How to make Easy Refried Beans just like your favorite Mexican restaurant, but even better! Includes stovetop, slow cooker and canned beans instructions.
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 ingredients 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!
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!
What type of beans are used to make refried beans?
Mexican refried beans are traditionally made from mashed pinto beans and seasoned with some spices and herbs. However, this recipe also works with black beans or white navy beans.
Are refried beans fried…twice?!
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.
Stovetop or slow cooker method
The first step is to actually cook the beans. There’s two ways I prefer – on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.
To cook the beans on the stovetop, you’ll need to fill up a large pot with water and bring the beans and other ingredients 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 the 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 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until the beans are tender.
If you own a pressure cooker, I recommend using this Instant Pot Refried Beans recipe since there’s no soaking required!
Short on time? Use canned beans!
If you don’t have time to cook dried beans, you can substitute cooked canned beans instead!
I recommend using 2 15-ounce cans. Just strain the beans and continue with the next step.
Once you’ve got your cooked beans, saute some garlic and diced jalapenos in olive oil. Then add the beans, fry them a bit and mash them using a bean/potato masher or an immersion blender for a creamier consistency.
At this time, I also like to add in a little of the “bean broth” to add in some moisture to the beans. If they’re too soupy for you liking, heat them on medium heat until they thicken to your liking.
Way to serve refried beans
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.
- As a side dish to Red Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Carnitas or Carne Asada
- As a filling for Gorditas or Bean and Cheese Taquitos
- As a topping on Tostadas or Sopes
- 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (about 1 cup dried)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- water, enough to cover the beans at least 2 inches
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (about the juice of 1/2 lime)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- To cook the beans on the stovetop: In a large pot, add in the dried beans, onions, 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.Drain beans, reserving the bean water. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans. Continue to step 4.
- To cook the beans in the slow cooker: Add dried beans, onions, oregano, salt and black pepper into the slow cooker. Add in enough water to cover the beans at least two inches or more, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until the beans are tender.Drain beans, reserving the bean water. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans. Continue to step 4.
- To use canned cooked beans: Open 2 (15-ounce) cans of cooked pinto beans and drain. Continue to step 4.
- In a pot or a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until jalapenos begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add in beans and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved bean water (or chicken/vegetable stock if using canned beans) and mash the beans to form a chunky paste using a bean/potato masher. If you want your beans smoother and creamier, use an immersion blender to puree until it's the consistency you want.
- Reduce heat to medium and lime juice and smoked paprika. Stir and cook, until beans are heated through. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if the beans are too thick.
- Taste, season with salt if necessary, and serve.
- Refried beans will last about a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
- When reheating the beans on the stovetop or in the microwave, add a tablespoon of water or stock to help keep the beans moist.