A Spicy Perspective

Belizean Garnachas (Salbutes)

Belizean Garnachas Recipe – This classic dish from Belize is made with crispy tortillas loaded with black beans or shredded chicken (for Salbutes), plus lots of tasty toppings!

Plate with 3 garnachas.

Garnachas vs Salbutes: What is the Difference?

This simple dish from Belize is similar to a Mexican tostada or sopes, and features plenty of goodies loaded on top of crispy fried tortillas. However, instead of toppings like thick refried pinto beans and guacamole, classic Central American Garnachas feature thin refried black beans topped with a cabbage slaw and tangy queso fresco.

Salbutes are similar to Garnachas. However, instead of black beans, traditional Salubutes recipes include stewed chicken made with slow-cooked shredded chicken and red salsa. For this easy version you can use our slow cooker chicken taco meat recipe to replicate this, subbing red salsa for the green salsa.

Top down view three garnachas on a plate.

Why We Love This Belizean Recipe

My daughter Ava spent three months in Belize this year living with two separate host families. Garnachas was one of the most common recipes they made at home, and are among her favorite dishes to make since she’s been back!

Although you can order Garnachas (and Salbutes, the chicken version) at restaurants, they are very simple to make at home in only 30 minutes, and they taste delicious!

Rustic and amazingly flavorful Garnachas always include four elements:

  • A small fried corn tortilla, fried until crisp like a tostada.
  • A smear of thin refried black beans.
  • A simple slaw, usually made of finely shredded cabbage tossed with lime juice and salt.
  • And a sprinkling of queso fresco.

There are variations, but this is the classic base.

Hand holding garnacha to camera.

Ingredients You Need

  • Yellow corn tortillas – the tiny street taco size is best
  • Vegetable oil – or other preferred high heat and neutral-flavored oil for frying
  • Refried black beans – canned or homemade
  • Vegetable broth – or chicken broth
  • Cabbage slaw – look for “angel hair” slaw in the bags
  • Lime juice – fresh, not bottled
  • Queso fresco – or shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
  • Pico de gallo – optional

Recipe Variations

  • Make homemade corn tortillas for the most authentic version. Make them around 3 inches wide.
  • You can also make homemade refried beans in the Instant Pot! Use our recipe subbing black beans for the pintos.
  • Sometimes garnachas include sliced tomatoes, onions, habanero sauce, and even pickled vegetables. Here I added pico de gallo* to offer an easy store-bought fresh topping for the garnachas. However, in the most traditional versions, you would simply thinly slice the tomatoes and onions. Feel free to add whatever toppings you like!

*Ava approved my slight alteration. *wink*

Ingredients: tortillas, black beans, queso fresco, and tomato.

How to Make Garnachas

First, place a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the refried black beans and vegetable broth. Stir well to mix, then simmer until the black beans are thin, but spreadable, about 10 minutes.

Hand stirring pot of black beans.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet. Set a holding plate to the side and line it with paper towels.

Once the oil is hot, fry 3 to 4 tortillas at a time, until very crisp. Make sure to flip and fry on both sides. Then move them to the holding plate and repeat with the oil and additional tortillas.

Four corn tortillas frying in a cast iron skillet.

Set out a medium mixing bowl. Add the cabbage slaw to the bowl; then drizzle lime juice over the top. Sprinkle generously with salt and toss.

Once the beans and tortillas are ready, assemble the Garnachas:

  1. Spread a tablespoon of thin refried black beans over the top of each crispy tortilla.
Hand holding crispy tortillas covered with black beans.
  1. Then top with a sprinkling of slaw…

Get the Complete (Printable) Belizean Garnachas Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Tortillas with black beans on a plate, topped with cabbage.
  1. Add a sprinkling of pico de gallo…
Three tortillas topped with beans, cabbage, and pico de gallo.
  1. And a sprinkling of queso fresco.
Queso fresco added to the garnachas.

How to Make Salbutes with Chicken

The bulk of this recipe is the same. However, instead of the black bean layer we add shredded chicken to the fried tortillas.

The chicken taco meat can be made a day or so ahead of time, so assembling the Salbutes is a snap when ready to enjoy!

Adding queso fresco to salbutes.

Serving Suggestions

Like tostdas and sopes, Belizean Garnachas are scrumptious to enjoy with Fluffy Yellow Rice or Crispy Patatas Bravas. Or pair them with any of your favorite Mexican and Central American-inspired side dishes!

And of course, feel free to add other toppings! Serve with a bowl of cold and delicious homemade guacamole or taco dip, melty queso, and freshly made salsa.

They are also super tasty to eat on their own as a hearty snack.

Plate with three garnachas, bite taken from one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make gluten-free Garnachas?

Many corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, but be sure to check the label. All other ingredients should be gluten-free as well.

What other toppings can you put on Garnachas or Salbutes?

While this classic Garnachas recipe is a vegetarian dish made with black beans, you can certainly add other proteins you prefer! Try carne asada or ground beef, carnitas with pork, refried pinto beans, or even fluffy scrambled eggs.

How long do Garnachas last?

These are best served fresh, but if the tortillas are crispy enough, they will hold up for a couple of hours to serve at a Mexican-inspired potluck.

Bite taken from one crispy salbutes or garnachas.

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Belizean Garnachas (Salbutes)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This classic dish from Belize is made with crispy tortillas loaded with black beans or shredded chicken (for Salbutes), plus lots of tasty toppings!
Servings: 24 servings

Ingredients

  • 24 small yellow corn tortilla buy the tiniest “street taco” size
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 15 ounce can refried black beans
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cabbage slaw look for “angel hair” slaw in bags
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 cup pico de gallo optional
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Set a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the refried black beans and vegetable broth. Stir well to mix, then simmer until the black beans are thin, but spreadable, about 10 minutes.
  • Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet. Set a holding plate to the side and line it with paper towels. Once the oil is hot, fry 3 to 4 tortillas at a time, until very crisp. Make sure to flip and fry on both sides. Then move them to the holding plate and repeat with the oil and additional tortillas.
  • Set out a medium mixing bowl. Add the cabbage slaw to the bowl. Then drizzle lime juice over the top. Sprinkle generously with salt and toss.
  • Once the beans and tortillas are ready, assemble the Garnachas. Spread a tablespoon of thin refried black beans over the top of each crispy tortilla. Then top with a sprinkling of slaw, a sprinkling of pico de gallo, and a sprinkling of queso fresco.

Video

Notes

These are best served fresh, but if the tortillas are crispy enough, they will hold up for a Mexican potluck.
You can make homemade corn tortillas for the most authentic version. Make them around 3 inches wide. You can also make homemade refried beans in the Instant Pot! Use our recipe subbing black beans for the pintos.
To make Salbutes: Substitute the black beans with shredded chicken taco meat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 94kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 225mg, Potassium: 120mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 113IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main, Main Course, Snack, Starter
Cuisine: Belizean, Central American
Author: Sommer Collier

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9 comments on “Belizean Garnachas (Salbutes)”

  1. The recipe looks good but it’s not authentic. This version should be re-named to Belizean Inspired.

  2. Salbutes and Garnaches/garnachas are not the same thing, except for having diff toppings as you are portraying it. They are similar in that they are a tortilla with toppings but that is it. The tortilla that the salbutes is made on is softer than the hard fried corn tortilla that the garnaches/garnachas is made on. Salbutes topping is chicken and cabbage and onions. Garnaches/garnachas toppings are beans, cheese, onion sauce, and for some people ketchup or a tomato sauce.

    • You are absolutely correct my mother is from Belize and she used to make it with majority of time either salsa or like a spaghetti sauce and at times she would put shredded parmesan or grated Parmesan cheese on top for the base and that’s what me and my siblings grew up with as well as my cousins and everybody else that came from Belize.

  3. These are so flavorful! Crispy, fresh, and delicious with all the toppings. I want to try the chicken version next time.

  4. I love it!! Easy to make and really delicious!! Thank you for this recipe!

  5. Super loved it! This tasted so amazing! Thanks a lot for sharing this super easy to make recipe! Fam really loves it! Will surely have this again!

  6. So easy to make and loaded with flavor! Loved it!

  7. I never knew that this recipe existed, but after trying it, I dont think that I can live without it! thank you for sharing this recipe

  8. You forgot sweet ketchup