How to Make Refried Beans

5 from 2 votes

Learn how to make refried beans using an Instant Pot for creamy and authentic Mexican side dish. Perfect for serving with all your favorites!

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With these simple steps, you’ll quickly learn how to make delicious homemade refried beans from scratch. Whether served as a dip or alongside your favorite beef burritos and tacos, these vegan refried beans are absolutely delicious and easy to make.

Refried beans in a serving bowl with a spoon dipped in, garnished with fresh cilantro and small bowls of salsa and guacamole nearby.

Table of Contents

  1. WHY you should learn how to make refried beans
  2. Ingredients to make refried pinto beans
  3. HOW TO MAKe refried beans
  4. TIPS FOR making fried beans without lard
  5. recipes to pair with Mexican refried beans
  6. HOW TO REHEAT & STORE refried pinto beans
  7. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
  8. MORE cooking tutorials:
  9. How to Make Refried Beans Recipe

A good friend of mine, Ivan, helped me develop this vegan-friendly refried bean recipe. His guidance and expertise in Mexican cuisine made all the difference in creating an authentic and plant-based refried bean recipe. Even his mom approved!

By substituting animal products with plant-based alternatives and using traditional cooking techniques, we were able to craft a recipe that is just as satisfying and flavorful as traditional refried beans that use lard or pork products.

WHY you should learn how to make refried beans

  • Healthier alternative. Homemade vegan refried beans are a more nutritious option compared to store-bought versions, which often contain added preservatives, artificial flavors, and unhealthy fats. By making refried beans from scratch, you can control the ingredients and ensure that you are using high-quality, whole foods that are beneficial for your health.
  • Customizable flavors. When making your own refried beans, you have complete control over the seasoning and spice levels. This allows you to create a unique dish that caters to your personal preferences and dietary requirements. Plus, you can experiment with different herbs, spices, and add-ins to make a variety of delicious refried bean dishes.
  • Mexican comfort food. Refried beans are a classic comfort food in Mexican cuisine. They’re warm, creamy, and savory – like a hug in a bowl. Making refried beans from scratch only adds to their deliciousness and comfort, especially when paired with more of your favorite Mexican foods, such as tacos or enchiladas.

Ingredients to make refried pinto beans

  • Dry pinto beans: Because we’re using an instant pot, soaking your beans first is unnecessary. Just pick through them to remove any debris and then add the dry beans to your instant pot with water and spices, and you can skip the presoak and cook them in no time.
  • Onion + garlic: Cook the onions until they are extremely soft and translucent before adding the garlic so they blend seamlessly into the beans without bits of onions remaining.
  • Oil: I used olive oil, but you can use avocado oil if you prefer.
  • Seasoning: smoked paprika and salt.
Ingredients for recipe: fresh cilantro, oil, dry pinto beans, paprika and salt, garlic cloves, and a yellow onion.

HOW TO MAKe refried beans

Making homemade refried beans is really very easy! I like to cook my beans in the instant pot, as it’s quicker and less work. That being said, you can cook yours on the stovetop if you’d like. The hardest part of this recipe is really just waiting for the beans to cook!

Cook beans in an instant pot

  1. Rinse the dried beans and remove and discard any debris.
  2. Place beans in an Instant Pot along with water, paprika, and salt. Set the lid on the pot with the valve set to ‘seal’. Then, set on manual high pressure.
  3. Once the time is done, let the pressure release naturally before manually opening the valve to release the remaining pressure.
  4. Drain the beans, reserve some of the bean broth, and set aside.
4 image collage making recipe: 1- rinsing beans in a colander, 2- pinto beans in an instant pot with seasoning and water before cooking, 3- beans after cooking, 4- cooked beans in colander draining liquid.

Fry in a pan

  1. While the beans are releasing pressure, cook the onions in a large pot with oil until softened but not brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add remaining smoked paprika and salt, then add the cooked beans with some of the bean broth and bring to a low simmer.
  3. Once the beans begin to break down, use a potato masher to mash the beans directly in the pot.
  4. Add more broth as needed, a little at a time, and cook until the beans are creamy.
4 image collage finishing recipe in a Dutch oven: 1- cooked onion with garlic added, 2- cooked beans added with reserved bean water, 3- potato masher mashing beans, 4- refried beans in pot.

TIPS FOR making fried beans without lard

  1. Mash them up well. A potato masher or immersion blender will help you achieve the perfect creamy texture for your refried beans.
  2. Add de-seeded diced jalapeno when sauteeing the onions. It adds a nice roasted pepper taste to the onions and really makes the refried beans stand out.
  3. Don’t skip the bean broth! Reserving that liquid is the best way to incorporate the most flavor into the beans while mashing them. Start with ½ a cup until you reach a somewhat loose and creamy consistency. You may not need all the broth, but it’s better to have more than not enough!
  4. Use different beans. You can use black beans instead of pinto beans for a slightly different taste and texture.
  5. Garnish with fresh herbs and toppings. Top your creamy refried beans with fresh cilantro, chopped onions, or crumbled queso fresco to add flavor and texture to the dish.
  6. Add more flavor. Season your refried beans with a smoky, spicy kick with cumin and chili powder. Additionally, using vegetable broth instead of water for cooking the beans will add a depth of flavor to the dish. You can even use the vegetable and bean broth to add creaminess and infuse more flavor into the final product.

recipes to pair with Mexican refried beans

Serving of beans on a round plate next to chicken fajitas.

HOW TO REHEAT & STORE refried pinto beans

You can store leftover refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, add a little water or broth to the beans and heat them in the microwave or stovetop.

HOW LONG WILL instant pot refried beans LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

When stored properly, beans will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge.

CAN I FREEZE cooked beans?

Yes. Simply transfer the beans to a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat until completely warmed through.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What beans are refried beans made of?

Traditionally, refried beans are made with pinto beans, and dry beans are best. Black beans also work great, and other large white beans will also work.

What are some common ways to serve refried beans?

They are often served as a side dish with Mexican cuisine or used as a filling for burritos, tacos, or enchiladas. They can also be used as a dip for chips or vegetables.

Why is homemade better than canned refried beans?

Canned refried beans can be convenient, but they may not be as flavorful or healthy as homemade refried beans. Many canned varieties contain added preservatives, salt, and fat and may not have the same texture as homemade refried beans.

Refried beans in a large pot, garnished with fresh cilantro and a serving spoon dipped in.

Making homemade refried beans with dry beans is a quick and easy way to experience authentic Mexican cuisine at home. With traditional seasonings like garlic, onion, and paprika, you can make delicious refried beans in a fraction of the time! Whip up a batch and freeze some for later for a quick side dish to pair with all your favorite Mexican dishes!

MORE cooking tutorials:

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How to Make Refried Beans

Learn how to make refried beans using an Instant Pot for creamy and authentic Mexican side dish. Perfect for serving with all your favorites!
5 from 2 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 264
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • Rinse the dried beans and remove and discard any debris. Place beans in an Instant Pot along with the water, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon salt. Set the lid on the pot with the valve set to ‘seal’.
  • Set on manual high pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually open the valve to release the remaining pressure. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the bean broth, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, but not brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add remaining smoked paprika and salt, then add cooked beans. Add 1 cup of the reserved bean broth and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans begin to break down. Using a potato masher, mash the beans directly in the pot. Add ½ cup more bean broth at a time and continue to cook until the beans are creamy, 3-5 more minutes
  • Remove from heat and enjoy.

Notes

Storage: You can store leftover refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, add a little water or broth to the beans and heat them in the microwave or stovetop.
Tips:
Mash them up. A potato masher or immersion blender will help you achieve the perfect creamy texture for your refried beans.
Add de-seeded diced jalapeno when sauteeing the onions. it adds a nice roasted pepper taste to the onions and really makes the refried beans stand out.
Don’t skip the bean broth! Reserving that liquid is the best way to incorporate the most flavor into the beans while mashing them. Start with ½ a cup until you reach a somewhat loose and creamy consistency. You may not need all the broth, but it’s better to have more than not enough!
Use different beans. You can use black beans instead of pinto beans for a slightly different taste and texture.
Garnish with fresh herbs and toppings. Top your creamy refried beans with fresh cilantro, chopped onions, or crumbled queso fresco will add flavor and texture to the dish.
Add more flavor. Season your refried beans with a smoky, spicy kick with cumin and chili powder. Additionally, using vegetable broth instead of water for cooking the beans will add a depth of flavor to the dish. You can even use the vegetable and bean broth to add creaminess and infuse more flavor into the final product.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Sodium: 309mg, Potassium: 819mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 130IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 76mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Mexican

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