Black Beans with Epazote

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    3 cups


Appears in

Amor y Tacos

Amor y Tacos

By Deborah Schneider

Published 2010

  • About

Black beans are most often associated with the cooking of southern Mexico and the Yucatán. The beans are usually cooked with a sprig of epazote, a wild herb; it has a mildly minty/herbal taste and is thought to aid the digestion.


  • 1 cup dried black beans, washed and picked over
  • 8–10 cups water
  • 1 sprig fresh epazote
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 whole white onion, peeled, plus 2 tablespoons minced white onion
  • 1 serrano chile, washed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lard or olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chiles


  1. Combine the beans, water, epazote, 1 garlic clove, the whole peeled onion, and the serrano chile in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook uncovered for 1 hour.
  2. Add the salt and continue simmering for 3 hours longer, or until the beans are very tender. Make sure there is always enough water in the pot that the beans move easily. Add more water as needed.
  3. When the beans are done, fish out the onion, garlic, chile, and epazote, and discard them. Cool the beans in the cooking liquid. Mince the remaining garlic clove and set it aside.
  4. Just before serving, heat the lard in a sauté pan. Add the minced onion and cook until soft; add the minced garlic and red chile and cook 1 minute longer.
  5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.


Instead of serving the beans whole, mash them in the sauté pan, ladleful by ladleful. Add plenty of the cooking liquid as you mash the beans—if necessary, add extra water (or a little beer). You want them to be mostly smooth, but some texture is desirable. The ideal refritos are softer and creamier than mashed potatoes.