Refried Black Beans

Side DishBudgetMexican and Tex MexBlack Bean

Black beans, cooked and then fried and mashed with onion, garlic, chili, and cilantro. So good!!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

So, when it’s finally your turn in line to order at the taqueria, and the nice lady behind the counter asks, “what kind of beans?,” (to go with your burrito, taco, carnitas platter, etc.) and you gaze upon your choices of pinto beans or black beans, refried or whole, what do you say?

For me, it’s always a struggle. Must. Make. Up. My. Mind. They all look so appealing.

I was raised on refried pinto beans, which mom still makes at home at least once a week. But black beans? They’re so good! There’s something about them, almost a smoky quality.

Whole black beans or refried?

And then there’s the “whole” or “refried” question to be answered. If the beans are for a burrito, then naturally I’ll want them refried. They’ll stick to the tortilla better and won’t spill out as I eat the beast. (Burritos around here tend to be on the hefty side.)

Refried doesn’t mean fried twice

Actually, usually I’ll want them refried, which by the way, isn’t really “re” fried, but just fried and smashed, with more oil and seasonings, after the beans are first cooked in water.

Refried Black Beans

Here is our recipe for refried black beans, or frijoles negros refritos, a Mexican and Southwestern staple.

Consider it a base. You could easily add some jalapeños to it, more chili or chipotle. You can garnish with cilantro, green onions, cotija or queso fresco, or just serve naked.

Once made, the beans will last several days in the refrigerator. Use them as a dip, to spread on tortillas for tacos or burritos, or as a side with steak and salsa.

Refried Black Beans Recipe

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  • Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6

This recipe gives instructions for making refried beans from scratch, starting with dry beans which must first be cooked. You can also start with three 15-ounce cans of whole black beans, in which case, skip to step 5, rinse and drain the beans and add to the pan with a little water in step 6.

Ingredients

Ingredients for cooking the dry beans:

  • 1 lb dry black beans
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

Additional ingredients for frying the beans after they've been cooked:

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese (omit for vegan version)
  • Tortilla chips or corn tortillas

Method

1 Soak dry beans: Place dry black beans in a bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Let sit overnight.

Alternatively, if you don't have time to soak the beans overnight, place the dry beans in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the beans, covering the beans with at least an inch of water, and let sit for one hour.

Note, if your dry beans are a little old, or if you have reason to believe that they will be tough to cook (beans stored in hot or humid climates can get tough), you can add some salt to the water (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt 2 quarts of water) which at this stage will help the beans soften when they cook later.

2 Sauté cumin, onion, garlic:  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot (the pot you will use to cook the beans) on medium high heat.

Add the cumin. Once the cumin is sizzling, add the chopped onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.

3 Add beans and water, simmer 2 hours: Once the beans have soaked, they should have expanded noticeably. Drain the soaking liquid.

Add the drained beans and 2 quarts of water to the onions. Bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours.

4 Add Salt and Cilantro, cook 3o min more: After the beans have simmered for 2 hours, add 2 teaspoons of salt (if you salted the soaking water in step 1, then taste first, and only add a teaspoon or so more of salt if you think it needs it).

Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Let cook uncovered for another half hour, or until the beans are tender.

5 Sauté the spices, then add onions and cook: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add the chipotle powder, chili powder, and cumin.

Once the spices are sizzling, add the chopped white onion and cook until translucent.

Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

6 Add beans, then mash: Add the cooked black beans (and liquid from the pot) to the frying pan. Use a potato masher to mash the beans in the pan.  Let them cook 3 to 4 minutes longer.

add cooked black beans and mash them

If the beans are a little soupy for your taste, just let them cook longer. If too thick or dry, add more water. Adjust seasonings to taste.

7 Serve: Garnish with chopped green onions, fresh cilantro, and crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese.

Serve with tortilla chips or corn or flour tortillas (corn if you are gluten-free). Great in tacos or burritos, or for a dip, or a side with steak.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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56 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Courtney

    When using canned beans, how big or many cans do you suggest for this recipe?

  • Kris

    This makes a lot! I halved the recipe and served 4 with tostadas and had a lot left over. Good though,

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • KA

    Since discovering this recipe a few years ago it is now the only one we make. We love it so much, thank you!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Hajar

    I made this recipe because I wanted to try something new with black beans. It was wonderful, and very easy. I used canned Goya black beans a 15.5 oz can.

  • Nora

    I’ve never made refried beans before – but had a can of black beans and wanted to try. Your recipe was simple and using the canned beans took the process to under 10 min. Tasted amazing, when I usually find them bland. Excellent recipe. Would use again.

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