RECIPE: Re-create Atlanta restaurant refried beans at home

Refried Black Beans and Rice
Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Combined ShapeCaption
Refried Black Beans and Rice Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Between the rich vegetarian black beans at El Tesoro, the classic bean and cheese taco at Taqueria del Sol, and the Sonoran-style beans and rice at Pollo Primo, there’s never been a better time in Atlanta to be a fan of refried beans. When you don’t feel like dining out or ordering takeout, you can take cues from these great dishes to make them at home.

First, you’ll need to be unafraid of adding a generous amount of fat. For these beans I’ve used butter, but if you’re not attempting to make them vegetarian, high-quality lard would also be delicious. For another layer of flavor with minimum effort, add generous shakes of garlic powder to the butter — it takes only seconds to bring its distinct umami notes to a skillet of melted, sizzling fat.

The garlic butter does double duty. A few tablespoons mixed with Italian seasoning are used to flavor quick-cooking microwave white rice that’s a dead ringer for that served at Pollo Primo.

To the remaining butter, I add two cans of black beans and their liquid. While I prefer the flavor of black beans, you can use pinto or kidney beans; the process is exactly the same. These need to simmer for only a few minutes to incorporate the butter. Then, simply mash as much or as little as you’d like and season to taste.

The final touch is a sprinkling of cotija cheese or queso fresco, along with a couple of lime wedges.

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Refried Black Beans and Rice
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, undrained
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 (8.8-ounce) packets 90-second microwaveable white rice
  • Crumbled cotija or queso fresco, for serving
  • On the side: Lime wedges
  • Place the Italian seasoning in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter starts foaming, add the garlic powder and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, 15 to 30 seconds. Measure 2 tablespoons of the garlic butter. Add to the bowl with the Italian seasoning and stir to combine.
  • Add the beans and their liquid to the skillet, bring to a simmer and cook until flavorful, 3 to 5 minutes. Mash about half of the beans with a potato masher. Continue to simmer until the bean mixture has reached your desired thickness, 2 to 3 minutes. If the beans are too thick, stir in water, 1/4 cup at a time, until they’ve thinned to your liking. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt.
  • While the beans simmer, cook the rice in the microwave according to the package instructions. Immediately add to the large bowl with the seasoned butter and stir to combine.
  • To serve: Divide equal portions of rice among four plates. Top with equal portions of beans and garnish with cotija cheese and lime wedges on the side. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 543 calories (percent of calories from fat, 33), 18 grams protein, 75 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fiber, 20 grams total fat (12 grams saturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 340 milligrams sodium.
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