Yes, Canned Black Beans Can Be Refried Too

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, refried beans are always part of the equation. While they're seldom the star of the show, they are a constant complement to any South-of-the-boder spread. The ingredients in refried beans vary from recipe to recipe. Some call for lard or oil, lime juice, and a fragrant mix of spices, while others are a simple mixture of mashed beans and salt. If you peruse refried bean recipes or find the mash in your dish at a Mexican eatery, you will probably notice one consistent feature: the beans in question tend to be pinto. 

Pinto beans are the default for refried bean recipes because they are plump, mushy, and mild in flavor, making them the perfect bean to mash into a smooth, creamy spread. However, you can also make refried beans from cooked black beans. The dish will be just as delicious as the pinto bean alternative.

Building a case for a black bean substitution

Using black beans instead of pinto beans is a simple way to switch up your homemade refried beans. Pinto beans are more than capable of comprising a solid refried beans recipe, but some may simply prefer the taste and texture of black beans. The flavor differences between the two legumes are subtle, but they are noteworthy nonetheless. Pinto beans have a subtle, neutral taste and absorb whatever flavors they accompany, whereas black beans have a more distinguishable, meaty flavor. Both fare well in Mexican cuisine, even if they offer slightly different qualities.

If you are a black bean buff, you can absolutely use black beans instead of pinto beans in a refried beans recipe. Better yet, using black beans from a can will make the dish quick and easy to prepare. Canned black beans come precooked, saving you time soaking and cooking your beans. They are as convenient as they are cheap, making them one kind of canned beans you should always keep in your pantry.

Making the most of a black bean base

Because black beans are slightly firmer than pinto beans, they require a little extra preparation to ensure a smooth refried beans consistency. If they come from a can, allow them to simmer in hot water or broth for a few extra minutes and mix in your flavorings. This extra cooking time will soften the beans so their texture more closely emulates pinto beans and allow them to absorb the extra flavors.

You don't have to travel south of the border for a solid batch of refried beans. You don't have to go to Colorado, a slept-on destination for Mexican food, either. The beauty of refried beans, both the pinto and black variety, is their simplicity. Whether you spice up your recipe with extra chipotle pepper, soften it with a good knob of butter or spoon of lard, or switch up your legume, you'll still wind up with a perfectly delicious and versatile dip and spread.

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