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Kick the can aside and learn how to make vegan refried beans from scratch. This recipe is so delicious and is easy to make–plus, it’s low cost, gluten free, and freezer friendly.
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- Legumes: dried pinto
- Fat: olive oil
- Aromatics: onions, garlic
- Spiciness: jalapeño pepper
- Dried Spices: ground cumin, chipotle chili powder, Mexican oregano, black pepper, salt
- Fresh Spices: cilantro
- Liquid: bean broth, water
- Tang: freshly squeezed lime juice
Are refried beans vegan?
Most restaurant and canned versions aren’t vegan because they use lard. Our recipe for refried beans uses olive oil to fry so it is okay for vegans and vegetarians to eat.
Are the refried beans fried twice?
No, the name comes from the Spanish word for dish, frijoles refritos, which means well fried. Once the legumes are cooked, they are only fried one time.
What do refried beans taste like?
Pintos mash easily and are slightly sweet and earthy in flavor. They are the most popular bean to use for refried beans because they have a creamy texture.
Are refried beans healthy?
A 1/2 cup serving size contains 181 calories with 30.8 g of carbs. Refried beans are also high in fiber, protein, and iron. For more nutritional information, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
Should I soak the dried beans?
Whether you soak overnight or use the quick soak method, soaking does speed up the cooking time. It also reduces the amount of gas in the final product. If you choose not to soak, the cooking time will be increased by an hour or two.
Can I cook the dried legumes in a crock pot or pressure cooker?
Yes, you can cook them in the crockpot or pressure cooker, but you’ll still need to use the stovetop to fry the pintos once they’re cooked.
- Crockpot: cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 3-4 hours, then proceed with the stovetop instructions.
- Pressure Cooker: cook for 30 minutes, then proceed with the stovetop instructions.
Can you make refried beans ahead?
Yes, you most certainly can. This recipe tastes amazing the next day, so feel free to make it the night before. Once it cools, store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.
Can you freeze refried beans?
Why, of course! This recipe freezes really well. Allow them to fully cool, then place 2 cup amounts in freezer bags. Lay the bags flat for easier storage, and freeze for up to 4 months.
To thaw, place in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove in a pan over medium-low heat. Add a few tablespoons of water to the refried beans to get the consistency you want.
- Side Dish: Mexican rice
- Filling: burritos, tacos, enchiladas
- Topping: nachos, tostadas, bowls
- Dip: serve with tortillas
Start by gathering the ingredients: dried pinto beans, salt, and water. For 2 pounds, I used roughly 8 cups of water.
When using dried, the first thing you need to do is pick out any debris or discolored ones.
Put the dried ones in a large colander and rinse them well under cold water.
For the quick soak method, place them in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven and cover them with 2 inches of water.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Uncover and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the pot sit on the element for one hour. This is the soaking time for the quick method.
This is what your pintos should look like after soaking. The next step is to drain them.
How to Make
Start by cooking the soaked legumes. Put the 2 pounds of soaked legumes in a pot and cover with 2 inches of fresh water, then add a quartered onion and 2 bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil, then stir in the salt.
Reduce the heat to medium low and let them simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes, then stir and cook uncovered for 30 more minutes. They are done when they are soft. To test, just squish a couple of them on the side of the pot with a wooden spoon or eat a few. If they aren’t to your liking, cook for another 30 minutes.
If you choose not to soak your legumes, you’ll increase the cooking time by an hour or two. Once they are soft, remove the bay leaves and the onion, then drain them. Remember to reserve 2 1/2 cups of the liquid for the refried beans.
Once they are cooked (stovetop, crock pot, pressure cooker), heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion and diced jalapeno and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute, while constantly stirring.
Next, add the spices (black pepper, ground cumin, chipotle chili powder, and Mexican oregano). Mix them in well with the onions and cook for a minute, stirring constantly, to bloom the spices.
Stir the cooked legumes into the onion mixture a little at a time.
Once all the pintos are incorporated, cook the mixture covered for 5 minutes over medium low heat.
Mash with a potato masher until it’s the consistency you want.
Add the broth reserved from the cooking process a little at a time, until they are creamy. You’ll probably need to mash them some more if you like them on the smoother side.
Cook for another 2 minutes to get everything heated through.
Once they are the right consistency and texture, remove the pot from the heat. Add the salt and the freshly squeezed lime juice to taste.
There you have it: creamy homemade refried beans! Feel free to garnish with chopped cilantro. Eat them plain as a side, or add to other Mexican dishes; either way, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Make up a batch tonight!
We like to eat refried beans in tacos or in a bowl with Mexican rice, roasted salsa verde, and fresh tomatoes.
- Don’t have pinto? Use black, pinquito, or white navy.
- Don’t have a jalapeno pepper? Use roasted green chilies.
- Don’t want these to be vegan? Use lard or bacon grease for the fat.
- Want the refried beans spicy? Add dried red chilis or fresh serrano peppers.
- Want to use a crock pot? Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high, then fry them on the stovetop.
- Want to use a pressure cooker? Cook for 30 minutes, then fry them on the stovetop.
- In a hurry? Use a good quality canned version (7 15 oz cans), but rinse and drain them, and use vegetable broth for bean broth.
- Legumes older than one year take longer to cook. Try to use newer ones.
- Don’t want to soak? Increase the cooking time.
- Want it real smooth? Put it in a food processor or use an immersion blender.
Other Mexican Recipes to Try
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Vegan refried beans are best when homemade. Learn how to make authentic Mexican beans that are healthy, creamy, and gluten free. Make this ahead for your next party and freeze any leftovers for a quick and easy dinner idea.
- 2 pounds dried pinto beans
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
- 2 cups white onion, chopped (245g)
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (32g)
- 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 10 cups cooked pinto beans
- 2 1/2 cups bean broth (reserved liquid from cooking)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from 3 large limes
- 1/3 cup cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Quick Soak (1 hr 25 min)
- Pick out any damaged ones, then rinse them in a colander and drain.
- Place the pintos in a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart pot and cover with 2 inches of cold water.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and let the water boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the pot on the element, and let it stand covered for 1 hour.
- Drain and rinse them thoroughly.
Cook (1 hr 35 min)
- Cover the soaked pintos with 2 inches of water and add a quartered onion and 2 bay leaves. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium low, put the lid askew, and simmer for 5 minutes. Re-cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and let it cook for another 30 minutes or until they are soft. To test, squish one against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove the quartered onion and the 2 bay leaves.
- Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the bean water to help thin the refried beans later, then drain.
Making the Refried Beans (45 min)
- Heat up the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until it shimmers, then add the onion and salt. Let it saute for a couple of minutes, then add the diced jalapeno. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the minced garlic and cook while stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- Add the spices (cumin, chipotle chili powder, Mexican oregano, and black pepper) and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Gradually add the cooked pintos, making sure to thoroughly mix in the onion and spice mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat.
- Remove the lid and reduce the heat to low. Mash the beans with a potato masher until 3/4 are mashed. Pour in the reserved broth leftover from the cooking, then stir. Continue mashing until they are the consistency you want. If needed, add some filtered water to thin it out.
- Taste and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to the refried beans, if desired. Cook 3 minutes more, then remove from the heat. Mix in the freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Serve warm, garnished with some fresh cilantro.
Want to make the sides in the burrito bowl photo in the post? We used the following:
- Mexican Rice: Rinse starch from rice. Fry the onion, garlic, tomato paste and long grain rice in olive oil. Add water, salt and tomato bouillon. Simmer 20 minutes. Rest 10 minutes.
- Roasted Salsa Verde: Roast tomatillos, serrano pepper, onion, garlic at 400 F until charred. Add cilantro, lime juice, salt, sugar and roasted veggies to processor and pulse.
- Try to use newer legumes, if they are older than one year, they will take longer to cook.
- Increase the cooking time, if you don’t want to soak the pintos.
- Put the refried beans in a food processor or use an immersion blender if you want them really smooth.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: authentic refried beans, Mexican refried beans recipe