Homemade refried black beans are so much easier to make than you might think. You only need a handful of ingredients and a couple minutes for a tasty, versatile side that's perfect for Mexican sandwiches, breakfasts, tostadas and more.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we earn from qualifying purchases. See more details in the policy page.
Like many people, I imagine, tacos feature in relatively regular rotation in our house in some form or another, or else similar dishes like quesadillas or tostadas. Sometimes we go classic with some pork carnitas, then in summer we are more likely to grill so make tacos al pastor or carne asada tacos.
We sometimes go less conventional, too, and also vary sides or additions. Salsa and guacamole are pretty non-negotiable in our house, but we might add other things. That might be a corn, a simple slaw or some beans and rice. I also like to refried beans of some kind, particularly with tostadas.
Benefits to making your own refried beans
The main reasons, for me, are sodium levels and texture. I often find store bought refried beans are very heavily salted, which I don't really like. Then, they are often an overly soft paste. By making your own, you can adjust both of these to taste. Add a little more salt, or not, and mash more, or not.
You can also easily make smaller or larger quantities depending on what you need. And they are really pretty quick to make, it doesn't take much longer than warming up some canned beans.
Black beans versus pinto beans
Typically, when you are talking about refried beans you are talking about pinto beans. However you can also make a version from black beans, frijoles negros refritos. In addition, in some areas you'll find a version made with red kidney beans.
I like using black beans as I can make some with just part of a can and I more easily have reason to use the rest for something else, like my Mexican street corn salad or black bean sweet potato salad. They are slightly less soft and tend to go less mushy too, which I prefer.
Flavor-wise, they are very similar, though I think the black beans maybe have a bit more flavor. Maybe I am biased, but either way they are tasty and well worth trying.
The method for making refried beans, whatever the bean, is the same. So, you can use the same basic recipe and switch the beans as suits. The only thing to watch for is black beans tend to need slightly more liquid than pinto beans, so just adjust based on the texture as you cook them.
Adapting from tradition
Ideally, if you have time to start with dried beans, you can soak them then cook with some aromatics, as would be most traditional. If you have time for this, you will no doubt have even tastier beans. However realistically, I imagine most people wouldn't be doing that so I have written this assuming you start with canned beans.
As well as starting with dried beans, the fat used here is traditionally lard which gives a lot of flavor. However I for one find it trickier to find (at least of any quality) and so oil works well as an alternative. Using oil also means the end beans can be vegan, if you use vegetable stock as the liquid.
Using canned beans, these come together incredibly quickly as all you do is soften some onion, add the beans, the stock then mash them up. Adjust the liquid to get the consistency you want, tweak the seasoning and that's it.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge then reheat as needed. Try to make sure you cover them well as the top can form a skin, so ideally use a container they will fill or cover the top with cling wrap/film.
You will probable need to add a little liquid when reheating (either stovetop or in the microwave) to get back the same consistency.
How to use refried black beans
You can use refried black beans exactly as you would refried pinto beans. Some ideas to get you started include:
- As a base layer on crisp tostadas, topped with the protein and slaw of your choice.
- In molletes, a traditional breakfast/snack of beans, cheese and pico de gallo on toasted bread.
- Spread on sandwiches like a chorizo torta.
- As part of a burrito bowl, on nachos or alongside dishes like enchiladas, chilaquiles and more.
Homemade refried black beans are really easy to make, and are just as versatile as the more typical pinto bean version. They're quick, tasty, and great to serve as a side, in sandwiches and more.
Try these other Mexican favorites:
- Shrimp ceviche tostadas (a delicious combination of crisp tortilla, fresh ceviche and salad)
- Strawberry agua fresca (one of a few agua fresca recipes on the site, a great easy and refreshing fruit drink)
- Chicken flautas (crisp on the outside, meaty on the inside and a great way to use up leftover meat)
- Plus get more Mexican recipes and side dish recipes in the archives.
Homemade refried black beans
- ¼ onion
- 1 cup cooked black beans canned or pre-cooked from scratch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or lard, traditionally)
- bean cooking liquid, liquid from can as needed
- Finley chop the onion. Strain the beans, either from can or from cooking liquid if you have cooked yourself, but reserve the can or cooking liquid.
- Warm the oil in a skillet/frying pan and add the onion. Cook a few minutes until the onion has softened.
- Add the beans to the skillet, cook a minute to warm then mash with a potato masher to break them up. Add some of the bean can/cooking liquid to thin out the mixture and bring to a simmer. Mash a little more if you need to break the beans up further, and add additional liquid as needed to get the consistency you prefer.
- Simmer briefly to ensure warmed right through and serve.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.