Refried Black Beans Recipe

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Refried black beans or caraotas refritas — as we know them in Venezuela— it’s an easy and delicious vegetarian side dish. It can be made with only 6 ingredients.

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Can you use canned beans?

Yes, you can totally use canned black beans. In fact, that is my favorite way. I’ve told this a million times in this blog: canned beans are a great shortcut. Most canned beans are canned in salted water, and that’s it. You can check the ingredients in your favorite canned beans brand and check that there is only water and salt.

How to cook black beans from scratch?

But, I know that many of my readers prefer to cook the black beans from scratch. The basic thing you need to know is that beans need to be soaked for at least 1 hour. It’s preferable that they are soaked overnight. This process will help to soften the beans while cooking.

Then, just boil the black beans for 1- 2 hours until they are soft. It’s important to keep checking on them to see if they need more water — don’t let evaporate more than 40% of the water. Taste 3-5 beans to confirm that they are soft. Sometimes one bean is soft and the others are still a bit hard. I would say that for 400 gr of black beans, 1 and a half-hour should be good enough.

How to make refried black beans

After you have your beans ready —canned or from scratch—, you can refry them.

In Spanish, it would mean like they are two times fried. But it’s not quite that.

I’ve already had a recipe where I show how to cook black beans traditionally. You can check my gallo pinto recipe to see the method.

When you refry any type of beans the key is to remove extra liquid and smash a bit the beans to give that paste-like consistency. Also, it needs more oil to make a “sofrito”. This will add that smoky flavor that makes refried black beans so special.

The seasoning is a little bit different. You only need garlic and onion as a base, plus a bouillon cube and a few sprigs of cilantro (leaves and stems).

First, I like to make a “sofrito” with oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until fragrant and then add the beans.

If you used canned or regular beans, remember to get rid of most of the liquid — about 70% of liquid). 

Smash the beans according to your taste. I like to smash less than half of the bean. I just don’t like the texture of a soft paste.

Finally, add the bouillon cube and the cilantro sprig and let it cook for 8-10 min until you get the right consistency. 

How to serve the beans

They are usually known as a vegetarian option for tacos. They are so delicious and you won’t miss the meat in your tacos.

If you want a Mexican dinner that is not necessarily tacos, you can make molletes (bread toast with beans, cheese, and pico e’ gallo)

For me, the best use I can think for this refried black beans is as a filling for my arepas. They are the ultimate breakfast with a bit of shredded cheese: the best arepas ever!

Also, you can serve them as a side dish for a themed Mexican dinner.

Can you freeze refried black beans?

Absolutely yes.

They can last up to 7 days u the fridge, and up to 3 months in the freeze.

Beans are one of those foods that can resist freezing with no problem.

In my opinion, they even taste better the day after.

The time in the recipe card is 25 minutes if you use canned black beans. Remember, in case you use dry beans you need to soak them overnight and cook for 1 1/2 hour.

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Refried Black Beans Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Refried black beans or caraotas refritas — as we know them in Venezuela— it’s an easy and delicious vegetarian side dish. It can be made with only 6 ingredients.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, Venezuelan
Keyword: refried black beans
Servings: 4 people
  • 2 220 gr cans black beans (or 300 gr dry black beans)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil or butter
  • 1 sprig cilantro
For Dry Black Beans
  1. Soak the beans overnight. The water must cover the beans completely.
  2. In a big pot add enough water to cover the beans. Boil the beans for 1 and half hour until they are soft. Add more water if necessary. Don’t let the beans dry.
Refried beans
  1. In a big pan, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and the minced garlic. Cook for a minute until the garlic starts to get fragrant.
  2. Add the beans (remove excess liquid) and smash them partially.
  3. Season with the bouillon cube and the cilantro. Remove well to make sure the cube is evenly distributed. Cook for 8-10 minutes until you get a paste-like texture and serve.

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