refried black beans

Smoky Refried Black Beans

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Our streets here in Bend, OR are covered in a sheet of ice this morning so the girls and I are enjoying a forced day at home. I’m feeling a little giddy because although there are many times this would really be a giant pain, today I am in just the kind of mood to not go anywhere. Who knows, I may even tackle the pantry reorganization I’ve been threatening for months. We’ll see.

This recipe for refried black beans is perfect for your Superbowl festivities this weekend as well as anytime you’re making tostadas, tacos, nachos, burritos, seven layer dip, tortilla casserole, etc.. It’s also great on its own as a simple bean dip. I’ve boosted both the flavor and the nutrition by adding garlic, onion, celery, and spices like smoked paprika, cumin and chipotle to the beans. Way better than the bland canned beans most of us are used to!

I’m the first to admit that I use a lot of canned beans for the convenience and I will continue to do so but I prefer to use dried when I can plan ahead. I know, I know it’s super simple to soak them overnight (my sister reminds me of this all the time, perhaps a bit smugly) but I am just not a planner that way. Procrastination is my stronger suit. I’m working on it though because not only are they way cheaper dried, using them takes away the concern about that scary BPA they’re always warning us about in the plastic lining of cans. I did use the quick-soak method this time and it worked fine but really, I should be able to train myself to take 5 minutes the day before! Onward…

Hope your team wins! I only care about the food.

Smoky Refried Black Beans

(makes 4 cups)

2 cups dry black beans, sorted and soaked
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano flakes (sub Greek oregano if that’s all you have)
juice of 1 lime (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
black pepper


Sort out any discolored dried beans before soaking.

sorting dry black beans

Cover beans with about 6 cups water and soak overnight or use a quick-soak method. Use these guidelines for good results.

black beans soaking

Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans in a strainer.

rinsing black beans

Add 6 cups fresh water to the pot of soaked beans.

black beans soaking

Add the chopped onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, Mexican oregano, and lime juice. Stir so the ingredients are combined. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat then turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer until the liquid is reduced and the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. This could take anywhere from 1 – 2 hours depending on how well you presoaked your beans so test them after 1 hour.

cooking black beans with onion and celery
cooking black beans with onion and celery

Preheat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Using a slotted spoon, add the bean mixture, reserving most of the liquid, and cook in the hot oil with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes.

making refried black beans

Add remaining liquid to the skillet and bring to a boil, allowing the liquid to reduce a bit, for about 5 – 10 minutes.

making refried black beans
making refried black beans

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Transfer all or most (I like to leave about a cup of beans whole for texture) of the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until you have the desired smoothness. You could also use an immersion blender right in the skillet or simply mash the beans in the skillet for a chunkier texture.

Vitamix blending refried black bean mixture
Vitamix blending refried black bean mixture

Return the pureed beans to the skillet.

refried black beans

Add salt and pepper to taste as well as the remaining cumin, smoked paprika and chipotle powder, stir until combined. Cook, stirring often, a few more minutes on medium heat so the beans thicken a bit.

skillet with refried beans

Refrigerate and use as needed. They should keep well for 4 -5 days in an airtight container or you could try freezing them. Ours don’t usually last long enough for the freezer but I don’t see why they wouldn’t freeze well. If you have experience with this please leave a comment!

R.I.P. Pete Seeger… Thank you for the wonderful, simple, American folk songs that pleased us in childhood. They have lasted throughout our lives, their meaning becoming more significant with every passing year if we really listen.
“I’ve never sung anywhere without giving the people listening to me a chance to join in – as a kid, as a lefty, as a man touring the U.S.A. and the world, as an oldster. I guess it’s kind of a religion with me. Participation. That’s what’s going to save the human race.”
Pete Seeger

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One thought on “Smoky Refried Black Beans

  1. I've never made refried beans before but I do love the taste, so I will be putting this on my list of dishes to try out. I also prefer to use fresh beans and not canned. They just taste better to me.

    I will also need to look for the ingredient called chipotle powder because I've never heard of it before. Can't wait to try this though.

I'd love to hear your feedback!