Homemade Refried Beans Recipe

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If you're a beans person (or not!) you've just got to try this Refried Beans Recipe-- simple ingredients and delicious as an appetizer or a meal. Homemade refried beans make the perfect side dish with Mexican food or stuffed into your taco or burrito.  They’re a great way to gets the health benefits of beans during the summer months, too, when you’re not feeling like chili or bean soup.  The storebought versions can have some sketchy ingredients like trans fats in them.  I have had some luck with organic canned versions being clean of junk (Meijer brand, around $1 on sale — The fewer the ingredients, the better!), but I prefer to make my own for budget reasons.

Find this recipe, updated and with even more frugal tips and transformation options, along with 29 other bean recipes and a ton of information on cooking dry beans, the health benefits of beans, and ideas for bean haters in The Everything Beans Book, available now at Kitchen Stewardship!
Homemade Refried Beans
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ c. dried pinto, black or red kidney beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 c. water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 c. finely chopped onions
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds or ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ c. grated jalapeno jack cheese
  • ½ to 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice, plus ¼ to ½ tsp. grated zest (I never have zest)
  • ¼ c. toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans overnight (see here for details).
  2. Drain soaked beans, add fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook a few hours.
  3. Drain the cooked beans. Reserve the cooking liquid to thin the refried beans.
  4. In the pot or a large skillet, heat the remaining Tbs oil.
  5. Add the onions and cumin and cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are limp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are lightly browned, 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid.
  8. Lower heat to medium and add half the beans.
  9. Use a potato masher or fork (or hand mixer) to mash them.
  10. Add remaining beans and mash. You can leave the mixture quite coarse, with some beans intact, or continue mashing until fairly smooth.
  11. Stir well and make sure the beans are thoroughly heated.
  12. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat.
  13. Stir in the cheese, 2 Tbs lime juice, lime zest, and salt to taste.
  14. Add more lime juice, if needed to create a citrus edge.
  15. Serve hot, with a sprinkling of grated cheese and pumpkin seeds (if using).
Notes
Variations:
-Add 1 tsp. chili powder when you add garlic and oregano.
-Use sharp cheddar or feta instead of jalapeno Jack.
-Stir in ½ c. thinly sliced scallion greens when you add cheese.
-Do as the Mexicans do and garnish with chopped radish.

Timesaver: Author recommends cooking a whole pound of beans and freezing extra for use later. You can cook the beans traditionally and use about 3 ½ c. cooked beans for this recipe. The refried beans freeze excellently - I freeze in ice cube trays, dump bean-cubes into a Ziploc, and heat what I need for a Mexican dish or side with tacos. I often make a double batch!

Pressure cooker recipe from Pressure Perfect

Remember that pressure cooking is less nutritious...
In a 4-qt or larger pressure cooker, combine beans, water, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 Tbs. oil (needed to control foaming).
Lock lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for the maximum suggested minutes (pinto = 19-22). Turn off heat. Allow pressure to come down naturally. If beans are not very soft, replace (but do not lock) the lid and simmer until done.

Cost: $1.50 (Less than $1.00 if you cut the cheese, which is not usually included in storebought, and it tastes fine without it)
Compared to canned refried beans, this recipe makes about 2-3 cans worth — a great deal!
Super Foods: 3; 4 with pumpkin seeds

Must try this lime-y twist on basic refried beans - make a huge homemade batch and freeze for easy quesadillas and Mexican meals and save over 50% compared to canned! #recipeOther Great Recipes:

Find great tailgating appetizer recipes at Life as MOM’s Ultimate Recipe Swap.


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30 Bites of Conversation So Far

    • Katie says

      CM,
      Yes and yes! A lot of people put a plop of them on the plate alongside another dish, usually Mexican style, often with rice as well. They also go great inside a tortilla, either by themselves, with cheese melted as a quesadilla, or as an addition to tacos. Eat with chips as a dip or as part of nachos. We even put leftovers on a pizza once, with peppers, salsa and cheese – super yummy!
      Katie

    • Katie says

      KM,
      I’ve never pressure canned anything, actually, but from my forays into canning this summer, I don’t think I’d can anything that wasn’t a “canning” recipe. I freeze these in serving size portions though – just put a few tubs in the freezer today!
      Katie

  1. Rachel says

    I just wanted to share one of our favorite uses for refried beans. I add tomato sauce (about 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount of beans) and taco seasoning to taste to make a quick snack-type chip dip. We also use it as a meal by also adding diced chicken and brown rice. We often make cheese nachos and dip them in the bean dip. Different people in our family add things like cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, cilantro, etc at the table.

  2. says

    Hi Katie!
    I’m planning to try this recipe for the first time in the next day or two. But, I have a question, I’m a little confused about the recipe if you don’t use a pressure cooker, do you only soak the beans overnight and not actually cook them? Or do you soak them overnight, and then cook them for an hour or two like you would if you were using them in place of canned beans, and then continue with the recipe? I’m kind of assuming that you have to cook them, but the recipe just says, “Drain the soaked beans”, so I don’t want to cook them if I’m not supposed to.
    Thanks!

    • Katie says

      Emily,
      Yikes – sounds like I better edit that post. Yes, you cook the beans until they are done! Drain soaked beans, add new water, bring to a boil for 10 minutes and cook a few hours. Enjoy!
      :) Katie

  3. Robin says

    One of my favorite things to make is homemade black beans and turning them into homemade refried beans. I mostly follow Rick Bayless’ method/recipe which is so delicious! He keeps things pretty simple, as you just cook the beans initially with some onion, oil and salt, although one of the things he recommends as an optional ingredient is adding toasted advocado leaves in with the beans while they are cooking, and wow, they were amazing when I tried that. Then, when making the refried beans, you just start with some additional fat (lard/oil), some minced garlic and then the beans. Simple, but really oh so great! To me, there is no comparison in flavor between these and store-bought refried beans, which I never really cared for very much.

    Probably my favorite way to eat the refried beans is making tostadas-brush corn tortillas with some oil (like melted coconut oil), bake in the oven until turning brown, then smear on the beans. Top with a little Jack cheese and some shredded chicken if you have it (or anything else you like!), and bake until the cheese melts. These are amazing with homemade salsa (I love them with homemade roasted tomatillo salsa!)…mmm…heaven…:-)

    • Beth says

      Where do you get avocado leaves, presuming they aren’t growing in your back yard? It sounds wonderful but I have never even heard of using them in cooking.

      • Robin says

        Hi Beth-I actually got mine thru gourmetsleuth.com, but if you have a good Mexican grocery store in your area, I’m sure you could find them there as well. Obviously, they are dried (kind of like bay leaves), and you’ll want to toast them lightly before using them (just put them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant). Also, you’ll want to remove them once the beans are finished cooking. Hope this helps!

  4. says

    I did this even more simply because I was feeling lazy. Overnight soak, then cook in water with a pinch of salt. Throw in blender until mostly smooth. Heat lard in a frying pan and sautee onions in it until soft. Toss in mashed beans and stir around until warmed and yummy. Approximately. I probably added 3 – 4 tbsp. of lard? Anyway, that’s what makes it taste like a restaurant’s…the lard!! So yummy. My daughter calls them “Purple taboes” (potatoes) and I haven’t corrected her yet. :)

  5. triplel says

    I know traditional refried bean recipes use lard to cook them in, I want to do it that way, but I can’t find non-hydrogenated lard out there. Anyone have any secret sources I haven’t heard about. I really don’t feel up to rendering my own at this point.

    • Katie says

      Triplel,
      I would recommend trying a local butcher and asking questions about the source. That’s the best place I’ve found! :) Katie

    • Elizabeth says

      Triplel,
      I have heard of people using bacon fat drippings to make refried beans. I personally don’t use it, but it may be an option for you.

    • Bette says

      Where I live, we eat refried beans with everything. Restaurants use lard, but cooks here fry in bacon grease. It tastes better than lard.

      If you have to put your beans in a blender, they are not cooked enough. Cook a little longer and you should be able to mash them with a potato masher or a spoon.

      The more garlic you use when cooking the beans, the less gas you will have when you eat them.

      Don’t put any oil in the beans when you cook them, you don’t need it. If you have any soft tomatoes you need to get rid of, throw them in the beans while they are cooking. For a but of a kick, add a Serrano chile OR a can of Rotel tomatoes and green chiles. If you like the freshness cilantro brings, add it in the last 20 minutes of cooking.

    • Shauna says

      Also, what can you use the liquid drained from the beans for? I made beans yesterday, and there was a lot of liquid! I put quite a bit in with beans for 2 dinners this week (yeah me!) and froze 2 glass jars full of it… just not sure what to do with the jars of liquid!

      • Katie says

        Shauna,
        Some recipes like this one call for some of the liquid. If you add some carrots, garlic, onions and celery to the beans as they cook, you’ve got a solid vegetable broth that can make a veggie soup (for a truly meatless meal in place of the chicken broth often called for in bean soups). Hides well in chili… You probably won’t be able to use all the liquid from all the beans you cook, though. I never accomplish that one! 😉 Katie

    • Katie says

      Shauna,
      Anything that says hydrogenated has been chemically altered to be a trans fat; your body doesn’t know how to process it, and it’s always bad. “Real” lard can be hard to find. Local butcher or farmer is often the best place, or an ethnic grocery store. Good question! :) Katie

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