Huevos Rancheros is a common breakfast dish found throughout Mexico. It commonly consists of lightly fried corn tortillas, refried beans, fried eggs and a tomato salsa. Sometimes it’s served with a side of rice, like arroz rojo, guacamole, fresh cilantro or slices of avocado.
Depending on where you go in Mexico, similar dishes may have a different name. In the town of Motul, in Yucatán, for example, Huevos Motuleños consists of similar ingredients, in addition to being served with cheese and things like ham, peas and plantains.
What is Huevos Rancheros?
The huevos rancheros recipe I’m sharing here makes no claims of authenticity or tradition. Though I have a deep love for Mexican cuisine, culture and music, I’m not Mexican and I didn’t have an abuelita to show me the ropes. All things considered, though, this is a damn tasty breakfast and is perfect for anyone who is looking to make the most of pantry-friendly products during quarantine.
Just like my Mexican rice (arroz rojo), this huevos rancheros is neither Paleo nor Whole30-compliant. It is gluten-free, though, so those who are celiac can likely enjoy this. I’m sharing it here because given the current circumstances, I think it’s helpful to share easy and delicious recipes that people can make at home using readily available non-perishables like canned beans, packaged tortillas and jarred salsa.
Can you Make Huevos Rancheros Whole30 or Paleo?
Definitely! You can fry the eggs, serve them with the warmed salsa, fresh guacamole, and fresh cilantro, if you have it. For a heartier version, try paring it with something like roasted sweet potato. You can choose to omit the tortillas and beans to make this both paleo and Whole30.
Or, use the recipe for Cassava Flour Tortillas in my cookbook for a paleo version that’s closer to the original.
What You Need for this Huevos Rancheros
Eggs are definitely the star of the show here. My hope is that you have access to high-quality, free-range, organic eggs. Not only do they taste better, but the hens live a better life and it’s better for the environment.
How you cook your eggs will depend entirely on personal preference. I like them sunny side up with firm whites and runny yolks, and that’s typically how they’re prepared when served in a huevos rancheros. However, if that’s not how you like them cooked, don’t cook them that way! Make them however you enjoy because once the meal is ready, you’re the one that has to eat it! So, if you like them scrambled, over easy, poached, etc, then do it! You’re the boss, applesauce!
Refried beans are actually a bit of a misnomer in English. The beans aren’t fried twice. They are first boiled and then fried with aromatics and seasonings, getting mushed in the second process. I like them partly mashed, with chunks of whole beans in the mix, but if you want them entirely smooth, then that’s your call.
Here, I opted for a can of black beans, which is very common in huevos rancheros. So are pinto beans. Unless you’re a purist, I would say use any bean you like or have on hand. Canned makes life much easier. Frying them in some oil with aromatics and spices before gently mashing them is truly the way to go. It adds so much flavour and completely changes their texture. I also like to add a bit of water to the pan after the beans have fried. This creates a saucy consistency and will help lift any brown bits (AKA fond) off the bottom of the pan.
If you have a bag of dried beans, soak them overnight in a bowl covered with water. Drain and rinse the beans the next day, add them to a pot of water along with halved onion, some garlic cloves, a bay leaf or two, and a glug of extra virgin olive oil and gently simmer them until they are tender, adding salt halfway, between 1 and 2 hours. Then you can store them in the fridge and use them for things like huevos rancheros.
You don’t have to lightly fry the tortillas, but it’s much tastier if you do. Essentially, you’re making a tostada and the crispy texture of the fried tortilla is perfect against the soft beans, salsa and rich egg yolks.
I had a package of Mission tortillas in my pantry that I smuggled back to Toronto from Miami a few weeks ago, so that’s what I used. You can use flour tortillas if that’s what you have. Or you can make corn tortillas from scratch if you have a bag of masa harina. It’s incredibly easy and I’ve shared step-by-steps in the past but Instagram deleted them from my highlights. I guess I’ll just have to make them again! You don’t need a tortilla press, but it’s easier if you have one.
Homemade salsa prepared from scratch is almost always more delicious than ones that come in a jar. However, it’s not always an option to make homemade salsa, especially if you are out of tomatoes and can’t get to a grocery store. So, jarred salsa it is! The trick is to heat the salsa in a pan before serving it with the huevos rancheros. Not only does it bring out some of the flavours, but it also makes sure you don’t cool down the hot eggs and beans.
I would say that adding any type of cheese is optional here. Cotija is a common addition. So is queso fresco. If you don’t have either of those, or access to a Latino grocer, then feta cheese or goat cheese are great options. I had some feta in the fridge, so that’s what I used.
Easy Huevos Rancheros Recipe
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more as needed
- ½ medium yellow onion – diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper – seeded cored and finely chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 15- ounce can black beans drained
- ½ cup water
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1 tablespoon ghee or grass-fed butter
- 6 large eggs
- 1 16- ounce jar red or green salsa of choice
- 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or substitute queso fresco, goat cheese or feta cheese, for serving
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and jalapeño and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 60 seconds. Add the cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, 60 seconds.
- Add the beans and cook, stirring to coat, until they start to soften, around 3 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring to lift any brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until they form a loose paste. Using the back of a spatula, gently mash half of the beans. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt as desired. Cover with a lid to keep warm and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over medium. Working in batches, fry the tortillas in the hot oil until golden brown and slightly crispy, around 1 minute per side. Transfer fried tortillas to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
- To the same pan, add ghee and heat over medium-high heat until melted. Crack in the eggs and cook to desired doneness. Transfer eggs to a plate and set aside.
- To the same pan, carefully pour in the salsa (it may splatter), and heat until warmed through, around 60 seconds.
- Spread a layer of beans over each tortilla. Top each tortilla with a fried egg, spoon over some salsa and sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy immediately.