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Costa Rican Style Slow Cooker Black Beans Recipe

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These slow cooker black beans are packed with flavor, fiber and protein. This traditional Costa Rican recipe uses dry black beans, salt, garlic and onion to create a delicious recipe that’s both vegetarian and vegan.

bowl of black beans with avocado and cilantro garnish

About This Recipe

You will never go to a Costa Rican home where there are no beans on the stove or in the fridge. Many Costa Rican moms even batch cook black beans for their kids when they leave for the week for work or college.

We eat white rice and black beans with almost every meal- even breakfast! Luckily, long gone are the days of soaking beans overnight and then simmering them on the stove all day. With a slow cooker, you can have beans ready with almost zero prep!

These beans are made and used most specifically in the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe, for a Costa Rican casado and also for the traditional Costa Rican bean dip, also known as frijol molido. These beans are also eaten as a simple black bean soup accompanied by a hard-boiled egg and Salsa Lizano.

Related post: Costa Rican Casado

This Costa Rican black bean recipe combines all the flavor of the traditional recipe with the ease of slow cooking. Put them in the pot overnight and wake up to delicious black beans.

Related post: Make Rice Like A Tico- Costa Rican White Rice Recipe

Recipe – Costa Rican Slow Cooker Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • black beans
  • salt (I prefer sea salt)
  • red pepper
  • cilantro
  • garlic cloves
  • white or yellow onion
  • celery
  • carrot
  • Salsa Lizano

Instructions

Rinse the beans and place them in the crock pot.

Rinse and chop your veggies, then add them on top of the beans.

close up of costa rican black beans before cooking

Add salt and enough water to cover the beans, plus about another 2 inches. Since the beans do absorb quite a bit of water when cooking, you want to have some extra so the beans don’t scald and stick to the bottom of your pot.

Cook the beans in the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, or cook on high for 4-5 hours. The cooking time varies depending on your pot and electrical current.

I add the salt at the beginning of the recipe, but many people prefer to add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking because they say the salt makes the beans harden. I don’t think it does, but to each his own.

cooked black beans with avocado garnish

When you are ready to serve, just remove the large vegetable chunks and serve separately. Or keep them in!

Black beans are often served with Salsa Lizano, but if you add the Lizano to the entire pot of beans, they can go bitter fast. It is better to put the Lizano on individual portions, or on the beans that you are sure you will serve.   Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Related Article: What Is Salsa Lizano From Costa Rica? 

Substitutions

You can really use any type of beans with this recipe- we will sometimes get tired of black beans and then use a red bean like a dark red kidney. When we make white beans with pork, we cook the beans in this style as well.

You can also cook your garbanzo beans in this style- really all of the Costa Rican beans are cooked this way and then different ingredients are added depending on what recipe we are making.

Related article: Recipe for Costa Rican Garbanzo Soup

Variations

This recipe works well in the pressure cooker, and we have an Instant Pot version. Some people simmer the beans for several hours on the stove top, but for that method, I recommend soaking the beans overnight first.

You can add bay leaves to the recipe to add some flavor, and you can get away with using Worcestershire sauce in place of Lizano if you had to- but Lizano is better.

Some people cook their black beans in chicken broth, but that is not traditional to Costa Rica at all. Neither is adding chili powder or lime juice- those are Mexican variations.

Related post: 30+ Foods To Try In Costa Rica

Serving Suggestions

Costa Rican Black Beans are a staple of the Costa Rican diet, and therefore are a part of many of our most hallmark recipes. Here is a list of black bean recipes we eat regularly at Casa Pura Vida.

FAQ

What is the best way to reheat the beans? – I generally reheat them on the stove by putting them in a saucepan and leaving them on medium-low until the just bubble.

Can I make these in a pressure cooker instead? Absolutely- just cook them for about 20 minutes after the pressure rises, and use a slow release.

Can I soak the beans to make this recipe? – You can, but you would cut the cooking time in half.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4 cups

Costa Rican Black Beans Slow Cooker

White ceramic bowl of Costa-Rican style slow cooked black beans topped with diced avocado and cilantro leaves.

These slow cooker black beans are packed with flavor, fiber and protein. This traditional Costa Rican recipe uses dry black beans, salt, garlic and onion to create a delicious recipe that's both vegetarian and vegan.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb black beans
  • 2 tsp salt (we prefer sea salt)
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into 3 pieces
  • handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salsa Lizano (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the beans and place them in the crock pot. 
  2. Rinse and chop your veggies, then add them on top of the beans. 
  3. Add salt and enough water to cover the beans, plus about another 2 inches. Since the beans do absorb quite a bit of water when cooking, you want to have some extra so the beans don't scald and stick to the bottom of your pot.  
  4. Cook the beans in the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, or cook on high for 4-5 hours. The cooking time varies depending on your pot and electrical current.
  5. I add the salt at the beginning of the recipe, but many people prefer to add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking because they say the salt makes the beans harden. I don't think it does, but to each his own.
  6. When you are ready to serve, just remove the large vegetable chunks and serve separately. Or keep them in! 

Notes

Black beans are often served with Salsa Lizano, but if you add the Lizano to the entire pot of beans, they can go bitter fast. It is better to put the Lizano on individual portions, or on the beans that you are sure you will serve.   Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 56Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 412mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

Please check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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