Homemade Refried Beans - Authentic Recipe! (2024)

Learn how to make the best homemade Refried Beans on the stovetop, in the slow cooker or in a pressure cooker. This Refried Beans recipe made from scratch, delivers creamy, authentic tasting refried beans with just a handful of simple ingredients.

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Best Refried Beans Recipe

This easy refried beans recipe aka Frijoles Refritos in Spanish, is one of the most popular side dishes in Mexican cuisine and a perfect side dish to serve for taco night or anytime you are having a Mexican meal, whether is breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Next time you are thinking about having Mexican food and are about to reach for the canned stuff, remember that you can make homemade beans, just like the ones served at your favorite Mexican restaurant, easily in your own kitchen.

To make restaurant quality home-cooked beans you don’t need any special equipment such as a food processor or even an immersion blender (although you are welcome to use them if you want), all you need besides a large pot is a wooden spoon or a potato masher which guarantees super dreamy creamy texture with chunky bites scattered throughout.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Many Options: This is such a versatile recipe! You can choose the cooking method, the type of beans to use, the type of fat and the texture you want! Make this recipe your own!
    Method: You can make this refried beans recipe on the stove top, the slow cooker or crockpot or in the pressure cooker / Instant Pot which saves a lot of time.
    Beans selection: Although pinto beans are most commonly used, black beans are equally delicious. Other type of beans can be used as well.
    Fat options: Choose lard or bacon fat (bacon drippings). Butter is also an option. Keep your refried beans vegetarian or vegan by choosing vegetable oil or coconut oil.
  • Healthy: Homemade refried beans are packed with protein and are healthier than getting a can of refried beans and the added preservatives that come with it.
  • Easy Meal Prep: Creamy refried beans can be served as a delicious side dish and can also be used to make so many other recipes such as huevos rancheros, burritos, tortas and even bean dip.
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What You’ll Need

Be sure to check the printable recipe card below for the complete ingredient’s list and their exact quantities.

To Cook the Dried Beans

  • Beans: To make homemade refried beans we start with dried beans. In this recipe, I use dried pinto beans, but dried black beans are also great. Other type of beans such as white beans can be used as well. If you are pressed for time and don’t want to use a pressure cooker, canned beans can be used. Since canned beans don’t come with enough liquid you will need vegetable broth or chicken broth in lieu of the beans’ cooking liquid.
  • Onion: Most often, this recipe is made with white onion. Oftentimes, I use brown or yellow onions which have a milder, sweeter taste. Onions are used to flavor the beans and also when pan frying or refrying the beans.
  • Garlic: I use fresh garlic cloves. In a pinch, you can use garlic paste.
  • Dried Oregano or Epazote: Use Mexican dried oregano instead of mediterranean oregano if available . If you can find epazote in your grocery store, farm stand or Mexican market celebrate and then use it in this recipe. Epazote is a Mexican aromatic herb with hints of oregano, mint, star anise, and lemon. As much as I love this herb, it’s impossible to find where I live.
  • Bay Leaf: Use dried bay leaf.
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To Pan Fry the Beans

There are several ingredient options when pan frying the refried beans. Choose the fat that is best for you:

  • Bacon grease: This is a great time to use any reserved bacon drippings you may have from cooking bacon. Bacon fat is as glorious as liquid gold and adds extra flavor to the beans.
  • Lard. Traditionally, lard from fried pork rinds is used to refry beans. This type of lard can be found in some Mexican grocery stores. Unlike the pale white lard found at most supermarkets, this lard is darker in color. It also has a lot of porky flavor which gives the smashed beans an incomparable delicious and rich taste. The lard found in most supermarkets, although less flavorful, it’s the most convenient and usually what I use to make homemade refried beans.
  • Oil: Although not traditional, vegetable oil or coconut oil can be used especially if you are making vegetarian or vegan refried beans.
  • Butter: Before you scream in disbelief, I heard of using butter from Chef Aaron Sanchez’s mom, Chef and restauranteur Zarela Martinez. Although the taste is not what one is used to when thinking of refried beans, it works!
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Optional Additions:

Although I absolutely love this dish exactly as written below in the recipe card (I think it’s just perfect!), a lot of people use this easy recipe as a “base recipe” and add other ingredients such as:

  • Jalapeño Pepper or Dried chiles: A fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper can be added to the cooking water. Instead of fresh chiles, dried chiles such as dried ancho chile or dried guajillo chile can also be added. Add chiles at the same time you add the onions, dried oregano and bay leaf)
  • Ham Bone, Bacon strips or Smoked Meat: These ingredients add smoky flavor to the beans and bean broth and should be added at the same time you add the onions, dried oregano and bay leaf.
  • Seasonings: Chili powder and ground cumin are sometimes added when sautéing the onion.

How to Make Refried Beans or Frijoles Refritos?

For specific instructions and times, please check the printable recipe card below.

Stove Top Method

Making this easy recipe on the stove top may not be the most time-efficient method but it’s the way I usually cook authentic Mexican refried beans make them. For this method, you need to soak the beans overnight if preferred, unless you are using beans that have a thin skin like black beans.

  1. Prep: Place the pre-soaked dry beans, the onion cut into quarters, the lightly smashed garlic cloves, dried oregano (or epazote) and bay leaf in a stockpot. Pour enough cold water to cover everything with at least two extra inches of liquid.
  2. Cook: Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook until the beans are very tender. They should be soft enough to squash them between two fingers.
  3. Drain: Discard the onion, garlic, epazote (if using), and bay leaf and drain the beans reserving their flavorful cooking liquid.
  4. Pan-Fry: In a large skillet heat the lard, bacon drippings or oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Stir in the cooked beans and cook for about 2 minutes. Add some of the reserved bean cooking liquid aka bean broth and mash the beans with a potato smasher or the back of a wooden spoon. Continue mashing and adding bean broth until reaching your desire consistency. If you prefer a very smooth consistency, you can use an immersion blender (or a regular blender). I prefer the beans a bit chunky so a wooden spoon or potato masher is all I need. Serve warm.
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How to Make Instant Pot Refried Beans

You can cut down the cooking time significantly by cooking the dried beans at high pressure in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. As an added bonus, you don’t need to soak the beans at all!

To make refried beans in an instant pot, you’ll need a 6 Qt Instant Pot or bigger.

  1. Prep: Add the un-soaked beans, onion, garlic, dried oregano (or epazote) and bay leaf into the pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
  2. Cook.Lock the lid into place and set thepressure valve to sealing. Select “manual”, high pressure and set the time for45 minutes. After the cooking is done, let the pressure release naturally for 25 minutes. Follow the recipe as written in the recipe card.
    Note about pan frying: Although the pressure cooker has a sauté function, I always use a skillet to refried my beans. I think the heat distribution on a stove-top is better and even.
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How To Make Refried Beans in a Slow Cooker?

It takes longer than the stove-top and Instant Pot methods, but the beautiful thing is you can walk away from the kitchen all day and come home to freshly made beans. To cook beans in a slow cooker you can use pre-soaked beans if preferred, unless you are using thin-skinned beans like black beans.

  1. Prep: Add the beans, onion, garlic, dried oregano (or epazote) and bay leaf into the crockpot. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
  2. Cook.Cover the crock pot and cook on “Low” for 6 to 8 hours or on “High” for 4 hours. Follow the recipe as written on the recipe card.
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Ways to Serve Refried Beans

We love serving frijoles refritos with Mexican rice and warm flour tortillas. It’s also a great side dish to serve with many dishes (not only Mexican dishes).Some of our favorite dishes are:

  • Chile Colorado
  • Mexican Chicken Adobo (Adobo de Pollo)
  • Authentic Carne Asada
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin
  • Instant Pot Carnitas

You can also use refried beans to make other favorite Mexican recipes like burritos, tacos, enchiladas, bean dip and tortas.

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Optional Toppings for Serving:

  • Cheese: Melted cheese over warm refried beans is one of my oldest son favorite things. Choose shredded cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack or a Mexican blend (no shame on pre-shredded cheese in this household). As for crumbled cheese, queso fresco or cotija cheese are the best.
  • Cilantro: Chopped fresh cilantro adds so much flavor. If you don’t like cilantro, fresh parsley can be used.
  • Tortilla Chips: Yes please! Add a bit of crunch to this flavorful refried beans.
  • Sour Cream: The tanginess of sour cream goes perfectly with the flavor of beans.
  • Pickled Jalapeños: If you love adding a little heat to your food, these taqueria style pickled jalapeños and carrots are the best!

Are Refried Beans Fried Twice?

No. Although the name of this dish suggests otherwise, the beans are fried only once. The word refried is the translation of the Spanish word “refrito” which means to “fry well” not to double fry!

Storing, Freezing and Reheating

How to Store Refried Beans?

To store these tasty smashed beans, cool completely and store them in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can You Freeze Refried Beans?

Yes! Refried beans can be frozen and will last in the freezer for 3 months when stored in an airtight container or freezer safe resealable storage bag.

How To Reheat Frijoles Refritos?

To reheat on the stove top, place the beans in a skillet and warm them up over low heat. Leftover beans tend to get a bit dry, simply add a little bit of broth or water to the beans and stir to combine.

You can also reheat them covered in the microwave in small intervals, and stirring after each interval until warm through.

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Best Refried Beans Tips and Notes

  • Before cooking the beans, pick through them and discard any debris or discolored beans. After that, rinse the beans whether you will soak them or not.
  • To refry the beans, make sure you mince the onions and cook them until they become soft.
  • Although my grandma taught me that adding salt to the beans cooking water prevents them from becoming tender, tests have shown that this is not accurate. That said, even as a trained chef, I tend to follow my grandma’s ways and never salt the cooking water.
  • How to get the amazing flavor of restaurant-style refried beans at home? By adding lard (and lots of it!). Lard adds flavor and makes the mashed beans super silky.
  • We like our beans mashed with a few whole beans left for texture. If you prefer super creamy and smooth beans you can use an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor.

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5 from 4 reviews

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Authentic Refried Beans

By: Chef Kathy McDaniel

Made with just a few ingredients, this authentic refried beans recipe is easy & healthy. Stove top, Instant Pot & slow cooker instructions!

Prep: 10 minutes minutes

Cook: 2 hours hours

Total Time 2 hours hours 10 minutes minutes

Servings 5 servings

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

  • Crockpot

Ingredients

To Cook the Beans:

  • ½ lb dried pinto beans
  • ½ medium onion quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and lightly smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Water
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

To Pan Fry the Beans:

  • 3 tbsp minced onions
  • 4 tbsp lard or bacon drippings or 2 tbsp olive oil, vegetable oil, unsalted butter
  • Ground black pepper

For Serving (Optional):

  • Queso fresco or cotija cheese or Monterrey Jack
  • Cilantro chopped

Instructions

Stove Top Method:

  • If you decide to make this recipe on the stove top, you will need to soak the beans overnight! If you forget to do so, place the beans in a heatproof bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Let the beans soak for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain.

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  • Add the dried beans to a large pot. Add the onion, garlic cloves, fresh epazote or dried oregano and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.

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  • Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered until the beans are very tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season with salt.

  • Discard the onion, garlic, epazote (if using) and bay leaf. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans. Continue to Pan Frying Instructions.

Slow Cooker Method:

  • Add the dried beans to the crock pot. Add the onion, garlic cloves, fresh epazote or dried oregano and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.

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  • Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours or until the beans are very tender, Season with salt to taste.

  • Discard the onion, garlic, epazote (if using) and bay leaf. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans. Continue to Pan-Frying instructions.

Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker Method:

  • In a 6 Qt Instant Pot or larger, add the dried beans, the onion, garlic cloves, fresh epazote or dried oregano and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches or more.

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  • Lock the lid into place and set thepressure valve to sealing. Select “manual”, high pressure and set the time forfor 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes of pressure cooking has finished, let the pressure release naturally for 25 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure. Carefully open the lid, stir and season with salt to taste.

  • Discard the onion, garlic, epazote (if using) and bay leaf. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans. Continue to Pan Frying Instructions.

For Pan-Frying:

  • In a large skillet, heat the lard, bacon drippings or oil until hot, or butter until melted over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

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  • Stir in the beans and cook for about 2 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of the reserved cooking bean liquid and mash the beans with a bean or potato smasher or the back of a wooden spoon until they reach a chunky purée consistency. For a smoother and creamier texture, use an immersion blender instead.

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  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the beans, stirring, until heated through. If the beans become too dry, add additional bean cooking water until the desired consistency is reached. If the beans are too wet, simmer, stirring, until thickened.

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  • Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper (optional) and serve with crumbled quest fresco or cotija cheese or shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and chopped cilantro.

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Chef’s Tips

  • Place the beans in a large colander and throughly rinse them. Sort through the beans and pick any damaged beans or debris. Set aside.
  • If cooking beans on the stove top or in the slow cooker, soak the beans for 8 hours or overnight.
  • If cooking the beans in the instant Pot, no soaking is required.
  • If you are pressed for time, use canned beans. Since canned beans don’t come with enough liquid you will need vegetable broth or chicken broth in lieu of the beans’ cooking liquid. Use the liquid from the can and as much broth as needed to reach the desire consistency.
  • How to get the amazing flavor of restaurant-style refried beans at home? By adding lard (and lots of it!). Lard adds flavor and makes the mashed beans super silky.

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcal (8%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 0.1g (1%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 6mgPotassium: 653mg (19%)Fiber: 7g (29%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 0.3IUVitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 56mg (6%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

* Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

Course:Basics, Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish, Slow Cooker

Cuisine:Mexican

Keyword:Authentic Refried Beans, best refried beans, homemade refried beans

Did you make this?I love seeing what you’ve made! Tag me on Instagram and don’t forget to leave a comment & rating below!

Homemade Refried Beans - Authentic Recipe! (2024)

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