Refried Beans

Frijoles Refritos

Pinto beans, prepared Mexican style, are such a staple in our house a week rarely goes by without my mother making up a batch. Although beans have a relatively long shelf life, the older they are the longer you’ll have to cook them to get them to soften. Find a source that supplies fresh beans. If you have some that have been sitting around for more than a year, they’ll be tough and not as good, you’ll need to cook them longer.

“Refried” is actually a misnomer. In this instance, refritos means “well fried”, not “refried”, though you can certainly reheat the beans as you go through a batch. Before frying them though you’ll need to cook them, in water, to soften them. There are basically two ways to initially cook the beans – with a pressure cooker and without. Since we make beans so often, we use a pressure cooker. It greatly cuts down on the cooking time. Here are directions for both methods.

Refried Beans Recipe

  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 6 cups of refried beans.

We use bacon fat in this recipe, though you can easily use olive oil or lard. Although the recipe only calls for 2 Tbsp, we find that the flavor is greatly enhanced with the addition of a couple more tablespoons of bacon fat, just for flavor. You can also get some smokey flavor in the beans by adding a bit of chipotle powder, sauce, or chipotle Tabasco.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans (about 1 lb or 450gm)
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp (or more to taste) pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)

Method

1 Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans.

2 Cook the beans in water.
Regular method Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water - about 3 quarts for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open.
Pressure Cooker method Put beans into a 4 quart pressure cooker with a 15 lb weight. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes - until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open. Allow the pressure cooker to cool completely before opening. If there is resistance when attempting to open the cooker, do not open it, allow it to cool further. Follow the directions for your brand of pressure cooker. (See safety tips on using pressure cookers.)

Strain the beans from the cooking water.

3 Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. (Note the onions are optional, you can skip them if you want.) Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese if you want. When beans are heated through (and optional cheese melted) the beans are ready to serve.

Note that many recipes call for soaking the beans overnight and discarding the soaking liquid. We don't. We discard the cooking liquid and just add some water back into the frying pan when we are frying the beans.

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74 Comments

  1. gina

    Everytime I make refried beans I don’t usually “fry” them. I have found that this recipe works just as well without the oil. Just keep the pan on low heat and it should come out just as good! : )

  2. Elise

    Hi Gina – thanks for your comment. Sometimes we don’t “fry” them either, just mash them. Sometimes we use onions, sometimes we don’t. Just the beans themselves are wonderful.

  3. Bocas

    Hi! I’m a big fan of beans in all forms. Here are a few tips for great refried beans:

    2 1/2 cups of boiled and mashed beans
    2 Tbsp pork lard or olive oil
    1 Chorizo or sausage
    1 can of chipotles

    Mash the beans and put them aside. Put a little oil/lard on a pan and fry some chopped onnion. Then add chorizo (spanish sausage) and fry it until it’s almost done. Chop one or two chipotles (you can find these in the mexican food section at supermarkets) and remove the seeds. Add the chipotles to the onion and chorizo and stir for a few minutes until the flavors mix. Finally add the mashed beans and cook for a few more minutes.

    Here is another recipe for Frijoles Rancheros:

    2 1/2 cups of dry beans boiled as indicated above
    1 chopped tomato
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 slices of bacon
    1 chopped jalapeno pepper

    Boil the beans as indicated a bove. Don’t mash them! and don’t discard the boiling water. Set aside. In a large pot put the onion and the bacon and fry it until it’s almost done. Then add the tomato and the jalapeno and keep frying for a few minutes. Finally add the beans with the water. Let it simmer for a few more minutes.

    Enjoy!

  4. Deb

    Elise, I just made refried beans for the first time this weekend and posted about it here:

    http://girottifamily.typepad.com/mountain_musings/2006/02/mexican_potluck.html

    I did discard the soak water, but kept the cooking water and added that back into the beans for some liquid. But it sounds as if you did it exactly the opposite.

    Is it better to add in fresh water? rather than the cooking water? What would be the difference? Seems like cooking water would add more flavor. Thanks.

  5. Rob

    I find that boiling the beans initially for half an hour, discarding that water, then adding fresh water for the remainder of the boiling, greatly cuts down on the ‘gas’ problems that can be associated with beans. This tends to make beans a less ‘musical fruit’.

    Great recipes on this site. Thanks!!

    Rob.

  6. karen

    I’m a Canadian currently living for the next few months in Utrecht, Holland. I’ve met a few other ex-pat English speakers and while lamenting the disgraceful absence of decent Mexican food here, muggins somehow volunteered to host a Tex-Mex afternoon at my house on Saturday, including refried beans. Normally at home in Vancouver, I would pop to the shop and pick up a few cans but here, no chance! So it’s refried from scratch which looks like it is fairly simple except that I can’t find pinto beans anywhere (or tortillas – but let’s not go there!) however, there are plenty of ‘Dutch brown beans.’

    So here, finally, is my question: would dutch brown beans be a suitable sub for pinto beans? or if not, any other suggestions? I’ve looked around on the web but can’t find anything about these brown beans :(

    Great site btw. love it! :)

  7. David Ryan

    Beans are beans, it is in the seasoning, some oil, salt, onions, and a little heat,hot pepper,hot sauce, chili powder. I do mine in a pressure cooker, put beans in cooker bring to a boil with lid on, turn off let sit 1/2 hour, drain, fresh water bring to pressure cook 40 minutes. Drain, add oil, chopped onion, salt and whatever seasoning. Cook gently and mash with a potato masher. Cook, mash season and taste,cook mash season and taste, don’t burn.

    David

  8. karen

    Thanks so much David. I must confess that I usually buy my beans canned rather than cooking them from scratch, but I’ll give the Dutch browns a whirl! and I managed to find some decent tortillas so I won’t have to resort to my plan B of substituting rotis :)

  9. mariel

    I would like to make the yellow-colored rice that is served with these beans at mexican resturants. Are there any good recipes for that?

  10. Lisa

    Yellow colored rice is saffron based from Spain and is not the same as traditional Mexican rice. Mexican rice is the easiest thing in the world to make. The standard ratio is 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid. Start by sautéing a few cloves of minced garlic and a 1/2 minced onion in olive oil until tender and fragrant – set aside. In stock pan, fry the dry rice in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on med high heat until starting to darken. Remove from heat and add cooked onions and garlic. Then add liquid. I typically prefer to use a combination of Chicken stock, water, and tomato paste. You can use water and tomato sauce or paste (remember 1:2 Rice:liquid). Then add seasonings such as a pinch of cumin, sage and coriander. Bring pot to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and time for 20 minutes. RESIST TEMPTATION TO LIFT LID For 20 minutes. If you have added ample liquid and have the burner on low, it will cook perfectly. Enjoy! For a variation, you can add frozen peas and carrots before boiling, or a shredded chicken breast.

  11. Elise

    We have a Spanish Rice recipe here on the site that you might find useful. This is what we usually make to accompany beans and Mexican dishes.

  12. mariel

    Thank you both so much!

  13. Della Arias

    What a wonderful column this is, I have been cooking pinto beans for over 50 years and still am amazed at some of the new ideas that people come up with to make them more enticing, thanks for your ideas. Della from California

  14. Pookie

    Hello Canadian living in Utrecht
    I am a Dutch girl currently living in the USA.
    My American boyfriend was also complaining about no decent Mexican food in Holland.
    I thought refried beans are made out of black beans… I’ve been buying those from a can in Dirk van den Broek, they taste pretty good for canned beans. If that’s not the right thing for you, in Amsterdam there was a Middle Eastern herb market/store in the Kinkerstraat and I found all kinds of beans there too.
    If you were looking for a good Mexican restaurant, give up looking for it, you won’t find it like in USA. We found one in Amsterdam that was ok according to my bf but still nowwhere near as good as here.
    Good luck!

  15. pookie

    ps
    As for the tortilla’s I think you didn’t search well enough. Most supermarkets have them, just the supply can be a little dodgy. Nature food stores definetely have them.
    I’d be surprised if you still haven’t found what you are looking for.
    One more tip: fresh cilantro in the supermarket is very expensive. it comes in small plastic containers. Try a fresh market, vegetable stands or a turkish shop. There are plenty of them and the people working in them are usually very friendly!!!

  16. this guy

    Refritos actually means fried well or cooked well, hence the creamy mash.

    If you are making black bean refritos add a few springs of epazote. The herbiness compliments the richness of black beans and pork fat.

  17. Tom Hurley

    I can attest to the great flavor of the other Spanish Rice Recipe on this site. Having grown up in Southern California I’ve tried a lot of so called authentic variations, the only changes that I add to their basic recipe is 1 chicken boulion cube or in a pinch,the chicken flavor packet from a Ramen package, and one can of Rotel (Canned Tomatos and Green Chilies) either Spicy, Regular or Hot. That and serve with a wedge of lime. This is out of this world paired with the Carne Asada recipe.

  18. Mel

    I’m French and I’m dying for a been and chesse burrito! But I only have cheese and tortillas. I can’t find canned refried beans or pinto beans anywhere (just like you guys from Holland). It seems we only have white navy beans, flageolet beans and red kidney beans here. I guess I could find everything I need in Paris (I’m sure there are American or Mexican grocery stores there), but I live in Brittany and even if we have many Old El Paso or Casa Fiesta products, refried beans are not part of it.
    I hope someone can help me! (by the way, I have a German friend who loves refried beans too, so if anyone can help…)
    Thank you! ^^

    Note from Elise: Hi Mel, we’ve made refried beans with white beans, when we were out of pinto beans. They’re a little mild, but you can spice them up with some chipotle chiles or chili powder.

  19. theMediatrix

    I grew up in Texas, and refried beans were a staple in our house as well. However, we also frequently used a canned product called “Ranch Beans,” which were pinto beans already cooked and spiced.

    Once I got out on my own and became a vegetarian (which I’ve slid off the wagon from recently) I’d recreate ranch-style gravy when I made pinto beans but didn’t feel like mashing and frying.

    I live in San Francisco now, but I still make these when it’s cool out. Here’s the recipe:

    “Stacy’s Ranch-Style Beans:”

    1) Rinse and pick-over two cups of pinto beans
    2) Add to pan and add filtered water to two inches above beans
    3) Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let beans soak for an hour
    4) Discard half the cooking water (to reduce the starch) and add more water to previous fill line
    5) Bring to a boil again, lower heat and simmer for 1.5 – 2.0 hours, checking for skins to start splitting (you don’t want to get them too soft; the goals is to catch them right before they split)
    6) During the final 20 minutes of cooking, mix together the following and add to the water:
    - 1 Tbs chili powder
    - 1 Tbs paprika
    - 1 Tbs McCormick’s seasoning salt (which has no msg)
    - 2 tsp of garlic powder (or a clove of minced fresh garlic)
    - 1 tsp of cumin
    7) As the cooking wraps up, stir in 1 – 2 tsps of cold-water blended corn-starch to thicken the water into a gravy as it cools
    8) Turn off heat, keep sealed, and let sit for 20 minutes

    SERVING SUGGESTION:
    I sometimes cube a few potatoes, toss them in olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet in the oven for about 45 minutes while the beans are underway. If you time it right, the potatoes will be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle just as your beans finish.

    Dump the crispy potatoes into a couple of pasta bowls, and pour the gravy rich beans over the top. Garnish with chopped onions. If you care how it looks, you can add a pinch of cilantro. (I’m usually a green onion fan, but for this dish, a strong white onion tastes best, even it the look is boring.)

    I know it sounds weird, but I usually eat this with a small side of steamed broccoli. When I was a kid, though, we had our ranch-style beans with hamburgers.

  20. Gustav Olafsen

    This is a really cool column. I’ve been reading the threads for a couple hours now and I’ve become very hungry. I tuned in here because I was looking for a refried beans recipe on a search engine, and this is where I landed.

    So I tried the recipe, turned out kinda dry. I threw some olive oil in the rough pureed beans and it helped out some.

    This is the second time I’ve screwed up a refried beans recipe. Gods!! What am I doing wrong?

    If it’s dry, just add some water. ~Elise

  21. Whitney

    Psyched to have found this recipe– how far ahead could the beans be cooked/simmered before they get “refried”? I’m guessing they don’t necessarily have to be cooked completely the same day? Thanks!

  22. RJ Wiese

    If you grew up on *canned beans* like I did, you might like the following recipe which is as close to Rosarita Refried Beans (Brand Name) as I’ve ever seen. Incredibly simple as well.

    1/2 onion, peeled and halved
    1 1/2 cup pinto beans
    1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
    1 T garlic, minced
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    Pinch of cumin
    4 1/2 cup water

    Rinse beans. Dump all in crockpot and cook on High 4 to 6 hours. Strain beans, reserving liquid, and mash to desired consistency (adding liquid as needed).

    Makes 8 servings…

  23. Laura

    I made these tonight and they were delicious! I had already soaked the beans in preparation and they only took just under an hour to cook over the stove (no pressure cooker). I added a little cumin in the frying pan, and then at the end I stirred in a splash of lime juice and a few shakes of habanero hot sauce for a little kick. In my experience, the lime juice brightens up the flavor just enough to offset the potential blandness.

  24. ashley

    Does anyone know if these freeze well if I made a big batch? We do tacos almost weekly, and I love to use beans for my kids a fast, cheap, and healthy lunch. Since we’ll use them so often, I hate to make each batch as needed. Thanks!

    I don’t know about freezing, but we always make a big batch and the leftovers keep for days in the refrigerator. ~Elise

  25. Darlene

    I have made very large batches of refried beans and frozen them in quart sized plastic zipper bags or plastic containers. Works great.

  26. andre p. gordon

    Can you substitute canned beans in place of dry beans that have to be soked, when it would be easier to just use canned beans?

    Yes, you can use canned beans. Dry bean will taste better and in our opinion are worth the effort. But even in a pinch, we use canned beans. They don’t even have to be pinto beans. We’ve made some great refried beans with canned white beans. ~Elise

  27. Helen Brewer

    I love beans. Whenever I cook beans, I always feel rich. It’s because I know I can have tostadas, and burritos, or eggs with chorizo along with beans anytime I want. I don’t care for canned beans. If anyone knows of a brand that doesn’t have that canned taste I would sure appreciate knowing what it is. Also, when I do make a batch of beans I freeze them in plastic bags or containers, much easier than making all of the time.

  28. JD

    For the transplants in Holland, U can’t buy Masa and make your own tortillas? I will admit making them by hand they never come out as pretty as my Grammas, but I bet you could order one of those cheap metal presses from online.

    I always made them for Cinco De Mayo for my HeadStart students w/one. The trick was to make sure each side of the press was covered with plastic before pressing. They come out perfect after a few tries.

  29. kathryn

    Can you ‘mash’ the cooked beans in the food processor?

    You can, but you risk over-puréeing them, and you have yet another thing to clean. Easier just to use a potato masher with the beans in a pan. ~Elise

  30. Marcia

    It is embarassing that I have lived in Tx for 20 years and never made refried beans. These were very good. Used a pastry cutter for mashing.

  31. Donna

    My mom is Irish and my father is Mexican and I grew up on pinto beans be it soup beans and corn bread, or refried beans and rice. What I do is make a big pot of soup beans. We eat it with cornbread. Then I save the leftovers for a few days in the frig and then make refried beans. I drain some soup off them and add spices and smash with a potato masher then simmer for a little. Best of both worlds for us!

  32. Petra

    Hi, everyone. I am Mexican. I grew up in a very small town in Southern California that is less then 2 miles from the border. I’v eaten and cooked beans all my life. It’s a huge part of my diet. Baja style!

    First let me explain. There are many differnt cooking styles (as well as many differnt beans used). It all depends on where you are in Mexico. Also it’s important to understand that homemade beans and the ones you order at the local taco shop are very differnt.

    I don’t use a recipe, but this is when I do. It’s the same as the taco shops do. I know, because I have worked and owned more then a few.

    The taste and color is very dependent on the type of beans itself. Using a half and half mix of pinks and pintos is the common mixure. Now, here is the secret. Milk. Canned milk is best. Second is addiing all the beans to very hot fat (Yes, lard is best, but most people use veggie oil now). Fry as you mash. Remove half and “whip” either with a hand beater or, as I do, in your blender with 1/4-1/2 cup canned milk adding liquid the beans where cooked in, as needed, for a nice creamy smooth consitdency.

    Remix with the other half of beans in pan either add more bean liquid and milk (taste to see), correct seasoning with salt. You can add cheese on top, but that is not what most people do.

    I hope this is understandable. Like I said- it’s not something I use a recipe for. It’s just something I do. It’s very important to taste as you go. That is what guides you.

  33. Carol

    We love Tex-Mex, so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe soon.

    Speaking of using dried beans instead of canned, does anyone know how much dried beans would be the equivalent of a 15oz can of beans? I know it will vary some according to the type and size of bean, but some sort of guideline would be great. I’m going to start cooking dried instead of buying canned, and I’d like to avoid cooking more than I really need. Thanks!

    I’m guessing that about 1 1/4 cups of dried beans will cook into the equivalent of a 15 oz can of beans. ~Elise

  34. ted

    I cook in beef broth in a crock pot overnight and spice the broth with onions, garlic, cayenne peeper and all the good stuff that spices up the broth. Next morning strain the broth off but keep for a great bean soup or whatever you like.Then add fried onions and garlic or whatever you want to spice up the beans to your liking.

  35. ted

    I cook in beef broth in a crock pot overnight and spice the broth with onions, garlic, cayenne pepper and all the good stuff that spices up the broth. Next morning strain the broth off but keep for a great bean soup or whatever you like. Then add fried onions and garlic or whatever you want to spice up the beans to your liking.

  36. Maria K., Surprise, AZ

    Elise!
    Every single recipe that I try, that you have put on your website here, is great! I am so impressed that I am able to come back here again and again when I need a recipe and have not been failed yet. These beans are no exception!
    With our budget sooo tight these days (hubby with no job) I decided to try making even more from scratch (beans are cheap). I don’t know why we haven’t done this before! Thank you so much for the tips and techniques, the homemade refried beans were fantastic. I am so glad that I happened across your website 6 months ago. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Hello Maria, So glad the recipes have (so far) worked out well for you. ~Elise

  37. Jackie

    Accidently found you while looking for pizza sauce recipe. Never even thought about making my own refried beans. DUH. I am from VA and have grown up on pinto beans and cornbread. How can anyone live without them? HA. I have high choleserol and try very hard to watch what I eat. Always buy fat-free refried beans, but question if they really are. I found a recipe I definately will try. I cook a big pot of beans and freeze them for when I want them. My husband doesn’t like them as I do. Now I can make what I need for a recipe I’m using and not waste the rest. I’m bad about putting what’s left in the frig and forgetting it’s there until too late. Thanks for the info.

  38. Irene

    Elise, you are absolutely amazing. I was born in Mexico and was raised in a Southern California town with heavy Mexican influence. Believe me, I know beans. Your recipe is the closest that I’ve found to my own and I absolutely love it.

  39. Annie B

    Thanks for the recipe! I love Mexican food, particularly refried beans. There are beans, however, that I have discovered that are better than pinto beans. They are Peruvian beans (frijoles peruanos)or are sometimes called “mayo coba” or frijoles canarios. They are tan or yellowish before cooking, but have the same color as pinto beans when they are cooked. I used to only be able to find them at Latin markets, but I have started to see them in the grocery stores in my area.

    Anyway, once I discovered them, I have never gone back to pinto beans because of their wonderful flavor. I cook them similar to your stove top directions, except I cook them with 1/2 white onion (just throw in without chopping), 2 whole cloves of garlic, and 1/2 t. salt per cup of beans. After they are softened, I transfer them w/their water to a skillet (to avoid losing any of the flavor) and add a generous bloop of olive oil. I heat them on a medium high heat, smashing them with a potato smasher, until the water has cooked out. I do not discard the cooked onion and garlic–they simply break down and mix into the beans.

    Give it a try…they are wonderful!

  40. LD Debate

    The reason that the soaking water is discarded in some recipes is to rid the beans of raffinose, the sugar molecule that causes bean flatulence. Humans don’t have the proper enzyme to digest raffinose, so the bacteria in the colon digest it with gas being a byproduct.

  41. soyboy

    I concur with all the above on the soaking. You gotta do it, unless you love bean-o.

  42. Stephanie

    My favorite way to make them: fry them in bacon grease, then add a few crunched up chichorones. Wow it is good.

  43. laura

    Excellente recipes, I’m Mexican and this is how I cooked the beans:
    1. Soak the beans overnight, or put the beans to boil (after that let them rest for 30 minutes, or until water gets brown)
    2. Throw the water and wash gently the beans (this remove the sugars and you avoid the gas situation)
    3. Put clean water to your beans, 2 cloves,half onion, a pinch of cumin and cooked until done.
    4. Then add salt and a cube of “chicken broth” (I don’t now how to translate: “concentrado de pollo”)and boil again until gets flavor.
    5. In a pan heat 2-3 spoons of lard (or oil) VERY VERY VERY HOT, until get out smoke. Add the blend beans(blend 2-3 cups, with a litTle liquid) and let them boil again (be careful because this can burn you)
    6. If you don’t blend your beans you can mash them. Also you can fry chorizo, this add extra color to the beans.

  44. JeanC

    I tried this recipe yesterday and YUM! I may never buy canned refrieds again. I used the regular method and then accidentally let them simmer an extra 45 minutes as I’d layed down for a minute and ended up taking a longer nap then I’d planned on. They still were great.

    I am always looking to stretch the budget and these will help lots :)

  45. Hillery

    Perfect starter recipe. Here’s what I did: I think my pans were too small for this recipe, so I just kept it in the pot I was cooking it in. Added about a half bulb of minced garlic into the onion and sauteed it before adding it to the beans. Then I added salt until it was delicious. Used an immersion blender to give the whole pot a once over. Turned out fine for me…

  46. Vivi

    Hi all, I really want to try to make this with lard (the taste is really lacking for me when I tried with oil), but I can only get lard in good sized chunks (100g+). Will lard last a long time in the fridge and/or can it be frozen?

    Lard will last a long time in the fridge and it can be frozen. ~Elise

  47. Memoria

    These beans are so good. I have made them three or four times now. If the pictures turn out well, I plan to blog about them soon. YUM! Thanks for a great recipe. :)

  48. David

    I used to work at a Mexican restaurant and our refried beans recipe was very simple and easily varied (this recipe is reduced from the the 20 gallons of cooked beans I normally did daily at the restaurant – I’m also substituting canned beans for dry as it is quicker):

    2 cans unseasoned beans (any kind you like)
    1 clove garlic
    salt & pepper to taste
    Potato masher

    Empty the cans into a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the beans get soft and most of the water is cooked off – usually around 10 to 15 minutes. (I usually do this at the same time I’m preparing the other ingredients for my meal). Add the clove of garlic, and the salt & pepper. Mash.

    Often when I’m cooking for myself, I throw in some onion while cooking the beans, and some peppers towards the end of cooking. I also like to use as a flavoring chicken or beef stock, and a bit of the meat (though sometimes I just use stock made from bouillon). I do this instead of using pork lard because I prefer the flavor (though I like the pork flavor in my baked beans, or in whole beans I cook for a side dish – just not my refried for some reason).

  49. Terry R.

    Here’s an old New England trick to ‘degassify’ the beans. We use this method when making baked beans, but it works for refritos as well.
    -Soak the dried beans overnight
    -Drain and discard soaking liquid.
    -Cover beans with cold water and bring to a boil, boil for 10-15 minutes.
    -With a slotted spoon, remove a few beans and blow on them. If the skins wrinkle when blown on, the initial cooking is complete.
    -Take the pot off the stove and place in the kitchen sink. Do not drain, but add about 1/2 cup baking soda to pot. It will foam up pretty impressively.
    -When foaming stops, put beans in colander and rinse well.
    -Return to pot and cover with water, and continue to cook.
    (At this point, for baked beans, we put them in the bean pot with the baking syrup and bake for at least 6 hours.)

  50. Ana Sarca

    Thank you for the recipe. I’ve really been in a burrito-eating phase the last month or so and I have bags of pinto beans I need to use up, so I thought I’d see if this was something I could make m’self.

    I’ve also found bags of “13 bean soup” which isn’t really soup, just beans. You have to flavor it. Ham, onions, and ham soup base is perfect. I’m going to try the soup base with the refried beans in my pressure cooker.

    Thanks again. This looks easy enough for even me to do! I’ll use a huge cast iron skillet to finish them.

  51. Jaimee

    Thank you for the recipe have been living in new zealand for 5 yrs and basically no mexican food…very thankful

  52. Erica

    I am excited to make these. We are going to do something different and have a Mexican Christmas Eve dinner…Could I make these beans ahead of time? Any make-ahead tips? Thank you! I love this site!

    You can easily make these beans ahead. Just reheat (either on the stovetop with a little water added in) or in a microwave, before serving. ~Elise

  53. Pat Mayhew

    Hi Elise,
    These beans are great! I have a friend from El Salvador who shared her tips with me. In El Salvador she said they prefer to use small dry red beans! She cooked them initially like yours, but fries the beans with added oil( lard) until they form a very firm consistency. They are quite stiff and can be pressed or molded into a brick shape when done. To reheat just add water or broth to taste. No more soupy runny goop running all over the plate!

  54. jamie

    Has anyone ever frozen these and then reheated them? I wonder if they retain the flavor and consistency. I’m wanting to make frozen burritos for a quick meal- anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!

  55. keri marion

    Thanks for the recipe. I tried it tonight with black beans – they were AMAZING! instead of oil, I used about 1/2tbs butter. I seasoned with a pinch of cumin seed, a couple pinches of red pepper flakes, Hungarian paprika and a light pinch of salt.

    Yum!

  56. Wendy

    Pat, if you want to freeze it’ll totally work, just remember to simmer out some of the liquid (or add extra beans) for a stiffer paste. It also makes rolling the burritos much easier.

  57. Celia Márquez

    I always burned my beans on the stove top, but not anymore I use the crock pot and now I never have the burned bean smell in my house. I just use beans, salt and water. I drain the excess water so the cover the top of the beans and then mash them up. Very healthy no oil at all.

  58. kim

    I was wondering if you could subsitute the lard from the bacon with canned milk. I was wondering if you had that recipe my grandma makes her beans and then somewhere in the mix when she has them in the skillet mashing them she throws some chunks of cheese and I believe she told me canned milk. She said it makes them more creamy and thick I have eaten a lot of beans. I mean a lot, and nothing compares to the way she makes her beans so I thought I’d ask if y’all had a recipe for refried bean with the carnation canned milk.

    I don’t have a recipe for beans that includes canned milk, but why don’t you try adding some and see how you like it? My mother often adds chunks of cheddar cheese to the beans by the way, tastes great. ~Elise

  59. Michael

    Are red kidney beans a no-no for refried beans? I’m making a huge batch for red beans and rice, and I think I’m going to try some in this recipe.

    Mexican refried beans are usually made with pinto beans, or black beans. But if all you have are red beans, you can certainly try the recipe with them. I’m betting they would be just fine. ~Elise

  60. Amy

    Thanks for the recipe! These are great. So easy to make and probably healthier for my family than the canned and preserved kind. I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned refried beans again! :)

  61. Stephanie

    I need to serve these refried beans to 125 people. Does anyone have any idea of how many pinto beans I would need to do this?

    Greatly Appreciated! :)

  62. Paula

    I love your recipes! One question… are the beans supposed to still have a bit of a firmness to them or be really soft like canned? I’ve made this twice now and both times ended up with some still with a firmer texture to them. The second time I cooked them a full hour after they were splitting and still the same result. Any thoughts or suggestions would be great! :D

    Depending on 1) how old the beans are, 2) what time of year it is, 3) the type of water you are using, and 4) where the beans were grown, they could take longer or slower to cook. Sometimes they will be firmer. Sometimes if you get really fresh beans or young beans, they will be softer. ~Elise

  63. Yomero

    I like “Flor de Mayo”-(May Flower) and “Peruvian” Beans to make Re fried beans :3 just like mom used to make them. Onion, Epazote and “Oaxaca” cheese on a Flour tortilla, or in a “Blue”soft corn Tortilla. add Fresh cheese, a bowl of fresh made Guacamole, Chicharrón (Pork Rinds) and Avocado

    1 tortilla, spread some Beans, put a slice of Avocado, some Chicharrón, 1 or 2 spoons of Guacamole, sprinkle the grinded Fresh cheese on top… and Omg is the Best Taco you can have you can use “pico de gallo” instead of guacamole and make some “Taco Placero” x)

  64. Greg Higdon

    Frijoles using Canned Pintos
    Time – 15 minutes start to finish.
    Serves – 2 to 3.

    Ingredients:

    1 – 16 oz Can of Bush’s Pinto Beans (Frijoles Pintos) preferred, any brand should work…
    2 TBSP – Jalapeno
    2 TBSP – finely diced onion
    ½ TSP – Minced Garlic
    1 TSP – Salt
    1 TSP – Pepper
    1 Cup – Milk or Half & Half (Half & Half will make creamer/lighter Frijoles)
    2 TBSP – Oil (Vegetable, Peanut, or Olive) or Lard (prefer peanut oil)
    Optional – substitute 1 TBSP of above oil/lard with 1 TBSP – Of skimmed bacon drippings (really gives the beans a great flavor).
    Optional – ¼ Cup of favorite hot sauce (like taco bell hot sauce in the bottle)

    Materials:

    Medium sauce pan w/lid
    Frying Pan, (recommend a deep sided pan you can use a masher & hand mixer in, avoid the non-stick coated pan).

    Prep:

    Finely dice about ½ a jalapeno pepper and 2 or 3 – ¼ inch slices of an onion. This should be about 2 TBSP each.

    1. Open can, drain and rinse beans.
    2. Add beans to a sauce pan and enough water to cover the beans.
    3. Bring beans to a boil, then add ¼ TSP of salt, ¼ TSP of minced garlic and ¼ TSP of jalapenos.
    4. Cover and reduce to medium-low heat, just enough to keep beans boiling with the cover on.
    5. Allow beans to boil for 10 minutes.
    6. When beans are almost done (couple of minutes left) add the oil/lard to the skillet and start heating the oil on medium heat.
    7. When beans are done, rinse and drain beans thoroughly with warm water several times.
    8. Raise the skillet heat to medium-high, and add beans before the oil is too hot, this should avoid too much grease popping.
    9. Add remaining onion, jalapeno, garlic and salt/pepper to the beans in the skillet.
    10. Thoroughly mashing the beans with a potato masher for about 2 minutes.
    11. Add milk or half & half and hot sauce, then using a hand blender or hand whip, whip the beans until the desired consistency is achieved, about 3 minutes.
    12. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and it’s ready.

  65. Cristine

    WoW Amasing! Never had this before and decided to try it out. In my country beans are hardly ever used in cookig. Partly, i think, because in my country the authorities that controle food-quality and safety, recomends a minimum of 10 hour soak and all water must be discarded because of “lectin” poisoning risk. I had bought a bag of pintobeans because i fell in love with how they look, and then googled for recipes. I have previously looked at this site and decided to try your refried beans out with a few extra spices.
    I started out badly by overcooking my beans. Usualy i soak them over night but decided to try out your “straight to the boil” method.
    I was a bit sceptical as to the texture, but from the second the beans landed on the pan all my hesitations dissapered and my mouth started to water. It tasted wonderfull. What do you normaly have with the beans/ or have the beans with- besides tostadas or buritos?
    Thank you for sharing your recipes.
    (sorry for spelling mistakes english is not my language.)

    We usually have refried beans as a side dish to steak. Love to serve it with a tomato salsa. ~Elise

  66. Janet

    I’ve always bought refried beans in a can. I didn’t realize how easy it was to make them at home. I recently made tacos and I served them with the refried beans I bought but now… home made for me. I’m looking forward to our next southern themed meal.

  67. Raluca

    Do you think the beans can be cooked in a slow cooker?

    Yes, but I haven’t done it that way yet so don’t know what to tell you about cooking times. If you experiment and come up with something that works for you, please let us know in the comments. ~Elise

  68. Allie

    I do canned refrieds when I’m just cooking for hubby and me – nearly impossible to make a really small batch of fresh frijoles.

    Those folks I know who haven’t been raised on this stuff like lots of here have been think this is rocket science. Nope! A bag of dried pintos, some bacon, and an onion, put to boil/simmer until done; drain (reserve boiling liquid). Puree with immersion blender, onions and all. My grandmother (born/raised in Nogales at the end of the 1900s) taught my MN-born mother to add cheese, usually cheddar, to it, and mix it in. I wait to salt because of the saltiness of the cheese. Adjust thickness with reserved liquid if desired.

    I don’t even pan fry it in lard, although my mother did; it just adds a dimension of flavor. I find it saves time to not do it and it tastes fine.

    The greatest compliment I ever got was “these taste like my grandmother’s!” :)

  69. Fran

    Oh my, oh my … these comments are priceless. I’m going to print recipe and comments out to keep. I was looking for a recipe because I forgot to buy a can of refried beans to go with my burritos for lunch and wanted to see if I could improvise with what I had at home – unfortunately only a can of big white beans. I did cut corners a lot this time but next time I’m going to do it right! And to think I pay a fortune for a can of refried beans here in Munich compared to buying some dried beans and doing it myself. Thanks Elise for sharing all your recipes.

  70. Lance

    I live at high elevation, and since moving here, I’ve had a hard time cooking pintos to the nice creamy doneness they need, even if I leave them in the crock pot all day. They just wouldn’t get soft.

    However, the pressure cooker saved the day. Makes great, soft beans, and works in just a few hours, even with old beans. It seems to be required for cooking beans in the mountains.

  71. Kristen

    I love refried black beans.

  72. Liz

    To the person who wondered if kidney beans would work in this recipe: my mother lived in Mexico for a while in the early forties and learned how to cook many dishes, refried beans among them. Flash forward twenty years in the wilds of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, where the only beans to be had were canned kidneys. I can only say the refried beans she made were killer! Lovely with the delicious enchiladas she perforce made with canned tortillas(!). Always my choice for birthday dinner.

    So my advice? Go for it!

  73. Repenthea

    To the people/person looking for pinto beans in France – I found decently priced ones in the international aisle at LeClerc in the Portugal section. Forget the Mexican section, all they carry is terrible salsa and ridiculously priced tortillas.

    I’m in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in a very small town, so if we have pinto beans (and a Portuguese section – quoi?) I’m sure they can be found just about anywhere!

  74. Shelly

    Crock Pot: I make “refried” beans in the crock pot all the time. Here are the proportions and methods I use:

    5 cups pinto beans, picked over, rinsed, and drained
    1 quart roasted green chiles, seeded, stems removed, and chopped (I buy these in the summer at the Farmer’s Market and freeze them). Alternatively, 2 cans of diced green chiles work
    2 onions, roughly chopped
    2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    3 tsp salt (or to taste)

    Cover beans with water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cover pot and let beans soak 8 hours, or overnight.

    Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the crock pot with all other ingredients. Add water about 2/3 of the way up the beans. Cook for 10-12 hours on low. Many times I soak the beans all day, then cook overnight. Otherwise, I would need to wake up too early to have them done by dinner time. This makes a huge batch, and I frequently freeze them in 1 quart containers. Given enough thaw time-it works just great.

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