Black Beans: Molletes – Mexican Refried Bean Open Sandwich

Black Beans Healthy Snack Easy

If you haven’t made that big pot of black beans, you’ll want to soon. They are the base for the refried beans in molletes (a Mexican antojito/snack) and other recipes coming up.

Nearly two decades ago I made my first trip to Mexico – I lived with a family in Cuernavaca and traveled around central and southern Mexico. Some of the places I visited were  D.F. (Districto Federal aka Mexico City), Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco and so many pueblitos I can’t remember their names.

This trip has a very special place in my heart since it was the first time I packed my bags to venture alone in a new country. But, more significant was that it was my first trip to my Motherland and an amazing personal journey – with much familiarity and even more that was new.

I have vivid food memories from this first extended stay, like the tacos de flor de callabaza I bought trail-side after finishing a hike near some steep ruins where the locals frequented; the just-caught, fried fish served with nopales on a remote beach near Puerto Escondido; the mole in Puebla; and the amazing mercado in Oaxaca. Also on this list are molletes (pronounced mo -YEY -tes). Refried black beans and melted cheese on crusty bread, topped with fresh pico de gallo.

This open sandwich quickly became a favorite. At the time, I was on a budget and molletes were a great anytime meal that was both good and cheap. I think I paid the equivalent of 50 cents or a dollar for two halfs when eating out. Two pieces is a full meal for this chica.

Nearly every time I’ve had them in Mexico, they’ve been served with black beans, although pinto beans are also used. Most of my travels so far have been to central and southern Mexico, and the Yucatan – places where black beans are preferred

To make molletes, you can use my Cuban black bean recipe (no, it’s not sacrilege) or your favorite home-made black or pinto beans. You can also use canned beans; but, if you do, buy the beans whole and make your own refried beans, they’ll taste much better.

Molletes are not fancy food but you’ll be glad to have this recipe in your arsenal of quick to make meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. As I write this, I’m thinking one of these topped with bacon would be a Mexican BLT.

Black Beans Healthy Snack Easy

Molletes – Mexican Refried Bean Open Sandwich

Refried Black Beans

If you prefer refried beans with some texture rather than thin/runny pastes, do not over mash them. Leave about 1/3 of the beans somewhat in tact.

2 cups home-made black beans or 1 can* whole beans (drain, reserve liquid)

1 1/2 tablespoons oil/lard/bacon grease

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (if using canned beans)

1 small clove fresh garlic minced (if using canned beans)

  1. Heat oil/lard in a heavy skillet over medium heat. (*If using canned beans, saute the onion and minced garlic for about 1 minute.)
  2. When the oil is hot, add the drained beans to the skillet and “fry” them for about 3 – 5 minutes to heat slowly throughout. Stir occasionally. Beans should not be dry or too thick at this point; add some of the reserved liquid by the ¼ cup to thin. Mash beans with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Keep stirring, mashing and adding liquid until you the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Adjust seasoning.


Serves 4

Refried beans

2 bollilos, teleras or other crusty bread

1 cup shredded white cheese

Fresh pico de gallo

Avocado, optional

  1. Preheat broiler. Cut the rolls lengthwise, place on a baking sheet and broil until lightly golden, about 3 minutes – watch carefully.
  2. Spread each half of the rolls with about 1/2 cup of the refried beans. Top with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted.
  3. Transfer the rolls to a serving tray or plate. Serve with a side of fresh pico de gallo and your favorite toppings.


Beans:  Black, pinto or your favorite legumes

Cheese:  Chihuahua , Mexican Manchego, queso fresco, monterrey jack, cheddar, etc.

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17 Responses to Black Beans: Molletes – Mexican Refried Bean Open Sandwich

  1. “Refried Bean Open Sandwich” may be accurate, but the name, in English, is not nearly as enticing as the pix of the finished product.

  2. Susan says:

    This sandwich looks delicious! Do you have a favorite Latin market in the Denver area?

  3. @Susan: For the larger market, I usually shop at Rancho Liborio – I actually bought the bollilos and taleras there – there were still warm. There’s also Avanza. Fortunately (for convenience) I’m also a short walk away from a great Mexican panaderia (unfortunately for my waistline).

    Another note. I usually buy black beans in the bulk section, but this last time I bought Goya’s black beans and they were super fresh and cooked up pretty quickly.

  4. OMG! Haven’t had breakfast! Love this! And I’ve been to that market in Oaxaca. You should check out 5 Second Rule blog today. She just got back from Mexico City.

  5. Karen Harris says:

    I have adopted Rick Bayless’s recipe for refried beans from a can for a super quick version of refried beans. I’m making this soon. This 16 year old boy that is home for the summer is eating me out of house and home. This has his name written all over it.

  6. @Karen: I believe Bayless’ recipe is pretty much the way I’ve outlined instructions below. Pretty standard – fat, sautee onions, add beans, and mash. You might also want to add some cumin or your favorite Mexican spices to the canned beans.

  7. This looks sooo good Andrea! Beautiful, mouthwatering photos. I wish we had a bakery in Missoula that made bollilos, but one way or another I WILL eat this soon!

  8. @Ginny: A baguette will also work just fine, the dough is similar. And, like a French baguette’s fresh is better. The bollilo gives you more bread per bite. The telera is slighty softer and flatter, which equals more surface area for toppings.

  9. spiceroots says:

    I can not decide what I love more. The recipes or the Photographs. Absolutely delicious!

  10. Aunt Suzy says:

    made this last night – delicious! Thanks for a delicious and quick week-night meal.

  11. Cassie says:

    Looks delicious! I am a big fan of refried black beans – I make mine overnight in the slower cooker, with onions, garlic, spices and jalapenos in with the beans. Never thought to spread them on toast!

  12. Lana says:

    Ah, the sense of freedom intermingled with a bit of trepidation when we dare to go alone for the first time into a foreign land! I remember how fast my heart was beating when we landed at JFK on my first trip to the US…
    I have a yearning desire to venture into Mexico with a group of people who like to eat and discover the culture, and spend a year moving from region to region. I got hooked on Mexico during our last year’s trip to Yucatan.
    I have to confess that I have never heard of, let alone tasted a bean sandwich. But it looks and sounds wonderful!
    I have sequestered about 2 cups of cooked beans into the freezer, and I just have to make this soon! And I have lard!
    Thank you, Andrea, for inspiring me:)

  13. Lea Ann says:

    Andrea, this sounds and looks delicious. I’ve had a torta roll in the freezer for over a month now and I need to use that darn thing. I love the toppings. Thanks so much for this recipe and idea.

  14. Yvette says:

    YUM! There’s nothing like the smell and taste of a warm bolillo! Your recipe and photos look delish!

    Have you ever been to Azteca?! It’s my new favorite grocery store. PLUS Tacos Juniors is right next door. I eat and then shop! LOL!

  15. I have just recently started eating beans more often. I would love to try this recipe! It was good meeting you today at the Front Range Food Bloggers meeting. =) Looking forward to following you, I really like the concept of your blog!

  16. purabi naha says:

    Wow, you take lovely pictures. This recipe looks very interesting and loved reading your post. You have a great collection of recipes.

  17. Rosaina says:

    Does homemade black beans just mean cooked from dried black beans? Is there any other seasoning or ingredients added?

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