Black beans (also called black turtle beans) are an excellent, inexpensive health food that are very easy to work with. Today I am sharing my smoky black bean in tomato sauce recipe. They serve well for either brunch or dinner.

For brunch, you could serve them with turmeric potato patties, beetroot bites, avocado, mushroom & spinach and a tofu scramble. This would give you a whole complete meal.

Gluten-free, vegan brunch with Anastasia Eden, Kind Earth

For dinner, you could serve your smoky black beans on a jacket potato, with potato wedges, or on top of quinoa or rice. Yum!!!

How do I get a smoky flavour in my black beans?

Today we are using the easiest method of creating a smoky flavour. We are adding smoked paprika to the recipe. It doesn’t take a lot to give your black beans that earthy, smoky taste.

Smoked paprika is a very simple way to give a recipe a smoky flavour without the need to actually smoke anything.

Smoky beans recipe

What else do I use to make my black beans tasty?

You don’t need to overdo it with spices to make your smoky black beans taste good. In this recipe the only spices I am using are smoked paprika, cinnamon and black pepper. 

Apart from that, onion, a hint of coconut sugar and passata (called tomato sauce, tomato puree or sieved/strained tomatoes in the USA) are all it really takes to turn this recipe into a delicious bean stew. 

smoky black beans in tomato sauce - vegan, gluten-free

Should I used canned black beans or cook them from scratch?

1. Using canned beans

The main benefit from using canned black beans is convenience. It saves on time as canned beans are ready to use immediately. You could even prepare this whole recipe in 15 minutes if you use them straight from a can!

2. Cooking beans from scratch

Compared to canned beans using dried beans and then cooking them yourself takes longer to do. In which case it helps to soak them ahead of time, and then you need to cook for about an hour. 

The benefits of cooking beans from scratch include them being tastier and saving on money if you cook lots. 

If you need to feed lots of people or want to batch-make, then cooking your own is the most cost effective way to do beans.

Another key point is that they also usually look more black, and often taste more beany.

Dry black turtle beans

“Dried black beans before cooking – also called black turtle beans”

I have actually dedicated a whole article on how to cook black beans from scratch. In the article I also look at the science between beans and flatulence, how to reduce flatulence, the advantages and disadvantages of soaking before cooking, and whether or not black beans the same as black turtle beans and more… black beans article.

smoky black beans in tomato sauce - vegan, gluten-free

Smoky black beans in tomato sauce

Yield: 10 portions
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Smoky black beans made with smoked paprika, in a tomato sauce.


  • 4 cans black beans drained (or 500g/1lb of dry black beans cooked to make 1kg/2lbs)
  • 2 medium/large onions
  • 500ml (2 cups) passata (USA only: called sieved/strained tomatoes or tomato puree)
  • 400ml (1 ⅔ cups) water
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Thickener to add at end (optional)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water (to dissolve cornflour before adding to beans)


If you are using canned black beans...

  • If you are using black beans from a can skip to straight to 'how to make smoky black beans' below. Otherwise follow instructions for cooking your black beans from scratch.

Alternatively, if you are cooking black beans from scratch...

Soaking your black beans overnight it will reduce your cooking time by about 30 minutes. Otherwise follow this...

  • Put your beans and water into a large cooking pan with three times as much water. Bring to the boil on the stove. Once they have come to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer with the lid on.
  • Cook your black beans for about 90 minutes, until the beans are cooked through. They should be creamy inside but not falling apart. Cooking time will vary depending on the batch, so please adjust accordingly.
  • Once cooked drain in a large seive and thoroughly rinse with water until the water runs clear.

How to make the smoky black beans

  1. Chop your onion into small pieces and sautee in oil for about 5 minutes until they start to become a little transclucent. If the pan starts to burn then simply add a tiny amount of moisture.
  2. After cooking the onions, toss in the black beans, passata, salt, smoked paprika, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and onion powder.
  3. Bring the contents to the boil and then allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, sitrring from time to time.

If you need to thicken the sauce...

  1. If the sauce on your smoky black beans is too runny then use the following cornflour trick as a thickener.
  2. Simply dissolve the cornflour in the small amount of water and then mix into the smoky black beans. This should instantly thicken the sauce.

Did you make this recipe?

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