Instant Pot creamy Cuban black beans risotto is a melt-in-your-mouth, one-pot, plant-based recipe. Black beans from scratch with classic Cuban flavors and velvety risotto rice is table-ready in about 50 minutes of easy-peasy ingredient prep and forget-about-it pressure cooking.
Serendipity sometimes happens when you start cooking, realize that you don't have a critical ingredient, and decide to improvise. This is how I discovered the combination of Cuban black beans risotto. Now, we’re officially hooked.
If black beans and risotto rice isn’t a ‘thing’ – it should be. Because transforming black beans from scratch into a creamy Cuban risotto is a winner of a one-pot dinner.
Rice versus Risotto
Risotto is a dish that is made with a specific type of rice. Risotto rice in the supermarket is usually Italian Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rice. All of these are high-starch, short-grain rice that absorbs a lot of liquid without getting mushy (or rice pudding as we call it).
Risotto is a good choice when you want a creamy rice dish. It absorbs liquid and flavors, it releases starch which is what makes it creamy.
Dry black beans – I soaked my black beans because I found it easier to start with rehydrated beans. This ensures that the rice and beans are done at the same time. If you don’t soak them overnight, add them to a bowl, pour boiling water over them and allow them to rehydrate for 2-4 hours.
Soaking beans is also helpful if you want to avoid gastric upset. Soaking encourages beans to release their natural sugars (that’s what causes the upset). Once you rinse that away after soaking, you should be ready to indulge in beans without regret.
Onion, red bell pepper, garlic – This forms the flavor foundation for this easy dish. You can substitute red pepper for green, orange, or yellow pepper. I prefer the sweeter flavor of red pepper, which is why I used it. It also makes the dish a bit more colorful.
Oregano, dill, smoked paprika, and bay leaves – These are the 4 spices to use. If smoked paprika is too strong a flavor, you use regular paprika. And if you like your dish spicy, you can use the hot smoked paprika.
Red wine and apple cider vinegar – Flavor shots! Wine and vinegar are also used to deglaze the Instant Pot after the spices are mixed in. If you want to skip the wine, use ¼ of a cup of vegetable broth instead.
Risotto – We’ve covered it, but if you’ve not bought it before, look for it in the rice section of the supermarket. It usually comes in a box. You'll only need 1 ½ cups, so there will be some left.
Vegetable broth – Be sure to use a good-quality vegetable broth. It adds flavor, so don't be tempted to add water as the depth of flavor will be compromised. Broth can also add salt. This is one reason why we add salt after cooking.
Making creamy black beans risotto
This recipe follows a cooking method of sauteing the veggies, adding the spices, deglazing, then pressure cooking.
- Turn the Instant Pot to High Sauté and allow it to heat. Then add the onions, pepper, and garlic. There will be enough moisture in the onions and pepper to keep the garlic from burning. If the veggies begin to stick, stir in a few tablespoons of vegetable broth.
- You only want to sauté the veggie for about 5 minutes. Once the onions and pepper start to break down, mix in the spices.
- Deglaze with red wine and apple cider vinegar. Be careful to use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot to release any ingredients that are sticking.
- Add the risotto and stir it for a minute to mix it with all the flavors in the Instant Pot. At this point, I usually cancel the sauté. This allows the Instant Pot to cool a minute before you begin the pressure cook.
- Add the beans and the broth. Before you start pressure cooking, stir everything and again, grab your wooden spoon and pick up anything left on the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and place the steam release handle to sealing position. Set the cook control to High Pressure for 35 minutes. Turn off the Keep Warm function.
- After the cooking has finished, use a quick pressure release by carefully opening the steam release valve.
- Give everything a stir before you dish it up. Remove the bay leaves, taste the beans, and add salt and pepper if desired.
Pro Tip: Rinse the beans, but never rinse risotto. You don’t want to wash away the starch.
If you forget to soak the black beans, you can do a quick soak by covering the beans with boiling water and soaking them for 2 hours. This will rehydrate them. If you decide not to soak the beans, rinse them for several minutes under running water. Add ½ a cup of additional liquid to the recipe.
If you substitute brown rice for risotto, the final product will not be creamy because brown rice does not have enough starch. The texture will be different, but the dish will still be very delicious.
The best substitute for apple cider vinegar is red wine or white wine vinegar. Rice vinegar or Champaign vinegar is also a good substitute if you're running low on apple cider vinegar.
You can reheat Cuban black beans risotto in the microwave or place the desired serving in a basket steamer and steam it.
What to serve with your creamy dinner
We love this meal with garnishes such as chopped cilantro, parsley, or dill. And, of course, any one-pot dinner goes well with homemade bread or potato tortillas. If you want to fancy this dish up, consider a side of guasacaca, salsa molcajete, or quick-pickled onions.
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Instant Pot creamy Cuban black beans risotto
Instant Pot creamy Cuban black beans risotto is a melt-in-your-mouth, one-pot, vegan recipe with easy-peasy prep and forget-about-it pressure cooking.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: One-pot
- Cuisine: Cuban
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 cup of black beans, soaked (see instructions)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. dill
- 1 tsp. smoked or sweet paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ cups uncooked risotto
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper (optional)
- To soak the beans overnight, place them in a bowl and cover them with 3 cups of water. To do a quick soak, cover the beans with boiling water and soak them for 2-4 hours.
- Heat the Instant Pot to HIGH SAUTE. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Keep the cover off and stir the ingredients to keep them from sticking. Sauté the ingredients for 4 minutes until the onions start to soften. If the onions and peppers begin to stick, add a tablespoon of vegetable broth.
- Add the oregano, dill, paprika, and bay leaves. Mix so that the vegetables are coated.
- Add the red wine and apple cider vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to carefully scrape the bottom of the pot so that nothing is sticking.
- Mix in the risotto rice, stir it with the rest of the ingredients. Then add the black beans and vegetable broth. Once again, use a spoon so that there is nothing stuck to the bottom of the pot. This will keep the Instant Pot from thinking that the ingredients are burning as you begin the pressure cook.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the steam release handle to the Sealing position. Set the cook control to HIGH PRESSURE for 35 minutes. Turn off the Warm Function.
- After the cooking has finished, carefully open the steam release valve. Allow the steam to release, then carefully remove the lid.
- Stir the beans and risotto, taste, and add salt and/or pepper if desired. Garnish with chopped herbs, sliced scallions, guasacaca sauce, salsa, or vegan sour cream.
- I allowed 5 minutes of cooking time for the Instant Pot to initially heat and then for the pressure to release.
- I recommend soaking the beans because it cuts back on gastric upset and allows the beans to rehydrate so that the rice and beans cook evenly.
- You can substitute the wine for ¼ of a cup of vegetable broth. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can also use white wine vinegar or rice vinegar.
- Don’t rinse the risotto. It will remove the starch that creates a creamy texture.
- Store leftover black beans risotto in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. The best way to reheat is to steam the desired portions in a basket steamer under a closed pot with boiling water. You can also use a microwave.
Keywords: Cuban black beans risotto