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July 31, 2023

Refried Beans

Pinto beans are cooked from dry, and then cooked some more with taco seasoning and lard. We sprinkle generously with shredded cheese before serving with a stack of warm tortillas.

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homemade refried beans topped with melted cheddar cheese in a bowl with a spoon
Photography by Gayle McLeod

The Best Refried Beans Recipe

Refried beans made from scratch take dinner to the next level. Of course you *can* just open a can of store-bought refried beans, but these homemade refried beans are well worth the time. Once the beans are cooked, it’s a quick mash with taco seasoning, garlic, and lard. We serve these simply with warm tortillas or alongside Green Chicken Enchiladas with Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice.

homemade refried beans topped with melted cheddar cheese in a bowl with a spoon surrounded by tortilla chips

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What Are Refried Beans?

Refried beans, or frijoles refritos are not actually refried. Refrito in Spanish refers to the way the beans are cooked completely, and then cooked further with seasoning and mashed until tender. Pinto beans are used most commonly, but black beans are a close favorite.

dry pinto beans, onion, lard, salt, taco seasoning, garlic and cheese in prep bowls to make homemade refried beans

Ingredients You’ll Need For Homemade Refried Beans

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans, rinsed and picked through for debris

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • Lard, bacon fat or vegetable oil

  • Garlic

  • Taco Seasoning, homemade or store bought

  • Shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella are best)

lard, salt, taco seasoning, onion, pinto beans and water in a slow cooker

How to Make Creamy Refried Beans From Scratch

  • Choose your preferred cooking method: Stove-Top Method, Instant Pot Method (no soak), or Slow Cooker Method (no soak)

  • Cook the beans. Save one cup of cooking liquid, and discard the onion.

  • Heat the lard and garlic. The garlic should be just tender and releasing its fragrance.

  • Add the beans, taco seasoning, and ¼ cup of the reserved bean water.

  • Mash the beans until smooth with a fork or potato masher.

  • Top with shredded cheese–optional, but highly recommended!

  • Serve, ideally with warm Homemade Corn Tortillas.

homemade refried beans made with onion, salt, lard, garlic and taco seasoning

How to Store Refried Beans + Tips

  • To store, let the beans cool completely. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.

  • For more flavorful beans add two teaspoons of chicken bullion to the water or use four cups of chicken stock and two cups of water.

  • On lard: Lard is rendered pork fat, and for this reason it’s full of flavor. Using lard to make refried beans is our preferred method. It is shelf-stable (meaning it doesn’t need to be refrigerated) and can be found at most grocery stores and sometimes your butcher might have it in the case.

  • Soaking beans: If you’re making these on the stovetop, we recommend soaking the dried beans for at least four hours. You’ll get a more tender bean once they’re cooked.

homemade refried beans topped with melted cheddar cheese in a bowl with a spoon surrounded by tortilla chips

More Great Bean Recipes From The Modern Proper

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Refried Beans

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  4 hrs
  • Cook Time:  1 hr 10 min
  • Calories: 267

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans, (about 2 cups) rinsed
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup lard, bacon fat or vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, homemade or store bought
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese (optional)

Method

Stove-Top Method:

  1. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak the beans for 4 to 12 hours, then drain and rinse.

  2. Add the beans, onion, and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain the beans, then discard the onion.

  3. Add the lard to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the lard is glistening, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the drained beans, taco seasoning, and ¼ cup of the reserved bean water.

  4. Cook, stirring often, gently mashing the beans with a potato masher or fork, until smooth. Add more reserved bean water 2 tablespoons at a time as necessary. Taste and season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, if needed. Top with shredded cheese if using.


Instant Pot Method (no soak)

  1. To a 6-quart (or larger) Instant Pot, add the beans, onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 6 cups of water.

  2. With the vent in the sealed position, cook the beans on high pressure for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 25 minutes, then manually release remaining pressure. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain the beans, then discard the onion.

  3. Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and add the lard. Once the lard is glistening, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans, taco seasoning, and ¼ cup of the reserved bean water. Cook, stirring often, gently mashing the beans with a potato masher or fork, until smooth. Add more reserved bean water 2 tablespoons at a time as necessary. Taste and season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, if needed. Top with shredded cheese if using.



Slow Cooker Method (no soak):

  1. To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the beans, onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and garlic. Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches.

  2. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or on LOW for 10 hours. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain the beans, then discard the onion.

  3. Add the lard to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the lard is glistening, add the drained beans, taco seasoning, and ¼ cup of the reserved bean water. Cook, stirring often, gently mashing the beans with a potato masher or fork, until smooth. Add additional bean water 2 tablespoons at a time if necessary. Taste and season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt, if needed. Top with shredded cheese if using.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories267
  • Protein12 g
  • Carbohydrates38 g
  • Total Fat7 g
  • Dietary Fiber9 g
  • Cholesterol6 mg
  • sodium490 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Refried Beans

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn D.

    These were exceptional. My family loved them!

    Thanks Jenn, we are so happy your family loved them!