Bread Breakfast Tex-Mex

Molletes with homemade bolillos

Molletes with homemade bolillos DSC0851

Do you love refried beans and cheese? Do you love a crusty yet soft roll? Then allow me to introduce you to a superb Mexican dish: molletes.

Earlier this summer, I traveled to Mexico City. It was the rainy season, which means that every afternoon it would rain for an hour or so. By the time I landed from New York, however, that day’s shower had passed, leaving the air clear and the streets clean.

I knew I wanted to stay in the Condesa neighborhood and I found a delightful place called The Red Tree House that was filled with light and trees—two things often in short supply here in New York City.

My agenda for the trip was precise: eat well and take photos. On the first morning, I woke up early with the plan to go to El Mercado Merced, the largest market in Mexico City. Before leaving, I walked through the dining area and saw a lavish display of pastries, fruits, juices and yogurt. The owner asked I wanted to stay for breakfast. The cold spread was indeed gorgeous, but I wanted something hot—namely refried beans—and so I declined and left the house.

Molletes with homemade bolillos | Homesick Texan

This pattern continued for the next two days. As I was leaving, the owner or manager would ask if I wanted breakfast, and I would politely decline the pastries because I wanted to eat beans.

Three days into my stay I was talking to the manager, Ernesto. He asked if I was so interested in food, why I never stayed for breakfast. I told him that I wanted hot food, street food—I wanted to eat like the locals. He laughed and said, “Well you’re missing out because we have the best breakfast in all of Mexico City!”

Ernesto then told me that besides the pastries, the ladies also made a hot breakfast every morning. He then rattled off a list of what had been on the menu every day since my arrival. And as I listened to him, I realized that I had been missing out on some of my favorite Mexican breakfasts. I was a fool.

What had I missed? Namely, molletes. (Pronounced: mo-YEH-tehs.) One of the mornings I had been at the inn, the cooks had made molletes—a dish comprised of crusty rolls known as bolillos, split open and topped with salsa, refried beans and melted cheese.

If you know me at all, you know this: refried beans are my comfort food. And granted, I had eaten some wonderful beans during my stay in Mexico City, but I had missed out on a chance to eat probably some of the best refried beans, right there at my home away from home.

Molletes with homemade bolillos | Homesick Texan

I asked Ernesto if they would be serving molletes again before I left. He said no. But no matter, as soon as I returned to New York, my first order of business was to make my own molletes, on homemade bolillo rolls. And while extremely satisfying, I do believe another trip to the Red Tree House is in order—soon—so I can compare my molletes to theirs.

Molletes with homemade bolillos DSC0851
5 from 1 vote

Molletes with homemade bolillos

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the bolillos:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Cornmeal

Ingredients for the molletes:

  • 8 bolillos
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup salsa


  1. To make the bolillos, mix together one cup of flour, yeast and warm water. Add one more cup of flour, sugar, salt and oil and stir until ingredients are combined but dough is still wet and shaggy. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour on a clean surface and knead dough until it shapes into a ball, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place into a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  4. After dough has risen, divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Take each piece and flatten it into a circle. Take one side, and fold it in half into the center. Take the opposite side and do the same. Roll folded dough with your hands until it’s spindle shaped, wider in the middle and tapered at the ends. (Here’s an expert shaping bolillos.)
  5. Place shaped rolls on a greased or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet that’s sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  6. Twenty minutes before baking, heat oven to 425° F. Five minutes before baking, place an oven-safe pan filled with water on the bottom of the oven.
  7. Mix 1/2 cup of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and brush on each roll. Then, with a sharp knife, razor or lame, make a slash lengthwise through each roll.
  8. Place rolls on bottom rack of oven (be careful when opening oven as steam might come out) and cook for 15 minutes or until the bolilllos are light brown in color and make a hollow sound when you thump them.
  9. These keep for a couple of days, though they if they get too soft. just reheat in the oven to firm them up. They also freeze well.
  10. To make the molletes, preheat the oven to 350° F.
  11. Split the bolillos in half, lengthwise. Top each half with 1/2 tablespoon of salsa, 2 tablespoons refried beans and 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with extra salsa on the side.
  1. Wow! Never heard of this before and I'm intrigued. Maybe someday I can go to Mexico City and try them!

  2. Lisa Fain

    Kalyn–I know that you would love these! And yes, everyone needs to go to Mexico City–such a wonderful place!

  3. Alejandra

    Oh wow! These look fantastic. I love the story of missing out on the molletes every day. That's so something I would do. Sometimes I get so fixated about finding amazing food while on trips that I miss out on some of the most obvious. I'll definitely be giving the homemade bolillos a shot!

  4. Memória

    These molletes look delicious!! Thanks for posting a recipe for bolillos.

    FYI, the correct pronunciation for "molletes" is more like [mo-YEH-tehs] rather than [mol-yay-tays] (and "bolillo" [bo-LEE-yo]).

    The double "ll" is always pronounced as "yuh" as in the "yu" sound in the English word "yup" with NO single "l" sound. Also, the "e" in Spanish is always pronounced like the "e" sound in "let". Hope this helps!

  5. Busymom3

    These look so good, hubs is going to love this I will have to make these for him very soon. He usually stops by our local stand for breakfast tacos these will be a nice suprise.

  6. Anonymous

    So…you speak Spanish or is the staff at the Casa Del Arbol Rojo bilingual?

  7. Anonymous

    One other question would be about how one goes about making a 'foodie' trip to Mexico without getting ill…

  8. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    Cheesy bread?! Sign me up! If I had this with a Corona I might implode!

  9. Tokyoastrogirl

    Holy comfort food. Damn- I went to the same mercado while I was in D.F. and had no idea, but I will definitely go there next time I'm in Mexico City.

    Thanks for the tip, and your version looks very tasty!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Alejandra–Yep, I could have slapped myself. Now I know!

    Memória–Thank you for the correct written-out pronunciation. Can you believe I lifted the one I had from a Spanish dictionary? Ha!

    Busymom3–They're indeed a nice change from breakfast tacos.

    Anon–They're bilingual. And just be careful about what you eat/drink.

    Adrianna–A winning combination!

    Tokyoastrogirl–Thanks! And yes, you must go back!

  11. This sounds like heaven for my tastebuds. I've never heard of them before, but this gringa will never forget them!!

  12. I've never had molletes, but I can see I should try them! Looks like a great breakfast.

  13. suzinoz

    Yum. These sound delicious. Thanks for the recipes. I will certainly try them. We spent 6 weeks back packing through Mexico and had many hot breakfasts with beans, but I never came across these!

  14. Anonymous

    You should try them with mexican salsa (tomato,onion,green chile & cilantro), just put the salsa on top after the cheese is melted

  15. Kimberly

    Lordy mercy…my hubby LOVES refriend beans and cheese. I will have to try this!

  16. Mexico is the best country for breakfast. Fresh fruit, coffee, and juices with handmade tortillas…eggs…stews…beans….

    Plus the only kind of pastries that really get my attention are made with lime, coconut or bananas and they are in abundance.

    That's it! I'm getting a huevos con machaca burrito tomorrow morning.

  17. lobstersquad

    those molletes look awsome. Here in Spain a mollete refers to the type of bread, and it´s a very specific one from only a few villages of Andalucía. My husband comes from one of them, so I can certify that he´d have a fit at the idea of calling that by the sainted name of mollete, but then he´d probably eat three at a sitting.

  18. Sharon M

    Mmm, we're having these for lunch today.. i didn't get out of bed early enough to make the bread, and I can't wait til tomorrow to have them for breakfast!

    Molletes are also popular in Puebla; they do a great job there, too!

  19. Just a Plane Ride Away

    Mmm. I've never had this, but it does sound heavenly and comforting. Love your story about the missed breakfasts. I hope you enjoyed the ones you did eat, though.

  20. Wow! Thanks for sharing this, I recently fell in love with a molletes sandwich at Cubana Café in Brooklyn (& Soho). I was absolutely shocked at how amazing they are (beans on bread, who knew)!

    Thanks for the recipe, now I can make them at home!

  21. StuffCooksWant

    YUM! I've had these on my yearly trips to San Miguel, Mexico and they are so simple, but so good. I try and try again, but my beans are never as good as they make in Mexico. I probably don't want to know why that is.

  22. Lisa Fain

    EONYC–It is indeed heaven for tastebuds!

    Lisa–It's great, especially when it's cool outside.

    Suzinoz–Maybe they're a regional dish.

    Anon–Yep, that's the way to eat them!

    Kimberly–Then he should definitely love these!

    Greg–I agree it's a wonderful country for breakfast, though I haven't had a bad lunch or dinner there, either.

    Lobstersquad–In Mexican slang, mollete also means fat cheeks. Does it mean that in Spain as well?

    Sharon M.–Enjoy! They're good at any time of day!

    Just a Plane Ride Away–I enjoyed everything I ate in Mexico–my favorite place besides Texas to eat!

    kd-m–I'll have to check out the Cubana Cafe, sounds like my kind of place!

    StuffCooksWant–Do you use pork fat in the form of lard or bacon grease? I believe that is the secret ingredient!

  23. TX Blue Eyed Bandit

    a long story, but ya gotta hear this: my hubby's best friend is Spanish and all of my son's 5yrs, robert has teased him that he is his "other" dad to the point that my son(who has the blondest hair you've ever laid eyes on)says that his 2nd last name is Moon!which is quiet a riot here in our town of a popullation less than 2,000-and everyone knows my son-he doesn't have a shy bone in his body and loves to make people laugh-so, we say he is the little blonde mexican!ha! well, now back to the point–robert loves to cook up true mexican dishes for me because my food pallete doesn't know what "too spicy" means, and i love all true mexican food!! while we was planning our labor day week-end cook-out, robert made ceviche for me. as i pigged out, another woman asked how to make it, but less spicy. i thought that sounded so close to the recipe you had posted, but i was too consumed with eating to pay much attention. then he said we'd make corn on the cob, but it'd be mexican, and described it. i came home, went to your blog, and omg–exactly like yours!!so, now robert has to read your blog! and thank-you coz i now say i'm not a pig, but that i have to eat a helping for "the homesick texan"

  24. Good Story. Your love of beans is admirable.

    Where I come from, we'd call that Mexican bruschetta or breakfast bruschetta. . Never thought about putting refritos on bread and topping with cheese. I'm gonna roll this one out soon on my friends. This would be good anytime.

  25. Miss Meat and Potatoes

    Oh my gosh Lisa – you have outdone yourself. This looks SO GOOD! Glad you had a great trip!

  26. cathy/showfoodchef

    Loved your recipe, story, and the video was so fun. Making them today because of your inspiration. Cook on!

  27. This post made me so hungry I had to whip together a bastardized version to try. I'm not a baker but I had Pepperidge Farm bake-off rolls and a can of refried beans. I promise that the salsa verde I had was homemade though. My semi-homemade version was darn tasty. Thanks for introducing me to something new. For those of us who are baking-averse, what's a supermarket equivalent for bolillos?

  28. Rebecca

    OH! My stomach is growling! These look wonderful, and hope you can tell me about your trip to DF! Looking forward to meeting you at BlogHer Food!

  29. Yum! Which kind of yeast did you use?

  30. jennifer

    I love molletes! Here in Mazatlan, they usually butter the roll first and put it face down on a grill to toast it…yum. It's the perfect snack at 3:00 in the morning after bar hopping.

    You would probably also love hurraches. Take masa dough and make a long, flat "boat" out of it, about the size and shape of a sandal sole. The sides of your oat should be about 1/3 inch tall. Cook the boat in some oil, then fill it will hot refried beans and cheese. Top with fresh salsa and enjoy.

  31. jim in austin

    I'm not much of a chef but fortunately my local grocery has a huge bin of bolillos they bake every day. I normally use them for sandwiches. I also grabbed a few cans of frijoles refritos con tomate y chile verde and a bag of shredded pepper jack cheese. The result was a delicious breakfast and an addition to the short list of things I can cook without disaster.

  32. Lisa Fain

    TX Blue Eyed Bandit–What a great story–thanks for sharing. And glad you found the recipes you were looking for!

    Tommy–Mexican bruschetta is a good name for it!

    Miss Meat and Potatoes–Thank you, dear.

    Cathy–That baker has some mad bolillo-rolling skills!

    Susan–I think French-bread rolls or Portuguese rolls would work well.

    T–I use SAF brand of yeast.

    Jennifer–Oh, that sounds decadent! And I do love huraches–I need to make some for the blog!

    Jim–Yep, this recipe is pretty foolproof. Glad you liked it!

  33. Whosyergurl

    Sounds like a fantastic trip, with fantastic food. Even if you did miss out on some of your favorites, like you said, you can always go back!
    Cheryl in IN

  34. FeistywithFlavor

    This post is a perfect example of why I love visiting your site. I can't wait to make these.

  35. Rolls are easiest to make using a bread machine on Dough setting. After it mixes and is raised just pull it out and go on with the recipe. Oh yeah, liquids first, dry ingredients, yeast last. I lived in west Texas most of my life and love all Tex-Mex or Mexican food!

  36. My eyes are tearing up…
    I've been an avid fan of true Mexican food for nearly thirty years and have been looking for a "doable" recipe for homemade bolillos for nearly that long. After reading your recipe, I'm encouraged to think that I've met my heart's desire. I've been reading your blog for a very long time and have "lifted" several of your recipes but this may well be the crowning glory.
    My father left his birth state of Texas nearly fifty years ago but brought the cuisine to our family table (in Washington State) regularly. I love following your posts and comparing the similarities between your food heritage and mine.

  37. Wow those look great! I'm now having them tomorrow for breakfast 🙂

  38. violentdayzie

    Hello, I found your blog last night whilst looking for breakfast taco goodness (not like a Hill Country girl like myself needs a RECIPE for that so much as inspiration!). I came back this morning, and in less than 30 minutes, I have asked my mom to mail me some pickled okra (oh, how I love it), looked around online to see where to get barbacoa in Las Vegas, and made a note to go buy myself a new molcajete since mine's gone missing. If any other homesick Texans are visiting or living in Las Vegas, I'd like to recommend CJ's Barbecue on Sahara / Durango (? I think?) for their perusal. They have Lone Star, Bluebell, and Frito Pie on the menu. No, I don't work for them, I promise. I squeed when I found them the first time and figured someone else reading this blog might do the same. 🙂

  39. violentdayzie

    Oh, and Big Red too. Can't believe I forgot that part. 😛

  40. Phoebe and Cara, The Quarter-Life Cooks

    this sounds absolutely delicious. I have an obsession with putting anything and everything on a piece of toasted bread and calling it crostini. this seems like the mexican version I have been making for years, but never until now knew was an actual dish! wonderful! I am going to make your molletes all the time!

  41. I love Mexico City. I was usually pampered alot on my visits in the 80s and 90s to see my Great-Uncle Honore and penpals Rosi and Maria Jesus. Rosi's family own La Blanca Cafe on Cinco de Mayo Blvd just down from the Zocalo in downtown Mex DF. They loved taking me there, and everywhere. Especially for crepes and churros. My uncle took me to a special tamale restaurant and many other fab. places until he vanished probably to heaven bodily at age 90. He was born in 1908 and left in 1998. I miss him still terribly. Who will I see Xochimilco again with? Or Oaxaca? or Puebla? He was the best man I've ever met. Like a little Mexican lepricaun. Always jolly and talking to strangers…. Food and Mexico City always a great memory for me.

  42. i love molletes! there's actually this really great place in philly that serves a really fresh, tasty molletes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. i'd never had it until recently – one of my new favorite dishes.

  43. RCakeWalk

    This is in the recipe queue for the week… Looks great! And I'm a sucker for bread recipes.

  44. I LOVE (is too small a word) refried beans, and the idea of refried beans slathered on a soft bun with melted cheese and salsa makes me want to bite my fingers off. Can't wait to try this recipe!

  45. Lisa Fain

    Whosyergurl–And you can bet I'll be back soon!

    FeistyWithFlavor–Enjoy! And many thanks!

    ARK50–Thanks for sharing your tips for my readers that have a bread machine.

    czken–I hope the recipe works for you and reminds you of what you've been missing.

    Charli–Now that's a plan!

    Violentdayzie–Next time I'm in Vegas I know where I'm going.

    Phoebe and Cara–I reckon you could call this Mexican crostini! I like to think of nachos as Tex-Mex crostini.

    Jodie–What wonderful Mexico City memories! I'll have to look up La Blanca Cafe next time I'm there.

    Jaime–And that's yet another reason why I need to pay a visit to Philly!

    RCakeWalk–Yay! Hope you enjoy it!

  46. Justin From Bitchin' Kitchen

    Thanks for the recipe! I always find myself the most excited to try making things I think would taste good but I've never heard of before. Looking forward to this one.

  47. Oh my god! That looks absolutely amazing. I've literally just eaten and the thought of that makes me want to eat again!

    Andy –

  48. tbsamsel


    I was in my local carniceria Saturday and what they had as "molletes" was chicken gizzards.

    I need to look again.

  49. Brilliant! This recipe reminds me of my Dad! In South Texas- molletes are a delicacy for some- and I love them when he makes them. You've inspired me to make them myself.

  50. tbsamsel

    What I saw as chicken gizzards was "mollejas"…

    Sorry Lias.

  51. When I would visit my grandparents in Guadalajara I would spend every morning walking down to the local bakery with our housekeeper, Mika, to buy fresh bolillos. We'd eat them spread with fresh jam and butter, papaya and lime and fresh squeezed orange juice. It's my favorite breakfast on earth.

    For mid-morning snacks we'd stave off our hunger until comida with molletes. Never for breakfast. It was my favorite part of Mexico. Thanks for reminding me.

  52. Jenna Rosen

    I moved away from Texas at age 15 and I always miss the food! Being in Maine is quite a bit different (and fishy!).

    This dish is amazing and I will be trying it out with my kids tomorrow night! I'll let you know what happens.

    When my hubby and I sit down to dinner, we always pair our Texas style food with a good red wine (click on my name for the link of a good wine review site). BUT – this time, we think we're going to go with a white. What do you think?

    I find that this site matches me exactly. Home sick for Texas. Thanks for bringing me a little closer to home.


  53. Schmoopista

    I am not a huge bread baker (it stresses me out with the rising and the yeast, and oh dear) but you can be sure I'll be trying my hand at bolillos, which I use with everything from sandwiches to poached eggs.

    ALso, the video is linked to El Bolillo panaderia in the Near Northside of Houston – and it has the best pan dulce of any bakery in town, better than anything I get except what I get when I'm in my hometown on the Tex/Mex border. If you are ever in Houston, GO THERE.

  54. ethelred

    I've had the molletes at Red Tree House and they really are wonderful! You should definitely go back and try them!

    I'm glad you love Mexico City as much as we do. We got so many dire warnings before going there that we wondered whether we'd made a mistake booking a vacation there, but we LOVED everything about that city and would definitely go back (and would not stay anywhere besides the Red Tree House… the place is fantastic… the only B&B I've ever been homesick for after leaving).

    Thanks for the great post!

  55. Christina

    Thanks so much for the recommendation! I spent a week in San Miguel (where close friends from college, and Texas, live) and we capped off my trip with a weekend in DF staying at the Red Tree House. It was fantastic – much appreciated.

  56. the fashionable traveler

    I can't wait to try this. I totally agree with what you said about refried beans being comfort food, the sign of a true texan….I always want mexican beans and rice when I'm sick or down. Recently, I've discovered a healthier option…that gives me the same feeling…quinoa and black beans topped with pico de gallo and diced avacado.

    Thanks again

  57. Anonymous

    This big piece of bread with a bun over the top is a mollete in Galicia (northern Spain):

  58. sheila @ Elements

    I could eat these not just for breakfast, but also for lunch, dinner, and a mid-day snack!! I bookmarked the recipe and will make some as soon as possible!! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! 🙂

  59. Amber DeGrace

    My dough is rising right now. Looking forward to dinner! Love, love, love your recipes.

  60. Anonymous

    I just put my bolillos in the oven and they look incredible! Thanks for posting!

  61. Anonymous

    I make these all the time for my Husband, who is mexican ,Funny thing is he's never heard of these and thinks I made them up off the top of my head!!lol

  62. Anonymous

    I was browsing your site for some new yummy ideas (looooove your carnitas) when I stumbled upon this. Earlier today, I had some leftover homemade beans, bread and a bunch of cheese, threw it in the oven and baked till melted. I had no idea there was actually a name for it! It was so yummy, I thought it had to exist. I didn't use rolls, but some thick cut homemade wheat bread. I think as long as your bread is dense enough, you can probably get away with many different types.

  63. Anonymous

    My name is Candida. I had one question, because I don't bake very much: is the "dry yeast" called active dry yeast at the store? I want to make sure I bought the right one before I proceed. =) Thanks so much, I can't wait to use these for my tortas!

  64. Lisa Fain

    Candida–Yes, it is. Happy baking!

  65. Anonymous

    Thank you Lisa. It's Candida again. =) I did everything as instructed, but I ended up falling asleep while waiting for the rolls to rise, and they came out a bit flatter than expected. I also put the water on the bottom rack of the oven, and the rolls on the top rack. And I tried to slash them but the dough was too soft, but they came out really well despite all of these issues. Looking forward to making a fresh batch the right way later on today. Thank you so much for sharing!

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