Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Black Beans
4.12 from 26 votes

Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Black Beans | The Full Helping

These easy slow cooker Cuban black beans don’t look like much, I know. On first inspection, there’s nothing very special about a bowl of cooked beans. But trust me when I say that these beans are everything.

OK, maybe not everything. But they are the quick and easy protein addition to your breakfast tostada or your lunch burrito. They’re an easy and flavorful addition to your tofu scrambles. They’re the easy topping that will make your first bowl of summer gazpacho sing. They’re the protein and iron-dense side dish that will turn your next vegetable dinner into a complete meal. And they are the beating heart of your next bowl of rice and beans.

Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Black Beans | The Full Helping

These beans were inspired by this awesome recipe from Lindsey at Cafe Johnsonia. I wanted to create something with a slightly more pronounced flavor, evoking the Cuban black beans that my ex-stepmother, who was Cuban by birth, used to prepare. I remember tasting those beans as a kid and being pleasantly surprised at how flavorful they were in spite of their humble appearance (I didn’t eat a lot of legumes growing up, so the memory stands out).

I added bell pepper, jalapeno, cumin, and oregano to these slow cooker black beans, and I’m happy to say that the results are both authentic and delicious. If you’d like to keep the flavor of the beans more subtle, you can definitely leave out the cumin and oregano (I’ve marked both as optional), as well as the jalapeno. If, on the other hand, you’d like to kick the flavor up, feel free to add more of the spices, as well as some cayenne or chili powder, if you like.

One of the best things about making these beans is that the slow cooker makes them perfectly tender and ready to eat without any soaking time, and without your having to babysit them as they simmer. Simply throw your ingredients into the slow cooker before bed and wake up to a perfectly cooked batch of beans (and a really fragrant kitchen). If you don’t have a slow cooker, I’ve given options for stovetop cooking in the recipe.

4.12 from 26 votes

Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Black Beans

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 5 cups beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (optional, see note)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons fine sea salt)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional, see note)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Optional toppings: chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, crushed red pepper, avocado slices, hot sauce, salsa

Instructions

  • Place the onion, peppers, garlic, beans, bay leaves, and water in your slow cooker. Cook on high heat for 3 1/2 hours or low heat for 7 hours (overnight).
  • Remove the bay leaves and whole garlic cloves from the beans. Stir the salt, cumin, and lime juice into the cooked beans. Allow the beans to cook for another 30 minutes if the machine is on the high setting or 1 hour if the machine is on a low setting. Serve the beans immediately, or allow the beans to cool before transferring them to an airtight container. The beans will keep in the fridge for up to 6 days and can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Notes

If you'd like to make the beans a bit plainer (especially if you'd like to use them in a stir fry or another dish that will be seasoned), simply omit the cumin and jalapeno.
To prepare over the stovetop, begin by soaking the beans overnight after sorting and rinsing them. The following day, discard the soak water. Heat a bit of vegetable or olive oil in a large stock pot and add the onion and the pepper. Saute the onion and pepper for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is clear. Add the beans, along with 6 cups of water, the garlic, bay leaves, and cumin. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaves and garlic cloves, Stir in the salt and lime juice and simmer the beans for another 10 minutes. Allow the beans to cool before storing as instructed.

Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Black Beans | The Full Helping

As you can see, the recipe yields a lot of beans. I think this makes it a perfect for batch cooking and then freezing (you can freeze the beans in cup-sized portions for quick and easy reheating on a busy day or night), but if you’re curious about what to do with such a bounty of black beans, here are some ideas:

1. Stuff the beans, along with some rice, veggies, and other fixings into a burrito for a quick and easy lunch or dinner
2. Mash the beans lightly with a fork and use as a quick, homemade “refried bean” topping for breakfast tostadas
3. Sprinkle the beans over a cup of gazpacho or tortilla soup
4. Stir the beans into your next batch of tofu scramble or vegan fried rice
5. Make a simple bowl of rice n’ beans and top with some avocado or some cashew queso sauce
6. Use them in your next batch of enchiladas
7. Throw some of the beans into an easy lunch salad, like my black bean and quinoa salad with quick cumin dressing
8. Make a batch of black bean and mango salsa
9. Use them in my black bean, butternut squash, and quinoa chili
10. Give them a starring role in your next lunch bowl

And if none of those ideas appeals, you can use the beans in these delicious bowls, which also feature easy roasted plantains and fragrant cilantro lime rice:

Cuban-black-bean-bowls-4

I’ll be sharing the recipe on Thursday, and you don’t want to miss it!

For now, I hope that these beans make your batch cooking a little easier, and that they can fuel some quick and versatile dinner ideas. Enjoy–and I’ll see you soon.

xo

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Recipe Rating




    31 Comments
  1. 4 stars
    I have had some bad experiences making tender creamy beans in a crockpot,but the beans softened at the end of cooking and the accompanying broth had the rich and complex flavor of a hearty soup. Added some leftover frozen corn at end of cooking that added a sweet flavor to the dish.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never been moved to make a comment on a food blog post IN MY LIFE. These beans are worth it. I’ve just finished preparing them for the fourth time since I found the recipe last month. The one time I soaked the beans ahead of time to speed up the cooking process I was disappointed in how soupy the result was (although I should’ve accounted for the extra water in the soaked beans). I ended up cooking them another 2-3 hours on the stovetop uncovered to evaporate the excess moisture and they turned out totally fine. My slow cooker is on the weak side and that increases the cooking time to about 10 hours.

    The small variations from the recipe I’ve found really work for me: sauté onions in plenty of olive oil before adding, adding 1 TB dried oregano and a few extra bay leaves, and swapping out half the water for vegetable broth.

    In my experience, these beans are the best after a day or two. I cool them completely and then put them away for a couple days before I even touch them. I eat them with buttered toast and scrambled tofu and my boyfriend likes them with an over easy egg on top. We always finish them in a few days. I love this recipe and I’m sure it’ll remain a staple in years to come. With a small bit of preparation (seriously, 5-10 minutes) and a few days of patience they are SO. DELICIOUS. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Not sure what we did wrong. It ended up being a soup. The flavor was great, but I was expecting something I could throw in a burrito and other dishes.

    • Hi Matthew,

      Sorry to hear that! This recipe is on the soupy side when you remove it from the slow cooker, but the beans stay intact, so you can definitely strain them as you put them into storage containers for less soupy beans. I hope that helps.

      G

  4. A great simple, tasty, easy and affordable recipe! This has become part of our regular meal rotation. The jalapeños add a really nice flavor. Thank you!

  5. I am always concerned about the beans being soft and tender, so I put all the ingredients in the crock pot about 9 PM last night (used only one teaspoon of salt, need to watch my sodium). I plugged the crock pot in at 9 AM this morning and it was done at 5 PM. The beans were delicious. I made a pot of long grain brown rice and mixed it with a bowl of beans, along with a bit of pepper and hot sauce. What a treat! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  6. 2 stars
    I made these today and followed the directions to a tee. I only had yellow and red onions, so I went out to get a white one just for this recipe. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work. The end result was EXTREMELY bland. Both my wife, who is vegan and eats a lot beans, and my 10yo agreed. I have heard that when you are cooking with a slow cooker, it is best to put all the spices in 1/2 hour or so before the recipe is finished. Since I didn’t do that, that’s the only thing I can think of as to why the beans had such a lack of flavor.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Bill! Next time I make it I’ll experiment with additional spices and see how it goes.

  7. Hi! I accidentally put the lime juice in with the rest of the ingredients. Do you think it will be okay?

  8. Hi Gena! Do you know if anyone has tried making these in an Instant Pot? My instinct is to saute the onions and peppers and then cook the beans like I would for plain beans. I just wonder if they’d be as flavorful as the slow cooker version. (I tossed my slow cooker when I got the Instant Pot but it doesn’t get the same results for slow cooking, unfortunately!)

  9. 5 stars
    I made these today and they were so great! Almost no effort but a lot of reward. I didn’t have any jalapeño so I shook in some red pepper flakes. Next time I’ll probably use more but I thought they were super flavorful even without the spiciness. I’ll definitely be making these again!

  10. 5 stars
    This is THE best black bean recipe. It is my goto that lasts me all week for dinner, kids lunches and taco snacking or dipping through the week. I get so many compliments on the depth of flavors. Thank you Thank you from a vegan mom, for something my kid loves.

  11. Oops! I would rather not post my full first and last name. Can you edit the post above and just leave Barbara? Thanks!

  12. 5 stars
    Yum!!! Thanks Gena! Just the recipe i was looking for, and they taste amazing! Love Cuban food and these are great!

  13. I cannot tell you how amazing my house smells right now. Has been in the crock pot for about 4 hours so far and I am excited. I did not have a green bell pepper so I substituted 1 can of green chili peppers and used a roasted jalepeño. Will let you know how they taste. Thank you for sharing.

  14. 4 stars
    I know this is a bit silly, and maybe bending the concept to breaking point, but let’s assume stovetop is unappealing (tropical climate, and only electric cooktop, no gas, so an hour of stovetop use is not only very expensive on fuel but also heats up the kitchen horribly) and I have no slowcooker. Wondering if my trusty pressure cooker would allow any of the flavour development and magic? Perhaps if I cooked and then let mellow overnight? I think I’d have to adjust the water, of course.
    Anyone tried this, and have useful ideas?

  15. Hi Gena,

    These look great! I first saw your facebook posting of this recipe this morning right after I read about President Obama’s press conference with Castro. 🙂 So of course it seemed appropriate. I will definitely give these a try! Thank you! Simple, but elegant–I love the spice combination. xo