This Mexican homemade refried beans recipe is easy to make in just 20 minutes. It’s naturally gluten-free, vegetarian and can also be made vegan if you’d like. And most importantly, it tastes sooo much better than the canned stuff!
Guys, it’s time to ditch the canned stuff and start making homemade refried beans…for so many reasons!
First off, most canned refried beans are made with pork lard, which is (a) not going to work if you are cooking for vegetarians or vegans and (b) totally unnecessary flavor-wise, if you ask me. Canned refried beans are also often made with extra sugars and preservatives, which I also try to avoid when possible. But most of all, I’ve always thought that the canned stuff never tastes very flavorful or fresh!
Enter this super-simple homemade refried beans recipe. ♡
I love it because it’s easy to whip up in just 20 minutes or so. It’s also made with an easy ingredient list that I feel great about, that also happens to be naturally vegetarian, vegan (if you’d like) and gluten-free. It’s a recipe that’s easy to customize and make however spicy, smoky, citrusy, or cheesy you might prefer. But best of all, I love this recipe because it’s downright delicious.
I’ve been making homemade refried beans ever since I met my vegetarian husband years ago and realized that the canned stuff was no longer an option. And over the years, we have loved adding these to our favorite tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, seven layer dip, taquitos, taco pizzas and more. Of course, these refried beans also make for a fantastic easy side dish. And if you’ve got a case of the munchies, hey, just grab some tortilla chips and they also double as a delicious bean dip! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo this weekend or anytime you’re cooking up a delicious Mexican dinner at home.
Let’s make some refried beans!
Homemade Refried Beans Ingredients:
To make this easy refried bean recipe, you will need:
Pinto beans: For the 20-minute version of this recipe, I just use two cans of organic pinto beans. But if you prefer to cook dry beans from scratch, I have also included directions below for how to make them in the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop.
Fresh onion and garlic: Which we will sauté until softened.
Veggie stock: To thin the beans out and add some extra depth of flavor.
Spices: I love the smoky combination of ground cumin, chipotle chili powder and oregano in my refried beans. But if you don’t like yours quite as smoky, you can add in regular (American-style) chili powder instead.
Salt and pepper: I usually add a generous pinch of each, but add as much as you would like, to taste.
Lime juice: Freshly-squeezed, to help brighten up the flavor of these beans.
Butter or oil: If you are making vegan refried beans, skip the butter and use avocado oil or olive oil to sauté the veggies. But if you don’t mind using dairy, I strongly recommend making these refried beans with butter! I like to use part of it to sauté the veggies. But then — fun trick — if you stir an extra pat of cold butter into the refried beans at the very end, it will make them extra silky and add a rich hint of buttery flavor. It’s a great way to achieve some of the flavor and feel of traditional lard-based refried beans without the lard.
How To Make Refried Beans:
To make this refried bean recipe, simply:
Sauté the onion and garlic. Sauté in butter (or oil) in a large saucepan until softened.
Add the next round of ingredients. Stir in the beans, veggie stock, and spices. Then cook until the mixture reaches a simmer.
Mash the beans. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the beans to your desired consistency. (Or if you want them to be super-smooth, you can transfer them to a food processor and puree until smooth.)
Add in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the cold butter until combined. Taste the beans, and season with as much lime juice, salt and pepper as needed. (Don’t be afraid to be generous with the s&p!)
Serve warm. Then serve warm, garnished with cilantro and/or cheese if desired.
This refried beans recipe is meant to be a base recipe that you can customize! So free free to tinker around with the ingredients and find what works best for you. For example, feel free to…
Add in some chiles: If you would like some extra heat in your beans, just core and finely-dice a jalapeño and sauté it with the onion to add to your refried beans. Or for a milder flavor, you could stir in a few tablespoons of canned diced green chiles. Or for an even smokier flavor, you can add in some finely-diced chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Or — the easiest option for heat — just add in some cayenne pepper to taste.
Add in some cheese: I just like to garnish my refried beans with some crumbled cotija or shredded cheddar cheese on top. But feel free to also stir your favorite kind of cheese directly into the refried beans too.
Use a different kind of beans: This recipe would also work with black beans in place of pinto beans.
Start with dry (uncooked) pinto beans: As mentioned above, I typically take the shortcut here of using organic canned pinto beans. But if you prefer to cook your beans from scratch, you can either cook them in the:
Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker): Combine
Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker): Add 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (about 1 cup dried, no soaking required) to the bowl of a slow cooker. Cover beans with 2 inches of water, add the lid, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 4-6 hours until the beans are tender.
Stovetop: Add 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (about 1 cup dried, no soaking required) to a large stockpot. Cover beans with 2 inches of water. Cook on high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
*I also recommend adding in a bay leaf for extra flavor if you are cooking pinto beans from scratch.
Easy Breakfast Tacos recipe coming soon!!
Ways To Use Refried Beans:
As I mentioned above, this refried beans recipe goes works great as a simple side dish with any of your favorite Mexican recipes. It can also double as a delicious bean dip, served with tortilla chips. Or feel free to add it into your favorite tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, seven layer dip, taquitos, taco pizzas and more.
This Mexican homemade refried beans recipe is easy to make in just 20 minutes and tastes sooo much better than the canned stuff! See notes above for possible ingredient variations, plus tips on how to make this recipe from scratch with dry (uncooked) pinto beans.
2 tablespoons butter or oil,* divided
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)
Heat 1 tablespoon butter (or oil) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked and fragrant.
Add in the pinto beans, veggie stock, chipotle chili powder, cumin and oregano, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer.
Remove pan from heat. Use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash the beans to your desired consistency. (Or if you would like them to be super-smooth, you can purée them in a food processor until smooth.)
Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter until it is melted and well-combined. Taste and season the beans with lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve warm, topped with any garnishes you might like.
*If making this recipe vegan, you can just use 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil (and omit the second tablespoon that is added at the end of the recipe).