Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans

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

  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 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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  • Claudia

    I would love to do this in my instapot. Do you have any suggestions on what I would do differently to make them in an IP? I can’t wait to make these. Maybe this weekend!

  • 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?????

    • Elise

      Hello Betteann, sounds like your beans are old. The older they are, the drier they get, and the longer it takes for them to cook. Another thing that can affect cooking time for beans is the alkalinity of the water too.

  • 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.

  • Penny

    OMG YUM! I can’t stop eating these – good thing they’re so healthy! Can’t wait to see how they are the next day.

  • nick

    Just made this…. simply amazing. Nothing even close to this recipe on any other website. Thank-you so much!

  • Alli

    I use your recipes all the time, but have never commented until now! These were delicious!!! I toned down the spice a little and my 2 year old son loved them!

  • Jessica

    Made these last night with seitan fajitas. Super duper yummy. They were pretty darn spicy, but I loved the flavor combinations. Will be making again! Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Elise: Making these fabulous beans again. Question: Can you freeze the remaining chipotle sauce? I hate to waste the remaining contents of a small can.

    FYI: The sauteed onions, peppers, cumin, garlic chili pepper and chipolte sauce? Boy am I ever going to make this specifically to use in an omelette. They’d be fabulous on a hamburger…if I ate meat. :) Thank you.

    Don’t know about freezing it, but the chipotle sauce will last, tightly covered, in your fridge for at least a couple months. ~Elise

    • Shannon

      I freeze Chipotle peppers & sauce all the time. When I open the can, I separate portions into separate ziplock bags and freeze right away. It’s very handy!

  • Sarah (Misplaced Texan)

    Thank you, Elise for another wonderful recipe that killed this expat’s craving. My first time making black beans was a total success, thanks to you!

  • JT

    Thank you – and your friend, Suzanne – for this FAB recipe. The kick is definitely the orange and lime juices and rice wine vinegar at the end.

    It’s always JT’s Test Kitchen when having friends over. Although I tell friends they’re my testers…they never have anything I haven’t previewed…first.

    Can’t wait until they’re “Testing” this one.

  • Meagan

    These beans are FANTASTIC! I just made them last night for lunches this week and I am in love with them!

  • Sandra Simmons

    I ate these plain, just in a bowl with a little extra salt!! Loved them. I’m going to use a cup of them in another recipe later this week and I will probably also mash some of them up and use them for nachos at some point. Thanks, Elise!

  • paradise7n

    I made these tonight and they were amazing. Served with some avocado on top and fried plantains. Used bell pepper and added some extra chipotle puree. The proportions are very good, just the right amount of orange juice. I didn’t even have the bay or sage and it came out great, lots of flavor. Great cold weather budget food too. Thanks!

  • John D

    Hi Elise,

    I made these last night and they were a complete success! I was concerned that they tasted a little bland during the cooking process but it’s amazing how it all comes together at the end – the addition of the final few ingredients really brings out all of the flavours.

    I substituted sherry vinegar for rice wine vinegar (none at hand) which I imagine gave them a slightly stronger vinegar taste. I thought it worked very well.

    I love reading and trying your recipes and the pictures of the food are always fantastic!

  • kookie in London

    Hi Elise, made these today and just loved them! I love the addition of OJ, I used a little rice vinegar (japanese) and also some spanish wine vinegar I got on a recent trip to spain. Served with a spicy pico de gallo and some pan fried snapper, I have to say I still ate more of the beans than anything else! They are really tasty once you get the seasoning right. I actually found that sour cream masked the flavour too much… thanks so much for posting this. I love that all your recipes taste of home.

  • Cordia

    These beans are excellent and even better the next day. Glad I stumbled upon the recipe!

  • Elissa

    I have just made these beans, after having the recipe bookmarked for months. Delicious!
    I happened to have some ancho chillies at home, having looked around London for ages I found them at my favourite Mexican restaurant – they are fabulous and add such depth! Great blog

  • Daiko

    -this turned out Wonderful!~

    finally made this last Thursday after wanting to for a long time- it turned out to be very delicious despite not having all the ingredients on hand then (my fiance accidentally picked up Italian parsley instead of cilantro amongst other things ^-^; ) and up until the point when I was cooking this I hadn’t realized that this had so many different things in it…

    (so a lot of this is actually optional depending on how we want the flavor to turn out- how lovely~ )

    “Serves 8”?
    -not with the way my fiance and I ate this (I hadn’t even noticed the suggested servings amount until now)

    Thanks for yet another delicious and easy to follow recipe!~ :3

  • Sarah

    Hi Elise!

    I have been a fan of your site for a few years now and refer many to it – thanks so much for what you do!

    As far as this recipe goes, I would love to try it but have to avoid orange juice. Any suggestions?


    Hi Sarah, if you have to avoid orange juice I would just leave it out. The beans will still taste good. ~Elise

  • Melissa

    Okay, now make that 14 recipes from you. :P Made this last night after having it in my stack for months and it was outstanding. I try recipe after recipe for black beans, as they are one of my favorite foods, and so far this is the only one that is just about what I dreamed they should be. I only added a tad more heat, as I’m prone to do!

    Thanks as always Elise!

  • marsha

    These beans were awesome – and well worth the time and effort! Thanks for the recipe. Yumm


  • LaMona

    WOW…these beans are to die for. As for hubby, he says they are “ok”. but he ate the entire bowl of them. I think that speaks volumes. I will be making them again. The left overs are fabulous in “black bean tacos”.

  • LaMona

    OK…I have to admitt that I am a virgin to this website. I spent a few days just looking over the recipes (salavating all the while). When I came across this recipe for black beans I just had to try it. I persoaked my beans for 24 hrs. then stuck them in the crockpot following the recipe except for stretching out the cooking time. The smell in my house is to die for, & I am only half way through the process. This is what I love so much about cooking. The wonderful smells that permeate throughout my home. YUM. Tomorrow I will make a comment on how delish’ it is. BTW..my hubby is not fond of beans, but I have a feeeling he will love these. If all your recipes are this good, I will be on a cooking frenzy.

  • Kristin

    These are so good! When we were making them, before we’d added the rice vinegar, my husband thought they were just okay. But then he tasted them after the vinegar was added, and wow! It was like night and day. Our 3 1/2 year old Kyra, wasn’t too fond of them, but she isn’t a big fan of spicy things in general. You’ve just got to try these beans :-) You’ll be glad you did.

  • Penelope

    These are dynamite! Made the first time in a crock pot, which was good, but even tastier when cooked on top of the stove, as they thicken better. I did find and toast cumin seeds, but had a hard time crushing/grinding them – what is the best method? My mini-grinder was inneffective, and I resorted to using the back of a spoon which did not crush too well. Am serving with other great items from this site – Red Chile Marinated Chicken and Mexican Green Bean Salad for my dinner party tonight. Yum! I LOVE Simply Recipes!

    Thanks Penelope! For toasted cumin seeds I use a small ceramic mortar and pestle that I picked up at Whole Foods. Works great to grind spices. ~Elise

  • Sue

    After soaking the beans, can you put this all in a slow cooker? Sounds like the perfect dish for a cool rainy summer night. Thanks!

  • Kimberly

    These are delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I made a half batch, and so far it’s fed two of us for dinner (served taco style) and again for lunch leftovers – and there’s still some left in the fridge. They are so tasty! I used 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper instead of fresh peppers as that’s what I had on hand, and it had just the right amount of heat. My husband raved about the recipe, so we’ll definitely be making this again. :)

  • Julie

    Yum! These were dinner tonight for my roommate and I. We recently went vegetarian, and after slurping down a few bowlfuls of these, we decided we don’t miss meat much at all. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  • Leslie

    I made these last night and they are Terrific! I was planning to use them in some grilled veggie tacos but they’re so delicious straight out of the bowl that they might not last that long. I forgot the oregano/bay leaf/sage step (next time…) and left all the seeds in the jalapenos for some extra heat.

  • Angela

    I have never posted on here before, but I have made almost every recipe on your site, and have yet to go wrong (even with your dessert recipes, and I am a horrendous baker!). I don’t typically like black beans, but the new boyfriend is a fan, so I thought I’d try these out. I could not stop eating them and barely had enough to give to the boy…because of my usual dislike for black beans and my Filipino heritage, I tripled the garlic, and it turned out amazingly, mouth-wateringly good. Thanks so much!

  • Sophia from Kitchen Caravan

    Thanks for this recipe. It seems like the beans end up with a really nice blend of flavors. Although it’s not easy to find them in the U.S., black beans also taste wonderful when simmered with a couple of avocado leaves.

    Yes culinary avocado leaves are hard to find here. You can’t just can’t pick a leaf from any avocado tree, as it is only one specific variety that is used in cooking. Sometimes you can find them at Mexican markets. ~Elise

  • Christine

    Sorry but when do you add the chile powder?

    Sorry wasn’t clear about that, I’ve amended the instructions. Step 3. ~Elise

  • Christine

    Is this a pound of dried beans?

    No, 4 cups is closer to two pounds. Between 1 3/4 and 2 lbs, depending on the size of the beans. ~Elise

  • Tracy

    You didn’t mention this, but wouldn’t it be fine to cook the beans in a crock pot? You could start them in the morning before work and finish up when you get home.

  • Sally Kanehen

    I made these last night with rice as a side for some lime garlic chicken. It was great! The beans have so many layers of flavor with the chili, garlic, lime, and orange juice. I’ll definitely make these beans again.

  • heidi leon

    My Mom used to make some black beans similar to yours Elise, but no cumin or orange on it (even though I’m sure they work very well on the dish).

    We used to eat them as a soup. Served hot with some fresh onions and lime juice on the top. That’s it. I don’t need more to be in heaven :-D

  • Kiran

    This sounds like a great dish, I normally use lemon juice & vinegar. Will have to try with orange juice.

  • Beth

    I’ve got a couple of leftover fresh poblanos I’d like to use with these. Do you think I’d need to roast them first, or could I just dice them like I would any other chili?

    Your choice. Roasting them will add more flavor, but it’s also an extra step, and if you are using chipotles and red chili sauce as well, you won’t need the extra roasted flavor. You want a roasted flavor or smoked flavor from somewhere in the chiles that you add to the beans. ~Elise

  • Shawn

    Any changes in the recipe if using canned beans?

    If using canned beans (I think you would need 4 15-ounce cans), I would start with sautéing the onions in step 3, skip step 4, go to step 5, combine beans and onion mixture, add water to the consistency you want, add a large pinch of dried oregano and a small pinch of dried powdered sage, and go from there. ~Elise

  • John

    I’m Mexican and I hate the taste of Cumin. Any other spice to use as a substitute?

    Just skip the cumin if you don’t like it; there is enough flavor from the chilies. ~Elise

  • Soma

    Spicy citrusy got me here quick! This one sounds awesome. I always use pressure cooker to cook my beans, they are so much faster. the method sounds a lot like we cooking the indian way, except for the addition of orange juice.

  • Alex

    Do you think using a roasted poblano or anaheim pepper along with one jalapeno would work well in this dish?

    Yes. ~Elise

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    If you’re lucky enough to be able to get fresh epazote, that’s always a wonderful addition to black beans, too.