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Until recently, I’d never considered making Homemade Refried Beans. Now I doubt I’ll ever do otherwise.

Homemade Refried Beans served in a cast iron skillet

Have you ever wondered how to make refried beans? They are so easy and the flavor and texture is far superior to what you’ll eat from a can. 

Most of the recipes I looked at for making refried beans have you mashing them with a potato masher and that’s a perfectly great method. But if you lean toward lazy **ahem**, toss them in the food processor and whirl them to just the consistency you’re after. Just a few pulses and you’ll have lots of little bean chunks, or continue pulsing until the beans are creamy. Then reheat on your stovetop.

Homemade Refried Beans served in a skillet


What kind of beans are refried beans made from?

I recommend cooking dried beans (pinto beans or black beans – like my Refried Black Beans) for this refried bean recipe, it’s really easy to do in your slow cooker (see instructions below or use my Slow Cooker Pinto Beans recipe). And you’ll want some fat in these to give them that creamy, smooth texture. I had some leftover bacon fat which infused these cooked beans with fabulous flavor. But stock or bean cooking liquid and non-hydrogenated lard or olive oil (for a vegan version) will also work well.

Can I freeze refried beans?

Refried beans freeze well. Once the beans have cooled, divide them into portions that suit how you plan to use them and freeze in freezer bags or freezer safe containers. Use within a couple of months.

How to Cook Dry Beans (2 Methods)

For every pound of dry beans, mix 3 tablespoons of salt with 4 quarts of water. Let the beans soak in this mixture overnight, and then rinse them well the following day. Transfer beans to a slow cooker, adding just enough water to cover them, and set the cooker on low until the beans are soft. The cooking time for dry beans can differ a lot, based on their age. It usually ranges from 3 to 6 hours, so it’s a good idea to check them often after the 3 hour mark.

You can also opt to bake them in an oven set at 300˚F for a similar length of time. Use an oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid. This method should give you around 6 ½ cups of soft beans. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Perfectly Paired With:

  • Carne Asada (Authentic and delicious – it’s a house favorite!)
  • Carne Asada Tacos (Layer the beans on the tortillas or serve them on the side!)
  • Carne Asada Nachos (A perfect addition to all the other delicious toppings!)
  • Shrimp Tacos (Easy to make and I bet they’ll be the best you’ve ever tasted!)
  • Mexican Corn on the Cob (Traditional Mexican street corn!)
  • Calabacitas (Buttery, flavorful side dish of zucchini, summer squash and aromatics.)
  • Chicken Tostadas (Make them full size with these Tostada Shells that are crisp and baked not fried or make them bite-size, see post for directions.)
  • Lamb Barbacoa (The juiciest, most flavorful shredded lamb with a simple slow cooker recipe!)

How to Make Homemade Refried Beans

Step 1: Finely chop onion and garlic cloves (ideally in a food processor). Soften in bacon grease; season with cumin and crushed red pepper.

Step 2: Add cooked pinto beans to onion mixture; cook and stir until softened and heated through. Transfer bean mixture to food processor and process to desired texture (or use potato masher), adding liquid as necessary. Serve.

final steps of making homemade refried beans

Recipe Video

Homemade Refried Beans

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 165
Servings: 6 servings
I cooked my pinto beans in the slow cooker a salt soak method (see recipe note #2 for method). You could also use canned pinto beans.


  • 1/4 cup bacon fat non-hydrogenated lard, or olive oil
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans (freshly cooked or 2 15.5 ounce cans drained, reserving liquid)
  • 1/2 cup bean cooking liquid or broth or more, see recipe note #1
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Heat fat or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until softened and onion is nearly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in cumin, smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Add beans and bean cooking liquid or stock. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook and stir until beans are heated through and begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer bean mixture to food processor and pulse until beans reach desired consistency and return to pan. Or mash beans in the pan with potato masher or back of a spoon to your desired consistency. Serve.


  1. To reach your desired consistency, feel free to add more broth or bean cooking liquid – I add as much as 1 cup as I like my refried beans very creamy. Also note that the beans will thicken as they cool. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. To cook beans with the salt soak method: soak dry beans overnight in a ratio of 1 pound of dry beans to 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt. The next day, give them a quick rinse and cover them by 1-inch in a slow cooker. Then cook on low until tender, creamy and flavorful.


Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Brigid Devney-Rye says:

    5 stars
    Made this using my InstaPot today and then using the food processor makes it even easier. Will never buy again. I feel much better knowing exactly what is in my food. Is there any reason to then put the beans in the frying pan to get the “refried” step? I’ve looked at several recipes and don’t get that part. Thank you for your recipe!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you’re enjoying the recipe, Brigid! The ‘refrying’ is really just the step of the recipe where you add seasonings and make sure that the beans reach the texture you’re after.

  2. Joanie says:

    5 stars
    Made this today using the overnight soaking method (wanted to try making from scratch), and man oh man, are they good!!! Way better than canned–so much more flavor!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      This is wonderful to hear, Joanie! Thank you for coming back to let me know!

  3. Adam says:

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe! I make it all the time now and I had never before made refried beans (or much less thought about making them myself). Thanks for making the recipe available!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks so much, Adam! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!