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Pinto Bean Cakes With Avocado Salsa

These slightly smoky pinto bean cakes offer a creamy inside and a crispy crust, thanks to a touch of cornmeal. The dish is complemented by a fresh avocado salsa, making for a balanced and delicious meal.

Storage: Best when eaten fresh. You can refrigerate the bean cakes and salsa separately for up to 2 days.


  • Pinto beans can be replaced with black beans, kidney beans, or any other favorite legume.
  • Smoked paprika can be substituted with chili powder.
  • Cilantro can be swapped for parsley or mint.

Servings: 4 (makes 8 cakes)


For the Bean Cakes:

  • Two (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added pinto beans (3 1/2 cups total), drained but not rinsed, with liquid reserved
  • 1/2 cup fine or medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

For the Avocado Salsa:

  • Flesh of 1 ripe medium avocado, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste


Preparation Time: 35 mins

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and place a large, rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Step 2: Make the Bean Cakes

  1. In a large bowl, mash together the pinto beans, cornmeal, red onion, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper using a potato masher or fork.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. If the mixture isn’t holding together well, add reserved bean liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it holds but isn’t wet.

Step 3

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions (about 1/3 cup each). Wet your hands and shape each into a patty, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick.

Step 4

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering.
  2. Add 4 patties and cook until a crisp, dark golden-brown crust forms, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.
  4. Repeat with the remaining patties and oil.

Step 5: Make the Salsa

  1. In a medium bowl, gently toss together the avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Step 6: To Serve

Divide the bean cakes among 4 plates and top each with about 1/3 cup of avocado salsa. Serve warm with cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish.

Enjoy your meal!

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