Refried Black Beans

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.

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

Ingredients

Ingredients 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 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.

saute onions cumin garlic as base for refried black beans

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.

4 Add Salt and Cilantro, cook 30 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.

add cilantro to cooked black beans cook black beans uncovered a half hour

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.

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

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.