Enfrijolada Recipe

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It is breakfast time in my kitchen and this Enfrijolada recipe is definitely one of my top three quick breakfast dishes. What is an “enfrijolada?”

It’s a beans and tortilla dish. Yep, that simple. Enfrijoladas were an essential part of farmhand living in Mexico. This rustic dish helped to fortify rancheros, field workers through the morning hours of hard work, and has remained in the kitchens of many Mexican families. Despite its humble beginnings, or perhaps because of them, enfrijoladas have moved from peasant dish to haute cuisine in swanky Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles.

The dish contains two main ingredients: corn tortillas and beans. Any other fillings and toppings were mere luxuries, but now more elaborate plating and presentation has elevated this dish to meet the demands of gourmands everywhere.


In large parts of Mexico, the dish is made with frijoles de la olla, which basically means “beans in a pot.” These frijoles are pinto beans slow cooked for hours with little more than salt and some white onions. The long, slow process of cooking the beans usually allows enough time for the onions to break down and imparts a creamy texture to the beans. From here the beans can be eaten as is or mashed into a paste. For enfrijoladas a bean paste is used. In a pinch, cans of pinto beans and a potato masher can easily be substituted.

A quick note on tortillas: you’ll want to use good quality corn tortillas. Homemade is preferable, but be weary of thicker tortillas because they will be harder to fold. And when it comes to folding, it is best to heat your tortillas before dipping in the beans. Simply keep them warm in a clean kitchen towel as you are dipping and folding. Placing uncooked corn tortillas in the microwave can work, if you are into that sort of thing. This works best if you are creating a casserole and plan to cook it in the oven.

Making this dish is easy, but can be a little messy, although with practice the assembly gets easier and less messy. For some, tongs easily do the trick of dipping the tortillas and folding them in quarters, but clean hands will do just fine. When it comes to toppings, crumbled cotija cheese and thinly sliced onions are typical, but everything from Mexican crema, toasted pumpkin seeds, sliced radishes and fresh herbs can be used. And while beans are considered a vegetable, they also have enough protein in them to act as a substitute for meat, however enfrijoladas with shredded chicken can be found on many menus across the Americas.

Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cup beans
12 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
¼ cup cotija cheese, crumbled

1. Once shaved, place your onion in a bowl of cold water and reserve.

2. Begin heating your beans a medium sized pot/skillet. It needs to be just wide enough to fully dip the tortillas.

3. While the beans are warming, heat your tortillas. You can do this in a comal or directly on an open flame. Keep warm by placing in a clean dish towel.
Once your beans are warmed, mash them using a potato masher.

4. Dip one tortilla at a time in the mashed beans, coating each side with beans. Tongs work just as good as your fingers.

5. Place the bean dipped tortilla on your plate/platter and fold in quarters. Repeat with three more tortillas. Each serving gets four bean dipped tortillas.

6. Pat dry in a paper towel and then divide the sliced onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese between the four servings. Optional: Add some sliced radishes, Mexican crema or toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.

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