Refried Beans

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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!

Refried Beans

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!

Refried Beans Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Pinto 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

How To Make Refried Beans:

To make this refried bean recipe, simply:

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic.  Sauté in butter (or oil) in a large saucepan until softened.
  2. Add the next round of ingredients.  Stir in the beans, veggie stock, and spices.  Then cook until the mixture reaches a simmer.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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!)
  5. Serve warm.  Then serve warm, garnished with cilantro and/or cheese if desired.

Homemade Refried Beans

Possible Variations:

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:
    • 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

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.

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x


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)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional garnishes: finely-chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled or shredded cheese, diced tomato, and/or sliced jalapeño


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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).

Easy Refried Beans

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31 comments on “Refried Beans”

  1. I have been making homemade refried beans for awhile but want to try your flavor combinations, especially the butter! I usually make 2 pounds of dry beans in the crock pot, use 1/4 of them that day and freeze the remaining in three different containers to pull out another day. I have not bought canned refried beans since I started making them!

  2. 5 stars
    I love your page, and read it whenever you post new recipes! I LOVE homemade refried beans, thank you for this! I just had to say, with a chuckle, that I love that you have to ‘scold butter until combined.’ How often to you scold the butter, and does it submit to your rebukes? (hahaha!)

  3. Season. With. Lime Juice!!!!
    Yes please! Totally making these, but with black beans.

  4. I couldn’t find ‘pinto beans’ anywhere at the supermarket. Can I substitute a different bean? Kidney beans for instance?

  5. love refried beans and always order them with guilt (what’s in them again?) so really appreciate your recipe, if only to control the set of ingredients! Love the cold butter last minute addition tip too, thank you

  6. I can’t get Pinto Beans here in Greece, so could I use Chickpeas instead?

  7. How long would these be ok to prep and refrigerate?

  8. 5 stars
    I made these from scratch with dried beans from your recipe, and they turned out great! Didn’t change a thing, and we have plenty for leftovers.

    • ETA – I used like 1 1/2 lbs of dried beans in my large slow cooker and froze about half of those for later use. A little over two cups of those instead of canned.

  9. 5 stars
    This is an amazingly easy and awesome. This will be our go to recipe.
    I substitued ancho chili powder for half of the chipotle and used smoked sea salt and let all the seasoning simmer with the beans for 10-15 minutes.
    Cannot believe this is so good and so simple.

  10. I’ve looked and looked and can’t find the instant pot version

  11. 5 stars
    I made this for lunch, with a bunch of added jalapeño. It was tasty, actually only took 20 min, and filling. Would definitely make them again!

  12. 4 stars
    I wanted to make the recipe using the canned beans and looked all through to see if I should drain the beans first. When it didn’t say, I didn’t drain them. After cooking the onions and garlic, I added the beans without draining and not even all of the stock (plus the herbs, etc.) but when I pureed them, the result was not as thick as I had hoped. I used an in-the-pot chopper to puree, and it did a good job. The flavor was great, and adding the lime was a nice touch. But the result was too thin. If I was supposed to have drained the beans before adding them, the recipe should have said to. Otherwise, the result was too runny.

  13. I’m also looking for the Insta-pot version.
    Thanks, Ali!

  14. I used dry pinto beans and the taste from the seasoning was perfect.

  15. I haven’t made these yet, but I find it kind of funny that you heavily emphasize how much better these are than canned refried beans and yet – you use canned beans to make the refried beans.

  16. This was so easy & fantastic! I would probably cut the garlic down to 2 cloves instead of 4–it was a bit heavy in the garlic, but, probably just us. I didn’t have vegetable stock, so just used chicken broth & it was still delicious!

  17. OMG, I will NEVER buy canned refrieds again! Currently on lockdown, I had to get a little creative with the ingredients I had on hand, Like chicken stock instead of veggie, canned mixed chili beans over pinto, and using my nutri-bullet to blend, but the result was still a creamy, flavorful delight!!!

  18. OMG. This recipe makes the best refried beans that I have ever tasted! I am looking forward to trying other recipes that you recommend. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes.

  19. I made this last night for dinner. Used olive oil and vegan butter. I served it in baked tortilla bowls topped with rice, Tillamook sharp cheddar, Rotel tomatoes with jalapeño and a couple slices of avacodo. It was incredible! Oh and I used 1 can of garbanzo and 1 can of black beans in lieu of the pinto beans. Favorite for sure!!

  20. Very tasty refried beans recipeand simple to make. A winner!!

  21. These are delicious, tasty refried beans, much better than the canned version. I made them totally WFPB with no oil and no salt, sauteed with a splash of white wine instead. Just lovely on toast, topped with avocado and salsa. My favourite breakfast! Wondeful recipe! :)

  22. Simple to make and delicious. Will definitely make again. Used black beans, added a little ground coriander and paprika too and simmered the beans for longer than suggested. Enjoyed by all!

  23. I just made this for our Cinco de Mayo dinner, and I was skeptical because it seemed too easy (and not unhealthy, as I always assumed refried beans were made with lard). Not only was it simple to make, but it is DELICIOUS!!! Even my picky eater loves it! Thanks for posting.

  24. Can you make freeze this recipe in batches for future use?

  25. My kids said this was better than store bought, which given there’s a shortage of store bought because of COVID, it works out well I now have this recipe.