Cuban Black Beans and Rice is a simple, satisfying side dish packed with protein and bursting with Latin flavors like garlic, oregano, and cumin.
One of the many reasons I love to travel is because it exposes me to cuisines from around the world. After recent visits to Miami and Puerto Vallarta, I was inspired to get in my home kitchen to recreate one of my favorite recipes: Cuban black beans and rice. Black beans and rice is a common dish all over the Caribbean. Don’t let the humble nature of this dish fool you; this combo is one of the most nutritious, well-rounded dishes you can serve and always has plenty of flavor. The perfect side dish for plenty of meals, my kids can’t get enough of it!
- Black beans: A great source of protein, black beans have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a chewy texture.
- Garlic: Used in both cooking the beans and the rice, it adds a wonderful aromatic, slightly sweet and spicy taste.
- Bay leaves: An aromatic that adds a slightly earthy flavor. They are removed before eating.
- Olive oil: A heart healthy oil that is used to cook the onions and peppers, and toast the dry rice.
- Onion: I use a white onion for mild flavor that complements the other ingredients.
- Red bell pepper: Adds wonderful color and mild, sweet flavor to the dish. You could also use yellow or green bell peppers.
- Cumin: A wonderfully warm spice that is savory and nutty in taste.
- Oregano: Pungent, earthy, and somewhat minty in taste, it helps to balance out some of the sweeter elements in the dish.
- Cayenne: Gives the dish the kick of heat and spice it needs, without the dish becoming too strong.
- White rice: I’ll typically use a long grain rice, but you could use medium or short grain if that’s what you already have in your pantry.
- Chicken broth: Cooking the rice in chicken stock makes the dish more flavorful, but to keep the dish vegan and vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock as well.
How to Make Cuban Black Beans and Rice
Start you Cuban black beans and rice by taking your soaked beans and rinsing them. Then add them to a pot with garlic and the bay leaves, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 90 minutes.
While beans cook, prepare for the rest of the dish by dicing your onion and bell pepper, and mincing your cilantro.
You’ll also want to rinse your rice until the water runs clear.
Then in a Dutch oven or large pot, drizzle in some olive oil and sauté your onion over medium-high heat.
Add in the red bell pepper.
And use a microplane to grate in the remaining garlic cloves.
Then stir in the rinsed, uncooked white rice.
Season with the cumin, oregano, cayenne, and some salt and pepper. Cook for a couple minutes until rice is toasted.
Next add in the chicken broth.
And add in the cooked black beans. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, before covering tightly with a lid and reducing heat to a simmer. Cook until liquid has been fully absorbed, or about 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime juice, and enjoy your Cuban Black Beans and Rice!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do beans need to be soaked prior to eating?
Yes. Beans need to be soaked prior to making this dish to soften them up. This also allows you the opportunity to remove any hard stones that may remain.
Can I use canned black beans instead of dried?
Canned black beans will work if you’re short on time, but I highly suggest dried black beans for added texture, flavor, and fewer additives. If you do use canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse them to remove any excess starchy liquid. This will also allow you to control the salt content better.
More Side Dishes
- Mediterranean Chopped Salad
- Stewed Green Beans
- Asparagus Pasta Salad
- Za’atar Roasted Carrots and Green Beans
- Lebanese Potato Salad
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My Cuban Black Beans and Rice is the perfect side for your next dinner. Let me know how you like it in the comments!
Your fork is waiting.
Cuban Black Beans and Rice
- 1 pound black beans – dried (to use canned beans: use 4 (15-ounce cans of rinsed and drained black beans for every pound of dried black beans. )
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 bay leaves (divided)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups long grain white rice (rinsed)
- 4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
- minced cilantro and lime wedges (to serve)
Preparing and cooking the beans
- Soak beans overnight to soften and remove any small hard stones. The next day, strain and rinse soaked beans with fresh water.
- To cook beans, place in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Carefully smash whole garlic cloves with the back of a knife and add to the pot of beans along with 2 of the bay leaves.
- Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (90 minutes or up to two hours.) Set aside once cooked.
Preparing the rice and vegetables
- Next, in a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions, peppers, and garlic. Add spices (salt through cayenne) and continue stirring until vegetables have softened, 4-6 minutes.
- Rince rice in a strainer until the water comes out clear
- Stir in rinsed (uncooked) rice and sauté for 2 minutes so that the rice starts to toast and lightly brown.
- Pour in chicken broth and add reserved, cooked black beans along with bay leaves. Stir once then bring to a boil. Stir a second time then reduce heat to low and place a tightly fitting lid on the pot. Cook until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Use a fork to loosen the rice and bean mixture then serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.