These simple Refried Beans are thick, creamy and powerfully flavorful with just a handful of ingredients.  You will never want to eat the canned version again!  This recipe has been passed through the Herrera family for generations and are guaranteed to become your new favorite recipe.

I love serving these refried beans alongside some homemade Mexican rice with our meals. Or using these in some Wet Burritos. Or even in some tacos with the best taco meat.

Skillet filled with refried beans, topped with cilantro and lime wedges.

Details of these Refried Beans:

  • Simplicity: this is such a simple recipe, only a handful of ingredients are needed. Pinto Beans are flavored with onion, garlic and salt. Plus you can skip the frying step and still enjoy flavorful refried beans.
  • Family Recipe: this is a recipe that has been made in the Herrera family for several generations. Perfected in it’s simplicity. One of the most common experiences is walking into Gramma’s home and seeing a large cast iron pan of refried beans simmering away on the stovetop.
  • Customizable: thanks to how simple this recipe is, it’s easy to adjust and make your own. If you want a bit of heat add a dash of cayenne. Add more garlic, or more salt. Maybe you want a dash of cumin. But with this base recipe you can make it your own.
  • Healthy Side dish: beans are full of fiber and are a great option for serving alongside all your favorite Tex Mex meals.

Ingredients:

Ingredients needed to make homemade refried beans laid out on the counter.

Notes on Some Ingredients:

  • Pinto Beans: this recipe calls for dried pintos and walks through how to soak and prepare them. You can skip that step and use canned if needed, just make sure to grab cans that have No Salt.
  • Oil: this is used for frying in the last step, use a mild tasting oil since it will give flavor to the beans. Some common choices include: lard, corn or canola oil, vegetable oil, or leftover bacon grease (which has a strong flavor, but can be a tasty and fun option.)

How to make (step by step):

Step by step, how to make authentic refried beans. Showing soaking the beans and adding the ingredients to a large pot.
  • Step 1: Soak the pinto beans, it’s easiest to soak them overnight. If you did not soak them, you can still make this recipe by increasing the water and cooking time.
  • Step 2: Cook the pinto beans covered, then uncovered for an hour until they are completely softened.
  • Step 3: Heat oil in a large skillet and fry them while mashing up. Spoon in the leftover broth as needed to reach desired consistency.
Spoon scooping up thick and creamy refried beans topped with cilantro and lime wedges.

F.A.Q’s:

What oil can I fry the beans in?

Pick what works for you, just keep in mind that what you use will flavor the beans, so keep it mild. For this reason, olive oil is not recommended. Some options include: lard, corn or canola oil, vegetable oil, leftover bacon grease.

Do I have to fry the beans?

No! You can skip this step. Simply spoon into a large bowl and mash. They don’t need to be fried.

Can I use canned beans?

Yes. Drain and rinse the beans, and continue with the recipe from step 5. To flavor use seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, and salt). Pour in chicken or vegetable broth as needed to reach desired consistency.

Spoon scooping up refried beans in a skillet.

Expert Tips:

  • Soaking: Soaking can save some time when it comes to cooking though. So if you soak them overnight, then you don’t need to cook them as long. If you decide the day of that you want to make this recipe, still go for it. Just know that cooking time will be increased.
  • Hot Water: Very important to this recipe. If you are cooking your beans hotter, then you may find that your water is evaporating too quickly. At this point you can add some more water, just make sure it’s hot water so that the cooking process isn’t stopped or slowed by adding cold water. 
  • To mash or not to mash: If you do mash them, use a potato masher and really it’s up to you how much you mash them.  Do you want them lumpy?  No lumps?  Not mashed at all? It’s completely up to you. You could even add them to a blender or processor to make them completely smooth.
  • Bean Broth: this is what the water turns into as you cook. It makes broth. This is what you will spoon into the beans while mashing to get the consistency you want. If you want a thicker consistency, then use less water. If you want a thinner consistency, then you will use more broth.
  • Save the leftover broth and use it to stir into your leftovers. As they sit in the refrigerator and chill, they will thicken. Using the broth when you reheat will ensure that you don’t lose any flavor when thinning them back out.

What to serve them with:

Skillet filled with refried beans, topped with cilantro and lime wedges.

Authentic Refried Beans

These Authentic Refried Beans are so simple, only a handful of ingredients are needed. These are the perfect side dish to any Mexican or Tex Mex meal.
4.96 from 84 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pinto beans, dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ onion, quartered
  • 6 cups water
  • 1   teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard, or oil

Instructions

  • Prepare: Sort through the beans to ensure that they are good and no rocks are mixed in.
  • Soak: Rinse with water in a stainer to clean. Or if soaking the beans, place in a medium size mixing bowl and cover completely with water. Let sit overnight. Strain the beans the next day after soaking.
  • Cover: Add the beans smashed garlic and onion to a large pot or pan. Pour the water in. Beans should be fully submerged in water.
  • Cook: Bring to a boil, stir in the salt, then turn the heat to low and continue to simmer covered. Allow to cook for about 30 minutes, remove lid, stir, and continue to cook an additional 30-60 minutes until the beans are softened and easily mashed. 
  • Fry: Once the beans are soft, heat lard or oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, carefully ladle the beans, garlic and some of the bean broth into the skillet. Allow the beans to "fry" in the oil while mashing. Add more bean broth as needed to get desired consistency to the beans.

Video

Notes

  • Pinto Beans: this recipe calls for dried beans and walks through how to soak and prepare them. You can skip that step and use canned beans if needed, just make sure to grab cans that have No Salt.
  • Soaking Beans: Soaking the beans can save some time when it comes to cooking though. So if you soak them overnight, then you don’t need to cook them as long. If starting with dried beans, increase cooking time to 2 -2.5 hours.
  • Beans not softening: If the beans are old, they will take longer to cook and might not become soft enough to mash. 
  • Hot Water: Very important to this recipe. If you are cooking your beans hotter, then you may find that your water is evaporating too quickly. At this point you can add some more water, just make sure it’s hot water so that the cooking process isn’t stopped or slowed by adding cold water. 
  • Oil: this is used for frying the beans in the last step, use a mild tasting oil since it will give flavor to the beans. Some common choices include: lard, corn or canola oil, vegetable oil, or leftover bacon grease (which has a strong flavor, but can be a tasty and fun option.)
  • To mash or not to mash: If you do mash them, use a potato masher and mash to desired consistency. You could also use a blender for a completely smooth texture.
  • Consistency: save the bean broth from cooking the beans and spoon into the beans while mashing to get the consistency you want. If you want a thicker refried bean, then use less water. If you want thinner beans, then you will use more broth.
  • Save the leftover bean broth and use it to stir into your leftover beans. As they sit in the refrigerator and chill, they will thicken. Using the broth when you reheat the beans will ensure that you don’t lose any flavor when thinning them back out.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1, Calories: 90kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 5g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Fiber: 3g
    Did you make this recipe?Tag @HouseofYumm on Instagram and hashtag #houseofyumm!

    The recipe for Homemade Refried Beans was originally published on January 29, 2016. This recipe has been updated from it’s original to include new images July. 16, 2021.

    Original instructions did not include any frying of the beans. Again, this is a step that can be left out if desired.

    Photography done by the talented @KJandCompany.co