10 Ways to Enjoy Black Beans

Saturday Jul 12 | BY |
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I admit it: I love beans, and black beans in particular have found a soft spot with me.

I discovered black beans when I started traveling in Costa Rica, as it is one of the staple foods in that country (along with rice). Costa Ricans literally eat black beans 2-3 times a day. Frijoles!

Black beans are a true superfood for several reasons:

– They’re packed with fiber: 12 grams per cup! (Most Americans only consume 15 grams daily).

– They’re packed with protein – 15 grams per cup!

– They only contain 227 calories per cup – yet they fill you up.

– They provide special support for the digestive track, due to the positive effects they have on our intestinal flora

– They’re packed with phytonutrients that may protect you from cancer

– They’re low on the glycemic index: only 30! (A bagel is 72)

In short, we need to eat more beans! And black beans are particularly attractive because:

– They’re easy to find

– They’re cheap

– They’re easy to cook

How to Cook Black Beans

Here are two ways to cook black beans, without soaking them (The Costa Ricans never soak them, and neither do I).

First, make sure you sort through the beans and remove any rocks or bad pieces. Then rinse the beans.

Stove Top Method for Cooking Black Beans

  • Cover the black beans with 2 inches of water.
  • Add a bay leaf and two cloves of garlic (whole)
  • Bring to a boil
  • Immediately bring back down to a gentle simmer (low or medium low). Cook half covered for 2 hours.

Pressure Cooker Method for Cooking Black Beans

I use an Instant Pot. I follow the same instructions as above, but cook for 30 minutes and let the pressure release itself naturally.

A stove-top pressure cooker would take a bit less time. There should be instructions in your pressure cooker recipe book on how to cook the beans. Use the higher times given. (If they say 20-25 minutes, cook for 25 minutes).

Once you’ve cooked the beans, keep the water! Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the beans, but don’t throw away the water. Store them in the fridge in their black water.

10 Ways to Use Black Beans

Once you have made a pot of black beans (I like to cook 1 1/2 dry cups at a time), there’s plenty of things you can do with them.

1) Eat them with corn tortillas

Corn tortillas with:

  • Black beans
  • Slices of avocados or guacamole
  • Eggs or scrambled tofu
  • Salsa or hot sauce
  • Lettuce

… make a terrific breakfast, lunch or dinner!

2) Eat them with rice

I like to make a plate with the following, not mixed together in the plate

  • Rice
  • Black beans
  • One green vegetable, steamed: broccoli, kale, etc.
  • Diced tomatoes (canned diced tomatoes are good)
  • Slices of avocado or a scoop of hummus
  • Season with your favorite seasoning (hot sauce is good!)

I’ve taught this simple meal to a lot of people and they swear it’s the easiest, most satisfying vegetarian meal ever. It’s also very healthy. You can mix things up by changing the grains, the beans, the vegetables and the extras (avocado, hummus, babaganoush, etc.)

3) Make Costa Rican Gallo Pinto


This is the national dish of Costa Rica. Make sure you make it with COLD rice. Otherwise, it will turn into a mush. It’s the perfect dish to make with leftover rice. Brown works as well.

To make Gallo Pinto you need:

  •  1-2 cups cooked white rice (cold and refrigerated)
  • 1-2 cups, cooked black beans
  • Some black bean juice
  • 1/2 to 1 bell pepper, deseeded and diced (color of your choice. Green works).
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • Your beans should already be salted, so you shouldn’t need to add any salt. If you do, salt your beans more next time.

In a large wok, sauté onion, garlic and peppers in a little oil.

Add white rice and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add black beans and cook for 3-4 minutes, along with a little juice from the black beans, so that the rice turns black.

Do not over stir or you will break the ends and it will become mushy and sticky. Make sure there is just enough liquid to cook it and you don’t have too much so that it’s too wet, or too little that the rice is burning at the bottom.

4) Add them to soups

If you make a vegetable soups, adding black beans to the soup will only make it better. It will add texture and taste.

5) Make This Simple Salsa

Here’s the simplest black bean salsa ever. You can use it as a topping for almost anything.

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (or one can)
  • 1 can of salsa
  • 1 can canned corn (or use fresh)

Want to get fancier? Mix the following

  • Black beans
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Chopped Onions
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Corn
  • A little hot sauce

6) Make this simple dip

This is the simplest, black bean dip ever:


  • 3 cups black beans (or two cans, drained)
  • 1 cup of salsa of your choice

That’s it!

7) Make Black Bean Soup

The Costa Ricans make a simple black bean soup for dinner, but it doesn’t contain much besides black beans! I like black bean soups that also have plenty of vegetables in them. I don’t have a recipe, but plenty are available online. I like to use:

  • Onions
  • Cumin
  • Vegetable broth
  • A bit of sweetener (like maple syrup)
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Lime juice (after cooking)

8) Add them to boost any meals

Making eggs in the morning? Why not serve them with some black beans. Black beans can be added to almost any meal for a nutritional boost! I love to add them to spaghetti sauce, for example, instead of meat.

9) Make a hearty chili

Black beans can replace meat in chili. Give it a try!

10) Dare to Experiment

The Asians use beans in desserts. After all, beans are a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are often used in desserts with sweets: think about rice pudding or any pastry (made with flour). Why not beans? Of course, beans used in this way shouldn’t be salted.

What about you? Any recipes to share with black bean?

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Birgir says:

    What is the latin name of those “Black Beans” ”
    Thank you


  2. Loves me some black beans! Thanks for the tips! I generally cook beans in advance and then freeze them so it’s great to have some no-brainer ideas on how to prepare them quickly for a meal or side or snack. Thanks for this. I think I’m going to try the Costa Rican dish first!

  3. Zyxomma says:

    I love black beans, but like all pulses, if I’m going to cook them, I sprout them first. This makes them easier to digest. I don’t eat canned beans anymore. I used to buy canned beans from Eden Foods (no BPA), but their politics have caused me to buycott. Health and peace.

  4. Jacek says:

    These are nice recipes. Thanks for showing the nutritional plusses, also. The Gallo Pinto looks interesting. I’ll be making it this week for sure. Some recipe books have a dish called “dirty rice”. This kind of seems like a vegetarian version of it. I’ll be making this one for sure.



  5. JoEllen says:

    Ever make Black Bean Brownies? They are yummy and don’t take any flour.1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed,

    1½ cups cooked black Beans
    ¾ cup sweetener: brown rice syrup, dates paste, date sugar
    1½ teaspoon baking soda
    1½ cups of 70% dark chocolate chips or 11 ounces
    of broken up dark chocolate
    3 large eggs beaten for a denser cake, 4 eggs for a fluffier cake
    * you can use 1/4 cup flaxseed in 1/4 cup water or nut milk as an egg replacer.

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
    2. In a blender or food processor fitted with the “S” blade, mash
    the beans.
    3. Add the sweetener, baking soda and chocolate and quickly blend
    them into the bean mash.
    4. Add the beaten eggs and pulse until they are integrated into the
    batter. It will look like cake batter.
    5. Pour the batter into an ungreased 8” x 8” square pan. If you like,
    grate some chocolate on the top.
    6. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes.
    Serves 9

  6. jackie says:

    Can other beans be substituted, such as pinto beans?

  7. Cherry says:

    2 cups black beans
    1/2 – 1 cup dates (my kids like it sweeter)
    1/4 cup cacao powder
    1/4 almond milk

    Throw it in the Vitamix and you get chocolate bean pudding. Add a little more almond milk or water and pour into popsicle molds for chocolate bean fudgecicles. Black beans work great, but Tongue of Fire really rocks. Take it to a party with slices strawberries and frozen grapes and call it chocolate hummus. Even the skeptical adults will like it, but kids will go gaga for it.

  8. Lee Wenzel says:

    I’ve used black beans in a cookie recipe to give the cookie the nutrients and fiber needed.
    !/2 C- 1 C in an oatmeal cookie recipe. go ahead add those chocolate chips or carob chips.
    Minus the eggs you can have a vegan cookie. I like to add lots of coconut and walnuts.

  9. Kerry says:

    Is there a way to eat black beans raw..ie soaked?

  10. Rebecca Cody says:

    I prefer to soak beans overnight to get rid of enzyme inhibitors and so they cause less gas. I usually keep a few cans on hand. Recently I decided to can my own beans (pinto, black, garbanzo, whatever), to have available much more cheaply than the organic beans at my co-op. Here’s all I do to can them:

    Soak overnight, drain and rinse.
    Place soaked beans into canning jars.
    1 1/2 cups soaked beans in pint jars or 3 cups soaked beans in quart jars
    Add 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
    Add any other desired seasonings
    Fill jars with boiling water, leaving 1″ of head space above the water to the jar top.
    Pressure can at 10 pounds pressure for 1 hour, 15 minutes for pints and 1 1/2 hours for quarts.

    Another recipe says to use 15 pounds pressure for 1 hour for pints or quarts.

    If you choose not to soak them, use only 2/3 cup dry beans per pint and 1 1/4 cups for quarts.

    You MUST use a pressure canner for this. NEVER can beans without a pressure canner or cooker.

  11. Juanita says:

    Is the first pic of black beans or black rice? I looks like black japonica. I soak beans for 3 days changing the water twice per day before slow cooking with a bit of seaweed. When I told my boss about this he laughed and said he’d go to a restaurant instead. It is great though! No more farting and i make a huge batch and freeze most of it. When i do eat out or resort to eden cans… guess who’s back? Gas.

  12. sheri says:

    Thanks for this, beans are my favorite food, I eat them almost every day. Thanks for the recipes too. i love beans!
    Lately I have been sticking to pinto beans because as a single mom, I have been trying to get out of debt, almost there too, but at Costco they only have the big bag of pinto beans, and like your wonderful book said it is so much cheaper to buy in bulk. I miss my black beans though, may have to pick some up, would you say the black beans are healthier over the pinto beans? Also do you get yours in bulk?
    Thanks so much,
    Loved your book on eating healthy for less it was great.

  13. sheri says:

    opps forgot to tell you, i have never noticed a problem with gas, even though I never soak my beans and eat them each day. I do slow cook them close to 24 hours though.:)

  14. Linda says:

    I make a black bean chocolate cookie. No flours whatsoever and they are fantastic!

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