Refried Black Beans

19 Dec

refried black beans

Beans might not be particularly glamorous (or easy to photograph), but they’re one of my favorite ingredients. Filling and flavorful, they’re a great base for a meal, especially if you don’t eat meat or, like me, only eat meat occasionally. (Of course, they can also be great when served with meat, too.) I’ve always been a fan of refried beans, but for some reason figured they would be time-consuming to prepare or else require vastly unhealthy quantities of fat. Not the case, though, as these refried black beans (you can use pinto beans instead, if you like) come together in about half an hour, and the fat quantity can be adjusted to your liking (from two tablespoons to keep things healthy to four tablespoons to get the most flavor). These are great for adding to wraps (burritos included, of course) or eating with some rice or quinoa. I also thought they went especially well with a side of roasted corn salsa as the sweetness and texture of the corn was great alongside the creamy richness of the beans.

Refried Black Beans
Yield: about 3 cups


  • 2 – 4 Tbsp vegetable oil*
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder**
  • 1/2 tsp guajillo chile powder**
  • 1/4 tsp arbol chile powder**
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup water***
  • salt, to taste

*If you’re not vegetarian, I highly recommend using lard or bacon fat for extra flavor. If you’re trying to keep things healthier, feel free to keep the oil/lard on the lower end (2 Tbsp), but if you want a little extra flavor, use more (4 Tbsp).
**Feel free to substitute with whatever mix of ground chiles you prefer.
***If using beans you’ve cooked yourself, use the cooking liquid.


  1. In a large sautee pan, heat 2 – 4 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat, then add 1 onion, diced, and sautee until translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Add 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ancho chile powder, 1/2 tsp guajillo chile powder, and 1/4 tsp arbol chile powder, and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Add 3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed) and 1/2 cup water, and cook over high heat, mashing the beans and mixing in the crust that forms on the bottom every few minutes. Add more water as needed, and continue cooking until the beans have broken down into a thick paste, about 15 – 20 minutes. Add salt, to taste, and serve.

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