How to Make Black Bean Cuban Bowls (Instant Pot optional)


It is easy with an Instant Pot (or not) to make spicy black beans to use for Cuban bowls~fresh, healthy ingredients folks just layer in a bowl and enjoy!


Whether feeding your family or a small group, I promise you that this “build your own Cuban bowls” idea is a winner. Everyone loves choosing his or her own ingredients to build a fresh, yummy bowl of healthy deliciousness.

What exactly are Cuban bowls?

Cuban bowls are common fare in the Islands and Caribbean. They consist of beans and rice, with added fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. You’ll often see Cuban bowl options on food trucks; these are especially popular alongside popular beaches (30 A is one).



What beans are used for Cuban bowls?

Black beans are the most common, but pinto and/or kidney beans work well also. Dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked the next day are best. Canned beans can be doctored in a pinch with good results.

Build Your Own Cuban Bowls
Cuban Bowl with Black Beans
Are Cuban bowls healthy?

Cuban bowls are healthy if you use fresh whole food ingredients. Since beginning my Faster Way to Fat Loss lifestyle (you can read about it in this post), I’ve made many healthy changes in my diet (and my family’s). When I am on a low-carb day, I make these bowls without the sweet potatoes and rice (but I do use cauliflower rice).  On a regular macro day, the potatoes are fine! The bowls not only fit into my healthy lifestyle, but they are loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats that keep me full for hours. 



What ingredients do you put in a Cuban bowl?

Beans are the primary ingredient, along with any or all of the following:

  • rice (yellow is common; white or brown also work)
  • chopped onion
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced avocado
  • fresh pico de gallo
  • fresh cilantro
  • diced radishes
  • diced roasted sweet potatoes 
  • fresh limes (a must to squeeze over the ingredients)


In the recipe below, I share how I make beans for Cuban bowls. I love these beans so much, I would almost buy an Instant Pot JUST to make them alone:-)

Build Your Own Cuban Bowls
Cuban Bowl with Pinto Beans


My New Instant Pot:  Since writing this post, I have purchased a new Instant Pot that I absolutely LOVE!! It has an air-fryer lid (that detaches for easy storage and cleaning). It has 11 functions including sous vide and dehydrate. If you want to buy my exact model, you can find it here on amazon

Make ahead: You need to allow a day to soak the beans overnight. The next day, the beans can be made, vegetables chopped, and all ingredients kept in the fridge to pull out as needed.

If you try these build-your-own Cuban bowls, please let me hear your thoughts! I’d love to hear how you customize them, too.

And please visit our Family Savvy storefront to see my amazon faves for you, your home and your loved ones.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Here’s to a joyful, blessed & savvy day!!!

Black Beans for  Cuban Bowls

Black Beans for Cuban Bowls

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 pound dried black or pinto beans (rinse and discard rocks)
  • 1 ham hock (optional; I use for Pinto Beans)
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carton chicken broth (or 3 cups water)


  1. Turn Instant Pot on sauté (high); add EVOO and allow to get hot.
  2. When oil is sizzling, add onion and green pepper.
  3. Saute 3-4 minutes; add garlic and seasonings.
  4. Saute another minute or so; add beans, broth and bay leaves.
  5. Press manual and set IP to high pressure for 35 minutes.
  6. After pressure, allow beans to sit in pot for at least 30 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Yield 20 Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 74Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 3mgSodium 258mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 3gSugar 1gProtein 4g

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