Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making Honduran Refried Beans from Scratch

Hondurans are choosy about their beans. Although I enjoy all kinds of beans, Hondurans overwhelmingly prefer the small, red beans (NOT kidney beans) that they eat with almost every meal. They say the taste is unequaled by any other bean, and I have even heard of Hondurans who live in the States bringing back the dry beans because nothing is the same as that little taste of home. Black beans are common in the markets (and they seem to be the bean of choice in Nicaragua and Costa Rica), but they are cheaper than the red beans and not widely used.

Homemade refried beans are the best, and I´ve been lucky enough to have several bean mentors who have shown me the way (thanks, Nohelia, Ana Paola, and Karen!!). Here is the the Honduran way to make refried beans from scratch--note that like any good Central American recipe, all measurements are estimates :)


Beans (about 2-3 cups) Use leftover, already cooked red beans from dinner the night before, or use canned beans in a pinch. Rinse and drain. Some people add a little of the cooking liquid back into the refried beans for extra flavor

Some sort of fat (1/4 to 1/2 cup)--most commonly vegetable shortening, but I used bacon fat the other day and it made the beans A-MAZ-ING!!!!

Onions (about 1-2 Tbsp, chopped VERY finely)

Salt, to taste, but you probably won´t need much at all

Start with a large, non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Heat up the shortening (or bacon fat!) and saute the onions until they are golden. Next, add the whole beans to the pan and find a nice strong flat-bottomed cup or glass. This is my favorite part. Use the bottom of the cup to squish the beans flat in the pan, directly into the fat. This is waaaay better than using a potato masher like some of the other recipes I´ve found on the internet. It is also extremely theraputic. It leaves some of the bean skins intact, unlike blending the beans, to give that nice, slightly chunky homemade texture. One the beans are suffiently mashed and the fat and onions sufficiently incorporated, taste them and add any salt you would like to add. Keep heating the beans, stirring occasionally. The beans are done when they stick more to themselves than to the sides of the pan. You can even give the beans a little flip. If half of the beans flip easily like a flapjack and stick back to themselves, you´ve got it!!! Flip onto a plate and serve immediately.

The mashing and flipping techniques are really best shown to someone in person, which is why I am so thankful to my mentors :) Too little fat, or overcooking, will make your beans dry and crumbly. Too much fat will make your beans greasy and icky when reheating. The cafeteria lady at school puts so much shortening in her beans that when I take them home and refrigerate them, they turn white. Eeeeew...

I know it´s not the traditional way, but the bacon fat refried beans were a big hit with my husband (and me!), and he liked them even more on his baleadas the next morning :)


  1. My husband is Honduran and their top pick is black beans, but second is the small red. We also add garlic! I use olive oil generally but most of the elderly members in the family use pork fat! We usually have beans 5 out of 7 days of the week, sometimes for all 3 meals! It truely is the key recipe in Honduras/central america!! Thanks for posting I found this on pinterest but I look forward to reading more from you!

  2. I lived in Honduras for a year and grew to love their refried red beans. How you like your beans depends on what part of the country you live in. I lived in Olancho where the beans were red and very creamy, but I also travelled to La Esperanza where the beans were definitely more chunky than creamy and may have been black beans now that I think about it. Now that I have been living back in the US I have been buying Natura's (already made) beans, which are pretty good, but I want to try to make my own because they taste better.

    1. I live in Esperanza and their choice of beans are the red bean. Only one time, we were served black beans. It's like anywhere in the world, it's their preference.
      Simplee Sue

  3. Thanks for the recipe, but one comment, Nicaraguans eat red beans mostly. The variety is called Seda or silk in English. I hardly ever see black beans in restaurants there.