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Bean tlacoyos (or tlacoyos de frijol) are an ancient Mexican snack, dating back to pre-Hispanic Mexico. Mashed beans are stuffed into blue corn bases before being topped with cactus salad, spicy salsa, and creamy cashew-based cheese.
They’re fresh, healthy, and filling!
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Without a doubt, tlacoyos de frijol are one of our favorite Mexican snacks (and thankfully, one of the healthiest). We shamelessly grab them at least once a week from our number one local vendor (she’s the best!).
What are tlacoyos?
The tlacoyo (pronounced tla-COY-yo) is a pre-Columbian antojito (snack) and one of the most traditional foods made in Mexico today.
In fact, many other antojitos can be traced back to tlacoyos, including huaraches, sopes, gorditas, and more.
The bases of tlacoyos de frijol (bean tlacoyos) are made up of masa, which is filled with mashed beans, then flattened into a football-like shape. It’s cooked on a comal and finally topped with fresh ingredients like:
- Ensalada de nopales (cactus salad)
- Queso fresco (or cotija)
- Salsa roja or salsa verde
- Pico de gallo
Think of it like a thick, bean-stuffed tortilla loaded with all the tangy, zesty, and savoury garnishes your little heart desires. Can you tell how much we love this snack yet?
In some places in Mexico City, tlacoyos de frijol are made with blue corn masa and stuffed with fava beans before the toppings are added.
The vendor close to our house makes them just like this. She even has her own invention called “tlacoyo-bananas,” which incorporates a plantain base in place of the masa.
In this recipe, we’re keeping it simple — blue corn masa, nopales, cashew cheese, and salsa.
Are tlacoyos vegan?
Tlacoyos are one of the oldest Mexican foods known today, and they were originally thought to be plant-based.
As the food culture has progressed in Mexico, toppings may now include meat, cheese, or cream — all of which are not vegan-friendly.
We kept this recipe simple and plant-based, adding a little cashew queso fresco on top.
One ingredient to watch out for if you’re ever buying tlacoyos de frijol from a street vendor is lard. Although most tlacoyos don’t contain lard in the masa, some might.
The name “tlacoyo” comes from the Nahuatl word “tlahtlaōyoh,” which loosely translates to “corn dough empanada” in reference to the base of masa.
As we mentioned, tlacoyos are a pre-Hispanic recipe that has been around since ancient times. There is evidence that tlacoyos were eaten by the Olmecs — Mexico’s first large civilization.
Even Hernan Cortes, the most prolific Spanish conquistador, spoke of trying tlacoyos in Tlatelolco, one of Mexico’s most famous markets.
While you try your new favorite snack, you can think of people eating this same type of food centuries ago. It’s pretty incredible to imagine the history of different civilizations through the lens of food.
Tlacoyos de frijol are often eaten for breakfast, but they can really be enjoyed at any time of day. Some people may eat them with a fork and knife, but it’s more fun to eat them with your hands!
A traditional way to serve this antojito is with cactus salad (ensalada de nopales) on top and some spicy salsa. But, you can also try your tlacoyo de frijol with:
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
- Blue masa harina: Masa harina forms the base of tlacoyos, and many traditional recipes use blue masa for the rustic flavor. Feel free to use white, blue, or yellow masa harina though.
- Beans: To add a creamy element, refried beans are folded into base of the tlacoyos. We prefer bayo or pinto beans, but fava or black beans work too.
- Cactus salad: Ensalada de nopales adds tangy flavor, crunchy texture, and many health properties. Tlacoyos are commonly found sold with this garnish.
- Cheese: We add vegan queso fresco or cotija to bring saltiness, creaminess, and a little tang to the dish.
- Salsa: For extra spice and flavor. You can use the salsa roja in this recipe or try a salsa verde. Tomatillos are full of vitamins A, C, and potassium.
If you have questions about these tlacoyos de frijol, don’t forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Stem and seed the guajillo and arbol chiles. Toast them in a skillet over medium-low for 30-60 seconds, turning frequently so they don’t burn.
Step 2: Once the chiles are toasted, add them to a pot of water with the tomatillos and onions. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatillos just turn color.
Step 3: Drain the water and add the chiles, tomatillos, onions, garlic, and salt to a blender. Mix on high until smooth. Heat about a ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Add the salsa in and season it for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Step 4: Add the masa harina and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk. Then, pour in water and mix using a spatula. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead the dough with your hands until it’s sticky enough to stay together, but not coming off on your hands too much.
Note: If the dough appears crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the right consistency (somewhat like playdough). If it becomes too sticky, add a little more masa harina. Cover the bowl with a towel.
Step 5: Heat a cast-iron skillet or comal over medium, and break off pieces of dough about 100-120 grams. Roll each one into a ball, then flatten it using the palms of your hands working it back and forth.
Step 6: Add a small spoonful of beans to the center, then fold the dough in half to close the edges (it will look a little like an empanada).
Step 7: Pinch the ends carefully to form pointed tips, creating the classic tlacoyo shape. Flatten the tlacoyo on a piece of plastic or wax paper with your hands.
Step 8: Rub your skillet or comal with the flat side of an onion slice before adding each batch of tlacoyos (optional for extra flavor).
Step 9: Cook each tlacoyo for about 3 minutes per side, or until the masa is firm and slightly charred.
Step 10: Serve your tlacoyos de frijol while warm topped with cactus salad, crumbled queso fresco or cotija, and salsa roja or verde. Happy eating!
Just like sopes, tlacoyos are so handy to have when you’re in the mood for a quick and easy snack. Follow these tips to keep them fresh:
We recommend storing all the ingredients separately to achieve optimal freshness. For us, we prefer airtight glass containers and think you should consider them!
- Tlacoyos: These will last 4-5 days in the fridge.
- Salsa: Salsa will last up to a week.
- Nopales: Cactus salad lasts up to 3 days in the fridge.
Store the ingredients in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag since they’ll last the longest this way.
- Tlacoyos: Tlacoyos freeze for up to 3 months.
- Salsa: You can freeze salsa for up to 6 months.
- Tlacoyos: Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm for 20-30 seconds on a pan or comal to warm them.
- Salsa: Thaw salsa in the fridge the evening before you want to use it, then heat it in a pot over medium-low until warmed up.
💭 Tips & variations
We’d like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this tlacoyos de frijol recipe:
- Switch up the toppings. You can easily customize your tlacoyo toppings with your favorite vegetables, salsas, or meat replacements.
- Don’t sweat the shape. We’re not tlacoyo-shaping experts, and you shouldn’t worry about it either as long as they can hold the garnishes!
- Add beans to the top. Along the same lines, if it’s too difficult to stuff the beans inside, just smear a layer on top.
- Try different masa. If you want to taste the difference, try making yellow, blue, and white masa tlacoyos to see what you prefer.
- Use a tortilla press. If it’s too hard to shape the tlacoyos with your hands, we find a tortilla press to be helpful in this process.
🍴 Tasting notes
We hope by now we’ve convinced you to try making your own tlacoyos at home! They’re:
If you try this tlacoyo recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- Comal (or skillet)
- 3 guajillo chiles ($0.12)
- 4 arbol chiles ($0.08)
- 6 tomatillos ($0.34)
- ½ white onion, cut in quarters ($0.12)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- Salt to taste ($0.01)
- ½ tablespoon oil to season ($0.06)
- 2 cups blue masa harina ($0.25)
- 1 – 1 ½ cups very warm water* ($0.01)
- ½ teaspoon salt ($0.01)
- 1 cup mashed beans, black, bayo, or pinto ($0.19)
- Onion slice optional
For serving optional
- Stem and seed the guajillo and arbol chiles. Toast them in a skillet over medium-low for 30-60 seconds, turning frequently so they don't burn.
- Once the chiles are toasted, add them to a pot of water with the tomatillos and onions. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatillos just turn color.
- Drain the water and add the chiles, tomatillos, onions, garlic, and salt to a blender. Mix on high until smooth.
- Heat about a ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Add the salsa in and season it for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the masa harina and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk. Then, pour in water and combine using a spatula. When it's cool enough to handle, knead the dough with your hands until it's sticky enough to stay together, but not coming off on your hands too much.
- If the dough appears crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the right consistency (somewhat like playdough). If it becomes too sticky, add a little more masa harina. Cover the bowl with a towel.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or comal over medium, and break off pieces of dough about 100-120 grams. Roll each one into a ball, then flatten it using the palms of your hands working it back and forth.
- Add a small spoonful of beans to the center, then fold the dough in half to close the edges (it will look a little like an empanada).
- Pinch the ends carefully to form pointed tips, creating the classic tlacoyo shape. Flatten the tlacoyo on a piece of plastic or wax paper with your hands.
- Rub your skillet or comal with the flat side of an onion slice before adding each batch of tlacoyos (optional for extra flavor). Cook each one for 3 minutes per side, or until firm and slightly charred.
- Serve while warm topped with cactus salad, crumbled queso fresco or cotija, and salsa roja or verde. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
If you love this plant-based antojito, check out some of our other favorites like:
- Huaraches for a crispy, flavorful, and delicious snack that’s shaped just a like a sandal!
- Sopes to try this iconic Mexican snack made of corn cakes topped with garnishes like beans, salsa, and cashew cheese.
- Picaditas for tender corn bases topped with green and red salsa, fresh onions, and vegan queso fresco.
- Memelas to try another corn-based antojito topped with beans, spicy salsa, onions, and queso.
To prevent the beans from spilling out, leave a good amount of room around the edges of your tortilla, and don’t press the tortilla too thin. But, don’t worry too much if some beans spill out because they will still taste great!
Yes, since tlacoyos are made with masa, they are considered gluten-free. Just be mindful of the toppings you’re including, ensuring they are also made without gluten.
If you are outside of Mexico, check for a Latin American or Mexican food market and they may have fresh nopales (prickly pear cactus pads). Or, you can look online for canned nopalitos.