Frijoles de Olla Recipe

Cook Frijoles de Olla, garnish savory beans and learn how to make homemade refried beans all by yourself.
By Robin Mather
December 2011/January 2012
Add to My MSN

A bowl of stewy, savory beans makes a fine supper. 

Content Tools

Related Content

Decorating on Thaksgiving Day

Use simple, free materials, such as leaves and fruit, to decorate your Thanksgiving table.

Make Your Own Homemade Hammock

The time for relaxing in the sun has arrived, and this homemade hammock tutorial will help you hang ...

The Effect of Deforestation on the Climate and Environment

This posting discusses how deforestation increases global warming and ocean acidification. It also d...

Ultimate Paper Recycling

To make the pulp for homemade paper, look no further than your waste and recycling bins.

“Pot beans,” as frijoles de olla translates in English, are incredibly versatile. A pot of stewy beans on hand — whether frozen or just cooked — can turn into homemade refried beans, form the foundation of a non-Texan chili, be mashed into a base for bean dip or used to fill burritos. I like a big bowl of these hot from the pot, often served with cornbread or warmed tortillas and long-cooked pot greens on the side. Try some chopped onion or cilantro and shredded cheese to garnish the beans.


1 pound (about 2 1⁄2 cups) dry beans of any type: red, navy, pinto, black, adzuki, speckled, what have you 
2 tbsp bacon drippings 
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped 
1 bay leaf, broken in half 
Salt, to taste 


Sort the beans by spilling them onto a baking sheet and removing any debris and broken beans.  Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Pour the beans into a deep, heavy, 4- to 6-quart pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, with a lid. Add 2 1⁄2 quarts cold water (use filtered water if yours is hard), then remove any beans that float. Add the bacon drippings, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Bring the beans to a rolling boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low so the beans are at a gentle simmer. Cover the beans, tipping the lid a bit, and cook until they are thoroughly tender, about 2 hours. Add boiling water to the pot as needed to keep the broth covering the beans at its starting level.

When the beans are completely tender, season with 1 to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt and cook 15 minutes longer. Eat as is, with salsa and additional chopped onion, or continue to the next step for refried beans.

Makes 8 to 10 servings as a side, 4 to 6 servings as a main course.

Make Homemade Refried Beans With These Extra Steps

How to make refried beans: Drain the beans in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the broth. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat an additional quarter cup of bacon drippings or vegetable oil, then add the drained beans, a couple of spoonfuls at a time. Mash each addition of beans with a wooden spoon or, my preference, a potato masher.

When all beans have been mashed, stir in broth to give the beans the consistency of mashed potatoes — creamy, but with some larger bits. Taste and re-salt if necessary.

Read More: Read a full excerpt about how cooking beans helped one food writer discover her own self-reliance in Finding Self-Reliance in a Pot of Dried Beans.

Robin Mather has written about food for more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines ranging from the Chicago Tribune to Cooking Light. This recipe is an excerpt from her book, The Feast Nearbywhere she tells the story of a three-day blizzard that tested her resourcefulness and taught her self-reliance breeds confidence. Robin is now a senior associate editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on .

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.