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3 wooden bowls of Mexican black beans, a sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro on a wooden table.

Mexican Black Beans (Frijoles de la Olla)

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, Mexican food, Tex-Mex, vegetarian
Keyword: Easy, healthy vegetarian black beans
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 124kcal
Making authentic Mexican black beans from scratch is so much easier than you think! This classic Mexican dish is healthy, vegetarian, and uses just five ingredients.
Print Recipe


  • 1 lb black beans picked over for stones
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion small in size, diced
  • 1 sprig epazote optional
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • cotija cheese optional, to sprinkle on top
  • fresh cilantro optional, garnish


  • Pick over the beans to check for any stones, or beans that look bad. Then rinse thoroughly.
  • Add the vegetable oil to a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add beans and water to the pot with the onion. Remove any beans that float. Add epazote if using, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 2 hours.
  • Stir the beans from time to time, and make sure that the water is about 1/2 inch above the beans at all times. Add more if it sinks below this level. You want the beans to be cooked all the way through and creamy. If they aren’t ready after 2 hours, simmer a little longer, adding a bit more water if necessary.
  • Once beans are cooked all the way through, add the salt and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Serve topped with crumbled cotija cheese on top, garnish with fresh cilantro.


Tips and Tools
  • The instructions are correct: you don’t salt the beans until they are finished cooking! I could not believe this when I first tried the recipe, but it’s true. I should know better than to doubt Rick Bayless. Wait until they are done, then add the salt and simmer a little longer. I don’t know how this works, but it does.
  • My Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven is a go-to for this recipe, because it cooks the beans evenly. 
  • This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. He is one of my favorite chefs. I have many of his cookbooks and I love his Chicago restaurants.
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Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1.2mg