito Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion large, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste

Bean Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 1/2 onion peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar


Prepare the beans

  • Place all of the beans in a large stock pot, removing any rocks. Add the onion half and bay leaves. Add water to cover the beans by at least 1-2"
  • Place the stockpot on the oven over high heat. Bring the beans to a boil.
  • Remove beans from heat. Cover. Let rest for 1 hour. In the meantime, make the sofrito (below). Occasionally check on the beans and add water if any beans are left uncovered.

Make the sofrito

  • Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the olive oil in the pan and heat until shimmering
  • Add the onion to the pan, and sprinkle with a small pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until translucent
  • Add the garlic to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the bell pepper to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, oregano, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the color has deepened and the flavor has fully developed.
  • Taste and add salt or extra seasonings as needed.

Cook beans

  • Place the stockpot with beans back onto the stove, and turn heat to medium-high. Bring beans to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for approximately 1 hour.
  • Check beans for doneness. They should be completely soft without falling apart.
  • Remove the onion half and bay leaves from the beans. Discard onion and bay leaves.
  • Add sofrito to beans. Stir to completely incorporate.
  • Bring beans back to boil and let simmer for at least 15 minutes. I prefer to let them simmer for another 30-45 minutes to fully incorporate the flavor, adding water if beans look too dry.
  • Taste and add salt if needed (remember the sofrito has salt)
  • Remove beans from heat. Add 1-2 tbsp white vinegar to beans. Stir to incorporate.
    cooked cuban black beans
  • Serve over white rice.


  • I highly recommend chopping the sofrito ingredients finely in the food processor before starting with the recipe.
  • Some cooks recommend discarding the soaking water to reduce gas and stomach upset. I prefer to keep the water for stronger flavored beans, but it’s up to you.
  • You also have the option to soak the beans overnight in cold water instead of using the quick soak method. In this case, place beans in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Cover and leave out on counter overnight. The next day, place the beans in the stock pot with the onion half and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Proceed with the sofrito instructions.


4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Cuban Style Black Beans Recipe”

  1. I’m with Alfredo on this one, you should never add tomatoes to black beans. All the other ingredients are ok and, if you add culantro (not cilantro), the beans will taste amazing. Yes, you add tomatoes to your sofrito for other recipes but never for black beans. Also, as he said don’t forget a little evoo once the beans are ready. It makes a big difference.

    1. Krista Linares, MPH, RD

      I’m happy you have a way to make beans that you love! This is how I was taught to make beans from my family and I love it, and it tastes like home. Buen provecho!

  2. Please NEVER put tomatoes in the sofrito… it lead to fermentation if you store it for tomorrow.
    I’m 72 years old, born in Cuba and had been eating black beans my whole life, and cooking them 60 years. Never used tomatoes, black pepper or oregano.
    One touch of distinction is… When the dish has be done… add one or two tablespoon of a good Olive Oil. It will make the difference

    1. Krista Linares, MPH, RD

      Thanks for your tip! This is how I learned to make sofrito from my Cuban dad! There are a lot of different ways to make it, and that’s okay 🙂

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