Cuban-Inspired Black Bean Plantain Bowls

These meal prep friendly vegan black bean bowls are inspired by Caribbean flavors with fried plantains, mango salsa and a cilantro lime rice.

Cuban-Inspired Black Bean Plantain Bowls

I love a good power bowl. I keep them in constant rotation in my lunch routine for so many reasons. They’re perfect for meal prep. They’re largely made with pantry staples like grains and beans. I find them to be way more filling than most salads. They’re inherently balanced and you make them with any flavor you’d like. Burrito bowls, falafel bowls, sushi bowls, and now these Cuban-inspired black bean plantain bowls!

You’re going to have to get these black bean bowls in your meal prep rotation ASAP. The two co-stars of the show are the spiced black beans and fried plantains. These two ingredients are a match made in heaven. Then the supporting actors are the herby cilantro lime rice and sweet mango salsa. Put it all together with a few lime wedges and extra cilantro and you’ve got yourself your new favorite lunch.

a collection of ingredients arranged on a countertop including a bowl of sliced plantains, a whole plantain, a bowl of rice, chopped green peppers, a bowl of spices, chopped mango and black beans

Ingredients for Black Bean Plantain Bowls

Lots of delicious things are happening in these bowls. Spicy beans, herby rice, hearty plantains, juicy mangos, and fresh lime. Could you ask for anything else in a bowl? Here’s everything you’ll need to make your own:

  • Rice. I’m using brown rice, but feel free to use white rice or another grain like quinoa.
  • Cilantro. A bundle of fresh cilantro takes this bowl over the edge. Dried cilantro won’t give the same effect here.
  • Lime. A squeeze of lime adds a bright pop of flavor to the rice and is perfect for topping off the bowl.
  • Onion. The sofrito is the base of flavor for our Cuban-inspired black beans, and onion is a key component.
  • Garlic. Another component of our sofrito.
  • Bell pepper. Green bell pepper would be traditional for a Cuban sofrito and adds a vegetal flavor, but use what you have on hand.
  • Jalapeno. If you don’t love heat, you could scale down on the jalapeno or leave it out.
  • Black beans. I’m using canned black beans to keep things simple, but you could also make black beans in the Instant Pot.
  • Spices. We’re using cumin, chili powder, paprika, dried oregano, black pepper, cayenne and salt.
  • Oil. I used coconut oil in this recipe, but use whatever oil you like!
  • Plantains. The fried plantains pair perfectly with the black beans and rice in this bowl.
  • Mango. I love the pop of sweetness that the mango adds to these bowls. You could also use pineapple instead!
  • Toppings. Avocado, fresh cilantro and lime wedges are all delicious toppings for these black bean bowls.

a close up of a pot of cooked black beans

How to Make Cuban-Inspired Black Beans

I drew a lot of inspiration from delicious Cuban flavors for this recipe. I opted to use canned black beans to pair down on cook time, but if you have time and want to build extra flavor you could totally make a batch of dried black beans in the Instant Pot.

If you’re using canned black beans like I did, here’s how you make them:

  1. Preheat cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat
  2. Sautee diced onion for 5 minutes
  3. Add jalapeño and bell pepper cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft
  4. Mix in garlic and cook for 1 more minute or until fragrant
  5. Stir in black beans, water and spices, raise heat to high and bring to a boil
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes

a bowl of cilantro lime brown rice

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice

My favorite part about these bowls is the cilantro lime rice because 1. carbs, and 2. I’m obsessed with lime right now. The combination of cilantro and lime together is a winning pairing, and it elevates the rice for these Cuban black bean bowls to another level. I’m seriously making a batch of this every week to have on hand for easy lunches. Add it to these plantain bowls, throw it into your burrito, serve it with a curry or eat it on the side with tacos.  I used brown rice, but I think basmati would be great, too!

Here’s how to make cilantro lime rice:

  • Add rice and water to a saucepan. For long grain white rice use 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. For brown rice use 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to heat to low and cover the pan
  • Cook the rice for about 30 minutes, until it has absorbed all the water.
  • Mix in chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt

a close up of a skillet with fried plantain slices

How to Make Fried Plantains

Plantains are a starchy cousin of the banana and are used in lots of Caribbean dishes. My local produce market always has plantains, so I knew I wanted to add them to these bowls! You can use either green plantains or ripe plantains. Green plantains will be starchier, similar to root vegetables and they will begin to soften as they ripen.

Here’s how to make fried plantains for your black bean bowls:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. I used coconut oil, but you can use any cooking oil you have on hand or a cooking spray.
  2. Add plantains in a single layer. Try to avoid overcrowding the pan to ensure each plantain can take on some color
  3. Fry plantains for about 5 minutes on each side. Repeat until all plantains are cooked.

a GIF of a bowl being assembled with rice, beans, plantains, mango and herbs

How to Assemble Black Bean Plantain Bowls

This plantain bowl recipe will make about 3 or 4 bowls. To assemble, add 1/2 cup of the cooked cilantro lime rice to a bowl. Then layer in a a few slices of fried plantains and a half cup of black beans. Finish it off with diced mango, chopped cilantro and a big squeeze of lime juice.

If you plan to make this recipe for meal prep, you can assemble each bowl in packable containers. If you plan to throw in a serving of greens, I recommend packing up each element separately and then assembling your bowls when you’re ready to eat so that your greens don’t wilt.

a fork digging into a bowl of black beans, rice, plantains and mango

More Vegan Power Bowl Recipes

I’ve got a vegan power bowl recipe for every day of the week! After you make this Cuban-inspired plantain bowl, try these other six recipes! Which one are you planning to try next?

a plantain black bean bowl served with lime wedges and cilantro

How to make:

Cuban-Inspired Black Bean Plantain Bowls

These meal prep friendly vegan black bean bowls are inspired by Caribbean flavors with fried plantains, mango salsa and a cilantro lime rice.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hour
a bowl with cilantro lime rice, black beans, mango and fried plantains
3-4 1x
Rating: 4.5 from 2 reviews


  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus more wedges for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 ripe plantain, cut in 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 mango, diced
  • Optional toppings: avocado slices, lime wedges, chopped cilantro


  1. Add rice and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce to heat to low and cover the pan. Let the rice cook for about 30 minutes, until it has absorbed all the water. Once it is done cooking, add cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir to combine.
  2. While the rice is cooking, add a little cooking oil to a skillet over medium heat, or spray it with cooking spray. Add diced onion; cook for 5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add jalapeño and bell pepper; cook for another 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add garlic; cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add black beans, water, cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, pepper, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Stir to combine; raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; let beans simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  4. In a skillet (you can use the same one from the bans), heat coconut oil over medium heat, or spray with cooking spray Add plantains in a single layer; cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Repeat until all plantains are cooked.
  5. To assemble bowls, add a scoop of rice, a scoop of beans, plantains, and some diced mango. Top with avocado slices and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.