Habichuelas Con Dulce (Dominican Sweet Beans) Dominican Easter Dessert

Sherlene Rodriguez & Faury Rodriguez| View Author Bio

Growing up, one of the most time tested traditions in our Dominican household was the making and enjoying of ‘Habichuelas con Dulce’ during the Lent and Easter season. It is a sweet dish made with red bean or pinto beans, coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, warm spices like cinnamon, batatas and raisins. It is usually served in a small soup bowl with milk crackers, soda crackers, or casabe, which is toasted cassava bread.

Now, although the idea is to give something up for Lent, enjoying this dish was something I’d never leave behind for 40 days.

The making of this dish was generally spearheaded by my aunt, Tia Juanita, who would make big ol’ batches in stock pots so everyone in the extended family, which could easily number up to 30 people in a small 2 bedroom NYC apartment, could enjoy as the season went by.

Habichuelas con dulce literally translates into “Beans with Sweet” or, more fluidly, “Sweetened Beans”, or “Sweet Cream of Beans”.

This sweet concoction always hit the spot for me and my siblings growing up and it proved to be a covert way for our parents to sneak in vegetables we otherwise weren’t excited to eat. Enter the Dominican batata. ‘La batata’, pronounced ‘lah bah-tah-tah’, is that island’s sweet potato. Unlike the sweet potato common to the US, this root vegetable has a white flesh with a purplish skin and is referred to in English as white sweet potato or Japanese sweet potato. Not everyone enjoys eating their vegetables, but imagine how that story changes when you have your veggie swimming in a soup of sweet, sweet delicious cream.

However, the crème de la crème or the proverbial “cherry on top” of this dish were the milk crackers that were always served with your cup. These affectionately known to my siblings and me as “Jesus crackers” were always the best part of enjoying habichuelas con dulce, i.e. the Guarina Galletas Dulces.

You could either have them all floating in your cup and ultimately become sweet, mushy floaters; or you could eat them dry on the side as you took a spoonful of the habichuelas. Regardless of your delivery method, they made the dish complete.

At which point, I hope you too enjoy the following recipe, which is served either cold or hot depending on your preference.

Habichuelas Con Dulce Recipe

Dominican Republic Lenten Dessert

Presented by: Sherlene Rodriguez, Faury Rodriguez, and Maria Khan

Prep Time: 24 hours

Cook Time:  1 hour

Servings: 10


  • 2 lb or 4 cups of dried red beans
  • 6 cups of water for boiling. (enough to cover beans)
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup milk (fat level of choice)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 cans (8 oz) of evaporated milk
  • 1 can (8 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½  cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet cloves
  • 1 large white sweet potato, also known as a Japanese sweet potato – cut into cubes


  • Whole cinnamon
  • Milk crackers
  • Toasted cassava bread


  • Large pot
  • Large colander
  • Blender
  • Individual serving bowls


  1. Soak 4 cups of dried red beans in water overnight.
  2. Peel and cube white sweet potato.
  3. Add 6 cups of water, softened red beans, and cinnamon sticks to a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender.
  4. Remove the beans from the fire. Remove cinnamon sticks.
  5. In a large blender, add beans and liquid with ¼ cup of milk and blend thoroughly.
  6. Place a large colander over a pot and strain beans to remove skins and any solids.
  7. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the beans have been blended and sieved.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add cubed white sweet potato.
  9. When the sweet potato is slightly tender, add the coconut cream, coconut milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves.
  10. Simmer over low heat and stir frequently until the sweet potatoes are fully cooked and the mixture has thickened.
  11. Add raisins and simmer for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
  13. Serve at room temperature with choice of garnish or serve chilled.
  14. If not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Habichuelas Con Dulce can be frozen for a few months, thawed, and reheated to enjoy later.

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