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Refried Black Beans

Refried Black Beans

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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.

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

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 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


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 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.

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.

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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Refried Beans vs Black Beans: What’s The Difference?

Both these Beans have been used interchangeably in the side dishes if you are having Mexican food. However, you must know that Black Beans and Refried Beans are two different things and not the same dish. The real disappointment is experienced when you’re hoping frijoles refritos which is well-fried Beans and you receive frijoles negros.

You must know what you are eating before you step into a Mexican restaurant. Most of the beans may seem quite similar and taste the same as well. However, critical differences in their cooking style or the nature of beans can affect your taste buds a lot. One thing you must know is Black Beans are Refried bean classic recipes that have Black Beans used in them.

Mexican Pizza

​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Pizza doesn't always have to be topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Give what can often be a predictable dish an unexpected Mexican twist. The flavors of a taco are translated to this easy-to-make Mexican pizza.

Pre-made pizza dough is topped with a mixture of cooked ground pork or chorizo, taco sauce, tomato sauce, and spices and then sprinkled with Cojack cheese (a combination of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses). It is then baked until bubbling and delicious. Making two huge pizzas, it's the perfect recipe for entertaining.

Soaking your beans is a must for this recipe. Beans should be soaked in a large bowl with enough water to cover the beans, plus 2 more inches. Soak for 4-12 hours with 1-2 teaspoons salt.

Forget to soak your beans?! Don’t worry. You can still make these tasty beans right now.

For express bean soaking, boil water in a large pot. Place beans in a large bowl, and pour boiling water over beans until they’re covered, plus an inch. Then let soak for an hour before cooking.

  • 1 pound black beans, washed and picked over
  • 16 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon safflower or canola oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 large cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Low-fat plain yogurt, for garnish

Soak beans overnight in 8 cups water. (Alternatively, place beans in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, nonstick, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bean pot or Dutch oven, and saute onions and 4 cloves garlic over medium heat until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked beans and 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour, uncovered. Add more garlic, if you wish, cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt, and continue to simmer, adding water as needed, until the beans are soft and the liquid is thick and aromatic and barely covers the beans, about 45 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Allow the beans to cool. Mash them coarsely in batches in a food processor or blender or with a potato masher. Make sure not to puree until smooth you want texture.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet and add chili powder and cumin. Saute for 1 minute over medium heat and add the mashed beans (this can be done in batches, depending on the size of your pan). Taste for salt, adding 1/2 teaspoon more if desired, and fry the beans, stirring often, until they begin to get crusty and aromatic. If they seem too dry, add some water. Mash and stir as they cook. There should be enough liquid so that they bubble as they cook, while at the same time a thin crust forms on the bottom. Cook for about 10 to 20 minutes and either serve immediately topped with a dollop of yogurt, or transfer to an oiled serving dish if you plan to reheat the beans later.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes. If the beans seem dry, moisten them with water before reheating.

This is my favorite Refried Beans recipe and it&rsquos so easy to make. All you&rsquoll need is a can of black beans, a jalapeno pepper chopped up to add some spice, and cilantro/salt/pepper to season. Easy, right? These beans are total Mexican restaurant style and is the perfect side for tacos and burritos.

Black beans have amazing protein-plus-fiber content. From one cup of black beans, you get 1/3 of your daily protein intake, it&rsquos equivalent to eating 2 ounces of chicken or fish. Those beans are healthy little protein giving guys, aren&rsquot they?

These beans take 15 minutes &ndash max. Because we&rsquore using canned beans, we don&rsquot have to worry about overnight soaking like dry beans would need. We also don&rsquot need to use your slow cooker all day to soften them. With this recipe we&rsquore throwing everything in a saucepan and they&rsquoll be done in a jiffy.

Even though I stress this recipe as quick and easy, it doesn&rsquot lack in flavor. Even if I have all the time in the world for Taco Night, I&rsquom still going to make the beans just this way. If you are looking for regular Refried Beans with Pinto Beans, just substitute the beans in this recipe and cook the exact same way.

12 Creative Ways to Use Canned Refried Beans

Do you love eating a side of refried beans at your favorite Mexican restaurant? Well, they can be just as delicious at home! There are tons of great ways to use canned refried beans in appetizers, dinners, salads, and sides. Sure, you can just warm them up and serve them with a main dish like steak or chicken. Or, you can go all out and mix them in with Mexican rice or with pico de gallo and guacamole on homemade tortillas. But you can also turn canned refried beans into something completely new, like Ree Drummond's chicken tostadas or her enchilada casserole.

Since we're on the subject, did you know that refried beans aren't actually fried twice? The name "refried beans" is based on the Spanish term for the dish, &ldquofrijoles refritos,&rdquo which means beans that are "well fried." You can make your own refried beans using dried beans, or you can go with the canned stuff for a simple shortcut. Most canned refried beans are made with pinto beans, but they can be made with kidney beans or black beans, too&mdashpick whichever you prefer. Stock up next time you're at the grocery store, then check out these 12 creative and easy ways to use canned refried beans.

Want more recipes, design ideas, and fun updates from Ree? Follow The Pioneer Woman Magazine on Facebook for all of that and more!

Refried Black Beans

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and jalapeños and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add beans, cumin, and ½ cup water season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, and mashing with the back of a wooden spoon, until beans take on a creamy texture, about 3 minutes, adding more water if desired for a creamier consistency.

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Healthy Refried Black Beans

As a side dish, or a component to the meal, this Healthy Refried Black Beans recipe is a delicious part of any meal!! Regardless of whether you are looking to keep your calories low, eating around dietary restrictions, or just want to enjoy some tasty refried black beans. you will love this quick and easy version!

Enjoy these healthy refried black beans - absolutely delicious!!


  • Veggies | Nothing adds flavor to a dish like fresh ingredients. You’ll be surprised at what a little diced onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro can do to your beans. I promise — this simple addition is worth the extra prep, not to mention it gives these black beans a boost of nutritional value!
  • Black Beans | For ease and convenience, this Refried Black Beans Recipe calls for canned black beans. If you are curious, Bush’s Black Beans were used for recipe development.
  • Adobo Sauce | These days you can buy adobo sauce sold on its own or you can get it out of canned chipotle peppers (these canned peppers come swimming in this flavorful sauce). You’ll typically find it on the international aisle of your grocery store near the other Mexican ingredients. If you’re unfamiliar with this ingredient altogether and wonder what it tastes like exactly, it’s tangy, smoky, and somewhat spicy. Note, if you are uncomfortable with spice, feel free to leave it out altogether.
  • Spices | The spices going into your Refried Black Beans are traditional to both Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. You will need cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Refried Black Beans

  • Author: Emily Koch
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1 x
  • Category: Snack, side
  • Cuisine: Mexican, Gluten-free. Vegetarian


Making your own refried beans is easy. In just under 15 minutes you can have homemade black refried beans that taste better, and are healthier than any canned refried beans.


  • 2 tablespoons butter (sub grape seed oil if vegan)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 to 5 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained*
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Filtered water
  • Cojita cheese or Queso Fresco, crumbled
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  • Corn or flour tortillas


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter. Add the onion sprinkle the onion with salt. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender and translucent.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the black beans and ¼ cup water. Use a potato masher to mash the beans until they reach your desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky). Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The beans should thicken and the liquid should mostly be evaporated. Add a little more water if you want them to be a little moister, or cook them a little longer if you want them to be drier. (I used about ½ cup water total).
  4. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with desired toppings such as chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, and crumbled Queso Fresco or Cojita cheese. Serve as a dip with tortilla chips or spread on corn or flour tortillas. Or serve alongside tacos, fajitas, or your favorite Mexican dish.


*You could sub in pinto beans if you prefer.

If leftovers seem a little dry when you reheat them than stir in a little filtered water until they reach the consistency you like.


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