Say it with me now: en-FREE-hoe-lah-dahs.

I’m not gonna lie, this recipe has been on my list for a while and I really dragged my feet to make it. Then I really dragged my feet even more to post it. Not because these aren’t delicious – nothing could be farther from the truth. But I’m into simple and easy recipes and this is neither of those things.

The first time I tried to make these, I failed. Miserably. The bean sauce was too thick, causing half of the tortillas to tear. The few that survived long enough to make it to the pan tore in half when I folded them because I hadn’t let them soak long enough, and so I stood in my kitchen doing everything in my power not to take a pan of bean/tortilla/cheese mess and throw it into the kitchen wall. And then we went and got In-N-Out for dinner.

This time, I was successful.


After I ruined about half of the tortillas I bought.

I just feel like I have to warn you – if you are a kitchen clutz like me, this recipe is gonna be a struggle, but it CAN be done. For the safety of your kitchen wall, you might want to have extra ingredients on hand…and a back-up dinner plan.

Okay, let’s do this:

First – you make some frijoles de la olla. (that just means “beans from a pot”)

(If you don’t want to go through the trouble of using dried beans, you could also use canned pinto beans and add in some sauteed onion and garlic. Or…skip this step altogether and just use canned refried beans.)

Then you mash up those beans, onion and garlic with some oil and butter. Refried beans = yummy.

Okay, here’s where things get tricky. Take your refried beans and blend them up with a little tomato paste and lots of bean stock (leftover water from boiling the beans), vegetable stock and/or water. You’re trying to make a very thin bean sauce to dip your tortillas into. Too heavy = tortillas will tear from the weight of the sauce when you lift them out.

You might be tempted to just barely dunk your tortillas in the sauce, but don’t do that. They need to get fully covered and be in there for a few seconds, otherwise they won’t be pliable and won’t fold over nicely when you try to make your little quesadillas in the baking dish.

A little hint – if one or two of your tortillas tear when you fold them in half – DON’T FREAK OUT. Bake the dish anyway – it’ll still taste fine.

You did it! Now all that’s left is baking these until the cheese has melted and becomes all bubbly. Take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy some great Mexican comfort food.


Refried Beans:

1/2 pound dried pinto beans
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup oil
Salt & Pepper

Soak the beans for 8 hours or overnight. Drain, and place in a large pot with the onion and bay leaf. Fill the pot with water until there is about an inch of water over the beans. Simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are tender. Drain, saving the bean liquid and discarding the bay leaf. Place the beans back into the pot with the onions, garlic, butter and olive oil. With the heat on medium-low, mash the beans in the pot with the other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you simply want refried beans, stop here!

For the Enfrijoladas:

1 recipe refried beans
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup bean stock (reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 small corn tortillas
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat up the refried beans in a large pan. Add in the vegetable stock, bean stock and tomato paste and blend until smooth. You want the sauce to be very thin, so add more liquid if necessary. If the sauce is too thick it will weigh down the tortillas and tear them. Using tongs, take a tortilla and dip in the sauce. This is a bit of an art – you want them to soak through enough that they are pliable and won’t tear, but soak them for too long and they’ll come apart when you lift them out.

Lay the tortilla dipped in bean sauce flat in a small baking dish. Sprinkle some cheese on one side of the tortilla, and then fold it in half like a quesadilla. Repeat this with each tortilla until the baking dish is full. Pour the remainder of the bean sauce into the pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Print this recipe!


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8 Thoughts on “Enfrijoladas

  1. I am glad I am not the only one who wants to throw failed recipes at the wall! This dish looks amazing! I will have to be brave and try it!

  2. This looks absolutely delicious! I love simple recipes like this.

    Thanks for the note on my site about moving.

    For me, personally, I’m not having a hard time leaving Cali. I know I should be more upset, but I’m not. I know I’ll miss wine tasting, unique food, and the best sight-seeing in the country, but I guess I’m just ‘done with it.’ It doesn’t sound like you’re done with Cali, are you?
    We could never afford to live the way we want to live in Cali. We want to own land and farm, and it’s just impossible in Cali (unless you marry into a family with land or inherit land). In every other state we can afford to buy a house and land, so the choice is easy for us. If you enjoy the city, maybe you should stay in So-Cal because the cities can’t be beat? I’m probably not helping, am I? I’ll go now, haha.

    Good luck with your decision :)

  3. Tag! You’re it now! :)

    I hear ya on having your kids see your grandparents more than once a year. My brother has 3 kids and even though I get back to Texas every few months, I swear they grow a foot each time I’m gone.
    It truly is a nice life in California. We’re approaching the big 3-0, and I think we will always talk about spending our 20s in Cali. And I hope to encourage my kids to branch out and live somewhere far from home for a while, too.
    I think you’re in southern Cali, but land prices are even higher down there. It’s not impossible to own though, especially right now with the housing crash. I think if you two want to build a life there, you can make it happen. Build a compound so all your family can move out here too? 😉

    We looooooooved Wichita. It’s gorgeous! And the houses were to die for! A 5 bedroom/3 bath house brand new with stainless steel appliance at $190k? Sign me up! But, that said, we actually chose Manhattan. It’s in the NE corner, where Kansas State Univ is. We had our choice between 3 cities and decided on Manhattan.

    Let’s keep in touch :) I’d love to hear what y’all decide to do. Which part of the South are y’all from? And are y’all both from the same area?


  4. Did you create this recipe just for me? Because it sure seems like it. I LOOOOVVVEEE refried beans (people typically look at me funny when I say that).

    PS – I’ve been browsing through the rest of your blog and it is awesome. I’m subscribing now!

    • Caroline on April 5, 2012 at said:

      I am obsessed with refried beans! I might honestly eat them in any form, haha. Thanks for subscribing!!

  5. Pingback: Enfrijoladas | Lifestyle Pins

  6. Nicole on May 14, 2012 at said:

    Hi! If you lightly fry the corn tortillas in oil (about 10 seconds each side) before you put them in the bean sauce, they won’t fall apart :)
    Glad to find your blog… I love following people’s cooking adventures.

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