In the US, some Mexican restaurants and taco vans offer a choice of black beans served as a topping for tacos or tortilla salads. The black beans are not mashed, like refried beans, but served whole.

I bought some dry black beans, but they did not come in any easy-to-prepare can in sauce with instructions. How can I prepare them just as the restaurants do?

  • Beans are usually cooked/boiled/steamed until tender and seasoned to taste. It very much depends on what kind of bean you are starting with, Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 1:31
  • 2
    The Latin name for the bean is Phaseolus vulgaris.
    – Village
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 1:45
  • You can mash black beans as well; I do it all the time for a more robust burrito. Note there are also unmashed refried beans, I believe they are refered to (at least in my town) as Ranchero style.
    – JSM
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 17:39
  • Do you mash and they just put them in a frying pan? Do you need to add oil or water or ketchup to the pan?
    – Village
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 0:25
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    Village : use your favorite search engine and type in 'mexican black beans recipe'. It basically requires sorting 'em (checking for stones or other debris, followed up an optional soak, then a slow simmer, possibly with seasonings and a little baking soda (to preserve the deep black color). See christopherkimball.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/cooking-beans-101 for some details. (note that red beans must be boiled for a few minutes to destroy a chemical in them, so don't just think all beans are the same)
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


Dried legumes, including black benas, are generally soaked in water for at least 8 hours (or overnight) to begin softening them, then drained and simmered in fresh water until tender (usually at least 60-90 minutes). You can add stock or other seasonings during the cooking portion, or add the plain cooked beans into a sauce you've prepared separately.


How to cook mexican black beans.

1 pound of black beans. CAUTION: Do not use asian black beans, go to a mexican store! Soak them overnight so you can reduce the cooking time.

1/3 of white onion.

1 garlic clove.

If you can find «epazote» you can add some leaves too.

Salt to taste.

Wash the beans, put some water to boil (4 liters, aprox.), once the water is boiling add the beans (without water), onion, garlic and if you have epazote, add some leaves too. Put the lid, cook it maybe 1.5 hours, maybe 2-3 hours, this depend of the beans quality, the soaking, and also of the recipient in which you are cooking. If you could cook all this in a «olla de barro para frijoles» then the final taste will be better, but any stewpot can work :). Once the beans are soft, add salt to taste, let it boil 30 minutes more. Black beans are harder than mayocoba or pinto beans, they take more time to cook.

Once you have cooked the beans, put some pork fat (manteca de puerco) or oil in a pan, also a few of white onion, fry it, the put aside. Be careful with this step: When the oil is very hot add the beans, the hot oil can jump over you, so take care. Cook them, smash them, add some beans broth, smash a litle more, enjoy!

  • I think you might have missed the "The black beans are not mashed, like refried beans, but served whole.". If you're not going to be mashing them, would you need to add more flavorings earlier (as you won't have the pork fat and onions).
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 0:54
  • Joe, you're right, I was nor clear, but indeed here, in Mexico, we never mash the beans before frying them and seasoning them. While we fry them after they are cooked (soft enough), we season them, mashing them after this. Some people indeed does not like to season beans but with salt. For cooking «enfrijoladas negras» we mash black beans, also for «gorditas» and some other recipes. Thanks for your observation. Warm regards! Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 14:46
  • Idealdo, what I was asking was that if you're not going to fry the beans, but serve them whole, would the seasoning/flavoring be different? (I'd try to clarify in spanish, but my spanish is much worse than your english; hablo mal español.)
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 17:55
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    When you serve the whole beans right from the pot you add nothing, just plain whole beans with some bean-broth. We left them that way to preserve the original flavor. An exquisite suggestion: My grand mother cut some tomatoes in small cubes, some chile serrano, red onion and mix them with some chopped coriander leaves too (chopped cilantro). Then add this «salad» to the «plato hondo» where you serve your whole beans. This way whole beans are tastier and healthier. Finally, you can add some mexican cheese, e.g., panela cheese. Hence you would have a high-level whole bean serving. Regards! Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 18:18
  • Joe, cultural note: Whole beans are called «frijoles en agua y sal», often people call them «frijoles en agüisal» too -this is a contraction of agua+sal. These names were often used in rural areas of northern mexico. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 18:21

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