Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans

Black beans cooked with onions, chili peppers, garlic, oregano, red chili sauce, chipotle, cumin, orange juice and lime.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I do believe these are the best black beans I’ve ever eaten in my life. My friend Suzanne has been teaching me some of her favorite recipes this summer (lucky me!), and this spicy black bean recipe is one she couldn’t wait to share.

Suzanne usually makes a big batch for her family (husband and three hungry teenagers included) with enough for some leftovers during the week.

The beans have layers of chili flavor, balanced with zesty orange, lime, and cilantro. They are spicy, but you can control the level to your taste, depending on which and how much chili to include.

Spicy Citrusy Black Beans

Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8

Adapted from a recipe in the fabulous Fields of Greens cookbook.


  • 4 cups dried black beans
  • 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
  • 2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 small or 3 large sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
  • 6 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Ancho red chili sauce, or chili powder or Tabasco to taste*
  • 1-2 teaspoons of puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
  • 3 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate or 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

If using prepared chili sauce or chili powder, and if cooking gluten-free, make sure to purchase gluten-free products.


1 Soak the beans (optional): Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. If you soak, discard the soaking liquid after soaking.

2 Cook the beans: Add beans to a large pot with 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water. Add oregano, bay leaves, and sage. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

3 Sauté onions and peppers, add spices: While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili sauce, chili powder, and/or chili purée, cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant.

4 Fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot of beans. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about 1/2-inch of liquid above beans.

5 Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed.

6 Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste.

Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, sour cream, and salsa.

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Spicy Citrusy Black Beans

Showing 4 of 47 Comments

  • Carmela

    Bean came out perfect! Best black beans recipe I’ve every used…thanks!

  • Betteann Siano

    How long do these Black Beans take to soften I soaked them all night and started at 4pm. It’s now9pm and their still somewhat hard?????

  • janet @ the taste space

    These beans are seriously awesome! I tamed the spices, and added more orange, but the spiciness complemented the citrus so well. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Rebekah

    I made this recipe tonight for my mom and I along with some homemade flour tortillas. Let me just say that it was a fabulous dinner that will be repeated in the near future! My husband is a huge fan of black beans and when he gets back into town I will make him this dish. So good! I want to say thank you for making the spice additions gradual to allow for different tastes. My mother is kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy food so it was easy to make the pot on the mild side while adding some of the same hot sauce used in the recipe to my bowl. The flavors were perfectly melded already and I was able to simply add more heat without disrupting the balance. Thank you for posting this terrific recipe!

  • Lexie

    Delicious!!! Thank you, this will be in heavy rotation at our house.

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