Mexican black bean chili

Updated: Jul 19

I absolutely love this black bean recipe, so much so that I prefer it to most meat chilis. However for the carnivores, see recipe for Mexican-style chili.

Black beans are a staple in any Mexican table, always present and in so many variations. However, most commercial black beans are plain, cooked soft in water with lard, and very little spice. These are not those black beans. This is a hearty recipe loaded with tons of flavors. The beans are smoky from the chipotle chiles, have a sweet spice from the ancho chilies and the spices and herbs make it absolutely delicious. Every time I have served these, the bowl has emptied out quickly. They can be eaten by them selves, with all the accompaniments, or stuffed with grilled meats for tacos or burritos. They take time to make, but are so worth the effort.

However, if you do insist on wanting meat, follow this base recipe. but take some chorizo sausage without the casing, or ground meat of your choice, and saute it till browned. add to the stew and simmer for about 10 minutes.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.




1 lb dried black beans soaked overnight

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6-7 branches cilantro

Salt, to taste

6 cups water

2 chipotle chilies, or chipotle in adobo sauce

5 ancho chilies

1 1/2 cup hot water


3 tablespoons oil

1 bay leaf

2 large onions, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

Ancho-chipotle purée

2 teaspoons  cumin powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano, Mexican preferred

4 teaspoons mild paprika

1-2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

1 can fire roasted tomatoes (15 oz), or 4 regular tomatoes, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cilantro, minced 1-2 tablespoon vinegar from a jar of pickled jalapeños


Serve with the following accompaniments:

Tortillas or tortilla chips

Lime wedges

Scallions, cut in circles

Quest fresco or white cheddar cheese, grated

Sour cream (I prefer Salvadoran sour cream)

Cilantro, minced

Quick pickled Mexican vegetables

Pickled jalapeños

Mexican green rice


Wash the soaked black beans with a coupe rinses of water and boil with all the other ingredients till cooked, about 30-40 minutes. The beans need to be quite soft and mushy. Check the water every 15 minutes, especially to the end of the cooking time, you want there to be enough water but not too much. When cooked remove the cilantro, but keep the rest of the dish including the cooking liquids. .

To make the Ancho-chipotle paste, soak the dried chipotle and ancho chilies in warm water for 1 hour. De-seed the chilies and and grind into a fine paste with the strained soaking liquid. Set aside. If using chipotles in adobo sauce add the the soaked and deseeded ancho chilies and purée.


Heat oil and sauté the bay leaf for 30 seconds. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are light golden

Add chili paste and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is fragrant. Add the cumin, oregano, paprika and chili powder and cook well for 2 minutes, mixing the sauce well and preventing it from sticking to the bottom.


Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Make sure the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Add 1/4 cup of the bean cooking liquid if the sauce is too dry.


Add the cooked beans and simmer the mix on medium heat for 45 minutes. If the mix is thin cook open till the mix has the right thickness. When done turn off flame and stir in the chopped cilantro. Adjust chili, spices and salt as needed. The beans should be thick and delicious.


Serve hot with any combination or all of the accompaniments.

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