Smoky Refried Black Beans

Our streets here in Bend, OR are covered in a sheet of ice this morning and 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 refried black bean recipe is perfect for your Superbowl festivities this weekend as well as anytime you’re making tostadas, nachos, burritos, seven layer dip, tortilla casserole, etc.. It’s also great on it’s 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, I also don’t have to be concerned 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 tsp Mexican oregano flakes (sub Greek oregano if that’s all you have)
juice of 1 lime (about 3 TB)
2 TB olive or canola oil
*2 tsp cumin, ground
*1/2 – 1 tsp smoked paprika
*1/4 – 1 tsp chipotle powder
*black pepper

*amounts may vary as you season to your taste

Sort out any discolored dried beans before soaking.

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


Drain soak water and rinse beans in a strainer.


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


Add chopped onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, Mexican oregano, and lime juice. Stir until combined, bring to a boil on medium-high heat then turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until liquid is reduced and 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.


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 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/4 tsp chipotle powder for  about 5 minutes.


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


Allow mixture to cool slightly. Transfer all or most (I like to leave a few beans whole for texture) of the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until you have the desired smoothness OR use an immersion blender right in the skillet OR you could simply mash the beans in the skillet if you don’t want such a smooth texture.



Return the pureed beans to the skillet.


Add salt and pepper to taste as well as more cumin, smoked paprika and/or chipotle powder if needed, stir until combined.


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 and 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

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!