These Puerto Rican style stewed black beans (habichuelas negras) served with white rice are a staple to island cuisine. Made with sofrito and adobo seasoning, they are infused with Puerto Rican flavor and make a fabulous meal. Keep reading for instructions on how to make this recipe with dried or canned black beans.
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If you've ever had Puerto Rican cuisine, you know just how important rice and beans are to Caribbean culture.
My mom used to joke that all she ate growing up on the island was rice and beans.
Even in a seemingly simple recipe like this one for black beans, there is variety in the preparation and ingredients within Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean (hello, Cuba and frijoles negros!)
Here's what you need to make these Puerto Rican style black beans:
- dried black beans *see note for instructions on how to use canned beans
- adobo seasoning
- bay leaves
- olive oil
- rice to serve with
- lime & cilantro to garnish
See recipe card for quantities.
Rinse thoroughly and remove any rocks or scraps from the dry beans. *See note if using canned beans.
If using canned beans: add to the pot with their broth, along with everything else. Stew for 20-30 minutes.
(Optional) add ham hocks: add a smoked ham hock to the pot with everything and stew together for added flavor.
Stew the beans for an hour or until they are cooked through (can take up to 2 hours depending on how fresh your beans are), stirring every 20 minutes or so, to make sure they don't stick.
Remove the bay leaves and serve the beans with rice and garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and sprig of cilantro.
For a thicker consistency: continue to stew the beans over a slightly higher temperature for a thicker broth.
Here are some easy substitutes you can use if you're missing any of the key ingredients:
- Sofrito - don't have time to make your own sofrito? You can subsitute this traditional Puerto Rican ingredient with a diced yellow onion, minced cilantro, garlic, and green bell pepper.
- Adobo Seasoning - if you don't have your own adobo seasoning, you can use a blend of cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of paprika.
- Canned Black Beans - this recipe can be made in half the time using canned black beans. See recipe notes for directions!
There are variations of this dish across the Caribbean, South America, and in Spain.
Here are a few of the most popular names & variations:
- Moros y Cristianos - this Cuban version of rice and black beans cooks both ingredients together, for a beautiful one pot meal.
- Congri - congri is another Cuban variation of Moros y Cristianos, usually made with red beans.
- Arroz con Frijoles - this version directly translates to rice with beans, and usually applies to any dish that includes both staple ingredients. When you hear this name, it could be any variation of the two!
- Habichuelas Negras / Frijoles Negros - habichuelas is what I grew up calling any Puerto Rican style stewed beans, but habichuelas negras directly translates to "black beans".
Many traditional Puerto Rican versions of habichuelas negras feature ham of some sort. If you want to include ham in your recipe, I recommend adding a smoked ham hock to your ingredient list. You can add it to the pot at the same time as the other ingredients and remove before serving.
What to Eat With Stewed Black Beans
Here are some of my favorite traditional Puerto Rican side dishes I enjoy with this recipe:
- Tostones (Fried Green Plantains)
- Maduros (Fried Brown Plantains)
- Ensalada Verde (Green Salad)
- Mojo de Ajo (Easy Garlic Oil)
- Mofongo (Mashed Plantains)
This recipe makes wonderful leftovers. Store the rice and beans separately, stored in air tight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days.