You can’t beat the simplicity and taste of Homemade Refried Beans, made with just five-ingredients! I love how easy this recipe and knowing my family is getting a healthier version made with real ingredients.
If you love easy, homemade Mexican food, you must try my Authentic Mexican Rice, cheese enchiladas, and Tres Leches Cake!
Refried beans with melted cheese on top.
It wasn’t until I spent a few months living in Puebla, Mexico that I learned how easy it is to make homemade refried beans (and how significant the taste of truly homemade is versus the canned stuff!).  They do require you to soak the beans overnight, but there is very little actual effort required for this recipe.  And now I cringe at the thought of canned refried beans!

About the beans:

  • Dried beans (NO CANS!): The key to authentic refried beans is using dry beans.  Canned beans will not result in the same texture or flavor and it’s just not the way Mexican refried beans are made!  You can find dry beans in the Mexican food isle at the grocery store.
  • Pinto beans: refried beans are usually made with pinto beans but black beans can also be used.

How to Make Refried Beans:

1. Rinse and soak beans.  Sift through the dry beans, removing any unwanted pieces from the bag.  Add the beans to a large pot, cover with water and soak overnight.

2. Boil beans.  Drain beans, add them to a pot and cover them with fresh water. Add onion to the pot and a couple dashes of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for one hour.

3. Fry beans.   Heat lard or oil in skillet.  Add the garlic and stir. Add the beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of reserved water from the bean broth.

4. Mash.  Gently smash the beans with a potato masher or fork as they cook.  Continue stirring and mashing until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.

A skillet with refried beans whole, and then mashed.

5. Serve. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

For Instant Pot Refried Beans (No Soaking):

1. Rinse beans.  Rinse in a colander, removing any unwanted pieces that may be in the bag.

2. Add to Instant Pot.  Add the beans, onion, and salt to the instant pot and fill the pot with about 7-8 cups of water.

3. Pressure cook.  Turn valve to sealed and cook on high pressure/manual for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 25 minutes. Remove lid and test beans to make sure they are tender.

4. Sauté beans.  Drain the beans, removing the onion and reserving ½ cup of the bean broth water. On SAUTE mode, add lard or oil. Once hot, add the garlic and stir. Add the beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of the bean broth. (You could also chop the reserved onion and add it to the pan).

5. Mash.  Cook, gently smashing the beans as they cook with a potato masher or fork.  Continue stirring and mashing until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.

6. Serve. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

A skillet of refried beans with a wooden spoon in it.

For Crockpot Refried Beans (No Soaking):

1. Combine Ingredients.  Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover with fresh water.

2. Cook on high for 8 hours, or overnight.

3. Drain.  Drain the beans, removing the onion and reserving ½ cup of the bean broth water.

4. Sauté beans.  Add lard or oil to a hot skillet.  Add garlic, beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of the bean broth. (You could also chop the reserved onion and add it to the pan).

5. Mash.  Cook, gently smashing the beans as they cook with a potato masher or fork.  Continue stirring and mashing until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.

6. Serve. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

Adaptations:

To use canned pinto beans: substitute 2 cans of pinto beans, drained but liquid reserved.

Cheesy refried beans:  Top your refried beans with Mexican cotija cheese or stir in your favorite shredded cheese.

Refried black beans- substitute one pound of dry black beans.

Add bell peppers- Finely chop bell pepper and sauté it with the garlic in step 7 of the recipe.

Spicy refried beans- remove the stem from a jalapeño peppers and finely dice it.  Sauté it with the garlic in step 7 of the recipe.

Consider serving these with:

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Recipe

Refried beans with melted cheese on top.
Prep 10 hrs
Cook 20 mins
Total 10 hrs 20 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans , about 2 cups
  • 1 large onion , quartered
  • 2 Tablespoons lard or oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt , or more, to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin , or more, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon oregano , or more, to taste

Instructions
 

Stove-top Refried Beans:

  • Rinse pinto beans in a colander, removing any unwanted pebbles or pieces that may be in the bag.
  • Add the beans to a large pot, cover with water and soak overnight.  
  • Drain soaked beans and return them to the pot. Add fresh water to cover the beans up to two inches above them. Add onion to the pot and a couple dashes of salt. 
  • Bring beans to a boil, cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Check the beans and if they’re not completely cooked after one hour, let them simmer a few minutes longer until they’re done. 
  • Drain the beans, removing the onion and reserving the bean broth water.
  • In a large skillet (preferably an iron skillet), heat lard or oil over medium heat. 
  • Add the garlic and stir. Add the beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of the bean broth. (You could also chop the reserved onion and add it to the pan).
  • Cook, gently smashing the beans as they cook with a potato masher or fork. 
  • Continue stirring and mashing, adding additional bean broth as needed until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Taste and season with additional salt, cumin and oregano, as needed. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

Notes

For Instant Pot Refried Beans:
1. Rinse beans.  Rinse in a colander, removing any unwanted pieces that may be in the bag.
2. Add to Instant Pot.  Add the beans, onion, and salt to the instant pot and fill the pot with about 7-8 cups of water.
3. Pressure cook.  Turn valve to sealed and cook on high pressure/manual for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 25 minutes. Remove lid and test beans to make sure they are tender.
4. Sauté beans.  Drain the beans, removing the onion and reserving ½ cup of the bean broth water. On SAUTE mode, add lard or oil. Once hot, add the garlic and stir. Add the beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of the bean broth. (You could also chop the reserved onion and add it to the pan).
5. Mash.  Cook, gently smashing the beans as they cook with a potato masher or fork.  Continue stirring and mashing until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
6. Serve. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.
For Slow Cooker Refried Beans:
1. Combine Ingredients.  Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover with fresh water.
2. Cook on high for 8 hours, or overnight.
3. Drain.  Drain the beans, removing the onion and reserving ½ cup of the bean broth water.  
4. Sauté beans.  Add lard or oil to aahot skilled.  Add garlic, beans, cumin, oregano and ¼ cup of the bean broth. (You could also chop the reserved onion and add it to the pan).
5. Mash.  Cook, gently smashing the beans as they cook with a potato masher or fork.  Continue stirring and mashing until you get the texture you like and the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.  Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
6. Serve. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 14gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 8mgPotassium: 933mgFiber: 10gSugar: 2gVitamin C: 5.9mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 3.3mg

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*I originally shared this recipe March 2013. Updated February 2020 with process photos and instructions for making refried beans in the instant pot and slow cooker.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    I used the pressure cooker recipe, and I am in love! turned out perfectly. I tried with pinto beans, but today I am going to try with black beans. Thanks for helping us with fresh refried beans!!!

  2. 5 stars
    This was my first ever recipe I used in an instant pot. I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure I’d like it and even though it’s unnecessary, I soaked the beans overnight and then used the instant pot instructions. I regretted halving the recipe because it was so good. Since it’s so quick and easy I went and made it again the next day. The 2nd time around I made a full recipe because it’s that’s good.

  3. I cooked these in the Instant Pot yesterday and followed the recipe. They are delicious. Unfortunately, I had a little too much broth when I blended them so they were a little soupy. My fault- not the fault of the recipe. However, I refrigerated them and warmed them in the microwave for tonight’s Mexican feast. Very tasty 😋 and I’ll do this again. Also used your enchilada recipe but with ground beef and your recipe for authentic Mexican rice. So, tonight’s dinner was by Lauren Allen. It does taste better from scratch!

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