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Skillet filled with refried beans, topped with cilantro and lime wedges.
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4.96 from 134 votes

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.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 45 mins
Total Time1 hr 46 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex
Servings: 6
Calories: 90kcal
Author: Serene


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


  • 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.



  • 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.


    Serving: 1 | Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 5g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Fiber: 3g