There’s something incredibly satisfying about refried beans from a restaurant. The crackly top, creamy texture, tantalizing salty flavor. Pure bliss.
Are they probably filled with not-so-healthy ingredients? Sure. But on occasion, such a worthy indulgence.
When experimenting with a version at home, I was going for that classic creamy, buttery texture, and simple seasonings — sticking mainly to salt and broth. Anything more seemed overcomplicated. After all, well-salted, creamy beans don’t need much else. The final result was pure magic.
Plus, we found a quick workaround to never mash beans by hand again, AND we include versions for canned pinto beans, cooked from scratch, and beans made in the Instant Pot. Let us show you how easy this technique really is!
How to Make Refried Beans
This 1-pot, 6-ingredient version isn’t traditional, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor and is incredibly easy to prepare!
The first step is to cook the pinto beans (or use canned in a pinch). If cooking from dry beans, you can either use this stovetop method or, for a quicker preparation, cook them in an Instant Pot.
Once your beans are cooked, it’s time to turn them into refried beans!
Start by sautéing onion and garlic in a bit of oil until tender. This adds another layer of flavor to the beans.
Next, add the cooked beans along with any leftover cooking liquid (or liquid from the can). Then add just enough vegetable broth to cover the beans, season with salt, and simmer to make the beans more tender and easier to mash. If the beans start to dry out or stick to the bottom of the pan, add more vegetable broth.
For mashing, there are options: 1) use an immersion blender, or 2) use a bean or potato masher.
The immersion blender is our preferred because it yields incredibly creamy beans in seconds!
All that’s left to do is garnish and serve! We like topping with cilantro, lime juice, and red onion. Hot sauce and vegan queso are also delicious.
We hope you LOVE these refried beans! They’re:
Enjoy with rice, as a dip for tortilla chips, in our Mexican 7-Layer Dip, or with your favorite Mexican-inspired dish.
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Servings 6 (1/2-Cup Servings)
- 3 cups cooked pinto beans (see instructions for canned, from scratch, and Instant Pot)
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil (or sub water but double the amount and add more as needed)
- 3/4 cup diced white onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4-1 cup vegetable broth (or store-bought // amount will vary depending on method of cooking beans)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
CANNED: If starting with canned beans, simply open cans and set aside. As the original recipe is written, about 2 15-oz (425-g) cans will yield 3 cups cooked beans.
FROM SCRATCH: If cooking pinto beans from scratch, we recommend this recipe, which yields 5 cups cooked beans. We recommend reducing the serving size to six 1/2-cup servings (rather than 10 servings), which would yield 3 cups cooked beans. The spices and diced tomatoes with green chilies are optional.
INSTANT POT: If cooking pinto beans in an Instant Pot, we recommend following this recipe but swapping the black beans for pinto beans. Be sure to save any leftover cooking liquid.
REFRIED BEANS: To prepare refried beans, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add oil (or water) and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender — about 4-5 minutes. Then add minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Turn down heat if browning too quickly.
Next add your cooked beans and any of the cooking liquid. Depending on your cooking method, your beans may be looking somewhat dry or they may be submerged in cooking liquid. Because we’re going to simmer the beans even more, you want them to be just submerged, so add only as much vegetable broth as needed to just cover the beans.
Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Then add your salt. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes to further cook and tenderize the beans. If they begin looking dry or stick to the bottom of the pan at any point, add more vegetable broth to moisten.
Your beans should now be tender. Our preferred way of mashing is with an immersion blender. If using an immersion blender, tip the pot to one side so the blade can be submerged and blend until the beans are creamy and smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a bean or potato masher will also work. It just takes more work and they won’t get quite as creamy.
If you’re blending or mashing and your beans have become too thick, thin with more vegetable broth as needed.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste. We didn’t find the beans needed more than this. However, you could add chili powder or chipotle pepper in adobo for some heat, or some ground cumin for smokiness.
Serve as is, or garnish with desired toppings (lime juice, hot sauce, cilantro, red onion, or this vegan Mexican-style queso would be delicious).
Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, warm in a pot or saucepan, adding more broth as needed.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with canned beans, the lesser amount of homemade vegetable broth, and without optional ingredients.
*Prep time does not include soaking beans if cooking from scratch.
Serving: 1 half-cup serving Calories: 151 Carbohydrates: 20.3 g Protein: 6.4 g Fat: 5.4 g Saturated Fat: 0.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.86 g Monounsaturated Fat: 3.4 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 421 mg Potassium: 282 mg Fiber: 5.2 g Sugar: 1.6 g Vitamin A: 98.49 IU Vitamin C: 2.55 mg Calcium: 63.63 mg Iron: 1.24 mg