“Unfried” Black Beans

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Unfried "refried" black beans

I love refried beans, but I’m trying to pay more attention to the amount of processing food goes through before it gets to me. Refried beans vary greatly between companies and sometimes have ingredients I wouldn’t want to use in every situation (lard and preservatives, for example, in the non-vegetarian varieties). They are often high in sodium, as are many processed foods (though I have to admit, canned beans can have a lot of added salt too).

On top of all of that, they can be pricey. I’ve found that most of what I’m paying for are things I don’t really want. The first time I realized that I could make a similar paste out of any beans I had on hand, I never looked back. I like black beans best, so this recipe features them, but pinto beans and other similar beans should work the same way. Season them any way you please, though I find that the beans have enough of their own flavor and do not require much but some salt and pepper and a bit of hot sauce or cayenne for a kick.

Note: This may work with dried beans if you soak them before hand, but I prefer canned so I’m not sure how long they should soak. If anyone knows, please feel free to chime in, as always.

Recipe: “Refried” Black Beans

Makes 4 servings if used as a side

  • ~15 oz can of black beans
  • 1/2 cup of broth (vegetable, chicken, whatever you prefer), or water
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne pepper or hot sauce (optional)
  1. Pour the beans into a strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the rinsed beans in a microwave safe bowl with enough room for the beans and a bit of rim above.
  2. Add the liquid.
  3. Microwave on high for 7 minutes (stirring halfway through).
  4. While still piping hot, stir and gently mash with a fork. The beans should melt apart and form a chunky paste. If you’d like the mixture to be thinner, add a bit more liquid and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.
  5. Add seasonings to taste.

Use these beans anywhere you would use refried beans. They are great as a filler in tacos and burritos, a spread on sandwiches, a dip for thick chips, or as a side dish.

About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...

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6 Responses to ““Unfried” Black Beans”

  1. AninaNo Gravatar

    Hi Sarah, I stumbled upon this blog post via Facebook and just wanted to say thanks for this recipe–I’m currently in Nicaragua and always looking for new ways to use beans (and rice!). Nice work on the blog!

  2. LauraNo Gravatar

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I need to cut back on sodium, and I’ve noticed canned refried beans are pretty high. Now I have a burrito filling I can feel good about!

    • SarahNo Gravatar

      Enjoy! Be sure to look at the sodium on the canned beans as well, I noticed after writing this that they can be pretty high too (though not as high as refried). I like these because I can really tailor them to whatever my needs are.

  3. AbbyNo Gravatar

    I really don’t cook refired beans like this, but I shall though it looks easyer and quicker.

  4. MatthewNo Gravatar

    Hi Sarah, You probably know this already, but just in case…. Starting with the curry mix you shared on justbeno for lentils, use chickpea or mung beans and follow the rest of the directions in the lentil recipe. Comes out very nicely, and if you mash or blend as in this recipe you get the same ‘refried beans’ style side. That spice mix has been my go to curry thing since you posted it. Goes well in any dish, and easy to make a couple pounds of it to have on hand. Thanks!

    • SarahNo Gravatar

      Matthew, that sounds like an awesome side! Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad you were able to get such use out of the curry recipe.


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