Is it even Taco Tuesday without refried beans? With this homemade recipe, you’ll never want to reach for the canned stuff!
Seriously, homemade refried beans are a game-changer. They’re perfectly spiced and creamy with a touch of acidity from lime juice.
Canned refried beans come with many things that aren’t very tasty, like extra sugars and preservatives.
This homemade recipe uses fresh ingredients and is oh-so-easy. The canned stuff doesn’t even come close.
So, take your Mexican night feast to new heights with this quick and easy refried beans recipe.
As long as you have a bag of dried pinto beans, the rest are pantry staples. Whether you want to go vegan or meaty, here’s everything you’ll need for killer homemade refried beans.
- Dried pinto beans – Enter the star of the show. While dried beans take a little longer to cook, they’re worth the wait. Using dried beans allows you to control the sodium levels. They also taste much better than canned.
- Olive oil or lard – To keep things vegetarian, olive oil adds all the fat you need. Or, if you don’t mind a little animal fat, lard adds smoky, savory flavors to this side dish.
- Onion and garlic – The pairing of onion and garlic adds earthy, savory flavors to the beans. For the best flavor, always use fresh cloves of garlic rather than the pre-minced stuff in a can.
- Ground cumin – A dash of cumin is your secret weapon for perfect beans. It’s such a fantastic warming spice and adds a hint of nuttiness and sweetness.
- Cayenne pepper – Don’t worry, cayenne pepper won’t make these beans super hot. It adds a kiss of spicy notes with smoky undertones to add to the complexity of the dish.
- Salt and pepper – A simple dash of salt and pepper is all you need to draw out the flavors of the beans. Add as much (or as little) as you like, and taste as you go.
- Fresh cilantro – Fresh cilantro adds a fresh herbal kick of lemon and pepper flavors.
- Lime juice – Like the cherry on top of a sundae, fresh lime juice brings all those smoky, earthy flavors together. For this recipe, I like to use fresh limes rather than bottled for the best authentic taste.
How to Make Refried Beans
The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the dried beans to cook! Trust me, it’s well worth the wait! Once the beans are ready, the rest is easy peasy.
Here’s how to make these stellar homemade refried beans:
1. Prepare the dried beans. Rinse the dried beans and place them in a large stock pot. Cover it with water, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours. Then, drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of the liquid.
2. Sautee the aromatics. Add olive oil or large to a sautee pan under medium heat. First, add the onion until translucent for 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic, cayenne pepper, and cumin, and cook for another minute.
3. Add the beans. Add the beans to the aromatics with 1/4 of the reserved liquid. Cook them for about 5 minutes.
4. Mash it up! Using a potato masher or a fork, smash those beans. If they seem a little dry, add more of the bean liquid until they reach the desired consistency.
5. Continue to simmer. Once mashed, cook the beans for about 3 minutes to simmer all those flavors. Season them with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Garnish. Remove the beans from the heat, stir in the fresh cilantro, and garnish them with a drizzle of lime juice. Serve, and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Variations
Want to make your refried beans the breakaway star of your fiesta? I have a few tips and variations to make them come out perfect every time.
- Chop chop! Coarsely chopped onions distract from the creaminess of refried beans. Chop them finely and cook them until they turn translucent.
- Keep the beans soft. It takes a long time to cook dried beans, so patience is key. You know when the beans are ready when you can easily smash one between your fingers. For refried beans, it’s always better to err on the side of overdone than underdone.
- Do a bean swap. Looking for something a little healthier? Black beans have fewer calories and fat than pinto and taste just as good! However, you won’t get the same super-smooth consistency as pinto beans.
- Make them cheesy. You have two options to cheese up these beans. Stir in your favorite shredded cheese right into the mix (at the garnishing stage). Or sprinkle cotija cheese on top.
- Add some spice. Add some chili peppers to the mix if you want extra spice in your life. When sauteeing your onion, add a finely chopped jalapeno pepper for a kick of peppery spice.
Crockpot Refried Beans
Want to put your Crockpot to good use? This recipe variation makes your life so much easier but takes a little longer to cook.
Here’s how it all comes together.
1. Cook the beans. Add the beans to the slow cooker and cover them with water. Set it to high and cook for 8 hours. Or, you can cook them overnight. Then, drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
2. Sautee. Add oil to a skillet, and saute the onion, garlic, beans, cumin, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 of the bean liquid.
3. Mash. Use a fork to mash everything to the desired consistency.
4. Garnish. Garnish them with cilantro and lime juice, and enjoy!
Ways to Use Refried Beans
The great thing about refried beans is they go great with just about anything. From tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, the possibilities are endless.
Here are a few things I serve them with to jazz up dinnertime.
How to Store
This recipe makes a big batch, so there will likely be leftovers. No worries! This refried bean recipe keeps well in the fridge or the freezer. Here’s the best way to keep them fresh.
- To Store: Place the refried beans in an air-tight container and pop them in the fridge. They will stay fresh for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze: This recipe is a great candidate for freezing! I like to lie them flat in a freezer bag to save space. Frozen beans will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat: When you’re ready to eat, thaw the frozen beans in the fridge overnight. Then, gently reheat them on the stove or microwave. If they seem dry and stiff, add a little vegetable broth to thin them.
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