Refried Beans are one of the most popular Mexican side dishes, and my easy Refried Beans recipe is going to knock your socks off, because it’s so simple and so delicious!
Mexican food is big in our house. Unless we’re going straight to Cabo, we prefer our Mexican food made in our own kitchen over any restaurant. From Mexican Rice to Pozole to Shrimp Ceviche, you’ll find Mexican food on the menu here at least once a week.
Homemade Refried Beans Recipe
Homemade refried beans are the best!! They are delicious as a side dish for so many different meals, and they are the perfect treat for Cinco de Mayo. My refried beans recipe is pretty simple – just beans, water, salt and milk. I call them easy and simple because even though they take several hours to cook, that’s pretty much just time on the stove while you’re off doing other things, like binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix.
How to Make Refried Beans
As I mentioned, making this refried beans recipe is pretty simple and straight-forward. It just takes time.
- Boil some dried pinto beans in a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt for about two and a half hours. I know, it sounds like a lifetime, but trust me, the dried beans take quite a while to soften and cook thoroughly. (Don’t have two and a half hours? Read on for some time saving tips below).
- Once the beans are cooked through, drain the water, discard the onions and garlic, and pour the beans back into the pot.
- Mash them up with a little milk and salt. Be sure to give them a taste test before serving…like potatoes, beans need a lot of salt to bring out their best flavor.
Quick Cook Method
If you don’t have three hours to make refried beans, here’s a great shortcut! Use 2-3 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed, in place of the dried beans. Just follow the directions for heating and mashing and you’re good to go. This method will take about 10-15 minutes. I will say I still definitely prefer the from scratch method for the flavor they give, but this is a satisfactory swap when you’re in a hurry.
- Be sure to rinse and sort the beans first. Pick through the beans to remove any rocks or debris and remove any broken or shriveled beans. Rinse them well to wash away any dirt.
- Add milk instead of water. You’ll see in the recipe below that I add milk, not water, to my refried beans. It’s just enough to give them a creamier texture and a richer flavor. If you prefer non-dairy, just swap out the milk for water or even chicken or vegetable broth.
- Resist the urge to lift the lid! Like with a slow cooker, your pot of beans needs some uninterrupted time to cook. Don’t check them until you hit the two hour mark, then give it a lift and a little stir.
- For more flavor, add some sliced onion and a few cloves of garlic to the cooking pot.
- How to mash pinto beans – For chunkier beans, lightly mash with a potato masher (aff) or even a fork. For smooth and creamy beans, use a hand held mixer for several seconds until they are the consistency you want.
- What kind of beans do I need for Refried Beans? Refried beans are generally made from pinto beans, but you can use black beans if you’re a fan. The recipes that I’ve read suggest soaking the black beans overnight before cooking them for a couple of hours. Then mash just the same.
- Are Refried Beans Bad for You? Many recipes will call for adding oil and frying the beans towards the end, hence the “refried,” but I’ve found that this isn’t necessary. It takes a little time, but mostly that’s just cooking time and you can be off doing other things. These refried beans are high in fiber and protein, and only 65 calories per half cup serving!
I love to make a big batch of these beans, and then divide and freeze them in burritos, or use them again for my Ten Minute Oven Baked Tostadas or Mexican Sopes. My kids love taking them for lunch, too, or eating them just as a snack! Be sure to make some Authentic Mexican Rice to serve with them!
Homemade refried beans will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge, if properly stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze the beans for up to 8 months.
Reheat refried beans on the stovetop, adding a splash of milk for a smooth consistency.
Want some more delicious Mexican Recipes? Try these:
- Mexican Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Easy Mexican Lasagna
- Healthy Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Slow Cooker Mexican Beans
- Ground Beef Enchiladas
Easy Homemade Refried Beans Recipe
- 1 pound bag of dry pinto beans
- 3 quarts of water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 small onion chopped into chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and left whole
- Rinse beans with water and discard any stones or bad beans.
- Place beans in a large pot with 3 quarts of water and a generous pinch of salt.
- Bring to a boil, them lower heat to simmer, covered, for approximately two and a half hours. The time will vary, but you will know they are ready when the beans are soft and beginning to break open.
- Drain water from beans, discard the onions and garlic and place the beans back back into the pot.
- Over low-medium heat, add a 1/4 cup of water and a generous pinch of salt, and mash beans with a potato masher. Slowly add milk and continue mashing until they are a rough puree.
- Garnish with your favorite topping and serve. Makes an excellent protein packed lunch, snack or side dish!
- For non-dairy and vegetarian, use water in place of the milk.
- For added flavor, add a sliced onion and a few garlic cloves to the cooking water, then discard before mashing.