Get your instant pot ready! This super easy and hearty vegetarian recipe is coming into your life to stay and become your new go-to dry black beans recipe. It’s loaded with delicious flavors from smoky chipotle chiles, all the garlic and onions plus a few others pantry essentials. This 10 servings recipe freezes wonderfully, and will keep providing you with essential vegetable protein from meatless Mondays through the weekend!
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About this hearty recipe
We Brazilians really, really, LOVE beans! We eat beans pretty much everyday, almost in every meal. I mean, what’s not to love?!! Beans are easy to make, CHEAP, and protein-packed! They’re also a pretty diverse side dish, but good enough to just be eaten as a main dish.
Growing up, my mom always made this Brazilian Black Beans recipe with bacon and sausage, which, if you eat meat, my friend, you need to try it. It is SOOO GOOD, and also very indulgent!
But, eating as much beans as we do, I needed a recipe that my family could eat daily with less guilt. So, I created this meatless version that has all the flavor but a lot less fat. It’s seriously all you ever needed to get several meals worth of delicious vegetable protein.
Cooking Beans from scratch
Cooking beans from scratch is super easy, and can be super fast too, if using an instant pot, or any other kind of pressure cooker. Making your own big batch of beans is also super handy, as beans freeze super well. One pot will last several meals!
If this is your first time cooking dry black beans, be sure to check out this post where I explain in detail how to cook dry beans. That post is loaded with all the basic info you need to know like, how to soak beans and why you should do that, especially if you’ll be using an instant pot, how to freeze beans and more!
Flavoring Vegan Black Beans
One of the questions I get asked the most when I’m teaching is, how do you make your vegan beans so incredibly flavorful!!?
Usually, flavors develop as they cook low and slow, meaning cooking at a low temperature, for a looong time. When we use a pressure cooker, a pretty aggressive way of cooking, we basically need to treat the process differently because the flavors won’t develop the same way. The biggest secret to cooking delicious beans (or really anything!) in the instant pot is not just about what seasonings you add to your recipe, but when and how to add them.
Here are my 3 secrets to flavoring beans:
1. Add depth of flavor – In this vegan recipe, I use these dried smoked chipotle chiles that I normally find at whole foods. I love them so much because they add a mild smokiness to the beans, creating a little subtle layer of interest. They usually don’t add any real spice to the recipe, unless they break in the pot. If they do break, then yes – fire alert!
2. Add a bay leaf – Bay leaves have got to be my ultimate favorite herb to add to beans. They add such delicate herbal flavor and aroma to beans, creating necessary depth and balance to the dish – it’s bean umami!!!
And the most important tip is for after the beans are fully cooked!
3. Layer in acid, spices and aromatics – A lot of recipes will tell you to add aromatics and spices at the beginning of the cooking process, but, layering them in is how true flavor shows up!
Here’s what I recommend layering in AFTER the beans are fully cooked:
- Vinegar – the moment I open my instant pot, I throw in a little white vinegar in the pot. Acid breaks through proteins and helps not only your digestion, but also, makes the liquid get nice and creamy. As for flavor, the vinegar helps brighten the flavor of the beans, helping your taste buds feel that umami. One little half a teaspoon in a big pot of beans changes everything!! Just make sure to only add vinegar after the beans are cooked. Adding them before they’re done, will cause the beans to get tough because the acid basically seals the bean, making it difficult for them to absorb liquid and cook evenly.
- Salt and Spices – After the vinegar, I add salt and my favorite spice, cumin! Cumin and beans are a match made in heaven, in my opinion. At this point you can add some heat with your pepper of choice as well. I like to keep it simple, so I just go for black pepper.
- Aromatics – Something magical happens you layer the aromatics in AFTER the beans are fully cooked. The beans retain all of that magical flavor from sauteed aromatics, which makes them incredibly delicious. To do that, when the beans are almost done, just heat the olive oil on a skillet, and sauté your aromatics, like onions and garlic, using your fat of choice. I use olive oil, onions and, of course, my Brazilian Sofrito! After everything is nice and golden, just pour all that into the pot of cooked beans.
What to serve with these healthy beans
Vegan Black Beans
- 16 oz dry Black Beans
- 2 whole smoky chiles chipotle
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cups of water
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp of Brazilian Sofrito or 1/2 onion diced, plus 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- Pick, wash, then soak the beans in cold water for 30 mins.
- After 30 minutes, drain all the water, and soak in new cold water for another 30 mins.
- Drain beans, wash them well, then add them an instant pot, or pressure cooker. Add the chiles, the bay leaves, and the 5 cups of water.
- Close the instant pot, and cook on manual for 30 mins.
- When the beans are almost done cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium to high heat. Add the Brazilian Sofrito and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes.
- After 30 mins, safely release the pressure and open the pan. Change the now open/uncovered instant pot settings to sauté mode and pour the sautéed Brazilian Sofrito, the cumin, the vinegar, and salt and pepper.
- Cook on sauté mode uncovered for 10-15, stirring occasionally.