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Gabriela Cámara’s Frijoles Refritos Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

Chef Gabriela Cámara—celebrated chef of Mexico City’s Contramar, San Francisco’s Cala, Onda in Los Angeles, and is author of the cookbook, My Mexico City Kitchen—has her own spin on one of Mexican cuisine’s humblest gems, refried beans.



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4 Ways to Serve Frijoles Refritos

Refried beans are a versatile and healthy side dish to serve alongside almost any Mexican meal.

  1. Make a delicious taco by spreading refried beans on a warm tortilla and adding a sprinkle of crumbled queso fresco and crispy chorizo.
  2. Tuck frijoles refritos into a flour tortilla with roasted veggies and rice for a hearty burrito.
  3. Have some refried beans with huevos rancheros first thing in the morning for a filling breakfast.
  4. Serve the beans alongside a celebratory spread, like Gabriela’s Pescado a la Talla, as a crowd-pleasing side dish. Find Gabriela’s Pescado a la Talla recipe here.

Gabriela Cámara’s Frijoles Refritos Recipe

Prep Time
12 hr
Total Time
13 hr
Cook Time
1 hr


Gabriela Cámara’s uses black beans instead of pinto beans in her refried beans recipe, and uses a blender rather than a potato masher.

  • 240 grams dried black beans
  • 10 grams garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig epazote or 2 avocado leaves
  • 20 grams vegetable oil or lard
  • 150 grams white onion, finely diced
  • Salt to taste
  1. 1 day before cooking, soak the dried beans overnight in cold water (this will ensure that the beans cook faster and more evenly). The next day, rinse the beans thoroughly to remove any debris. Place the beans in a medium pot and cover with water until the beans are completely submerged and there’s an extra 10 centimeters of water above them. Add the garlic and epazote (or avocado leaves). Remove any beans that float to the surface.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cover the pot. After about 30 minutes, remove the lid, stir the beans, and add more water if needed to maintain 10 centimeters of water covering the beans. Replace the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, taste a bean for doneness—it will likely still be firm, but check every 10 minutes from this point, stirring gently between each test and adding more water as needed. Cook the beans until soft but still whole with skin intact. Season with salt.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil or lard over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2–3 minutes.
  4. While the onions are cooking, spoon 240ml of the reserved bean cooking liquid and 240 grams of the frijoles aguados into a blender (or a tall vessel if using an immersion blender). Blend until the beans are smooth and resemble a light yet watery paste.
  5. Once the onions are translucent, pour the bean paste into the cast-iron skillet with the onions. Stir well with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture should be silky smooth and not too thick—it should coat the back of a spoon but still drip off. Taste the beans for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

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