How To Make Homemade Refried Beans
Learn how to make your own homemade refried beans at home. This recipe is full of flavor and is so much better than canned refried beans!
With just a handful of simple ingredients, you can make homemade refried beans (frijoles refritos) from scratch that are the ideal side dish for all kinds of Mexican meals.
Why Make Refried Beans From Scratch?
Refried beans are probably not the most expensive item on your grocery list, but they are definitely worth making homemade because they’re SO much better than canned.
There is a little wiggle room involved in making these, depending on your personal preferences:
- Seasonings: You can add more seasonings and spices to the beans. The recipe, below, is for refried beans similar to what you’d get at a Mexican restaurant. A good side dish that won’t overwhelm. But if you want to add more seasonings, feel free to adjust the recipe.
- Texture: These beans are thick and I chose not to fully puree them so there was still some texture. If you prefer thinner/runnier refried beans, you can add a bit more water or chicken broth to thin it out.
What Kind Of Beans Are Best For Refried Beans?
Pinto beans are most commonly used to make refried beans and will result in the traditional refried beans you’re probably used to eating at Mexican or Tex Mex restaurants. However, black beans and red kidney beans are other options that will work.
Homemade Refried Beans: The Process
- Rinse and sort beans: Check your bag of pinto beans for any misfits, split beans or small rocks. Rinse.
- Soak beans: Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Soaking overnight is best, but even an hour or two will help cut down on the length of cooking. It is not absolutely necessary to soak the beans. If you choose not to, follow the instructions on the package of pinto beans.
- Drain and rinse again
- Cook beans: In a very large stockpot, add beans, onion, garlic, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 to 1.5 hours, until beans are soft. Cooking times vary depending on how long you soak the beans for.
- Fry beans: Heat lard (or cooking oil) in a very large frying pan. Add beans and some of the cooking liquid. Cook, stirring and mashing the beans to your desired consistency. If you prefer a completely pureed bean, you can transfer beans to a blender at the end.
- Season beans: As the beans are cooking, add seasoning. See recipe, below.
- Store: Use immediately, store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
What To Serve With Refried Beans
Here are some delicious ways to use refried beans:
- As the base for this cheesy pinto bean dip
- As a side for this chicken fajita bake, Mexican ground beef skillet, or Mexican ground turkey skillet
- As a layer in these mini enchilada stacks
- With a generous handful of cotija, Monterey jack, cheddar or queso fresco mixed in
- Coupled with Mexican rice along side any Mexican or Tex Mex meal
- 1 lb. dried pinto beans
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 1/4 cup lard (or cooking oil)
- 1/2 to 1 cup cooking liquid from beans
- 2 small chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 tablespoon chicken Better Than Bouillon)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- Rinse and sort beans. Remove any unusually small or discolored beans.
- Soak beans: Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak from 1 hour to overnight. Drain.
- Add beans to a large cooking pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add garlic cloves and halved onion. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Check beans for doneness at the hour mark. They should be soft and easily mashed. *Note: Check beans frequently, stir, and add more water if it looks like the beans are drying out.
- Remove from heat. Heat lard (or cooking oil) over high heat in a large frying pan. Spoon in beans and 1/2 to 1 cup of cooking liquid, depending on how creamy you want your beans to be. Heat, stir, and mash beans as you go. Add the chicken bouillon, garlic and onion powder, salt, and hot sauce. Taste and add more, if desired. Continue to mash until you reach desired consistency. *Note: If you want a creamy, pureed refried bean, wait until beans have been fried and have cooled down. Place in a food processer or blender and puree until smooth, adding additional water, chicken broth, or cooking liquid, if necessary.
- Serve immediately, store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.