These homemade Refried Black Beans are a cinch to make and are packed with flavour. Easy, tasty, completely vegan, and ready in under 30 minutes, this refried black beans recipe is the best!
Hey-o!! We're huge fans of beans here on HNL, and today we're going to make some Refried Black Beans. These beauties are the building block of many, many delicious dinners. Basically, with a batch of refried black beans in your fridge, the possibilities are endless.
Are you excited yet? You should be!
As with our basic refried beans recipe, it all starts with a can (or three) of beans—black beans, in this case, instead of pinto beans. Black beans have a bit of smoky oomph to them even before you add any other ingredients, meaning they don’t need much doctoring up to get them ready for dinner.
Here’s why you’ll want to make these refried black beans ASAP:
- Simple ingredients, restaurant-style results. You only need a handful of inexpensive ingredients to make your own refried black beans at home. And you can get that creamy refried bean texture just like your favorite Mexican restaurant without having to add any lard—I’ll show you how.
- The starting point for countless easy weeknight meals. From crispy Bean and Cheese Tacos to Cheesy Bean and Rice Burritos and Black Bean Tostadas, almost any Tex-Mex dinner can be made meatless with the addition of refried black beans. When you’ve got the beans ready to go, dinner’s done in minutes!
- A healthier option. With no lard and minimal oil, these refried black beans are healthier than many store-bought and restaurant-style varieties.
You only need a few basics to pull together this easy refried black beans recipe! You'll find specific quantities in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here's a quick overview of what we're going to be using:
- Extra virgin olive oil --> Avocado oil or another neutral-flavored cooking oil will also work here.
- White onion --> Or yellow onion, which is slightly milder.
- Chili powder --> For that signature Tex-Mex flavor.
- Ground cumin --> Cumin adds earthiness and a hint of citrus.
- Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce --> This gives our refried black beans both heat and smokiness.
- Salt --> Feel free to adjust according to your taste preferences.
- Black beans --> You’ll need both the liquid and the beans.
- Lemon juice --> For a bright finishing note. Swap in lime juice if you prefer.
If you’d like, you can make this recipe with cooked black beans or Instant Pot black beans rather than canned. I like to add a few crushed garlic cloves and a bay leaf while cooking the dried beans to amp up the flavor. About 4 ½ cups of cooked dried black beans equal 3 cans of beans. Be sure to reserve the cooking liquid!
How to Make Refried Black Beans
You'll find detailed instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. For now here's a step-by-step overview, complete with photos!
Set a heavy-bottomed skillet (like cast iron) over medium heat. Add the oil and once it’s shimmering, stir in the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and just starting to brown.
Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin, minced chipotle pepper, and salt; sauté for a minute or two, until the spices are fragrant.
Add the black beans to the skillet, then pour in enough of their liquid to come about halfway up the beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Reduce the heat to low. Then, use a potato masher to mash the beans until you've reached the desired consistency. (No potato masher? Use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the beans against the side of the skillet. Or, you can use an immersion blender.)
Stir in the lemon juice, then season to taste. At this point, you can either remove the beans from the heat and serve or store them, or continue simmering to let them thicken.
How to Use Refried Black Beans
- Tacos: Spread refried beans onto a warm corn or flour tortilla, go to town with your favourite toppings—peach salsa, perhaps?—and dig in.
- Burrito Bowls: Refried black beans are an excellent protein option for a vegetarian burrito bowl.
- Nachos: our air fryer nachos are always a crowd-pleaser, and refried black beans make them extra satisfying.
- Quesadillas: Elevate your next cheese quesadilla by adding creamy beans for a boost of nutrition and flavor.
- Mexican Pizza: Spread refried beans onto a pizza crust and top it with salsa and cheese. Bake, then finish with your favorite taco toppings. Or swap the pizza crust for a tortilla to make a personal-sized version.
- Bean Dip: Mix salsa into your refried beans for an easy, creamy dip. Take it up a notch by layering the mixture in a baking dish with shredded cheese and baking until the cheese melts. Garnish with fresh cilantro, scallions, or both before serving with crispy tortilla chips for dipping.
Storing and Reheating Refried Beans
You can store refried beans in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container. For longer storage, freeze them for 3 months. (I like to place them in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze them flat so I can stack them!)
When you're ready to enjoy, simply heat the beans in a pan on the stove with a little water or broth, or warm them up in the microwave until they're hot. Keep in mind that they'll thicken after being stored and reheated.
Not all refried beans are healthy, but this recipe is—it’s made with simple ingredients, no lard or bacon fat, and minimal oil and salt. Black beans are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
Black beans are whole, cooked beans, while refried black beans are mashed and seasoned. The "refried" in the name comes from the Spanish term "frijoles refritos," which means "well-fried beans."
Refried beans can be made from any type of beans, most typically pinto beans, but this recipe is made specifically from black beans.
Refried Black Beans Recipe
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onion approx one small onion
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce finely minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 14-ounce cans black beans drained - liquid reserved!
- Black bean liquid Reserved from your can
- Juice of half a lemon
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet (I use cast iron) over medium heat. Add the diced onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened and is starting to brown.3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup chopped white onion
- Add the chili powder, ground cumin, minced chipotle pepper, and salt. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to combine the flavours.1 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon salt
- Add the beans, along with enough of their liquid to come about halfway up the beans. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.3 14-ounce cans black beans, Black bean liquid
- Reduce the heat to low and using a potato masher, mash the beans until you've reached the desired consistency.
- Add lemon juice, stir, and taste the beans. At this point you can adjust the seasonings as needed.Juice of half a lemon
- You can continue to simmer the beans on low, stirring occasionally, until they have reached the consistency you like. Keep in mind they will continue to thicken as they cool.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only