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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:

Authentic Refried Beans

4.97 from 226 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 46 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Serene
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.
Skillet filled with refried beans, topped with cilantro and lime wedges.

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

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Like this? Leave a comment below!

    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 SaveSave


    Welcome to my kitchen!

    Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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    133 Comments

    1. Recipe seems to be a decent starters, but in case of canned beans I can’t  really understand why would you condemn them to use garlic and onion powders, begone, I’d use finely chopped fresh ones.
      Also, broth is not really necessary.
      You’d be surprised of what a pinch of achiote can do in this, as well as a mix of Chile de árbol, pasilla and malagueta instead of jalapeño, will bring out really good flavors without disturbing the beans’ taste.

    2. Love this recipe! Searching for an easy and delicious refired beans recipe and stumbled on this. Some changes I made; whole onion, extra garlic, chicken stock instead of water, sea salt, bacon.

      Soaked beans for 24 hours. Made recipe with ingredient changes. Cooked 5 pieces of bacon. Crumbled this and mixed into mashed beans. Cooked beans in bacon fat. Very delicious.

    3. This not authentic refried beans. Coming from a Mexican household, refried beans are never made with oil. They are made with lard or bacon fat.  

      1. Hi Benito, this is the way I was taught to make beans from Gramma Herrera, who learned from her mother and so on. I personally prefer to use oil because I always have it on hand and it’s lighter. If you have lard and bacon fat on hand by all means please use that if it’s what you prefer. The main point of the recipe is to give people an idea and a base recipe on how to cook refried beans from scratch. If you would prefer different seasonings or a different fat to cook them in, that’s an easy switch to make. Happy cooking.

    4. This is a great base recipe but I did make some changes that I thought were needed.
      I used the whole onion, used more garlic (and I plan on using even more next time), replaced the water with homemade chicken broth, and added cheese and pepper before serving.
      This was my first time ever making refried beans and they turned out so good that I have added my amended version of this recipe to my regular rotation of side dishes, much to my fiancés’ delight.

      It should be noted that both myself and my fiancé don’t normally like beans at all, but we both loved this!

      1. I almost forgot, I also cut up some bacon and fried that up in the pan before frying the beans. This was enough to get the right amount of bacon fat and add some bacon bits of deliciousness in the mix. 😁

    5. Thank you for not automatically putting cumin in your recipe.  That spice that smells like stinky armpits is not authentic to Mexican food but more Tex mex from East Indian cuisine.  It seems that most  chefs or cooking shows think that ALL Mexican food was seasoned with cumin so… everything tastes like canned Chile beans😳

    6. I am in France and can’t find pinto beans. Is there a substitute that would be just as good?  

      1. You might try Borlotti beans. Very similar to Pinto beans. Cirio in Italy sell them canned. I’ve made refried beans from them, and they’re not that different from refries from Pintos.

    7. While this is an easy recipe, it needs more salt than just 1 teaspoon.  Plus it also needs more than 2 T of bacon grease if you want any flavor. 

    8. My family LOVED these! I used an immersion blender to get the beans smoother – especially because my beans were a bit hard even after cooking longer than the recipe stated (maybe old). I will definitely make this recipe again!!

    9. Having changed my lifestyle due to a heart condition, I’ve immersed myself into a healthier lifestyle. But, I still like to eat so look for recipes that are low sodium and easy to make. Although you don’t list sodium content, we can see that is minimal. This is a great recipe that we can also adapt with other beans if one doesn’t like pintos (but they are my favorite)
      Thanks for the excellent recipes and instruction.