Use your choice of dried or canned pinto or black beans in this easy refried beans recipe for the best creamy refried beans.


What’s better than a Mexican food classic like ground beef tacos that taste just like Taco Bell, chicken fajitas, or enchiladas? When it’s served with a scoop or three of these easy-to-make, super creamy refried beans.

Despite its name, “refried” beans don’t actually mean the beans have been fried twice. The name is derived from frijoles refritos, meaning “well fried.” Instead, refried beans are actually just beans that have been cooked until tender, then cooked again in small quantities of their own bean liquid—or bean liquor—while mashing them, adding more liquid as you mash—turning them into creamy spoonfuls of refried beans.


What’s in These Refried Beans

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Dried pinto or black beans—or use canned if time is an issue
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

How to Make Refried Beans

First, start with making a batch of cooked pinto or black beans. This easy master pinto bean recipe is mostly hands-off cooking. Plan on soaking the beans a day ahead and between 2 -2 1/2 hours to cook until tender. If time is a concern, use high-quality canned beans for these refried beans instead.

Reserve the cooked beans liquor aka liquid. Instead of fats or lard to cook these beans, use the reserved cooking liquid by adding 1/2 cup of bean stock at a time while mashing the beans as the liquid cooks off.


Mashed Beans = Creamy Beans

Mash the beans as they cook down, adding more bean liquor as they cook. Depending on how soft the beans are will determine how long they take to cook and mash down. Plan on anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Use water if you run out of bean liquor.

Mash to your preferred consistency. I like my refried beans with a little bit more texture and not too thick. The beauty of this recipe is you can make them as creamy or as thin as you like them.

Add oil, butter, or lard for even more creamy texture. Fat equals flavor, but It’s totally up to you to add some or keep these beans au natural.

Are Refried Beans Considered Healthy

When refried beans aren’t made with lots of salt and fat or smothered in cheese and sour cream, they’re actually pretty healthy for you. That’s because refried beans are a great source of fiber, folate, magnesium, and iron.

What Type of Beans Are Best for Refried Beans

Which bean variety you use for refried beans is totally up to you. Pinto beans and black beans are most often used for refried beans, and depending on my mood, I love them both. Choose good quality, fresh for the best results. I like the heirloom beans from Idaho’s own Zursun.


Tips for Making Refried Beans With Canned Beans

Drain the beans but reserve the liquid in the can. You’ll use the liquid to help thin the beans, adding water as necessary.

Sauté the onion and 2 cloves garlic in the oil before adding the canned beans. If you’re starting with my pinto beans recipe, the onion and garlic have already been cooked into the beans. If using canned beans, you’ll need to add these flavor enhancers before adding the beans to the skillet.

Refried Beans Flavor Additions

  • Sprinkle with grated cotija cheese or top with Monterey jack or cheddar cheese.
  • Stir lime juice into the cooked beans for tang.
  • Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or chopped white onion
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of sour cream or Mexican crema for an even more unctuous feel.

What to Use Refried Beans For

What to Serve With Refried Beans

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