How to make Authentic Mexican Refried Beans on the stovetop or in the slow cooker with only a few simple ingredients. The perfect side dish to any Mexican meal!
Friends, I love refried beans! Especially when they’re homemade. They’re healthy, full of fiber and are made with my favorite type of bean, the humble little pinto bean. Pinto beans are actually the one ingredient that my parents always have in the house. And when I say always, I mean always.
Growing up, we’d have huge sacks of dried pinto beans in the kitchen pantry that would last a few months each. Each sack would weigh 50-100 pounds! They looked like this. (Side note: the headline on that link is absurd!)
We’d bring a sack or two home with us from our annual family visits to Mexico where my grandpa and uncle literally harvested pinto beans on their farm. Nowadays, since my family doesn’t visit as often as they used to, they buy huge sacks at a local Mexican grocer or at a place like Costco or Sam’s Club.
But though the place where they get their dried beans has changed over time, one thing remains the same – cooked pinto beans are always in the house. As corny as it sounds, that is a tradition that I want to keep alive. So on the agenda for today is learning how to cook pinto beans and transform them into refried beans!
Let’s do this.
How to make Mexican Refried Beans
Mexican refried beans are a popular Mexican side dish traditionally made from mashed pinto beans and seasoned with some spices and herbs. Though they’re usually made with pinto beans, you could substitute any type of beans such as black beans or even red kidney beans. Refried comes from the translation of refrito, meaning to ‘fry well,’ so while the term refried is in the name, the beans aren’t actually fried twice – just once. Here’s how my family makes refried bean.
1. Cook dry pinto beans on the stovetop or slow cooker.
To cook pinto beans on the stovetop, you’ll need a large pot, an onion, dried oregano and salt and pepper. Simply fill up the pot with water and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the beans are tender.
To cook pinto beans in the slow cooker, add all the same ingredients into the slow cooker, fill it up with water, cover and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours until the beans are tender.
2. Drain cooked pinto beans, making sure to reserve the water.
Once the beans are cooked, drain the beans, reserving the bean broth in a large bowl or container. Remove the cooked onions from the beans and add them into the reserved liquid.
Set aside 2 1/2 cups of the cooked beans* and 1 cup of the bean broth. Return the remaining beans into the bean broth, cover and store in the refrigerator for later use.
*This recipe calls for using half of the cooked beans, which totals about 6 to 8 servings. If you’d like to use all the beans to make a huge batch of 12 to 14 servings, set aside 2 cups of bean broth and double the amount of olive oil, garlic and jalapenos used in the step below.
3. Saute garlic and jalapenos.
In a large skillet or pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in minced garlic and jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until jalapenos begin to soften. Jalapenos can be omitted if you prefer.
4. Add in drained pinto beans and cook.
Add in the drained beans and cook for 2 more minutes.
5. Add in the reserved bean broth and mash beans using a potato or bean masher.
Once you add in the reserved bean broth, you have a few options. You can puree the beans using a handheld stick blender like this one. You can transfer everything to a regular blender and puree them. Or you can use a bean/potato masher, which is my favorite method and the most traditional. But it all depends how you like your refried beans – if you like them super smooth and pureed, use some sort of blender, but if you prefer them slightly chunky like I do, use a bean/potato masher.
6. Stir and cook until beans have reach your desired consistency.
This next step is all up to you. If you like the thickness of your beans right after you mash them, you can remove them from the stove and serve them up. If the consistency of the refried beans is a little thin and soupy after mashing them, cook them down until they’ve thickened to your liking. If the beans are too thick and dry after mashing, add in more of the reserved bean broth one tablespoon at a time until they’re just right.
Want to put these refried beans to good use? Here are some ideas on what to eat them with to make a complete and satisfying meal.
- Alongside these Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
- In this Healthy Chicken Carnitas Burrito Bowl
- With some Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Carnitas Tacos
- Alongside these Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups
- On these 3-Ingredient Authentic Mexican Sopes (Thick Corn Cakes)
Authentic Mexican Refried BeansPrint Pin Rate
- 1 pound dried pinto beans (3 cups dried)
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 4 large chunks
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- water, enough to cover the beans at least 2 inches
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 jalapenos, diced
- In a large pot, add in the dried pinto beans, yellow onions, dried oregano, salt and black pepper. Add in enough water to cover the beans at least two inches or more.
- On high heat, bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. (To cook pinto beans in the slow cooker, add all the same ingredients into the slow cooker, fill it up with water, cover and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours until the beans are tender.)
- Drain beans, reserving the bean water. You should have about 5 cups of cooked beans. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use.*
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until jalapenos begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add in beans and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved bean water and mash the beans to form a chunky paste using a bean masher or a potato masher. If you like your beans completely pureed, you could use a handheld or regular blender instead of a bean masher.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring until the beans reach your desired consistency. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you like your refried beans thinner. Taste, season with salt if necessary and serve.
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