Your Breakfast Sandwiches Need Refried Beans

Breakfast and sandwiches go together like hand and glove, especially when time is of the essence and you're on the go. Think of all the shining examples of iconic breakfast sandwiches: NYC's bodega bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll, Chicago's pepper and egg sandwich, a bagel with cream cheese and lox, or a Southern sausage biscuit. The possibilities are endless, but typically include proteins otherwise associated with the breakfast meal, such as bacon, eggs, and sausage. While these will always be top of the heap, their primacy isn't at the exclusion of other, more outside-the-box ingredients, and near the top of that list should be refried beans.

If beans and breakfast conjure up images of a full English breakfast, well good, maybe the Brits are on to something. But refried beans are light years apart from sweet, tangy British tinned beans. These humble, rich frijoles are cooked once, then mashed and cooked again — aka "refried" — in fat or oil. The spreadable nature of refried beans means they are easily applied to a sandwich, going on like a condiment, but the starchy, protein-rich paste is super filling and flavorful, meaning they can easily augment or replace meat. What's more, they pair so well with other common breakfast sandwich fillings, like eggs, cheese, sausage, and crunchy vegetables, you may find yourself wondering why you haven't been putting them on your morning sandwiches earlier.

Build it with beans

As alluded to above, the most obvious way forward when making a refried bean breakfast sandwich is to lean into the flavors of Mexican cuisine. Refried beans make for a delightful breakfast torta, as noted by Tasting Table recipe developer Jessica Morone. Her recipe pairs the beans with fluffy scrambled eggs, spicy chorizo, herby cilantro, buttery slices of avocado, and salty queso fresco on a fluffy Telera roll for a sandwich that is both vibrant and hearty. It is also highly customizable; the chorizo can be dropped for a vegetarian version that is still satisfying and delicious; vegetables, such as raw onion or shredded cabbage, can add freshness and crunch; and the cheese can run the gamut from salty and crumbly to melty and unctuous.

Refried beans can also be used to make an open-faced breakfast sandwich — a toast, if you will. Onto crusty bread, layer refried beans and top with avocado slices, cheese of your choosing, and a sunny-side up egg with a runny yolk. Finish it off with some thinly-sliced scallions, pepper radish batonnetes, or a spoonful or so of bright pico de gallo. And, again, this can be changed up to suit your tastes. Play around with the bread, cheese, and toppings to find a breakfast sammie that works for you.