This recipe for Spicy Black Beans with Bacon is our take on Cuban-style black beans, using moderately spicy serrano peppers instead of the traditional bell peppers. It is so easy, flavorful and delicious as a side or the star of your dinner table along with some rice and warm, soft tortillas.
Use a thick-sliced bacon with a good amount of both meat and fat for this dish. You want those meaty pieces in the end for texture and flavor, but we also want a good amount of fat because we will use it to cook everything else, imparting that wonderful bacon smokiness into every layer of this dish.
Cut your bacon into small pieces and cook until the fat is rendered and the meat is crispy. Drain the crispy pieces on a paper-towel lined plate, keeping a small amount of the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Pour the rest off into a small jar. Once it cools to room temperature, cover it and store in your refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Use it as the fat to cook nearly anything – it will add a hint of smoky bacon flavor! We especially like to use it to scramble eggs. It is soooo good!
These are your onions, peppers, and garlic. Returning the pan to medium-low heat, you are going to add the onions and peppers first and cook until they are soft. Then throw in your garlic, which will cook for only a minute.
Choose your peppers based on the heat you and your family like. If you like some fire, choose two serranos and don’t remove the ribs or seeds. To take it down just a notch, remove the ribs and seeds, or reduce the heat a bit more by using just one serrano.
Jalapenos, one or two, are a great option here. They carry less heat than the serranos and have a slightly more herbal flavor. Again, removing the ribs and seeds will make the dish less spicy overall.
Curious about peppers and their heat level? This article has a great, clickable list with so much information about a huge variety of peppers!
Black beans are essential here for both their flavor and texture. We’re using canned beans, but if you have a bit of time, dried beans would add even more great texture to your Spicy Black Beans with Bacon. It’s easy, but does require some forethought and a bit of time. Learn how to cook dried beans in this quick guide!
All the Rest
Along with the beans, we’re adding corn. Frozen is the best option in the winter and spring, when fresh isn’t available. Plus, it’s so easy to keep a bag in the freezer and grab it whenever you need them for a recipe like this one. Corn adds a bright pop of color and a slight sweetness to compliment the spice of the peppers.
At the same time, add your spices – a simple hit of salt and cumin is all you need to round out the flavors you’ve been building.
Cook to heat through and marry all the flavors, then remove from the heat and add chopped green onion. This is the bright tang you need to finish the dish.
Serving Your Spicy Black Beans with Bacon
Spicy Black Beans with Bacon makes a wonderful taco filling all on it’s own, or a quick lunch with a tortilla on the side. Serve it with tortilla chips for a party. Or on the side to accompany your favorite tacos, burritos, or enchiladas.
We like it served alongside these main dishes:
- Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos with Quick Pickled Red Onions
- Beef Enchilada Bake
- Easy Black Bean Quesadillas
Spicy Black Beans with Bacon
- 3-4 strips bacon chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 small whole serrano peppers stems removed and finely diced
- 1 cup corn fresh or frozen
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 green onions chopped
- Cook the Bacon: Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, then remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- Cook the Aromatics: Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat from the skillet, then return the pan to the heat and add your onion and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.
- Finish and Serve: Add the corn, black beans, salt, and cumin. When it is all warmed through, remove from the heat and stir in the cooked bacon and green onions. Serve immediately.
- This can be pretty spicy depending on your peppers. To reduce the heat level, use only 1 serrano pepper or remove the seeds. Or use 1 jalapeno pepper (ribs and seeds removed) instead of the serranos.
- Keep your extra bacon fat in a sealed jar in the refrigerator and use it instead of oil the next time you are sauteing to add smoky bacon flavor!
- This makes a great taco filling with some queso fresco and diced avocado!