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Easy Homemade Refried Beans

These Easy Homemade Refried Beans are quick to make thanks to canned pinto beans. They’re creamy, full of flavor and perfect for any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal!

In just 20 minutes, you can cook up a batch of delicious refried beans that are even better than store-bought versions. Serve them as a nutritious side dish or use them to make dips, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, taquitos, Mexican pizza, and more!

Think you don’t like refried beans? Try this homemade version and think again!

I say this from experience. For way too long, I avoided refried beans. If they came on my plate at a Mexican restaurant, I carefully ate around them.

It’s such a shame because I never even bothered to try them. I mean, let’s face it, refried beans aren’t the prettiest food you’ll ever see.

But I did finally try them, and I’m so glad I did (they’re really yummy despite their looks)!

So I tried using canned refried beans at home. They were okay, but I just didn’t love them…which meant the next obvious step was making them myself.

Originally, I thought it might be time-consuming (most recipes called for cooking the beans from scratch). Instead, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that, by using canned pinto beans, they’re super quick and easy to make and taste awesome!

To me, it seems a bit unnecessary to go through the whole process of soaking and cooking dry beans specifically for this recipe when you’re only going to mash them up anyway. Of course, if you already have homemade cooked beans on hand, by all means, use them.

I’ve made these with both homemade beans and with canned beans, and there was really no discernable difference in the taste or texture of the final result. So canned beans, it is!

And although these might not be 100% authentic refried beans, they’re absolutely delicious and a must-try if you love beans and/or making Mexican food!

Why Are They Called Refried Beans?

The funny thing about refried beans is that name is a little misleading. It sounds like they are beans that have been fried twice, but they’re actually not fried twice.

In Spanish, the name of this dish is frijoles refritos. Frijoles are beans, and refritos means “well-fried”. So what we’re really making is well-fried beans!

refried beans in a skillet with a serving spoon and a white kitchen towel and some cilantro sprigs on the side

Ingredients You Need

  • Avocado oil (or a light-tasting olive oil meant for frying)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Canned pinto beans
  • Vegetable broth or stock (I use a roasted vegetable base mixed with water)
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Chili powder
  • Salt

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the end of the post.

For those of you who would rather pictures instead of a video, here’s a quick look at the steps:

  1. In a large skillet, sauté the onions in avocado oil until softened and just starting to turn golden brown in spots.
  2. Add the garlic; continue cooking, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  3. Add the beans, vegetable broth or stock, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and salt; stir to combine.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  5. Mash the beans to your desired texture (smooth, semi-chunky or chunky), adding more vegetable broth or water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency (loose, semi-loose or firm). Taste and add more salt, if needed.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy (toppings are optional)!
3 numbered images, number 1 is of onions being sautéed in a skillet, number 2 is of a spoonful of garlic being added to the skillet, and number 3 is of the beans and herbs added to the skillet and then being stirred together with a wooden spoon
3 numbered images, number 4 is of the beans simmering in the skillet, number 5 is of the beans being mashed in the skillet and water being added, and number 6 is of a bowl of the finished refried beans topped with crumbled cheese and cilantro

Note: The above video and photos are just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Finely dice the onions and sauté until they are softened so there are no big or crunchy chunks. They should sort of disappear into the mashed beans.
  • One of the benefits of making homemade refried beans is that you can make them exactly how you want. Smooth, semi-chunky, chunky, loose, semi-loose or firm…the texture and consistency is up to you. I like mine semi-chunky and closer to firm.
  • Keep in mind that the bean mixture will firm up as it cools down.
  • A handheld potato masher is really all you need to mash up the beans, but if you want them super smooth, you can use an immersion blender or a food processor.
  • Correctly seasoning the refried beans with salt is important and will make the difference between just-okay beans and really delicious beans. Taste them and add more salt if needed.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Lard is traditionally used instead of oil to make refried beans. I don’t use it because it’s not something I use often enough to keep on hand. If you have some, give it a try.
  • Finely diced bell peppers or jalapenos can be added with the onions.
  • Instead of vegetable stock, you could use chicken broth, water or even the liquid from the cans of beans.
  • Black beans also make excellent refried beans (they might be a little less creamy and little less smooth than pinto beans).
  • If you want to cook dry beans from scratch, you certainly can (check out my recipes for Instant Pot Pinto Beans and Instant Pot Black Beans, or just cook them on the stove). You’ll need 3½ cups of cooked beans for this recipe.
  • Substitute taco seasoning for the chili powder, cumin and coriander.
  • Want ’em spicy? Add some cayenne pepper.
  • Add a splash or two of fresh lime juice at the very end to brighten up the flavors.
a spoonful of homemade refried beans being lifted out of the pan

Make Ahead, Storing Leftovers, Freezing and Reheating

Make Ahead

These refried beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days, which means you can absolutely make them ahead of time.

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover cooled refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Freezing

Allow the beans to cool completely, place in a freezer bag or bags, remove as much air as possible to help prevent freezer burn, and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheating

Reheat refried beans gently in a pot on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a little broth or water, if needed.

You can also reheat them in the microwave.

refried beans in a white bowl with a spoon in front and small bowls of cilantro and queso fresco in the background

If serving these refried beans as a side dish, you can plate them up as is or top them with crumbled queso fresco and/or chopped fresh cilantro…so good!

One of my most favorite things to make with refried beans is Huevos Rancheros (it’s awesome for breakfast and brunch, but you could also have it for lunch or dinner). That recipe is coming up next, so stay tuned.

I hope you try this Easy Homemade Refried Beans recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Mexican Recipes to Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

homemade refried beans topped with queso fresco and cilantro in a white bowl

Easy Homemade Refried Beans

These Easy Homemade Refried Beans are quick to make thanks to canned pinto beans. They're creamy, full of flavor and perfect for any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal!
Print Recipe Rate/Comment Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 (about ½ cup each; recipe makes about 3 to 3½ cups total)
Calories: 326
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or light-tasting olive oil suitable for frying
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or stock, plus extra, if needed, to thin out the beans
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large skillet (I use an 11-inch skillet), sauté the onions in the avocado oil over medium heat until softened and just starting to turn golden brown in spots, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic; cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the beans, vegetable broth or stock, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and some salt (I use about ½ teaspoon here and then add more later if needed); stir to combine.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
    Reduce the heat, if needed. If the skillet seems too hot, I turn down the heat to medium-low.
  • Using a handheld potato masher, mash the beans to your desired texture (smooth, semi-chunky or chunky; I leave it semi-chunky).
  • Stir in additional broth (or water), as needed, to reach the desired consistency (loose, semi-loose or firm; I do somewhere between semi-loose and firm).
    Keep in mind that the beans will firm up some once they are removed from the heat and start to cool down.
  • Taste and add more salt, if needed.
    Correctly seasoning the refried beans with salt is important and will make the difference between just-okay beans and really delicious beans.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • If serving as a side dish, these refried beans are excellent topped with crumbled queso fresco and chopped fresh cilantro. 
  • A handheld potato masher is really all you need to mash up the beans, but if you want them super smooth, you can use an immersion blender or a food processor.
  • Store leftover cooled refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Mention @nowcookthis or tag #nowcookthisrecipes!
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