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Mexican Black Beans

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Mexican Black Beans just like the ones you love from Mexican restaurants but homemade! With a short list of budget-friendly pantry ingredients and 40 minutes, you can achieve gourmet flavors and the perfect creamy texture. Use them as a protein-packed addition in burrito bowls, tacos, nachos, and more!
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 40 minutes
5 from 134 votes

If you love the black beans from your local Mexican restaurant but always end up with underwhelming results at home, these Mexican Black Beans are a must-try. 

Trust me when I say canned black beans have never tasted this good before. The texture is deliciously creamy and saucy while the flavor is packed with spice, smoke, and aromatics.

It’s one of the most perfect vegan side dishes you can pair with almost anything, from a simple pot of rice to a Chipotle-inspired vegan burrito bowl.

Bonus: all you need are 10 pantry-staple ingredients and 40 minutes!

Table of Contents:
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. How to serve Mexican black beans
7. Recipe Card with Notes

Overhead view of shallow tan bowl filled with black beans on a wooden table.

Why this recipe works 

Supercharged with flavor and an unforgettable texture

The baseline of flavor here comes from sofrito, a sauteed mix of aromatics, vegetables, chiles, and spices that makes the backbone of many Latin American and Caribbean dishes. 

The sofrito supercharges the canned beans with a warm depth of flavor you’d typically only get from slow-simmered beans. It quickly takes them from ‘meh’ to ‘mind-blowing’. 

The texture is a whole other story. The beans are cooked with the starchy liquid from the can, leaving them with a saucy, almost creamy consistency. 

PS: The canned liquid from the beans is totally safe to eat. It’s just the liquid the beans were cooked in.  

To complete, a glug of extra virgin olive oil is poured over the beans. Since beans are pretty much fat-free, the olive oil lends necessary fat and a luxe mouthfeel that’s rarely found in dishes made with canned beans.

One bite and you’ll never look at a can of beans the same way again!

A handful of wholesome, budget-friendly ingredients

Despite the gourmet-like flavors, this recipe comes together using 10 budget-friendly pantry staples or ingredients you likely already have at home.

And not only is it a crowdpleaser flavor-wise, it’s also a nutritional powerhouse and naturally vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free.

In just ½ cup of black beans, you get 9g fiber, 7g protein, 8% of your daily iron and potassium needs, and 4% of your daily calcium needs! 

Use ‘em anywhere

The beans are especially delicious and hearty on a burrito bowl but can be used in so many more dishes! Honestly, they’re so good that they may not even make it to the bowl (make sure you have a bag of tortilla chips handy for easy scooping).

Check out the How to Serve Mexican Black Beans section for plenty of serving suggestions.

Side view of black bean tacos and lime wedges on brown plate.

Ingredient notes

Mexican black beans ingredients laid out on a wooden cutting board.

Black beans. Canned beans are plenty tasty and the easy solution here. When you really want to make the most epic batch of vegan Mexican black beans, you can use dried black beans. Check out the notes in the recipe card for deets.

Both the beans and the canning liquid (or cooking liquid if you used dry beans) are used. The liquid is safe to eat and its added starchiness lends a nice creamy consistency to the finished dish.

Tomatoes. This recipe is great with fresh or canned diced tomatoes. This would be a wonderful recipe to turn to when you have too many tomatoes in your garden or kitchen at the end of summer.

Sofrito. This is a mixture of aromatics, chiles, spices, and vegetables used to form the base of many Latin American and Caribbean meals. The sofrito mix I used here is made of onion, garlic, red chili flakes, Mexican oregano, cumin, and tomatoes.

Scroll down to the Tips section to learn how to further customize your sofrito mix.

Want to save time? Make the sofrito 1 or 2 days ahead of time and store it in a jar in the fridge. Save it for this bean dish or use it as a starter in more Latin-inspired recipes like Instant Pot Rice and Beans, Burrito Bowl Stuffed Peppers, and more.

Step-by-step instructions 

If using fresh tomatoes, pulse them in a food processor until pureed, or grate using a box grater. 

Fresh pureed tomatoes in a food processor.

Make the sofrito. Saute the onion in a pan with oil over medium heat. Once it’s soft, add the garlic, chipotle chile or red pepper flakes, cumin, and oregano.

Next, pour the tomatoes into the pan. You want to maintain a rapid simmer so the tomatoes can break down and most of the liquid evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the beans. Pour in the black beans plus their canning liquid. Bring to a simmer. Let everything cook until the mixture has thickened and looks saucy. 

Finish with garnishes. Stir a glug of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, and cilantro in with the beans. Add more salt, pepper, or lime juice to suit your taste buds, then serve.

Tips for making this recipe

Adjust the sofrito to your liking. If you’d like to take the heat up a notch, use more chile flakes or add a diced jalapeño along with the garlic. If you have BabyMouth, leave the chili flakes out entirely.

If you prefer smoky black beans, use crushed chipotle chile flakes instead of red pepper flakes. You can even add a few teaspoons of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers along with the tomatoes for a smoky heat.

Have a green bell pepper in your fridge to use up? Chop it finely and sauté along with the onion.

Don’t drain the beans! Unlike most recipes using canned beans, this one includes the canning liquid to thicken and “creamify” the beans. Just dump the entire can of beans and liquid into the pan and cook away.

The olive oil matters. Don’t skip the extra virgin olive oil at the end. It gives body, mouthfeel, and richness to an otherwise very low-fat dish.

Side view of shallow tan bowl filled with black beans on a wooden table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use pinto beans instead?

Sure. They should work just as well.

Can I use dried black beans instead of canned beans?

Yes, but you’ll need to soak the beans ahead of time. Check out the notes in the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

Can I make Mexican black beans in the Instant Pot instead?

Given that this recipe use canned beans and they only simmer for 15 minutes, I don’t think an Instant Pot makes sense here.

If you are using dried black beans, yes.

1) Use the IP Sauté setting to cook the sofrito in steps 3 and 4.

2) Then add 8 ounces (227g) dried black beans (rinsed well) + 2.5 cups (600 mL) water and season with a bit of salt.

3) Pressure cook at high pressure for 35 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release for 10 minutes.

4) If not saucy enough, turn on the Sauté setting and simmer for a few minutes.

Note: we haven’t tested this, but the method is adapted from the Game Day Black Bean Dip in my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook.

How long do these beans last?

Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave until warmed through, adding a splash of water or veggie broth as needed if they have thickened.

Can you freeze cooked black beans?

Absolutely! Transfer the cooled black beans to an airtight container (or individual containers for single-serve portions) and freeze for up to 6 months. For the best texture, let them defrost in the fridge before reheating.

Overhead close up of shallow tan bowl filled with black beans on a wooden table.

How to serve Mexican black beans

  • These beans are so good that you’ll have no trouble eating them with tortilla chips or mixing them into a simple pot of white or brown rice. 
  • Meal prep these beans and Chipotle-style sofritas, and enjoy burrito bowls throughout the week.
  • Spoon them into corn tortillas for taco night and top with pickled onions (7th recipe card) and guacamole or cilantro crema.
  • Pair them with my vegan queso to make bean and cheese burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas.
  • Serve them over a platter of nachos to give them a boost of plant-based protein.
  • Pair alongside tofu scramble for a hearty breakfast of champions. 
  • Or, puree them in a food processor or using an immersion blender and turn into a dip! Serve with tortilla chips. 
Overhead view of black bean tacos and lime wedges on brown plate.

If you love these Mexican Black Beans as much as we do, please rate and review the recipe with your feedback below :) It’s always very much appreciated!

Big Vegan Flavor

Techniques and 150 recipes to master vegan cooking.

Mexican Black Beans

5 from 134 votes
Mexican Black Beans just like the ones you love from Mexican restaurants but homemade! With a short list of budget-friendly pantry ingredients and 40 minutes, you can achieve gourmet flavors and the perfect creamy texture. Use them as a protein-packed addition in burrito bowls, tacos, nachos, and more!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4 to 6


  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans black beans, undrained*


  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, diced**
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile flakes or red pepper flakes***
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound (454g) fresh tomatoes or 1 (14-ounce/400g) can of diced tomatoes


  • A glug of extra virgin olive oil****
  • A squeeze or two of lime juice
  • 1 cup (16g) fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped


  • Don’t drain the beans!
  • Prep the fresh tomatoes, if using. Wash, and then add to a food processor and pulse until pureed. Or grate the tomatoes using the wide holes of a box grater.
  • Make the sofrito. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat with 1 ½ tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook until the onion has softened and is golden but not browned, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin, oregano, and chipotle flakes (if using) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a rapid simmer and cook until the tomatoes break down and most of the liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with the kosher salt and several cracks of black pepper.
  • Pour the black beans with their liquid into the sofrito. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened and saucy. If it gets too thick, add a splash of vegetable broth if you have it, or water.
  • Stir in a glug of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, and cilantro. Taste, and add salt/pepper or more lime juice to taste.


*How to make with dried black beans: Soak ½ pound (227g) black beans overnight (add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the soaking water to help soften); drain. Cook the beans in 3 cups (720 mL) water + add 2 bay leaves and a few fresh oregano sprigs if you have them. Cook the beans for at least an hour, probably longer, until they’re tender. Then scoop out 1.5 cups (360 mL) cooking liquid and discard for maximal sauciness. Make the sofrito and add it to the pot of cooked beans with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and rapidly simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened and saucy. Follow step 4 as written.
**A jalapeño here is pretty mild; use a serrano pepper for a spicier version.
***For a more pronounced smoky, spicy flavor, add a few teaspoons of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers when you add the tomatoes.
****Don’t skip the olive oil! It adds a necessary richness and great mouthfeel.
Storage: Store leftover beans in an airtight container for 5 to 6 days. Or freeze for up to 6 months; defrost in the fridge before reheating.

Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 673mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 902IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 3mg

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4.98 from 134 votes (48 ratings without comment)

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200 comments on Mexican Black Beans

  1. Laurie

    We just had these as part of a meal (Mexican Black Beans with Rice and Cilantro Crema) in RPL Meal Plan Week #2. Omnivore husband gave them the first ever “A” for a vegan dish. I agree—the best vegan meal I’ve made (or maybe the best I’ve eaten)

    If you aren’t subscribed to the RPL meal plan, you should consider giving it a try. (No, this is not a paid ad).

    To RPL, if referring to the meal plan is a no-no please let me know.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Laurie, thank you so much for the kind words!! Absolutely no worries with referring to the meal plan! We’re delighted you’re enjoying it so far :)

  2. Toria

    5 stars
    I just made these here in Australia and they were really good. I used red kidney beans as I had that on hand. I also didn’t have cilantro but it tasted excellent anyway. Instead of the specific cumin and Mexican oregana that Nisha had, for simplicity, I used my own mix of “fajita seasoning” which I make up and keep on hand to make life easier: double smoked paprika, oregano, chilli, cumin, garlic, powder and ground coriander. Other than that, I followed the directions and enjoyed the flavour. Oh careful with the squeezes of lime juice. I got a bit too excited after I added 1 squeeze, I shouuld have stopped as it tasted excellent but I thought, it will taste even better with 3 squeezes….woops. I fixed it with some salt but control yourselves :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Toria, thanks for the lovely review! It’s great to hear you truly enjoyed the black beans. :)

  3. Beatrice

    5 stars
    I user this recipe dozens of times and It’s a must. This time I tried adding TVP and It was amazing. Perfect for every occasion !

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy to hear it went well, Beatrice! :)

  4. Julie

    5 stars
    I cook for about 50+ people once a week. When I make haystacks (Tortilla chips toped with the sofrito black beans, lettuce, guac, cheese, sour cream and salsa if desired) I always use this recipe. They LOVE it. Thanks for such a scrumptious recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so cool to hear, Julie! Thanks for making the recipe and sharing it with such a huge group of people!! :D

  5. Russ Adams

    5 stars
    This is excellent and so versatile and easy! I was looking for an alternative to refritos as a side dish for a Mexican entree. So, I cooked it down a little more and used a hand masher to thicken it further. These beans were more of a hit than the main!

    Thank you so much for the recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Russ!

  6. Christine Rice

    5 stars
    Fantastic and delicious! What more can you ask for! Thank you
    The crowd loved it!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Christine! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  7. Monica

    5 stars
    I continue coming back to this recipe over and over again. I can’t count how many times I’ve made it. I use canned tomatoes and beans and it turns out terrific. I can’t say enough good things about this recipe. It has so much flavor and I make a huge batch and always freeze half of it in my souper cubes. There is always a serving of Mexican black beans in my freezer to pull out and add to a meal. Thank you!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Monica, thanks for sharing! :) It’s lovely to hear this recipe has become a staple.

  8. Taneal

    5 stars
    This was the first recipe I have tried and I was shook how good it was. As a result, I have tried so many of your other recipes from your cookbook and from your channel. Thanks so much for all the hard work you and your team does!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Taneal, thanks for the lovely comment! It’s great to hear the recipe went well for you :)

  9. Kelly

    5 stars
    Really yummy – I didn’t have jalapeño or cilantro, subbed avocado oil for olive, used regular oregano, and canned fire roasted diced tomatoes. Despite the changes it was delicioussss served over rice with crispy tofu bites! Will definitely make again :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Kelly! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Shel

    5 stars
    Glad to have discovered Rainbow Plant Life! Tried a few of your recipes and have not been disappointed. This one follows suit! Absolutely scrumptious! Would have added several more stars if it were an option. I have more recipes picked out for future deliciousness.
    Keep ’em coming!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the black beans turned out well for you, Shel. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  11. Kathy Zeng

    5 stars
    Delicious! The more times I make it the easier and faster it gets. It’s such a versatile dish- we use it in Nisha’s burrito bowls, and change up leftovers by rolling them in tortillas with other components we have on hand, or over a baked sweet potato for dinner. Thank you Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Kathy. Thank you for leaving a review!

  12. Lisa

    5 stars
    Had one can of black beans and one of pinto beans in my pantry. Used those and it turned out well. An easy recipe when I was short on time.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      It’s great to hear the recipe turned out well for you, Lisa!

  13. Kathy

    5 stars
    Delicious and easy to make thanks to great directions! :)
    This versatile recipe has become a standard go-to option for our family.
    Thank you Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Kathy. Thank you for leaving a review!

  14. Anne

    5 stars
    These are the best black beans ever!!! Thank you Nisha

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Anne, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  15. Maribel

    5 stars
    Seriously the best black beans recipe and so easy for a busy mom of two boys on a weeknight. We’ve been making this recipe once a week and the boys love it!! I omit the jalapeño pepper only use just a tad of red pepper flakes and instead of cans I use up my dried black beans which I cook over the weekend and store in the fridge/freezer .

    I’ve served it up as a stew with toppings and a good sourdough bread. Also, over some corn tortillas and fun toppings as tacos or flour tortillas for burritos. As well as just good ole black beans and rice .

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Maribel! Sounds like the recipe was a success :)

  16. BRENDA

    5 stars
    Hola Nisha from South Texas! OMG these black beans are delash! I teach high school Spanish and recall one time a student bought some his Mexican grandma made and these taste like that! Kudos to helping me cook like all those sweet abuelitas out there! I love all your cooking!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Brenda, so happy to hear this recipe surpassed your expectations! Thanks for the lovely comment :)

  17. Jacob K.

    5 stars
    Excellent! Made this with the Chipotle sofritas bowl and the beans were a perfect component. I added about a teaspoon of Trader Joes 21 Seasoning salute and the flavors popped so beautifully. Added a savory layer of depth. I’d encourage you to give it a try if you’ve got a similar all-spice hanging around! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jacob!

  18. Chanel C. Austin

    5 stars
    Omg so this is my second time making this recipe. I used dry pinto beans (which I used another recipe you had for the Vegan Instant Pot Mexican beans and rice). I didn’t have any lime juice this time so I used lemon juice. It was good and I did add some of adobo sauce to make it more smoky as you suggested. I’m not really a spicy gal but this hits the spot. I’m gonna try and do some bean quesadillas with it as well (and make your vegan nacho sauce to top it off). Love all your recipes! Thanks Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Chanel! And thanks for being a part of the RPL community. :)

  19. Alpa

    5 stars
    This recipe is on point like all the recipes here. It’s got such a depth of flavour but is so easy to make: I made a large batch recently for a party and I got so many compliments on the beans. It’s hard to get Jalapeños and Mexican oregano in the UK so I added a mild chili and regular oregano.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Alpa, we’re so happy everyone enjoyed it! Thanks for leaving a review :)

  20. Gabrielle Bradley

    5 stars
    I have made these beans 5x. It gets better each time. I’m still simmering but, it will get fresh cilantro from my garden at the end. Today I added a tablespoon of taco seasoning and will use them in my baked potato tacos! So yummy 😊😊😊

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Gabrielle, thank you so much for your kind review :) Baked potato tacos sound yummy, enjoy!

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