Refried Black Beans

Love refried beans? Give refried black beans a try! Start with canned or dried black beans, then fry and mash them with savory seasonings. This'll be your new go-to recipe for refried beans.

Refried Black Beans
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
Elise Bauer

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

Prep Time 70 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Servings 6 servings

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.


For cooking the dry beans:

  • 1 pound dry black beans

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

For refrying and serving the beans:

  • 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


  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.

    saute onions cumin garlic as base for refried black beans
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add drained 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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  4. Add salt and cilantro, cook 30 minutes 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.

    add cilantro to cooked black beans
    Elise Bauer
    cook black beans uncovered a half hour
    Elise Bauer
  5. Sauté the spices, then add onions and cook:

    Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add the chipotle powder, chili powder, and cumin.

    saute spices for refried black beans
    Elise Bauer
    saute onions in spices for refried black beans add in
    Elise Bauer

    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
    Elise Bauer

    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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
294 Calories
4g Fat
50g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 294
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 385mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 13g 45%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 109mg 8%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 1202mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.