Refried beans are a delicious, fiber-packed side dish that you can make at home in just minutes. This homemade version tastes so much better than the kind you’d buy in a can!
Why You’ll Love It
They are quick to make. When you use canned beans, this recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes of effort.
They are flavorful. Sautéed onion, garlic, and a few spices make this refried bean recipe taste amazing! It’s hard to stop “taste-testing” it, once it’s all mashed together.
They are low fat. Instead of using lard or bacon fat, this recipe calls for just 1 tablespoon of olive oil. This makes them lower in fat than the traditional version, and also vegan & vegetarian friendly.
They are filling. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber and plant-based protein. This combination will help keep you feeling satisfied when you serve them with a meal.
They are flexible. You can customize the flavor of these beans however you like. Add a diced jalapeño for more spice, or use a can of hatch green chiles if you are running low on fresh produce. (In that case, use less salt, too.) You can also stir in a handful of fresh cilantro, or add diced bell peppers for even more color and nutrients.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in refried beans?
- Pinto beans
- Chili powder
- Dried oregano
- Lime juice
This simple combination of ingredients makes refried beans ultra-flavorful! You’ll use water to add moisture, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice at the end makes the flavor pop.
For a smoky flavor, you can add up to a 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, or a teaspoon of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
If you don’t have pinto beans on hand, black beans will also work for this recipe. (The color will just be darker.) And you can use vegetable broth instead of water, if you prefer. In that case, you should also start with less salt, since broth usually has added sodium.
Prefer to use dried beans? Check out my Instant Pot Pinto Beans tutorial, for directions on how to cook beans from scratch. The pressure cooker helps to reduce the lectin content, and this post has directions for soaking the beans, or cooking them un-soaked.
If you follow that recipe, you may want to start with less salt, since the beans will already be seasoned in that case.
How to Make Refried Beans
Pour the olive oil into a deep skillet over medium high heat on the stovetop, and sauté the onion until it’s very soft, about 8 minutes.
Add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Stir briefly, just until they smell fragrant, about 1 minute.
Drain and rinse the canned pinto beans, then add them to the skillet. Add in a 1/2 cup of water and the salt, and bring the water to a boil.
Lower the heat and cover the pot with a lid, letting the beans simmer with the spices for 5 minutes.
When the timer goes off, remove the lid and use a potato masher to mash the beans directly in their cooking liquid. With this method, you’re in charge of the final texture, so you can mash the beans to your desired consistency.
Stir in a squeeze of lime juice, and adjust any seasoning to taste.
For smoother results, use an immersion blender, or transfer the cooked beans to a food processor or blender, and blend briefly.
You can add an extra tablespoon or two of water, if needed, for a smoother texture.
Serve the refried beans right away for the best texture, as they will start to dry as they cool. If you find the beans starting to dry around the edges, just add another tablespoon of water or oil to the pot, and give them a stir again before serving.
Leftover refried beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
How to Serve Refried Beans
Wondering what to do with your refried beans?
- Add them to a burrito. They will make it extra filling!
- Serve them as a bean dip. It’s an easy appetizer when you serve it with tortilla chips.
- Add them to nachos. I love adding the leftovers to nachos, topped with real cheese or vegan nacho cheese.
- Serve them in tacos. Top them with shredded lettuce and cilantro lime dressing to make the flavor pop!
Easy Refried Beans
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
- 2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans , drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and saute the onion until it's softened, about 7 minutes. Add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano, and stir for 1 more minute.
- Add the drained beans to the pot, along with the water and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the beans are more tender, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the lime juice. Use a potato masher to mash the beans directly in the pot. You can make the refried beans as smooth, or leave as much texture as you'd like to.
- For smoother beans, transfer them to a food processor and process briefly, until the texture is as smooth as you prefer. Adjust any seasoning to taste, then serve warm right away. Leftover refried beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you try these homemade refried beans, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like them.