Brazilian Black Beans (Vegetarian Feijoada)

I love beans of all shapes and descriptions, but I particularly love black beans. If black beans are your thing then you are definitely going to love this rich vegetarian and vegan feijoada (black beans Brazilian-style).

Why? Because this veggie feijoada is jam-packed with umami goodness. I’ve tested and retested this recipe a million times (this is an updated and improved version of the first vegetarian feijoada recipe that was on this page!).

I haven’t been testing it to replicate the exact flavours of feijoada as that’s just not possible in a vegetarian version.

I’ve been testing to try to get a similar balance of depth of flavour – no mean feat when traditional feijoada gets most of its flavouring from simmering cuts of meat in it for hours and it seems I’ve finally cracked it.

Warning, this recipe is definitely not a 100% authentic feijoada recipe, as there are no authentic vegetarian feijoada recipes, and some non-traditional ingredients may have been used in the quest for tastiness.

It is, however, a 100% delicious recipe.

A large black pot of brazilian black beans (feijoada) without meat

You can make this recipe with dried beans in the instant pot, in a pressure cooker, on the stove, or with canned beans.

All the instructions for the different methods are below. It’s cheap as chips, especially if you use dried beans and makes a lot, as well as being really easy to double up on for food prep, and freezes like a dream.

There’s also very little chopping involved (yay!) or none at all if you own a food processor.

If you’re a fan of legumes you should also try these other delicious and pocket-friendly recipes:

What is Feijoada?

Normally, Feijoada is a meaty stew with beans and different cuts of pork or beef. It’s the national dish of Brazil and is also eaten in other countries such as Portugal, Angola and Cape Verde, among others.

In Brazil, it’s traditionally made with black beans most of the time, and this is the version I am most familiar with.

A close up of black beans on a white dish with greens, orange slices and white rice

How did I make this vegetarian Feijoada?

I had tried a few veggie feijoada recipes and while they were nice, there was nothing very stand-out-ish about them and I felt there could be quite a bit of improvement.

To approximate a rich plant-based version of this popular dish, I spent time researching the ingredients and concluded the key tastes could be boiled down to:

  1. Fat. The majority of the cuts used in feijoada are inferior or fatty cuts (nobody’s gonna throw a steak in…)
  2. Chorizo-like spices. Easily replicable, I’ve had many versions of vegetarian chorizo which basically tasted the same as chorizo. Nobody is chopping up their steaks for chorizo either as it’s not about high-quality meat, it’s about the flavouring used.
  3. Infusion. Feijoada is not a quick recipe and traditionally is cooked over many hours, a process which can be sped up by using a pressure cooker.
Greens. white rice, orange slices and a black cast iron pan of vegetarian feijoada

Armed with this pseudo-scientific information, I set about making it. I partially caramelize the onions and add good quality Spanish smoked paprika for the spices.

Initially, I cooked the onions separately with some garlic and cumin for two reasons.

The first is that in my experience, oil-released flavours tend to be dimmed by pressure cooking, and the second is that cumin is far tastier when toasted. However, later I found a quicker way to get the same flavour.

The final piece of the puzzle was the addition of some marmite (yeast extract). Argh, don’t walk away! I know marmite is one the great dividers, you either love it or hate it.

I personally am in the HATE camp, but a touch of it can do amazing things for sauces. It is optional in this recipe but I heartily recommend it in this yummy vegan feijoada recipe.

A close of of Brazilian black beans

What is feijoada served with?

Feijoada is traditionally served with collard greens, slices of orange, rice and toasted manioc flour.

In my town outside of Madrid, there is no manioc to be seen and no collard greens either. Hence when serving Feijoada in my house I tend to serve it with some fried chard and orange slices and white rice.

I’m actually not a huge fan of oranges so sometimes I serve it with lemon quarters! If chard is out of season I’ll fry some kale instead with a dash of smoked paprika.

Instant pot, pressure cooker or stovetop?

When you need infused flavours and tender beans, plus super economical cooking, the pressure cooker or Instant Pot is your best friend. However, this totally depends on the type of bean.  

I never pressure cook chickpeas (garbanzos) for example, because in a New York minute you can overcook them, they don’t cook evenly (some are grainy and hard while others in the same pot are mushy) and you also have to deal with their skins coming off.

Black beans in a cast iron pan and a white dish with feijoada sides

Black beans, on the other hand, are pretty indestructible. It’s hard to overcook them and they all cook evenly.

Perfect to make Brazilian black beans with! Plus in Spain where I live they are much cheaper to cook in the pressure cooker as they’re 1.60 for a kilo of dried ones, versus nearly €3 for a small can!

For some mysterious reason you can pretty much get dried black beans everywhere here, but canned black beans not so much.

Anyway I usually make this recipe in my trusty pressure cooker, but I’ve also included different ways to cook it below.

The recipe as it stands is geared towards instant pots and pressure cookers but can be adapted to slow cookers and stovetop cooking.

Cooking methodSoaked?How long?
Instant PotSoakedCook 8 minutes on high pressure then naturally release for 15.
Instant PotUnsoakedCook 25 minutes on high pressure then naturally release for 20.
Pressure CookerSoaked30 minutes, reduce heat to medium once pressure has been reached (first whistle), quick release.
Pressure CookerUnsoaked41 minutes, reduce heat to medium once pressure has been reached (first whistle), quick release.
StovetopSoakedCook 60-90 minutes until tender, check water levels and top up as necessary.
StovetopUnsoakedNot recommended
CrockpotSoakedCook on a low heat for 4-5 hours
CrockpotUnsoakedCook on a low heat for 7-8 hours
Canned beansN/ARemove one cup of water and simmer rinsed beans for 15 minutes. Add back the cup of water if you’d like a soupier texture.

Brazilian Black Beans (Feijoada) Instructions

Grab two of the onions and chop them by hand or using a food processor. Purée the remaining onion in a food processor blender. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, just fairly liquid!

Next heat the olive oil in the pan over a medium-high heat and sauté the chopped onions for 10 minutes. When the onions are slightly golden, at around the 5-6 minute mark, you’ll want to add the salt.

Golden fried onions in a pot

Your onions should be golden and somewhat browned at the edges like in the image above.

Next add in all the spices and seasonings (ground garlic, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, ground cilantro, ground cumin, smoked hot paprika, oregano, and ground pepper) and toast for two minutes.

Several colourful spices and bay leaves on a green plate

It’s of vital importance that the paprika you use is smoked and spicy. It should have a deep red colour. More than one dish has been ruined by a crappy mild claggy paprika, unfortunately.

Onion puree and spices in a pot

Next, add in the pureed onion and fry for five minutes, stirring often. Don’t worry too much if some bits stick to the pan, this should come off when you add the liquid.

Add the beans, water and stock cube. Cook according to your chosen method and following the timings given in the previous section.

Black beans in red cooking liquid

In this example, I’m cooking soaked beans in a pressure cooker so I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes from when I seal the cooker and I’ll lower the temperature to medium once the first whistle has sounded.

Once the beans have finished cooking (I always quick release when using my pressure cooker), bring back to the boil on the stove and add the different kinds of vinegar, soy sauce and marmite. Simmer five minutes more. Done!

Lot’s of people like to thicken feijoada by mashing a few beans or blending half a cupful with a stick blender. Personally I just prefer the look of a clearer gravy, but you do you.

Serve with your chosen sides and enjoy! Freezes perfectly and will keep in the fridge for up to five days.


Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.

Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian), I love seeing all your creations!

Yield: 8 servings

Brazilian Black Beans (Vegetarian Feijoada)

Brazilian Black Beans (Vegetarian Feijoada)

A thick healthy comforting veganized version of those famous Brazilian black beans, Feijoada. Perfect with rice and a hint of citrus, just throw it in your pressure cooker for a quick and easy nutritious dinner, or check my notes to see how to cook it in the instant pot or on the stovetop.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ -½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp black or white ground pepper
  • 2⅔ cups dried black beans (6-8 cups cooked)
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic
  • ½ tbsp Marmite (optional, also known as Vegemite, yeast extract)

To  serve

  • Steamed white or brown rice
  • Steamed collard greens (or kale/savoy cabbage/chard)
  • lemon quarters or slices of orange

Instructions

    1. Take two of the onions and chop or pulse 6-8 times in a food processor to easily chop. Puree the remaining onion in a food processor blender and set aside for step 4.
    2. Fry the chopped onions in the olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the 1/2 tsp salt at around the 5-6 minute mark when the onions are slightly golden.
    3. Add all the spices and seasoning from the garlic to the ground pepper and stir well, toasting for two minutes.
    4. Add in the pureed onion and fry for five minutes, stirring often.
    5. Now add in the beans water and stock cube. Check the notes for cooking times for all methods.
    6. After the beans have finished cooking, bring to the boil and add in the two types of vinegar, soy sauce and marmite (optional). Reduce to a simmer and let cook for five minutes more.
    7. Remove the bay leaves. If you'd like to thicken the sauce you can blend it a little, no more than half a cup. Serve!

Notes

For cooked canned/tinned beans, only add 4 cups of water at first and simmer the beans on a high temperature for 15 minutes before preceding to step 6. You can add up to a cup of water later if you'd like to adjust the consistency.

For soaked black beans cook 8 minutes on high pressure in the Instant Pot and let naturally release for 15 minutes, 60-90 minutes on the stovetop (check the water level and top up as needed) or 30 minutes in the pressure cooker (reduce temperature to medium once the cooker has whistled, quick-release).

For unsoaked black beans cook 25 minutes at high pressure in the Instant pot and let naturally release for 20 minutes, or 41 minutes in the pressure cooker (reduce temperature to medium once the cooker has whistled, quick-release). I do NOT recommend cooking unsoaked black beans on the stovetop.

You can also cook the beans in a crockpot (slow cooker). If the beans are soaked, cook on low for 4-5 hours, if unsoaked cook on low for 7-8 hours.

    Nutrition Information

    Yield

    8

    Serving Size

    1

    Amount Per Serving Calories 339Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 503mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 13gSugar 4gProtein 17g
    Pin for Vegan Brazilian black beans

    6 thoughts on “Brazilian Black Beans (Vegetarian Feijoada)”

    1. I love the idea of a ” veganized” Feijoada! Raised in Brazil I learned to love a nice thick fatty steak… But now in my 40’s ?..I’m trying to eat a little better and avoid red meat! Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it! ( Btw… It’s served with collard greens and not kale:)

      Reply
      • Hi Carla, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, but I live in Spain and can’t get collard greens here hence the kale. I’ll make sure to edit the post to point that out though, thanks for the heads up!

        Reply
    2. Another triumph Deirdre! My first time using a pressure cooker and this turned out perfectly – thank you!
      (For anyone not familiar with cups, I used 500g of dried beans and a litre of water)

      Reply
      • So glad you liked it Fi! And thanks for pointing out the grams and litre measurements, I do usually try to put them in but it slipped my mind this time!

        Reply
    3. Thanks for this great recipe. We are in lockdown in France – I imagine you are too in Spain and so this recipe was made with what I had in the cupboard. I didn’t have smoked paprika – turns out it’s not really essential!! I used Chilli powder instead, dried coriander leaves instead of the oregano and a bit of this instead of that – however the puréed onion and vinegar/soy sauce/marmite combo works amaZINGly!!

      Reply
      • I’m so glad you enjoyed it Zenna! I know, the combo sounds really weird, but it works so well! Thanks for stopping by to leave such a lovely comment, you’re right, we’re well into lockdown here so I’m also digging deep into the cupboards and making a lot of substitutions in recipes. Stay safe!

        Reply

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