After we show you how to make refried beans at home, you'll never want to buy canned again!
They're creamy, rich, and perfect to serve on their own or as an addition to all your Mexican-inspired meals.
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Why haven't we been making this recipe more often?!
Learning how to make refried beans is super easy, and the canned version just doesn't compare to making them from scratch!
"But they're so hard to make!"
Maybe you're like us and aren't sure if you want to try making a recipe like refried black beans because it sounds complicated.
It is not.
What are refried beans?
The term "refried" is a little misleading because after you cook the black beans (or pinto), you only have to fry them once on the stovetop.
Refried beans come from the Spanish dish "frijoles refritos" (or "well-fried beans" in English).
In simple terms, all you need to do is cook your beans to soften them, mash (or blend) them, and finish frying them in a pan.
So the big question is... black beans or pinto beans?
Our answer — make whatever you have on hand!
Pinto beans are traditionally found in "Tex Mex" cooking or Northern Mexican cuisine. They may be the variety you're most familiar with, and make a creamy, slightly sweet dish.
In other parts of Mexico (like the Yucatan), you can find refried black beans more regularly. Black beans have a rich, earthy flavor with a subdued sweetness. We've been lucky enough to try both kinds and love them equally!
Are refried beans vegan?
As a general rule, most refried beans are vegan. Some aren't.
There are some recipes that cook refried beans with animal fats or add cheese to the top. So, just be on the lookout for that.
Fortunately, if you learn how to make refried beans using this recipe, the end result will be vegan, gluten-free, and packed with protein!
Once you learn how to make refried beans at home, you'll understand simple ingredients can make a huge difference when used effectively.
This recipe is extremely approachable, affordable, and contains minimal ingredients. Let's get to it!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: soft and creamy with a slight sweetness. Black beans don't have an overwhelmingly "beany" flavor, meaning they take on the garlic and onion aromas extremely well (drool). Cook your own beans to achieve the softest texture.
Health: when it comes to health, black beans (or beans in general) are in a category of their own. Black beans have 15 grams of both protein and fiber per cup. They're perfect for those who want to up their protein intake.
Fun fact: dating back over 7000 years ago, black beans were (and still are) a staple in central and South American cuisines.
Taste: pinto beans have a soft, buttery texture, which makes them a top choice for refried beans. They also have nutty undertones, making pintos a well-rounded ingredient.
Health: at the risk of sounding like a broken record, pinto beans contain 15 grams of protein and fiber per cup! As with black beans, pinto beans are full of manganese, iron, and potassium (exactly what your heart needs to work optimally).
Fun fact: Americans consume pinto beans more than any other kind. Almost half of the beans consumed by Americans are pinto.
If you have questions about how to make refried beans, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: cook your black beans (make sure to save some of the cooking water for later). You can also use canned beans if you want to save more time, but the texture is so much better when you cook your own!
Step 2: heat some neutral oil in a frying pan over medium-low and sauté your diced onions and garlic lightly until the onions are translucent. Add in any optional seasonings at this point. Some of our favorites include jalapeño, cumin, adobo sauce, and Mexican oregano.
Step 3: stir in your cooked black beans with some of their cooking water and salt. Then, mash the beans using a potato masher or pulse them together in a blender until your preferred texture. Note: if the pan needs a little more oil, add it in now.
Step 4: cook for a few more minutes to thicken the beans to your liking. Taste and adjust the salt or other seasonings to your preference. Serve your refried beans warm with tortilla chips, in burritos, tacos, sopes, or whatever else you want!
Fridge: let the beans cool at room temperature, then store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.
Freezer: before freezing, let the beans cool completely. Keep them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag in single-serve portions. Store the refried beans for up to 12 months.
Reheat: the easiest way to use refried beans is by thawing them in your fridge overnight. Then, heat them in a skillet on low-medium for 2-3 minutes, or until warm.
If you forget to thaw them, no worries! Just add the frozen beans to your skillet on low and warm them until soft. If you're feeling extra lazy, pop them in the microwave in 1-minute bursts, stopping to stir.
💭 Pro tips
We'd like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with these refried black beans:
- Cut the onions quite small, and ensure you cook them until translucent so they're nice and tender.
- If you want the beans a little chunkier, don't mash them as much. If you want them extra smooth, use a blender!
- Add jalapeño peppers for spice, chipotle peppers for a smoky flavor, or pickled jalapeños for extra zest and heat.
- If the beans look a little dry, add in more bean water or veggie broth until you have a better consistency.
🍴 Tasting notes
We're obsessed with this dish, and we know you will be too. It's:
- Slightly sweet
If you try these vegan refried beans, please rate the recipe and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
How to Make Refried Beans
- Frying pan
- Potato masher
- Chef knife
- Cutting board
- 3 tablespoon neutral oil ($0.06)
- ½ medium onion, diced ($0.14)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.08)
- 3 cups cooked beans (black or pinto) ($0.48)
- ⅔ - ¾ cup bean water ($0.01)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- To start, cook your black beans (save some of the cooking water for later).
- Then, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-low. In the meantime, dice your onions and garlic and add the onions into the pan.
- Sauté the onions until they are starting to look transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Next, add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in any optional seasonings at this point. Some of our favorites include minced jalapeño peppers, cumin, chili powder, minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and Mexican oregano.
- Stir in the cooked black beans with about ⅔ - ¾ cup of their cooking water and salt. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then start mashing the beans using a potato masher.
- Continue mashing until you reach your desired consistency. If you don't have a potato masher, transfer the bean mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until your desired texture is achieved. Transfer back into the pan to cook. Note: if the pan needs a little more oil, add it in now.
- Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust salt and liquid to your preference.
- Serve your refried beans warm with tortilla chips, in burritos, tacos, sopes, or whatever else you want!
- For different flavor variations, add minced jalapeños, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano, vegan queso fresco sprinkled on top, or chopped cilantro.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- Nutritional information is a rough estimate.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty black bean recipes, check out our:
- Crispy black bean tacos for an irresistibly crispy taco drizzled with avocado cream sauce.
- Black bean soup to try an authentic Mexican recipe that's certain to exceed all expectations.
- Sweet potato and black bean quesadillas for an authentic Mexican meal that comes together quickly.
- Southwest sweet potato and black bean salad for a bold dish perfect for meal prepping.
You don't have to cook the beans from dry, but we promise the dish will taste completely different if you do. The texture, consistency, and flavor are so much better when cooked from dry.
You can blend or mash your beans in this recipe. Do whatever is most convenient for you, or whichever tool you have on hand.
It's best to use oil so the beans don't stick to the pan. You can always add less oil and add extra bean water, but the oil really helps round out the flavors.