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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 in butter or oil until softened.
  • Veggie stock: To thin the beans out and add some extra depth of flavor.
  • Spices: I love the combination of ground cumin, chili powder and oregano in my refried beans. (I like to use a 50/50 mix of American-style chili powder and chipotle chili powder for an extra hint of smokiness, but feel free to choose one chili powder or the other.)
  • 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.

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Refried Beans

Refried Beans

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 30 reviews
  • 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 chili powder (or you can use 1/2 teaspoon chili powder + 1/2 teaspoon chipotle 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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61 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. This was my first time making refried beans. I don’t usually like them except with meat on a burrito. I made these and took a bite and they were so good. I didn’t even have cheese in them. I was amazed. I will no longer purchase refried beans. I will be making my own.

  26. I made this for my family and everyone loved it! My 5 year old son said these beans were delicious and gobbled them up inside a burrito. I added canned chile peppers but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was a hit!

  27. I don’t see the instant pot directions. Can you please post directions for the instant pot. I would like to cook today.

  28. So good! I made them with Rosarita organic refried beans and they turned out great. Was looking for a unique way to doctor up the boring canned beans and this is it. Thanks!

  29. I used a can of trader joe refríed beans and used the ingredients you suggest, I used chipotle hot sauce instead of chipotle chili powder and a dash of liquid smoke… came out great! I also added ( I had from another dish) sautéed Serrano peppers …

  30. 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.

  31. Was very quick and easy. Tasted very good too! This will be my go to recipe for refried beans from now on.

  32. I didn’t see the instant pot recipe.

  33. Wow! I could have made a meal out of just the refried beans. I used dried beans and cooked them on the stove with a bay leaf. Never would have thought of the bay leaf, but it definitely added to the taste. I don’t have a potato masher, so I used a serving fork to mash them to right consistency for me. I topped them with some chopped cilantro. They were absolutely delicious. Definitely adding this to my list of favorites. Thanks for the recipe!

  34. When my daughter first started eating solids she seem interested in my refried beans. She loved them. I then found this recipe and have been making them ever since. Great baby food but also big people food.

  35. I made these tonight for the first time. Oh my god – they were SO good!! I’ll never buy refried beans again! I halved the recipe because it was just my husband and me. What a mistake. We are both sad there are no leftovers!

  36. I just found your refried beans. I’m making them now. Can’t wait to eat them.

  37. After being gassy and bloated for two days when I made a pot of beans, I found this trick and it is solid gold. When you soak beans, put in 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda and stir it around. Change the water a couple of times and keep replacing the baking soda. Then rinse the baking soda off and add 2 teaspoons of baking soda when you cook them. The baking soda has an enzymatic action and no gas or bloating AND the beans will cook in 1/4 the time it would take otherwise. I have read this trick eliminates the need for overnight soaking but I haven’t tried that yet. Kombu seaweed in the water while cooking also helps but for me the baking soda is the cat’s meow. Easy, cheap, and works fantastic. Enjoy!

  38. I’ve made these a few times and I think I like the version with 1/2 tsp regular chili powder and 1/2 tsp chipotle powder the best … in case anyone else was wondering about trying that!

  39. Thank you for this recipe. I made it with black beans for bean and cheese burritos and they absolutely loved it.

  40. cumin taste is too strong. otherwise an OK recipe.

  41. I made these tonight with the dried beans. Amazing. I will never by canned again. We are not cumin fans so I substituted coriander instead and it came out great. We had them with blue corn tortillas, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Everyone was amazed. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I can’t wait to make them again.

  42. OMG all the comments are right – THESE ARE DELICIOUS.
    I live in San Juan, Puerto Rico so finding Pinto Beans was no problem – but didn’t have any veg stock
    Sooooooo I used a packet of Goya Sazon con Culantro Y Achiote (with Coriander & Annatto in the water.

  43. does taste so amazing I don’t eat processed food but I love my bean burritos so much! So this is a great option. The first time I made it I made a single batch and eat it up right away. I just tried to make it again and I thought I could just triple the recipe to freeze some and my friends wanted some too after I told them how amazing it was! But unfortunately it didn’t work the triple the recipe it was all soupy liquid so I guess I did it wrong. I guess I should have read how to triple the recipe. So I will make it again one batch of the time I love it so much so easy to make.

  44. Made these and halved the recipe (just me) for bean burritos. Added smoked paprika and a bay leaf to the simmer & puréed with immersion blender plus butter at the end. Literally the best refried beans I’ve ever had… thank you!

  45. I loved this recipe. I made a batch to freeze for lunch. I used I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead and used much more lime juice which made it even tastier for me Mmmm…

  46. I can’t wait to try this you’ve always made some of my favorite recipes.

  47. It was fast & easy after cooking the beans the day before. Just heated the tostado shells in 350 oven. 4 min each side on cookie sheet. Very filling. Family liked them a lot better than a recipe I tried a time before. The beans wereperfect! Thank you.

  48. Thie recipe looks amazing – with a big change for my health, I will be looking to make homemade versions of many things!
    My question is, how long will these refried beans keep in the fridge?
    I love your blog and recipes, Ali! Thank you so much for sharing!

  49. The third type of bean out there that you might want to look into is called the “large-mouth” bean. These are often sold as “little bean-shaped chilies” and are very popular with many of the people who are making chili for those who cannot eat too much meat.

  50. Simply the best refried beans we have had, thank you.