Why should pinto beans get all the love? Refried black beans have a dense flavor & beautifully creamy texture. Serve them with corn tortillas or alongside fried plantains.
They’re packed with protein and fiber. Plus, they’re vegan & gluten-free.
When I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan recently, I had brunch at the Detroit Street Filling Station. Part of my breakfast was a pile of refried black beans.
At home, I always make vegan refried beans using pinto beans. But I had to stop and ask myself why.
Sure, pinto beans are classic. They’re a mild bean that allows the spices to shine. But black beans also make some beautifully creamy refried beans with an extra burst of flavor.
An added perk is that my husband will join me when I’m having black refried beans. He’s not a fan of pinto beans. So if I make vegan refried beans with pintos, I’m having them all to myself.
(If you ever want to get him going, ask why he doesn’t like pinto beans. He has lots of unflattering things to say. And yet, pintos have never said an unkind word about him.)
Refried black beans
At restaurants, refried beans are often made with lard, which is a bummer. But luckily, they’re easy to make at home without it. In fact, my version uses very little oil at all.
Canned beans are extra convenient
I use canned black beans for my recipe. It’s really convenient as the black beans are always ready to go in the cupboard.
But if you’d prefer to use black beans that you’ve cooked from dried ahead of time, that works too.
(I used to always make my own beans from scratch and freeze them. But honestly, I just don’t notice that big of difference in taste or texture. It’s not worth the extra effort to me to make an ingredient before I can make a recipe.)
How to make black refried beans
Begin by warming a skillet with a little bit of oil. Then add onions & garlic to the pan and sauté them.
(If you prefer oil-free recipes, you could easily sauté the onions & garlic in a little water instead of oil. Then it would be completely oil-free.)
Once the onions and garlic are fragrant and translucent, it’s time to add the remaining ingredients – water, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt.
Bring the water to a simmer. Then lower the heat. Let the beans absorb & cook off most of the liquid.
When only a couple Tablespoons of water are left in the pan, it’s time to mash the beans.
You don’t need to physically measure how much liquid is left. Just use your best judgment by eyeballing it.
If you misjudge and end up with beans that are too watery, you can just cook them a little longer after blending to make them denser.
Conversely, if the beans are too dry, you can easily add more water.
To mash the beans, you have options. You can use a fork or potato masher. But my preference is to use an immersion blender right in the skillet.
For easy blending, push all of the beans to one side of the skillet, so that you have as many beans in one area as possible. There may be a little bit of splattering.
If your refried beans look too dry, add a Tablespoon or two of water to get them velvety again.
How to serve them
Black refried beans can go anywhere that would be fitting for their pinto bean brethren.
Get some chips & start dipping.
Plop them onto a plate with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and corn tortillas for build-your-own black refried bean tacos.
Black refried beans are especially nice with fried plantains. Add them to the plate as well for a sweet & savory mix.
Use them as a bottom layer in vegan 7 layer dip. Top them with non-dairy cream cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and shredded non-dairy cheese.
Add dollops of black refried beans to your platter of vegan nachos with cashew queso.
Use them in your double decker tacos to hold the soft tortilla to a crunchy hard shell. (Again, you could replace the other black beans in the recipe with seitan instead.)
Add them to your Austin breakfast platter with a tofu scramble and corn tortillas.
Serve them as a side dish with jackfruit carnitas tacos.
How to reheat & freeze refried beans
Black refried beans reheat well in the microwave. And you can even freeze them, which is super convenient.
Refried beans have a way of drying out in the refrigerator. So if yours are looking dry, just add a splash of water, and give them a stir before popping them into the microwave.
To freeze them, just put them into a glass Pyrex container with a lid. Freeze them until you’re ready to enjoy them again.
Then put them into the refrigerator to thaw before using. Or use the defrost feature on the microwave before reheating.
Refried black beans (Vegan & gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or your preferred neutral flavored oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onions yellow or red
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups black beans or 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup water plus a few Tablespoons more if necessary
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Optional toppings: Diced onions, cilantro, jalapeño slices, non-dairy cheese, hot sauce
- Bring a large skillet to a medium heat. Add oil to the skillet and sauté onions and garlic a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
- Add drained black beans to the skillet along with 3/4 cup water, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt.
- When the water begins to simmer, lower the heat and continue cooking for about 15 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed, except for a couple of tablespoons.
- Using a fork, potato masher, or immersion blender mash the beans until smooth. If the beans are too dry, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of water until they are soft and smooth like mashed potatoes, but not too watery. If the beans are too liquidy, keep cooking until they reach your preferred texture.
- Taste for salt and add more if necessary. If desired, serve with any of the optional toppings (diced onions, cilantro, jalapeno slices, non-dairy cheese, and/or hot sauce).