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Mexican Dish | September 21, 2011

Cafe Rio Style Black Beans

Cafe Rio Style Black Beans are simple to make at home and taste just like the black beans at our favorite fast-casual restaurant Cafe Rio! Serve them on a salad, in burritos, with tacos, quesadillas, or just own their own with some rice. This will become your go-to black bean recipe.

A few weeks ago, my friend Mel, aka the Dancin’ Queen, had to make Cafe Rio beans for 250 guests. Yes, two hundred and fifty.
We talked about how this was going to happen.
She gathered ingredients.
I showed up with my apron and big bowls.
We went to work.

About an hour and a half later, we had made four batches of beans (she made a test batch the night before). Each batch contained enough to serve fifty. Seriously, it was really simple. The hardest part, or I should say the most tedious part, was opening all of the cans. It’s a REALLY easy recipe. The finished product? Yum. These beans are flavored perfectly and go great on the side of any Mexican dish. This recipe tastes exactly like the black beans you can get at Cafe Rio. The texture is just right.

I’m all about a good copycat recipe you can make at home. Sauté some garlic, cumin, and olive oil over the stove. Once it becomes fragrant (about a minute) add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes juice and season to taste. When you’re ready to serve these yummy beans, add the chopped cilantro and enjoy!!

I’m posting the recipe for 8 and for 50. Depending on how many you are serving, or how much you love beans, or how much you love your hubs after he eats beans- you choose the quantity. If you want to use dry black beans take a look at my No-Soak Instant Pot Black Beans.

Interested in making more copycat Cafe Rio recipes?

4 from 3 votes

Cafe Rio Style Black Beans

Servings 8 -50 servings
Author Si Foster, A Bountiful Kitchen


for 8 servings:

  • 2-15 oz cans black beans (drain one can, don’t drain the other)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-11.5 oz can tomato juice
  • salt kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

for 50:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic about 1/3 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup ground cumin
  • 12-15 oz cans of black beans drain 6 cans, do not drain 6 cans
  • 60-70 oz tomato juice about 1 1/2 46 oz. cans


for 8:

  1. In a non stick pan, cook garlic, cumin and olive oil over medium heat until fragrance is released, about one minute. Be careful not to burn garlic.
  2. Add beans, cook down for about 5 minutes until some of the liquid from the beans is absorbed and evaporated.
  3. Add can of tomato juice and seasoning to taste.
  4. Stir in chopped cilantro when ready to serve.

instructions for 50:

  1. Place oil in large pot.
  2. Add garlic and cumin, cook over medium heat until fragrance is released, about one to two minutes.
  3. Add black beans and tomato juice and salt to taste. Cook until mixture is heated through on medium heat.
  4. When mixture has cooked 20- 30 minutes, turn off heat and add chopped cilantro.
  5. Cool and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve, heat slowly on medium heat, stirring gently to avoid burning beans at bottom of pan. Add more tomato juice if needed.
  7. This may be made and stored up to five days before serving.

24 thoughts on “Cafe Rio Style Black Beans

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Recipe Rating

  1. I LOVE your blog, I found it through pinterest.

    I'm wanting to make these ahead of our upcoming family reunion. What are your thoughts on how they freeze and how they would reheat in a crock pot? Have you ever tried it?

  2. Bless you! I am making sweet pork salads at girls camp and have been hunting high and low for a recipe that looks like it could even remotely serve as many people as I need it to. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can't wait to try these!

  3. 5 stars
    I recently made these beans and they are seriously the best ever! My husband says they are even better than Cafe Rio! I am going to be making a large batch for our Stake Youth Conference and noticed the comment about 1/2 cup of cumin used in the large batches, whereas the recipe says 1/4 cup. Which one should I do? Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Hi Jackie,
      You are right, I totally forgot to amend this recipe. Ill change it now. Thanks for reminding me! Glad you loved this recipe!

    2. I have made this large batch of beans several times. I only add the 1/4 cup and I think its perfect! I also feel when you are cooking for a lot of people, you should go more to the lighter side of the poignant flavors, only because many will love it and many will not, this way you appeal to both tastes. Just my experience from cooking for large groups over 20 years. I still have rave reviews over the 1/4 cup amount.

  4. Thx for the awesome recipe! I just noticed that I the large batch recipe it’s says, “add beans, tomato juice and fresh cilantro” and then at the end it says “add chopped cilantro” after it’s off the heat. Which one is correct?

    1. Rachel,
      Just corrected the recipe it should say to add the cilantro after the beans are heated, but not a big deal to add them while cooking. Thanks!

  5. Have you ever made this with dry beans? We are making it for a fundraiser and planning to feed 200. A local grocery store donated a huge bag of dry black beans so I want to use them, but may that won’t work…

  6. Do you drain the beans on the recipe for 50 or no? It only specifies on the serving for 8, so just wondering!

  7. 2 stars
    I followed the recipe for eight to the letter. What I ended up with was beans floating in liquid- yes I drained one can of beans didn’t drain the other and put in 11.5 oz tomato juice??? Ideas?

  8. 5 stars
    I mean, can you have Cafe Rio food without the black beans? I loved the straightforward recipe that gave the beans such a delicious flavor! As a busy mom, I love that the ingredients list is simple, and as a sometimes hostess, I also love that you gave us a large-quantity version of the recipe too!