Frijoles Negros (Flavorful Black Bean Soup)

Frijoles negros are a staple in Latin American cuisine, particularly in southern Mexico, Cuba, and Colombia. Black beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. Sautéing the cooked black beans in aromatic ingredients infuses both flavor and depth in this recipe.

Commonly prepared in southern Mexico and the Caribbean, it is about time we shine the spotlight on this nutritious legume. My mother prepares black beans once in a blue moon, and for some reason they really captured my attention while I was conducting thesis research in Oaxaca over a decade ago. There, I tasted frijoles negros seasoned with dried avocado leaves, which impart a distinctive anise flavor. Since avocado leaves may not be readily available in all of our kitchens, I have developed a recipe that we can all prepare and enjoy, with easy-to-find ingredients.

WHAT ARE FRIJOLES NEGROS?

Black beans are widely consumed in the southern region of Mexico including in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, and Yucatan. While Oaxacan frijoles negros are typically cooked with epazote, onion, and salt, this recipe calls for the the additional step of simmering the cooked black beans with a sofrito mixture made up of onion, garlic bell peppers, and other ingredients and aromatics to infuse even more flavor into frijoles. This frijoles negros recipe reminds me of Cuban black beans I’ve tasted in Cuba! Frijoles negros Cubanos

frijoles negros

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • Nutritious and delicious: Black beans offer a unique protein-fiber combination that cannot be found in meat or any other food group. They are rich in protein, fiber, iron, and folate. Sautéing cooked black beans in the sofrito mixture adds a lot more flavor to plain black beans.
  • Easy to make: I usually cook my beans in the crockpot ahead of time for this recipe, but if I decide to make it last-minute, it’s just as delicious when made with canned black beans.
  • Versatile: I serve these beans over white rice with avocado, use them in burritos, and especially love them refried in burritos de chorizo con huevo.

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked black beans: You can make them ahead of time in the crockpot using this recipe or used canned black beans.
  • Oil: I like to use safflower oil or olive oil, but canola or vegetable oil will also work. 
  • Onion: I typically use white or yellow cebolla (anything but sweet onions).
  • Garlic: 8 garlic cloves should be enough. You can slice, mince, or leave them whole.
  • Green pepper: I actually like to use a mix of red, green, orange, or yellow bell peppers for this recipe.
  • Tomato sauce: one small (8-ounce) can is all you need. For even more flavor, you can make my Mexican Tomato Sauce.
  • Bay leaf: Add a subtle earthy flavor.
  • Spanish olives with brine: Add saltiness and acid to the black beans.
  • Salt: I always use Crystal Diamond Kosher Salt in all of my recipes, so you may need to adjust the amount of salt you use because other salts can be a lot saltier.
frijoles negros

RECOMMENDED FOR THIS RECIPE

Silicone Garlic Peeler and Garlic Press

garlic press

HOW TO MAKE FRIJOLES NEGROS

1. Start with cooked black beans

  • For this recipe, you can either use canned black beans or cook them yourself. This is a great time to use my easy slow-cooker recipe because it works with any variety of dried beans, including frijoles negros.
frijoles negros

2. Prepare ingredients for the sofrito

  • Sofrito serves as the flavorful foundation for these black beans. This version calls for chopped onion, minced garlic, and sliced bell peppers.
frijoles negros

3. Sauté sofrito ingredients

  • Heat a large, deep pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil and then add onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic cloves. Sauté ingredients until onions become translucent, for about 10 minutes.
  • PRO TIP: Remember to move ingredients frequently so that they don’t burn. If you notice anything cooking too quickly, lower your heat.
frijoles negros

4. Add beans and aromatics

  • Add cooked black beans with bean broth, tomato sauce, bay leaves, olives with brine, and salt, if necessary.
  • Mix well and using a bean masher, lightly mash some of the beans.
  • Bring beans to a boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then lower to lowest setting and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  • PRO TIP: If you have time to simmer your beans for an hour (or longer), they will develop even more flavor.
frijoles negros

5. Serve and enjoy

  • Serve frijoles negros alongside white rice and sliced avocado for an easy vegetarian meal, or with your favorite protein.
frijoles negros

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT BLACK BEANS

  • To store cooked black beans, cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.

LOOKING FOR MORE INSPIRATION?

frijoles negros

Frijoles Negros (Flavorful Black Bean Soup)

by Lola Dweck
While Mexican frijoles negros are typically cooked with epazote, onion, and salt, this recipe calls for the the additional step of simmering the cooked black beans with a sofrito mixture made up of onion, garlic bell peppers, and other ingredients and aromatics to infuse even more flavor into frijoles.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
SIMMER TIME 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 16
Calories 146 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 cups cooked black beans canned or homemade
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small bell pepper sliced legthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Manzanilla olives with 2 tablespoons of brine
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Start with cooked black beans. For this recipe, you can either use canned black beans or cook them yourself. This is a great time to use my easy slow-cooker recipe because it works with any variety of dry beans, including frijoles negros.
  • Prepare ingredients for the sofrito. Sofrito serves as the flavorful foundation for these black beans. This version calls for chopped onion, minced garlic, and sliced bell peppers.
  • Sauté sofrito ingredients. Heat a large, deep pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil and then add onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic cloves. Sauté ingredients until onions become translucent, for about 5-10 minutes.
    PRO TIP: Remember to move ingredients frequently so that they don’t burn. If you notice anything cooking too quickly, lower your heat.
  • Add beans and aromatics. Add cooked black beans with bean broth, tomato sauce, bay leaves, olives with brine, and salt, if necessary. Mix well and then using a bean masher, lightly mash some of the beans. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Bring beans to a boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then lower to lowest setting, loosely cover (leave a small opening with the lid) and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
    PRO TIP: If you have time to simmer your beans for an hour (or longer), they will develop even more flavor. I like to cook mine for 1 to 2 hours when time permits.
    Also, the amount of salt required for this recipe will depend on whether you use homemade or store-bought black beans, so taste your frijoles throughout the process and adjust salt when necessary. Allow flavors to settle for at least half an hour before adding more salt because sometimes it takes time to be able to taste the salt.
  • Serve and enjoy. Serve frijoles negros alongside rice and sliced avocado for an easy vegetarian meal, or with your favorite protein.

A Note from Lola

A NOTE ON BLACK BEANS
  • If you’re cooking the black beans from scratch, I recommend using my tried and true recipe for Frijoles de la Olla, which works well with any variety of dried beans. I prefer this method because dried black beans take longer to cook than other types of beans.
  • If you’re making black beans on the stovetop, bring 2 cups of black beans and 10 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil for about 30 minutes, then lower to lowest setting and cover partially. Simmer for about 3-4 hours. Check every hour or so to make sure there is enough water covering the beans by 3 inches and add more if necessary. Add salt in the final hour of cooking.
  • PRO TIP: If you have time to simmer your beans for an hour (or longer), they will develop even more flavor.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 146kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 53mgPotassium: 344mgFiber: 8gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 264IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2mg
146
LOVE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below or tag me on social media @lolascoina

Recipe originally published on June 22, 2014 and updated with more clear instructions and photos on May 15, 2024.

Lola’s Cocina is a small business that earns various revenue streams. This includes sponsored posts and affiliate commissions from linked products, which I use and love. This commission is an agreement between Lola’s Cocina and retailers, with no extra cost to readers. This income helps sustains the site.

Lola Wiarco Dweck

Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.

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5 Comments

  1. Girl, I’m going to make my black beans using this recipe. I never thought about using Spanish olives as an ingredient. Any tips on what type of tomato sauce?