Refried bean tacos with homemade pickled-pink onions

Refried bean tacos with homemade pickled-pink onions


Here's the recipe for my third Vegan 411 column for HelloGiggles, which you can read in full here. The idea came out of sheer exasperation for restaurants, supermarkets and fast food joints that still won't cater for vegans, even when it it SO easy. I'm not in to naming and shaming or moaning on but hopefully the days of zero vegan options are numbered. These refried bean tacos are super easy to make and great if you're feeding a bit of a crowd. Just get all the components together and gather your friends round to assemble their tacos to their own taste. 

Makes 12 tacos


For the pickled-pink onions:

  • 2 firm red onions, sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup organic white sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup peppercorns if available

For the refried beans:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped small
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste (or use a chopped chipotle chili if you have one)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2x 29oz tin black eyed beans (around 800g)- retain a little of the liquid from the tin to cook the beans in.
  • Plus 12 small tortillas and around 4 cups of shredded vegetables, such as a mix of carrots, cabbage, lettuce and cucumber.


  • Sweetcorn, chopped cilantro and sliced scallions for garnish

The pickled onions take about an hour to turn pink, so it’s good to get them on the go first. Place the onions in a medium bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover them. Count to ten, then drain the onions and add them to a glass bowl or jar and set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, whisk the sugar, salt, vinegar and lime juice until the sugar and salt dissolves. Now pour over the onions, adding the peppercorns if using, and leave for at least an hour, until the onions turn a great shade of pink and have cooled. Use as needed.

The hour the onions take to pickle is the perfect time to make the refried beans and prepare the other taco components.


Starting with the refried beans, in a pan with a few glugs of oil, gently fry the chopped white onion for around 5 minutes, until it goes soft and translucent. Add the chili flakes, bay leaf and chipotle paste, and salt and pepper, and fry for another 2 minutes. Now add the black eyed beans along with a little more oil and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for around 10 minutes, then once the beans are cooked through, turn off the heat of the pan and take out the bay leaf. Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the beans to form a rough paste.

Now add back to the frying pan and cook on a low heat to allow all the flavors to intensify. Check for seasoning and add a little more salt, pepper or chili flakes if you fancy it. This will happily fry away for about 10 more minutes.

I like to use mini tortillas as they are easier to toast at home- just heat a griddle with about a teaspoon of oil and grill either side for about a minute. Make sure the tortillas stay warm so they can be easily folded, so keep wrapped in a tea towel until you’re ready to assemble the tacos. Then, holding the taco in your hand, just add a spoonful of the refried beans and a handful of the raw shredded vegetables. Top off with any extras and the homemade pickled onions, and eat straight away.