Spicy Black Beans


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings: Makes about

    8 cups

Appears in

There’s an easy shortcut for almost all the recipes in this chapter: canned beans. If you’re pinched for time, you can buy a few cans of black beans, drain and rinse them well, and use them in all of the dishes that follow in this chapter. How’s that for flexible?

But the real magic of this chapter comes when you start using dry beans. Economically, it’s a no-brainer. One pound of dry beans (about $1) will cook over two pounds of finished beans, or about four cans. The cheapest I’ve been able to find canned black beans recently is 75 cents a pop, so you’re looking at a decent savings every time you use dried beans.

Of course, the main reason I like to cook beans from scratch is so I can customize them. While they are cooking, you can toss in all kinds of peppers and other ingredients to give them some really nice flavor that you’ll never get out of a canned variety.

Once they are cooked, they’ll store fine in the fridge for five to seven days. You can also freeze beans after you soak them but before you finish cooking them.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus soaking time)
Total Time: 90-120 minutes


Cooking Liquid

  • 1 pound dried black beans, soaked
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried chiles, New Mexico or poblano
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds included, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooking liquid or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Pour dried beans onto a sheet pan and quickly sort them to remove any debris or rocks.
  2. Soak the beans overnight in cold water. If you don’t have time to soak, add beans to a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 45 minutes.
  3. Once your beans have soaked, rinse them well and add them to a large pot. Cover the beans with a few inches of water and add the onion, bay leaves, chiles, oregano, and garlic.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook, slightly covered, until beans are tender, probably 60 to 90 minutes. Taste the beans occasionally so you don’t overcook them.
  5. Drain beans, reserving some cooking liquid if you want. Pick out the cooked onion, bay leaves, peppers, and garlic cloves from the beans.
  6. In a large skillet, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and jalapeño. Cook for a few minutes until soft.
  7. Add cumin seeds and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for another minute.
  8. Stir in cooked black beans. Add reserved cooking liquid or some warm vegetable stock to beans and stir to combine.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately, or cool and store for later.