Here’s one of my most favorite recipes from Mexican cuisine, Refried Beans. This homemade recipe really gives you a delicious, creamy batch of this iconic dish. This Refried Beans Recipe is also vegan as well as gluten free. Have it in a Taco, Quesadilla, Tortillas or just plain as it is, it will taste delicious any way you serve it. In fact, you can have it as a combination with tacos, Guacamole, Tomato Salsa and sour cream and make it into a scrumptious meal. I’m sure once you try this recipe, you will forget the ones available in restaurants.
What is Refried Beans
Refried Beans, also known as ‘frijoles refritos’ in Spanish language, literally translates to ‘well fried beans’ in English language. It is a well-known staple dish in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines as well as cuisines of other Latin American countries.
‘Refritos’ means ‘well fried,’ and not ‘fried again.’ Since the word ‘re’ is also used in English, the name of this iconic dish can be misleading as many would take it to be a dish where the beans are fried again.
The Refried Beans Recipe may have minor variations in different cuisines, but the essence of each is the same. It is essentially made with beans like kidney beans, pinto beans or even black beans.
A classic Refried Beans either gets served as a part of a main course or is stuffed in a tortilla or taco. It can also be consumed as a dip with nachos.
In this Refried Beans Recipe of mine, the beans are not fried. They are cooked and then mashed. So, this is an overall healthy dish. It’s always better to cook beans in a pressure cooker as it saves times. So, you can use a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot to cook the beans.
Also, the maximum time that goes to prepare the Refried Beans is in the soaking of the kidney beans for a good 8 to 9 hours or overnight. Other than that, the recipe is quite simple and easy to cook.
Other ingredients that go in this dish are onion, garlic, pepper powder, oregano, paprika or cayenne pepper (red chili powder can also be used), cumin powder and fresh coriander (cilantro). For the most authentic flavor and feel, it is best to cook this dish in olive oil for a vegetarian variation.
About My Homemade Recipe
This Refried Beans Recipe is very easy. I make it with kidney beans. Traditionally, lard (pig fat) is used to sauté the garlic and onions. However, to make it vegetarian, one can easily use olive oil, butter or even sunflower oil.
While cooking the beans, it is always better to soak the raw beans in water overnight. Rinse them well and then cook them.
This way the phytic acid is reduced in the beans, also making them easier to digest. Reduction of phytic acid also aids in the digestion of some minerals from the beans.
I make a medium portion of Refried Beans to go as a stuffing when I make other Mexican classics like Taco, Burrito or Chimichanga. But the recipe can easily be halved or doubled. The spices and herbs can also be adjusted as per your taste buds.
In this dish, you can even have a chunky texture or make a smooth mashed creamy version. So, this simple dish is very much adaptable and forgiving too.
How to make Refried Beans
Cook Kidney Beans
1. Rinse ½ cup kidney beans a couple of times with water and then soak them in enough water overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.
In India, kidney beans are called rajma. You can even use pinto beans or black beans, instead of kidney beans.
2. Then, next day discard the water. Rinse the kidney beans very well in running water. Then, add them in a 2-liter stovetop pressure cooker. Also, add ¼ teaspoon salt.
3. Add 2 cups water.
For cooking beans in an Instant Pot, add the rinsed and soaked beans together with 2 cups water to a 6 quart IP.
4. On medium heat, pressure cook for 15 to 18 minutes. Fresh beans will cook faster. If the beans are old, they will take a lot of time to cook. Keep this in mind while cooking beans.
For Instant Pot, seal with its lid and position the valve to sealing. Pressure cook on high mode for 20 minutes.
5. When the pressure falls down naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid and check the beans.
They should be completely cooked and mash easily when you press them. Drain all the water from the beans and set them aside.
For Instant Pot, after the pressure cooking is complete and after the beep sound is heard, wait for natural pressure release (NPR) – about 15 to 20 minutes. But in case if any steam is there, lift the valve and do a quick pressure release (QPR).
6. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan. You can also use butter or any other oil like sunflower oil, instead of olive oil.
Keep heat to a low and add ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic. You can even add more garlic, if you want.
7. Fry the garlic for some seconds or till its raw aroma goes away. No need to brown it.
8. Then, add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium finely chopped onion.
9. Mix well and stirring often, sauté onions on medium-low heat.
10. Sauté onions till they soften and become translucent.
Make Refried Beans
11. Then, add the cooked kidney beans.
12. Add ½ to ⅔ cup water or as required. You can also add vegetable stock, instead of water.
13. Season with salt as per taste and mix well.
14. On medium-low heat, let the kidney beans mixture come to a boil.
15. When the mixture comes to a boil, then mash the beans with a vegetable masher. You can even stop cooking here and let the beans cool down a bit. Then, blend everything to a smooth puree with an electric blender.
We prefer some chunkiness in the beans, so I have not mashed all the beans. But do mash well, as this gives a creamy consistency in the refried beans.
16. Then, add ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder, ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or cayenne pepper) and 1 teaspoon cumin powder.
You can add cayenne pepper or red chilli powder depending on the heat you want in the dish.
Add spices and herbs as per your requirements. You can always add more or less of each spice and herb.
Cook Refried Beans
17. Mix very well.
18. On low to medium-low heat, continue to stir and simmer the beans for 5 to 6 minutes or till it thickens.
You can make Refried Beans thick or with a slightly liquid and flowing consistency. Add more water for a slight liquid consistency or if the beans look dry.
19. When the Refried Beans have thickened to the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Check the taste and add more of salt, red chili powder, black pepper and oregano, if you want.
I do not thicken the consistency in the dish too much. If you want, you can thicken more by cooking for some more minutes.
20. Pour in bowls and serve Refried Beans. You can garnish it with some coriander leaves or parsley leaves. Some grated cheddar cheese can also be sprinkled on top.
Additionally, you can serve a side of guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream with the Refried Beans. It also makes for an excellent filling for tacos, chimichangas or burritos.
If there are any leftovers, keep it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It keep well for 1 to 2 days when refrigerated.
- Type of Beans: You can make this dish with either kidney beans (rajma), black beans or pinto beans. Make sure that the beans are fresh and are not old or aged. Even in a pressure cooker, fresh beans will cook faster and older beans will take a lot of time to cook.
- Canned or Tinned Beans: Canned beans can also be used. If using cooked canned kidney beans, then add 3 to 3.5 cups. First drain all the water from the can, rinse the beans in fresh water a few times and then use them.
- Cooking beans in a pan: Beans can be cooked in a pot too. Just add some more water and cook the beans covered in a pot. Cooking the beans in a pot can take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the quality of beans. Do soak the beans for 8 to 9 hours or overnight, before cooking in a pot.
- Type of Fat: You can use olive oil, sunflower oil or butter to cook this dish. In place of red chili powder, you can use cayenne pepper and sweet paprika too.
- Spices and Seasonings: Addition of spices and herbs can be adjusted. Even the quantity of garlic can be more, if you like a garlicky flavor in your food. In place of water, you can also use vegetable stock.
- Consistency: You can make the Refried Beans Recipe thick or slightly liquidy and flowing in consistency. Adjust the quantity of water or stock, accordingly. Instead of mashing the cooked beans, you can even blend everything to a smooth puree with an electric blender. If you like a creamy consistency in your Refried Beans, then do mash well.
- Scaling: This Refried Beans Recipe can be halved, doubled or tripled.
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Homemade Refried Beans Recipe From Scratch
Refried Beans is a well-known dish made in Mexican and Latin American countries. It is made with beans like pinto beans, black beans or kidney beans. Refried beans is either served as a part of the main course or added a stuffing in a tortilla or taco. Refried beans can also be served as a dip with nachos.
Prep Time 9 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 9 hrs 30 mins
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Pressure cooking kidney beans
Rinse kidney beans a couple of times with water and then soak them in enough water overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.
Then next day discard the water. Rinse the kidney beans very well in running water a few time. Then add them in a 2 litre stovetop pressure cooker.
Add salt and water.
- On a medium heat pressure cook for 15 to 18 minutes. If the beans are old, then they will take a lot of time to cook. So do keep this in mind while cooking beans.
When the pressure falls down naturally on its own in the cooker, then only open the lid and check the beans.
They should be completely cooked and mash easily when you press them. Drain all the water from the beans and keep aside.
Making refried beans
Heat olive oil in a pan. Lower the heat and add finely chopped garlic. You can even add more garlic if you want.
Fry the garlic for some seconds till its raw aroma goes away. No need to brown the garlic.
Then add finely chopped onions and mix well.
Stirring often sauté onions on a medium-low heat till they become translucent and are softened.
Then add the cooked kidney beans.
Add ½ to ⅔ cup water or add as required. You can also add vegetable stock instead of water.
Season with salt as per taste and mix well.
On a medium-low heat let the kidney bean mixture come to a simmer.
- When the mixture comes to a simmer, then with a vegetable masher, mash the beans. You can even stop cooking here and let the beans cool down a bit. Then blend everything to a smooth puree with an electric blender. We prefer some chunkiness in the beans, so I have not mashed all the beans. But do mash well as this gives a creamy consistency in the refried beans.
Next add crushed black pepper or ground black pepper, dried oregano, red chilli powder (or cayenne pepper) and ground cumin.
Mix very well.
- On a low to medium-low heat continue to stir and simmer beans for 5 to 6 minutes till it thickens. You can make refried beans thick or with a slightly liquid and flowing consistency. Add more water for a slight liquid consistency or if the beans look dry.
When the refried beans have thickened to the desired consistency then turn off the heat.
Pour in bowls and serve refried beans. You can garnish with some coriander leaves (cilantro) or parsley leaves. Some grated cheddar cheese can also be sprinkled on the refried beans.
Additionally you can serve a side of guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream to go along with the refried beans.
Keep any leftovers refrigerated in a covered air-tight container. Refried beans keeps well for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.
- Canned beans can also be used to make the recipe. If using cooked canned kidney beans, then add 3 to 3.5 cups. Drain all the water from the can, rinse the beans with water a few times and then use them.
- Addition of spices and herbs can be adjusted. You can add cayenne pepper or red chilli powder depending on the heat you want in the dish. So add spices and herbs as per your requirements. You can always add more or less of each spice and herb.
- Beans can be cooked in a pot too. Just add some more water and cook the beans covered in a pot. Cooking the beans in a pot can take about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the quality of beans. Do soak the beans for 8 to 9 hours before cooking them in a pot.
- You can also use butter or any other oil like sunflower oil instead of olive oil.
- Refried beans recipe can be halved or doubled or tripled.
Homemade Refried Beans Recipe From Scratch
Amount Per Serving
Calories 157 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 120IU2%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.2mg13%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.1mg6%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 0.2mg10%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 7µg7%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 125µg31%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Homemade Refried Beans recipe from the archives, originally published in February 2018 has been updated and republished on February 2023.