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Enfrijoladas with Black Beans, Avocado and Cotija

Corn tortillas dipped in black bean sauce and folded in half then filled or topped with cheese and avocado make a simple and delicious vegetarian and gluten free meal.

Black Bean Enfrijoladas on a plate with avocado.
Sally Vargas

Enfrijoladas, made with corn tortillas and bean sauce, is one of Mexico’s best answers to the quick and healthy dinner conundrum. It’s a hearty, nourishing dish made of inexpensive ingredients and it’s easy to assemble.

If you’re a bean lover, gluten-free, or a vegetarian, a plate of enfrijoladas is likely to get its hooks into you. You’ll make it once, appreciate its easy comfort, and want to make it on repeat.

What are Enfrijoladas?

Think of enfrijoladas as the distant cousin to enchiladas. The difference? The sauce is made from beans instead of tomatoes or tomatillos. And unlike enchiladas, which are routinely rolled up snug with the fillings inside, enfrijoladas are often folded in half with the fixings either inside, on top, or both.

The dish has roots in Oaxaca, though it’s popular throughout Mexico, often served at breakfast. Although beans are universal in enfrijoladas, the other ingredients depend on the cook. Cheese, onion, cilantro, and chicken are common. You might also find a cooked egg or crumbled chorizo in the mix, too.

This recipe is a fairly traditional spin on enfrijoladas, since it’s built on black beans and corn tortillas. Corn tortillas work better than flour here, since they’re sturdy enough to hold up in the sauce. For flavor, the recipe calls for chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, which adds an easy pop of smoky flavor without making the dish excessively spicy.

Mexican Enfrijoladas topped with avocado and cotija.
Sally Vargas

How to Make Sauce for Enfrijoladas?

To make the sauce, start by sauteing onions and garlic in a little oil. From there, it’s just a matter blending in black beans, lime juice, chipotle chile in adobo sauce, cumin, and salt. You can lean on the convenience of canned beans here, which work well for this recipe.

If you have dried beans on hand and a little bit of time, feel free to cook your own beans from scratch. Just be sure to save one cup of the bean cooking liquid. In addition to the bean cooking liquid, the recipe also calls for water to be added. The amount can vary depending on the beans, so just aim for a sauce that’s about the texture of a thick soup.

Recipe Swaps and Substitutions

  • Enfrijoladas is a dish that lends itself to interpretation depending on your mood and what you have in the pantry. Here are a few ideas:
  • Swap pinto beans for black beans. You may have to adjust the amount of water, since one variety of bean may be starchier than another.
  • Leave out the cheese and sour cream (or find non-dairy substitutes) for a vegan version of the dish.
  • Add more (or less) chipotle depending on your tolerance for spice.
  • Fill with shredded cheese instead of topping with cotija. Simply add a few tablespoons of shredded Monterey Jack inside each enfrijolada before folding.
  • Sauté a pile of fresh spinach to tuck into the enfrijoladas along with that Jack cheese.
Black Bean Enfrijoladas topped with red onions and cojita.
Sally Vargas

A Nutritious Vegetarian Dish

In addition to being tasty and easy to make, enfrijoladas are packed with good nutrition. Black beans are rich in fiber and folate. For folks following a plant-based diet, black beans are a particularly good choice, since they provide protein as well as iron and zinc, nutrients commonly found in animal products. When you figure in the whole grains from corn tortillas and the healthy fats in avocado, you’ve got a very balanced plate on your hands.

Serving Suggestions

Enfrijoladas are suitable for any meal of the day. For breakfast, serve as is or top each plate with a poached or fried egg. For dinner, pair them with a bright fresh salad, such as this Jicama Salad or this Nopalitos one. For those not following a vegetarian diet, you can top each enfrijolada with shredded chicken before you add the avocado and onion. If you happen to have fresh cilantro on your fridge, it makes a pretty garnish.

Black Bean Enfrijoladas topped with red onion and cotija.
Sally Vargas

More Vegetarian Black Bean Recipes

Enfrijoladas with Black Beans, Avocado and Cotija

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yields 8 enfrijoladas

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black bean, not drained or 3 1/2 cups cooked beans plus 1 cup bean cooking liquid
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 small avocados, cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/3 cup Mexican salsa
  • 1/3 cup light or regular sour cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Special Equipment:
  • Blender

Method

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic:

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add 3/4 of the sliced onion and sauté until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté to soften, 2 minutes.

    Sauteed red onion to make Mexican Enfrijoladas.
    Sally Vargas
  2. Blend the sauce:

    Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to a blender along with the beans, including the bean liquid, chipotle, lime juice, cumin, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more salt if needed, then blend again. 

    Ingredients in a blender to show how to make Enfrijoladas.
    Sally Vargas
    Blended sauce for Mexican Enfrijoladas.
    Sally Vargas
  3. Heat the sauce:

    Transfer the beans back to the large skillet set over low heat. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes at simmer. The sauce should be the texture of a thick soup. Add more water, if needed, to thin to the appropriate consistency.

    Sauce for Black Bean Enfrijoladas in a skillet.
    Sally Vargas
  4. Assemble the dish:

    Use a pair of tongs to heat a tortilla over a gas flame or in a dry skillet set over high heat until it begins to blister. Submerge the tortilla in the bean sauce, smothering it completely. Use a spatula to fold it in half and transfer to a dinner plate. Top with a tablespoon of cotija, a slice or 2 of avocado, and a tangle of raw sliced onions. Continue with remaining tortillas and bean sauce, figuring 2 enfrijoladas per plate.

    Corn tortillas topped with black bean sauce to show How to Make Enfrijoladas.
    Sally Vargas
  5. Serve:

    Serve immediately with the salsa, cilantro, sour cream and any remaining bean sauce for guests to add as they please.