Toasty Mexican bread, smeared with a bean puree and topped with melty cheese…these comforting molletes (say it like: moe-YEH-tehs) are perfect for breakfast, a light dinner, or a snack! And since these open-faced sandwiches are a cinch to put together, you can have these ready and on the table in just 15 minutes.
Here I share a bit of history on Mexican molletes and teach you just how easy it is to make these tastey sandwiches!
What are molletes and where do they come from?
Molletes in Mexico are most commonly associated with toasted Mexican bread, topped with a bean puree and melted cheese. You can think of these as similar to an Italian bruschetta, but with decidedly Mexican flavors. The origin of the Mexican version comes from the Andalusian region of Spain.
Molletes in Andalusia are made with soft round loaves of bread, sliced lengthwise to expose their soft interiors, just like the Mexican version. The bread is topped with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic or spread with lard, then toasted for a simple and quick breakfast.
Like many foods that were introduced in Mexico by the Spaniards, molletes evolved to include local ingredients and toppings. In this case, Mexicans customized this dish with beans, Mexican cheese varieties, and oftentimes, salsa. You can find this easy, quick, and inexpensive meal throughout Mexico for breakfast or a light dinner.
Why you should make Mexican molletes
Molletes are delicious, comforting, and kid-friendly, so they are a staple in our house. You should consider making these because…
- They are fast and easy, so you can have breakfast or a light dinner on the table in 15 minutes
- They are kid-friendly…I don’t know why, but my kids won’t eat bean and cheese burritos. But smear some beans on a toasty roll and top with melted cheese and they are in heaven!
- Warm, creamy beans, melted cheese, and toasty bread…the combination screams total comfort food
- You likely have the ingredients on hand to make these delicious sandwiches…I love making these with leftover black beans and the baguette half left over from pasta night.
- They are totally customizable…use any crusty roll or bread sections that you have on hand. The beans are interchangeable. Pick any melty cheese that you have in your fridge. Add cooked chorizo for a more filling meal. Or top with sliced avocado. Spice up each bite with pickled jalpeño peppers or a cool pico de gallo. The sky is the limit!
How to make Mexican molletes
I almost hesitate to call this a recipe, but it makes such a regular appearance at our table that I wanted to share this quick meal with you. Plus, anything that I can put together with on-hand ingredients, in 15 minutes, and that is kid-friendly, is a win in my book.
Molletes need to be made with some sort of crusty bread, that has a bit of body. The traditional choices here in Mexico are bolillos and teleras.
If you don’t have access to a Mexican bakery, don’t fret. You can still make these delicious sandwiches. You could substitute the Mexican bread for sub rolls or even use sections of a crusty baguette or French bread. Italian ciabatta could also work.
You will want to avoid regular, sliced sandwich bread as it is too soft to make this recipe work.
I often have a batch of homemade black beans on hand. They are an obvious choice of side dish to anything Mexican and are perfect for whipping together a quick meal like enfrijoladas or these molletes.
But, don’t worry if homemade black beans are not at hand. These molletes can easily be made with other types of beans or canned beans of your choosing. Black, pinto, or Peruvian beans would work well with this recipe.
Gouda is not a Mexican cheese, but it is widely available here, already sliced for sandwiches or tortas. It is meltable and mild flavored, making it a crowd-pleaser. I use Gouda for this dish because I typically have it on hand. But, really any meltable cheese will work…Monterrey jack, manchego, you get the idea.
If you want to use traditional Mexican cheese for this dish, try Oaxacan or asadero cheese. Both melt and are mild flavored.
Putting it all together
Mexican molletes are so easy to make and a total crowd-pleaser that I bet once you make these, they will become part of your regular meal rotation.
First, get your oven preheated to about 350F. Next, you will need to slice your bread lengthwise to expose the soft center of the bread. Place the 8 bread halves on a metal baking sheet.
Once your bread is sliced, evenly divide the bean puree among the bread halves, about 1/4 cup per slice of bread. If you are starting with whole beans, take a minute to mash them by hand or give them a quick go in the blender until they are smooth. If you are using canned refried beans, I would suggest adding a bit of water or broth and giving them a good stir so the consistency is more easily spreadable.
Now that your bread is topped with the beans, place a slice of cheese on each open-faced sandwich and pop the baking sheet into the oven.
These only take a few minutes in the oven, about 7 minutes total, for the bread to toast up, the beans to heat through, and the cheese to melt!
While waiting for these to come out of the oven, I suggest whipping up a quick batch of pico de gallo.
If you want the cheese golden brown and bubbly, set them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes!
Once out of the oven, enjoy these immediately. Load them up with cooked chorizo, sliced avocado, pickled jalapeño peppers, or a big spoonful of pico de gallo!
Mexican Molletes (Open-Faced Bean and Cheese Sandwiches)
- 4 Teleras (Mexican bread) See notes
- 2 cups black beans, pureed or mashed Can substitute for equal amounts of pinto or Peruvian beans
- 8 slices gouda cheese Can substitute for manchego, Monterrey Jack, Oaxacan, or asadero cheese
- Pico de Gallo to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Split the bread in half lengthwise to create 8 slices for the open-faced sandwich. If needed, remove some of the bread in the center of the slices to create more room for the toppings. Place the bread halves on a baking sheet.4 Teleras (Mexican bread)
- Evenly divide the beans among the bread and spread evenly2 cups black beans, pureed or mashed
- Top each piece of bread with a slice of cheese8 slices gouda cheese
- Bake for about 7 minutes or until the beans are heated through, the bread is toasty, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- If desired, broil on high for another 1-2 minutes to allow cheese to become golden
- Remove from oven and serve immediately. Top with pico de gallo as desired.Pico de Gallo to taste
- Teleras are a type of Mexican bread. If you cannot find this kind of bread, bolillos (another type of Mexican bread), sub rolls, or even sections of French bread or baguette could be substituted.