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Baleadas (Honduras)


There’s nothing more classically Honduran than the baleada, even though it’s only been around for 50 years or so.  The baleada was invented by a young single mother in La Ceiba on the coast in 1964; she had a food stand near the railway that took workers to the Standard Fruit Company banana plantations.  


It’s basically a soft flour tortilla, slathered with refried red or black beans, and then doused with a light swiggle of crema, a sort of not-quite-sour cream, and dusted with queso fresco, a hard salty crumbly cheese, not unlike feta.  You fold the tortilla over and eat it like a taco.  


That’s the basics, the Simple Baleada.  Add scrambled eggs and avocado and you have the Baleada Preparada.  Add a meat like chorizo or carne aside to that, and it’s Super Preparada.  The options are limitless.  


Doña Tere gave the dish the name baleada, which means woman who has been shot, as a sassy remark to some late-night customers.  The tortilla is the ammo shell, the beans are bullets, and the cheese gunpowder.  Doña Tere’s stand is still there in La Ceiba, by the way, although her daughters handle the business these days.


There are three main steps (assuming you’re not making the tortillas from scratch): cooking the beans, refrying the beans, and assembling the baleadas.  It would certainly be best with a nice hot tortilla from scratch, but that takes a skill well beyond my ability, and I’m guessing yours too.  Get a good thick flour tortilla instead - look for one that is “casera”-style.


Serves 4



  • 1 lb. (500 g) small red beans, rinsed (black beans are a substitute)
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced

  • 1 onion, diced and separated into 2 equal portions

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 mutton pepper, diced (unique to Honduras - a jalapeno will work as a substitute)

  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, separated

  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) sugar

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 8 thick casera-style flour tortillas

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Honduran white cream (substitute Mexican crema or sour cream)

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) queso fresco (substitute feta)

  • avocado, sliced (optional)

  • 4 eggs, scrambled (optional) 


  1. In a pressure cooker - hey! you can use that Instant Pot you got for the holidays! - place the beans and garlic, with 6 cups of water and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.

  2. Sauté 1/2 onion and peppers in coconut oil in a large pot.

  3. Transfer beans from slow cooker into the pot with the sautéed onions and peppers to the beans.

  4. Continue to simmer on the stove to incorporate the flavors of the peppers.

  5. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.

  6. Add 4 cups of beans and some of the liquid to a food processor or blender.  Blend until it becomes a chunky paste.  Leftover beans you can save to enjoy at some other time.

  7. Sauté the other 1/2 onion in the other 2 tbs of coconut oil until translucent, then add the beans.  Cook until they stick to themselves rather than the pan.

  8. Take a flour tortilla, slather on the refried beans, then add a dollop of crema or sour cream, about a tbsp or 15 ml, and a sprinkling of feta.  Fold in half, and repeat for the other 7 tortillas.

  9. If you want to go “preparada,” add 1/4 of the scrambled eggs and two slices of avocado before folding.



Recipe adapted from


Photo by the recipe island

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