Breakfast (or any meal, to be honest) can hardly get more comforting than this easy and delicious Mexican creation. Molletes loads cheese, beans and salsa fresca (pico de gallo) on bread and is as tasty as it sounds.
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When I first went to Mexico years ago, my parents came to visit at the end and we spend a few days based in Mexico City, seeing the sights there and going out of town on day trips. We packed a lot in to a few short days and there were so many great things we saw.
I particularly remember some delicious breakfasts, which before then had never really been my thing. Since childhood, I was lucky if I had as much as a banana or slice of toast, apart from the occasional eggs and bacon if we had them on the weekends.
In Mexico, though, I discovered the delights of huevos rancheros and molletes.
What are molletes made of?
This is a pretty simple dish - it is simply an opened up bread roll topped with refried beans, cheese and pico de gallo (also known as salsa fresca). In some ways, it's like a Mexican grilled cheese.
It's a combination that both satisfies your hunger and feels heartily comforting, too. Plus, another part of its popularity is that it consists of things you would typically have in a Mexican kitchen anyway and it takes mere minutes to prepare.
The name actually comes from a type of bread in Southern Spain, though it's a little different than what you use here. An Andalucian mollete is a round bread roll that is also popular for breakfast, but there you typically just toast and drizzle the bread with oil.
What kind of bread should you use?
For the Mexican dish, you typically use bolillos, which are small French baguette-style rolls. They have a distinctive shape with pointed ends and a rounder middle. If you can't find them, you can use mini-baguettes, or country-style rolls. Really, almost any white rolls that aren't too dense or too full of holes.
In terms of the refried beans (frijoles refritos), you can use either the pinto bean or black bean version. Store-bought is fine for speed, but they are also really easy to make from scratch yourself.
Refried beans can also be very easily re-heated, so they are ideal to make to go with a meal, then use leftovers in this for breakfast a day or two later (or vice versa).
On cheese, you have a few choices - Mexican Oaxaca cheese is pretty traditional (it's a firm, meltable cheese similar to a dry mozzarella), but you could also use monterey jack or mozzarella. Cheddar could work, too.
Molletes might not be as well known as some other Mexican dishes, but I think it might just be because it's so simple, it's kind of a national secret comfort food. Who knows, but it's definitely one cheesy sandwich you want to try!
Looking for more international breakfast ideas? Try these:
- Menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs)
- Swiss Bircher muesli
- Huevos a la flamenca (Spanish flamenco eggs, with chorizo and ham)
- Plus get more breakfast recipes and Mexican recipes in the archives.
For the salsa fresca (pico de gallo)
- 1 tomato a large tomato, diced relatively small
- 2 tablespoon onion (quantity once finely diced)
- ½ chili diced small (or more/less to taste)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro coriander (quantity once finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
For the refried beans
- 3 teaspoon vegetable oil or a little more as needed
- 14 oz pinto beans 400g, ie 1 can/tin (can also use black beans)
- ½ onion finely diced
- ¼ cup light stock 60ml, approx -vegetable or chicken, depending on what you need/dietary requirement, or you can use some of the bean cooking liquid in pan (or if you cooked your own)
To make dish
- 3 bolillo rolls (see notes)
- ¾ cup Oaxaca cheese grated (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional but recommended)
For the salsa fresca (pico de gallo)
- First make the salsa fresca by dicing the tomato, onion and chili all pretty small Drain excess liquid from the tomato (you can remove seeds, if you prefer) then mix all together along with the chopped cilantro/coriander. Add the lime juice and a little salt and pepper, mix and set aside.
For the refried beans
- Next make the beans by warming the oil in a small pan and adding the diced onion. Cook for a couple minutes until the onion is softening then add the beans and stock.
- Cook for around 5 minutes until the beans become very soft and it starts to thicken. Mash the beans to help them break down a little. Once it has thickened a bit, set aside to stay warm. You can also make ahead and either re-heat or use room temperature since you will be warming anyway.
To make up molletes
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Cut the bread in half through the middle and if you like, top with thin slices of butter. Toast the bread until crisp on top and the butter has melted - the bread should be just starting to brown around the edges.
- Top the bread with refried beans (you will need around 3tbsp per half roll) and spread them all over. Then, top with some grated cheese. Put back on the oven and cook for a minute or two until the cheese melts. Serve warm, topped with some of the salsa fresca on top.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This post was first shared in April 2018 and has been updated, primarily with new photos.
Are you a grilled cheese fan? Try these other ideas on the theme:
- Bacon Brie Paninis by Bear & Bug Eats
- Butter Poached Lobster and Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
- Cajun Tuna Grilled Cheese by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
- Grilled Cheese and Pepper Sandwiches by Jolene's Recipe Journal
- Grilled Guacamole and Cheese by Palatable Pastime
- Open-Faced Grilled Caprese by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Pear and Taleggio Grilled Cheese by The Redhead Baker
- Three Cheese Bacon and Jalapeno Grilled Cheese by Daily Dish Recipes