Make Ahead

My Favorite Black Bean Dip

February  5, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes about 2 cups
Author Notes

This recipe is based on a dish that a dear friend of mine would make while we were in grad school. She always made a gigantic bowl of this for her dinner parties and I would unashamedly devour most of it! It was by far the best black bean dip I had ever had -- it had the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and sour, with a hint of coffee at the end which made it irresistible!

This is a Costa Rican bean dip -- my friend made it with canned refried beans, chicken consommé, and Lizano sauce but I have adapted it here to make it vegetarian with homemade refried beans. The whole dish comes together in minutes -- an absolute necessity when all my cooking has to synchronize with a newborn's nap schedule! It also helps that this dip can be used to make all kinds of tacos, nachos, and burritos. We made our veggie quesadillas last night using this and it was a hit! —Madhuja

Test Kitchen Notes

This bean dip is as addictive as Madhuja says it is! The small amounts of coffee and sugar add unmistakable bitterness and sweetness that really complement each other and the more traditional flavors of the dip. It’s difficult to restrain yourself from taking just one more bite. I loved a) how quickly it came together and b) it’s variety of uses. I dipped tortilla chips in it, spread it on toast with eggs, and made a quesadilla with it -- all were excellent. —duclosbe1

What You'll Need
  • 1 30-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon vegetable base (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee or 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter on medium heat and sauté the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the jalapeño, garlic, cumin, oregano, and vegetable base and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the beans and let everything sizzle in the hot butter for a few minutes. Add sugar and hot sauce and mix everything well.
  2. Dump everything in a food processor, add the coffee, and blend until smooth. Adjust for seasoning. Set aside for a couple of hours for the flavors to meld. Dig in with chips or add to burritos, tacos, or my personal favorite: quesadillas!
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40 Reviews

judy February 12, 2022
This looks really good. I use beans of all varieties to make alternates to garbanzo based hummus. I am allergic to garbanzos! I keep canned beans on hand for this purpose. Any variety of canned beans will work and any flavor profile. A great snack or dinner with veggie dips and a few crackers, pita chips or sour dough bread...
TJ R. February 6, 2022
So, I need to watch my sodium intake. Is there anything I could substitute for veggie base in this recipe? Would some sort of sofrito work in its place?
judy February 12, 2022
HI; I have a couple of recipes that I use for this type of thing. I have gathered them over the years. but I found this one on line, and it is about right, with these types of recipes, I simply omit the salt. Also Seasonings can be adjusted to fit need or recipe desired, and made in smaller batches. Or this larger batch to have on hand as needed. the Nutritional yeast adds the umami and salt flavor.. I hope this helps. (p.s. thyme is a great add in as well...)
Cheryl February 18, 2021
Really good! I made it vegan with vegan butter (1/2 the amount), vegan bouillon base, cocoa as suggested and substituted a small steamed sweet potato for the sugar. I think it would be even better with cilantro added, which I just might do. Thank you!
Cheryl February 18, 2021
I also wonder if a little soy sauce might amp it up.
scubasteve February 5, 2017
I have made this several times with only 1.5 - 2 tablespoons butter and a splash of olive oil. It may not have the mouthfeel of the original but it's still pretty darn good. We let cool then add more hot sauce since we like it spicy;
Madhuja February 6, 2017
Thanks so much for trying my recipe!
Marion C. September 9, 2016
This was really good! Next time I will cut way back on the butter(by half) cut the sugar down too, it was a titch too sweet for me. I will also try it with cocoa instead of coffee or use decaf. We ate it for dinner and even that small amount of caffeine at dinner kept us all awake :(. It may not have that effect if one only ate a small amount as a dip but, we couldn't stop eating it. I served it with chopped heirloom tomatoes, fresh quacamole, cornbread, fried plantains and a fresh salad. Great family dinner. I used a red jalapeño and the flavor was terrific!
Madhuja September 9, 2016
I am so glad you liked the flavor! That sounds like a great dinner! :)
Darsha September 4, 2016
Hi I've tried to look for vegetable base in London and cannot find this in our grocery stores here. Can you please suggest a substitute for the vegetable base? Thanks. Darsha
Madhuja September 4, 2016
You could try vegetable bouillon! :)
Alecsandra T. May 24, 2016
Any good subs for the coffee? My fiance is anti-coffee flavored anything and has a frustratingly discerning palette (he can detect an 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg in a gratin).
Casey July 14, 2016
You could try cocoa powder! Might sound a bit crazy, but I find that just a little cocoa powder (mixed with water to add to this recipe, I guess) can really add awesome depth to a flavour profile, which is what the coffee seems to be aiming to do here.
Alecsandra T. August 5, 2016
Thanks! I'll definitely try it.
Mary May 18, 2016
I am going to make my own soup base by reducing some stock and vegetables with my choice of spices that I can always keep and use in place of tea as a pick me up - will let you know how it turns out - also, I love the taste of extra virgin olive oil so I plan to use some and less butter. Thanks for getting me going!
Madhuja May 18, 2016
Good luck making the dip! I hope you like it! :)
Sharon H. December 27, 2015
Mexican oregano is not actually oregano but a member of another plant family. Just found this helpful link...
Hippolyta September 18, 2015
I just made it with only 2 tbsp butter and 3.5 c cooked dried beans. Oh, and 3 tbsp fresh chopped oregano in lieu of dried. It's excellent. Don't hesitate to cut back the butter. (For me, I want a bean dip that I can scarf with impunity.)
Jmagliaro July 21, 2015
Just made this and accidentally added too much salt! Help! Any ideas of what to add to mellow the saltiness a bit?
Madhuja July 21, 2015
You could add more mashed beans, that should tone down the saltiness.
Sharon H. December 27, 2015
an old cook's trick - add a little sugar - a tsp or two. That combats the saltiness.
ntt2 March 7, 2015
what is vegetable base - never heard of it? Thanks, nt
Madhuja March 7, 2015
It is a concentrated paste made from vegetables that can be used to make vegetable broth. I add it to all kinds of soups and stews - it adds a tremendous amount of flavor!
ntt2 March 7, 2015
Where might I find it in a grocery store, or what kind of specialty store? Thanks, nt
Madhuja March 7, 2015
It should be in the soup section, right where you can find broths and stocks. Hope this helps!
Donna A. March 6, 2015
Making this tonight for the second time this week. Only changes to the recipe I made were lack of oregano (not my favorite) and jalepeno (because I didn't have one). Even without these 2 ingredients, this recipe is addictive! The addition of veggie base, coffee and sugar make this much more complex than your average bean dip. Be prepared to lick the bowl clean if you make this!
Madhuja March 7, 2015
Thank you so much for trying my recipe, Donna! I am so glad that you enjoyed it! :)
Judith K. March 4, 2015
Could you sub olive oil for some of the butter.
Madhuja March 4, 2015
I have never used olive oil in this recipe, so I really don't know how it would turn out! You could try using less butter - the taste and texture won't be as luxurious, but I think it will still be pretty good! :)
FinVoilaQuoi February 27, 2015
This recipe brings a whole new meaning to butter beans
Rachael C. March 2, 2015
I'm okay with some butter, but just the amount listed here means I'm not even going to bother trying this one. Sad :(
AntoniaJames March 3, 2015
That was my reaction, too. I wanted to test it, but when I saw that on the ingredients list, I decided that if I was going to eat that much butter at one time, I'd want to be able to really taste the butter, so I could enjoy it more! ;o)
mstv April 6, 2015
kasia S. June 28, 2015
I'd try it first before I'd turn my back on the flavor, it could be spectacular.
JDS February 26, 2015
Is 12 tablespoons of butter right??
Madhuja February 26, 2015
Yes, it is! The butter makes for a rich, smooth taste! :)
AntoniaJames February 13, 2015
Madhuja, were I to make this with dried beans that I'd cooked, what would the correct volume, or weight, of the cooked beans be? Thank you. ;o)
Madhuja February 13, 2015
Hi Antonia! You'd need 3 1/2 cups of cooked beans which roughly weigh around 22 oz. Hope this helps!
AntoniaJames February 13, 2015
Thank you, Madhuja, for the prompt reply. It does help! Cheers. ;o)
Madhuja February 13, 2015
You are very welcome AJ! Hope you enjoy it! :)