Homemade refried black beans – so velvety smooth, so flavorful, and so downright addictive, you’ll never buy another can again.
Refried beans. I'm not ashamed to admit that there is very little I won't do to get more. I'll eat them by the tortilla, by the chip, or by the spoon and keep going until I can't.
I used to think there was some secret ingredient that made refried beans so good, so utterly addictive for me. For a long time, I attributed that about naughty added ingredients like loads of fat that’s added to one of my favorite foods. I mean, after all, fried is in the name. Right?
Well, not so fast. I’ve discovered a better way to make refried bean, and it’s so simple, I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out. The even better part? They are super healthy.
The only ‘frying’ you’ll be doing is an oil-free sauté of a medium diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Do this in the same medium pot you’ll be cooking the beans in. If you don’t have a non-stick pot (I don’t), then let’s talk about a few deliberate steps you can take to make this successful.
1. Heat the pan before you add the onions. When you add onions to a cold pan, they sink into it as they heat. This makes them stick. Heating the pan or skillet first is the single most proactive tip I know for no-oil frying of anything. For onions, it’s essential.
As onions begin to cook, they release their natural sugars. This is another 'sticky' factor. The more they cook, the more sugar and moisture releases. As they dry out a bit that raises their propensity to stick as well. This leads me to my next point.
2. Keep them moving. Dry frying requires a bit more attention and stirring. You don’t need to move the onions continuously for the entire 5 minutes or so that you need to get the onions to soften and start to brown. You do need to move them the closer they get to being done.
3. Watch the heat. It’s so darned easy to let the heat get away from you. Some pans don’t react quickly to changes in heat, so you may need to lift the pan off for a few seconds if you are lowering the heat.
4. Add liquid. If all else fails and your onions start to stick, add a tablespoon of water or veggie broth. Especially if you add broth, you’ll notice that the onions will get a bit darker. This doesn't matter for our refried beans recipe. If you are making a white sauce, like Bechamel, you want to avoid this by keeping the heat super low and allowing more time for the onions to cook.
Once you’ve sauteed the onions for about 5 minutes and they have softened, add the garlic, cumin, and chili powder. This is the time to add any other spices you might like to try:
Cocoa powder (just a pinch)
Prepared taco seasoning
Aquafaba – ta-da!
Yes, folks, if you want velvety refried black beans, it’s all in the can. By that, I mean, add the entire can. Aquafaba, (the liquid in the can), is nothing short of amazing for this purpose.
I used to think that aquafaba only referred to the liquid from a can of chickpeas or the cooking liquid if you make them from scratch. And it was a great place to start this exploration. For example, it makes chickpea sauce super rich and creamy, and its flavor lends itself to making tasty chickpea noodle soup.
With all the chickpeas I cook, I should have figured it out at that point. But that wasn’t exactly what happened.
I got the idea of making refried black beans using this method after perfecting Greek baked beans. The creamy, thick sauce, and soft beans, caused me to expand my aquafaba horizons.
How simple is this?
Once you’ve sauteed the onions, and then added the garlic and spices and sauteed those for another 30 seconds, you will simply dump 2, 15-ounce cans of black beans into the saucepan. You want to then bring the beans and liquid to simmering and cover them.
Aren't canned beans cooked already? Yes. But if you allow them to simmer for 20 minutes on low, the beans will soften, and the aquafaba will go to work making a sauce of sorts.
Once the beans have simmered, it’s time to mash them. I’ll give you two methods for this. The first, grab a potato masher and get a little arm workout going. You can mash the beans while they simmer or play it a little safer and cut the heat first.
The second way to mash the beans is to use an immersion (stick) blender. It’s the quickest method I know. Be careful not to batter your saucepan. Put the stick blender in the middle of the pot, not resting on the bottom. If your pan is not deep, then place it in the sink because if you’re like me, you might just pull the stick up while it’s still running. Let's not waste a spoonful by splattering beans off the kitchen walls. You’ve got beans to eat!
If all else fails, you can transfer the simmered beans to a blender or food processor. Be careful if you do this to not over blend to the extent there is no texture left. Unless, of course, that is your intention. Leaving a few partial or whole beans creates a more interesting mouthfeel.
Cooking black beans from scratch
If you want to make tasty refried black beans entirely from scratch, go for it! Follow the instructions here. 1 cup of dried beans will yield the 3 cups this recipe calls for. That’s about 3 cups of water for cooking. This may result in more cooking liquid than you’d want for your beans. My best advice here is to scoop out enough so that the beans are just covered. Reserve the rest of the liquid (if you have any). Then cook the beans and make sure that there is about 1 cup of liquid remaining after you’ve simmered them for another 20 minutes.
If you followed my flavorful black bean recipe, you have added a few spices during the cooking process. My suggestion is to move forward with the refried beans recipes as instructed. You may want to add the sauteed onions, garlic, and spices directly to the bean cooking pot.
Once you cut the fat and other additives, refried black beans will only taste naughty. Like so many of our beloved beans, black beans (frijoles negros) are right up there in terms of healthy food options. Loading up on refried black beans also means loading up on fiber, folate, potassium, and protein. Guess what else stays loaded? According to Good Housekeeping, your wallet.
Delicious. Healthy. Cheap. Tastier than canned refried beans. Long may the frijoles refritos addiction reign! Peace.Print
healthy homemade refried black beans
Homemade refried black beans – so velvety smooth, so flavorful, and so downright addictive, you’ll never buy them canned kind again.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: On the Side
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp. of ground cumin
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 2 15-oz. (400 gm.) canned of black beans, do not drain
- Heat a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute them until they soften and start to brown slightly (about 5 minutes).
- Add the garlic, 1 tsp. cumin, and ½ tsp. chili powder (more if you like it spicier). Saute for another 30 seconds.
- Add the beans and liquid. Stir them to collect any bits of onion from the bottom of the pot.
- Simmer the beans on low, covered for 15-20 minutes to allow them to soften.
- Use a hand masher or immersion (stick) blender to puree the beans. Adjust the texture, leaving a few whole or partial beans or as desired.
- Serve warm.
- When sauteing the onions with no oil, be careful that you heat the pot first. This helps keep the onions from sticking. Keep the onions moving by stirring them often. If they begin to stick too much or get too brown, add water or vegetable broth a tablespoon at a time.
- To make refried beans from dry, start with 1 cup of beans, soaked overnight. Be sure to drain and rinse the beans, then add 3 cups of water for cooking. Bring the beans and water to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 hours until the beans are tender.
Keywords: healthy homemade refried black beans