Feijão (Beans) Recipe

Disclaimer: this is not my feijão. Image source

When Christian and I got married, one of our friends – upon hearing that I’m learning how to cook – asked if I could at least make a “basic” feijão, as though this was a prerequisite for being a good wife to a Brazilian husband. The assumption isn’t surprising – feijão is essential to the Brazilian household; I remember seeing a survey showing that around 98% of Brazilians eat feijão every day.

Guess Christian took a leap of faith in marrying me – although I’ve always eaten feijão, I was clueless about making it, and plus, I’m afraid of the pressure cooker. It always looks like it’s about to explode. Christian informs me that it CAN explode if it’s not closed properly.

Six weeks later, although I’m by no means a feijão expert, I’ve at least learned the basics. Here’s the recipe I’ve learned from Christian. There are no exact amounts – sorry! Whenever I (with my chemist’s brain) try to pin down exact amounts, my husband insists that cooking isn’t an exact science.


  • Charque or carne seca. Image source

    Black or pinto beans

  • Charque (also known as carne seca) – dried, salted beef
  • Calabresa (a type of spiced sausage)
  • Tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro
  • Optional: Beets, squash, ginger, carrots, green or red pepper, and whatever other vegetables and/or seasonings you might want to hide in your feijão


  1. The day before, pick over the beans and get rid of any stones or bad beans, then soak them in water overnight. This helps get rid of the gases. You also might want to soak the charque to get rid of some of the salt.
  2. Drain the beans, then add more water as well as the charque cut into bite-sized cubes. Cook them in the pressure cooker under pressure for about 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, dice the tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, and any other veggies and blend them in the blender with a little bit of oil and some water.
  4. After the beans/charque have cooked for 15 minutes, they should be about halfway done. Add the blended veggies, a couple bay leaves, and the sliced calabresa, and cook under pressure for about 20-30 more minutes.
  5. When the beans are done (they should be soft), taste the sauce of the feijão to see if it needs any salt. If you’ve made it with meat, it probably won’t, since the charque contributes quite a bit of salt. If you’ve made vegetarian feijão, then add salt to taste.
That’s it! Serve over rice and add farinha de mandioca (manioc flour) to soak up the extra liquid from the feijão.
  • Lori McHugh

    I laughed when I read the part about “hiding” whatever veggies you have on hand in the dish – I had done that for years with meatloaf, stews and soups! (I still do it, so that “the guys” get some veggies in them).

  • Linda Schiffhauer

    Can’t wait to try it!

  • Cecilia Butcher

    I used a pressure cooker a lot when first married over 50 years ago as our oven had no way to tell how hot it was. I was afraid at first but got the hang of it and got so I used it for almost everything

  • Cecilia Butcher

    could you fix this in a slow cooker?

    • Shayna

      Yes! Some people say the beans are even tastier if slow-cooked in a normal pot. I don’t notice much of a difference, so I use the pressure cooker since it speeds things up.

  • debbie

    Yummy in my Tummy! As one of Andrew’s dishes for his senior project was to make a Brazilian meal. He and your father cooked up a delicious chicken and mushroom dish along with a black bean and rice dish. I have made the bean dish at least a dozen times since then. My boys love it! It’s easy to make and delicious too!

  • RenatoAlves

    Loved this post. When I got here in US I started to cook some brazilian dished for my American family. They love rice and beans so from now on, at least, once a week I have to cook them.
    The pressure cook we have here is HUGE and I am get lazy of washing it after so I use can pinto beans. I couldn’t find yet a small one to cook the beans which will taste even better.
    The other day Louise said: Wow I love this rice and beans thing hehehe
    Have you tried lentilhas? I put the same stuff in it and it is delicious but i don’t use a pressure cook. If you do, you can’t leave more than 5 minutes. About 20 minutes in the regular pan…
    Another thing they love here. Lentels with sausage…

    • Shayna

      Renato, I tried your lentil recipe and it was delicious! I’ll definitely be making it again. It’s great because it doesn’t take as long as regular feijao.