Cheat-y Black Bean Chilli


I am, as has been established by now, a huge fan of one-pot cooking. I hate washing up, I hate thinking about washing up, and I hate the feeling of uselessness I get when I allow Isla to do the washing up (again). I usually just stand nearby with a tea towel trying to look unassuming.*

It probably doesn’t help that I’m holding a glass of wine in the other hand.

I’d say this is an unflattering photo but actually it’s frighteningly accurate

(A common occurrence.)

Anyway, I promised you beans and beans you shall have. I’ve been eating a lot of breakfast burritos recently (recipe to come once I’ve actually decided on the best flavour combo), which means I’ve ended up with a whole load of tinned, refried beans leftover. It doesn’t matter how much I love them, there’s only so much stodge I’m physically able to fit inside of a wrap. I am but human.

This is one of those recipes that will have purists spitting fire and fury, but my main priority is making, serving and eating food that tastes good so I’m not too fussed about authenticity – especially when it comes to meat-free cooking. I use packet chilli/taco seasoning for this, because you have to have a whole load of spices in your cupboard in order to get the same sort of flavour bomb; I’ve included a rough mix of suggested spices in the ingredients list if you want to give it a shot.

Before we continue, I’d like to formally apologise for the poor quality of my pictures. I am already terrible at photography, but it is almost impossible to take a good photo of black bean chilli on an iPhone. I’m so sorry.

This one I took by accident and I have decided that it is artful AND WILL NOT HEAR A WORD AGAINST IT.

Cheats’ Black Bean Chilli (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free**)

Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins


Large saucepan with lid; chopping implements; shares in Old El Paso.


  • Black beans in water (carton or tin, 380-425g)
  • 200g tinned refried beans
  • 1 onion
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 1 vegetable stock cube in 100ml water
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste/puree
  • Packet chilli/taco seasoning (25-40g)
  • Extra chilli flakes for more heat (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Splash of oil
  • 1 tbsp cornflour in a splash of cold water, mixed thoroughly

Optional extras:

Wedges, tortilla chips, pitta bread, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, rice… I could go on.

Spice mix recommendation for Coeliacs:

  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cornflour


  1. If cooking wedges, chips, or other potato-based delights,*** turn the oven to the required temperature – I’m not teaching you how to put things in the oven though, so I trust that you can figure the rest out for yourselves. I believe in you. Flick on the kettle and get your pan on a medium heat, adding your oil while you deal with the vegetables. Dice the onion fairly finely, along with the mushrooms, and add to the pan once the oil is hot. Let them sweat like a sinner in church for 5-10 minutes until softened and starting to colour, at which point you can add a little salt and pepper.
  2. No need to drain your black beans – we’re all friends here – so just chuck them straight into the pan, along with the refried beans and the tinned tomatoes. Stir everything together, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir again until combined. Sadly you will need to drain and rinse your cannellini beans, but once you’ve done this you can add them to the chilli, stir, and be done with it. Your work here is basically done.
  3. Leave the chilli to bubble away with the lid on for around 20 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. A few minutes before you’re ready to eat, add your cornflour slurry and stir through. This will help to thicken it over the last few minutes of cooking.
  4. Serve the bean chilli alongside whatever additions you see fit; everyone has their own traditions! I’m rarely in the mood to cook plain rice, so I go for tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream, but go wild – whatever floats your boat. Whatever tickles your pickle. Whatever turns your crank.

I had to look up other idioms at the end there, since I got stuck on the pickle. Which is a sentence I never thought I’d find myself typing.

Did I use old photos of chilli instead of my new, crappy ones? Yes. Yes I did.

Let me know how you get on! Coming soon: smoked fish and potato chowder. It’s on.


*It doesn’t work – I’ve never looked unassuming in my life.

**It is EXTRA important that you check your spice mix for gluten or wheat content, as they often use crafty ol’ wheat flour as a thickening agent. If in doubt, do your own, and thicken with cornflour if need be. It is totally uncool to poison your gluten-intolerant friends.

***Oh my god. Smiley faces. Bean chilli and potato smiley faces. I am shook.

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