Homemade Refried Beans

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: side dish




  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 immersion blender) to mash them.
  10. Add remaining beans and mash. You can leave the mixture quite chunky, 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.


-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.


* Cook at least a whole pound of beans and freeze the extra for later. You can cook the beans traditionally and use about 3 ½ c. cooked beans for this recipe.
* The refried beansthemselves 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!
* Try pressure cooking for an easy alternative and quicker method when you’re pinched for time!

Compared to canned refried beans, this recipe makes about 2-3 cans worth — a great deal!

Adapted from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass