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Improve Taco Night with these Family Favorite Homemade Refried Beans

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This homemade refried beans recipe is excellent, and way less expensive than the canned version. Serve them with your favorite Mexican dinner, roll them up in a burrito, or spoon up a warm bowl of goodness.

Serve them up with these pulled pork tacos!

homemade refried beans in a green bowl with an orange plaid napkin

Over the years I’ve tried repeatedly to make homemade refried beans from scratch, but my family has been only lukewarm about my attempts, preferring their old standby Rosarita brand refried beans. Rosarita beans are sold in cans that have bpa in the lining. Not cool.

But my kids love these refried beans; I found myself torn every time I shopped. Buy the beans they love and subject them to endocrine disruption or suffer the consequences of grumbling, hungry teens at home? Poison them or starve them do death? (Okay, I jest.)

Not really refried beans

My friend Jane and I had discussed our inability to replicate Rosarita beans at home, so when she told me she’d found a great recipe that her family liked, I had to try it. I changed her homemade refried beans recipe up a tiny bit and increased the size of the recipe so that I’d have plenty left over. I prefer using dried pinto beans, but Jane uses black beans, kidney beans, and small red beans, too. Mix or match, as you like.

Let’s be honest though: We love them, but these are not authentic refried beans. 

Related: Weeknight Dinner: Shredded Chicken Tacos

scooping homemade refried beans out of the cooking pot with a wooden slotted spoon

Homemade refried beans

These refried beans are made on the stove top.  When cooking beans on the stove top, soaking them overnight can really speed the cooking process.  There are some other reasons to soak the beans in advance, though. Doing so can help reduce the embarrassing side effects of eating beans. And soaking beans overnight helps to remove the phytates. (More on that here.)

https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/eating-healthy-for-less/

Soaking does require a bit of planning ahead, but there’s not really any extra time involved on your part. Just set them to soak and go on about your business. I tend to let them soak overnight. When you are ready to start cooking these homemade refried beans, be sure to drain the soaked beans and use fresh cooking water.

There’s no need to chop the onion and garlic; they’ll end up cooked and mashed in the end, saving you precious time.

How to enjoy these beans

These beans are lovely served in a bowl topped with a bit of sour cream or shredded cheese, of course. But they’re a favorite here for spreading into quesadillas. Beans and a bit of cheese between two tortillas? It doesn’t get much easier than that for a nice hot lunch! My husband uses these as the base for his favorite seven layer dip. And of course we serve them alongside tacos or wrapped up as burritos.

homemade refried beans in a green bowl with an orange plaid napkin

★ Did you make these homemade refried beans? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

homemade refried beans in a green bowl with an orange plaid napkin

Homemade Refried Beans

Yield: 40 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Make taco night even better with these homemade refried beans! Wrap them up in a burrito, spread them in a quesadilla, or pair them with Spanish rice for a vegetarian fiesta.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups dry pinto beans
  • 3 small onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 T. red wine vinegar , or lemon juice
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder

Instructions

  1. Put dry beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 4-5" or so. Soak eight hours or overnight. Drain beans then add onions and garlic to the pot. Add water to cover beans by 3". 
  2. Cover the pot, but tilt the lid so that air can escape to prevent boil overs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour and a half until beans are tender. pinto beans cooked in a white pot, with some on a wooden spoon
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the cooked beans, onions, and garlic
  4. Whir beans in a food processor until beans are a creamy consistency. (I like to leave some beans whole and toss them in at the end.)  If the beans are too thick for you, add some of the cooking liquid until you're happy with the consistency.  homemade refried beans in a food processor
  5. Stir in remaining ingredients.  homemade refried beans in a food processor
  6. Refrigerate or freeze for later use, or serve immediately. Makes approximately the equivalent of 10 - 16oz cans of refried beans.

Notes

There's no need to chop the onion and garlic; they'll end up cooked and mashed in the end, saving you precious time. 

If you don't have a food processor, get out your potato masher - that'll work, too. So will an immersion blender. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 104Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gProtein: 6g

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Originally published May 2011; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

53 comments… add one
  • Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart May 9, 2011, 7:17 am

    OMG. I’m bookmarking this right away because I love refried beans (as does my DH), and I would love to try this. Thank you, thank you, for including an option for those of us who do not have a food processor.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:36 am

      It’ll take a little longer with a potato masher – and you’ll build muscles – but they’ll turn out fine!

  • Jennifer Margulis May 9, 2011, 9:00 am

    Excellent recipe. I’ve made these before and am eager to make them again!

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:36 am

      Jennifer, do you use the vinegar? I think that’s the secret ingredient that makes them good.

  • Sheryl May 9, 2011, 10:09 am

    Thanks for posting this~! I love refried beans, but never had a clue how to make them. It surprises me that it is so easily done.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:37 am

      REALLY easy. It does take time if you’ve not got a pressure cooker, but beans are something we can all make at home.

      • Carol L Jun 6, 2020, 4:10 pm

        I did not see any mention in this article about using a pressure cooker.

  • Christine May 10, 2011, 12:47 am

    These look amazingly good! I am putting pinto beans on my list the next time we go to the grocery store.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:37 am

      Let us know how they turn out, Christine!

  • Living Large May 10, 2011, 1:23 am

    Thanks so much for posting this. We eat Rosarita refried beans and had no idea about the BPA. I’ll have to try this recipe!

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:38 am

      Almost ALL canned items have BPA in the lining. The only brand I know of that doesn’t have BPA in some of their foods is Eden. (I think they’re converting over to all of their products, too.)

  • [email protected] Food. Stories. May 10, 2011, 2:36 am

    Sigh… I need a better pressure cooker so I can make beans more often. These look incredible.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:38 am

      I’ve just started using a pressure cooker. What a difference!

  • Susan May 10, 2011, 3:46 am

    This sounds like a job for my hand blender. If you don’t have one, they’re incredibly versatile and much easier to clean than a food processor. I use it for smoothies, soups, pudding, even mixing cookie batter. Mine was only about $20 from Amazon and it’s served me well.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:39 am

      I used to have a hand blender, but don’t any longer. Thanks for the suggestion for people who don’t have a food processor!

      • Holly Hendrickson Aug 4, 2017, 8:41 am

        What about using a potato ricer? It seems like that would be easier than a potato masher and the consistency would be good.

        • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2017, 8:42 am

          Sure – why not?

  • Jeanine Barone May 10, 2011, 5:51 am

    I adore refried beans. And I spend way too much money eating Mexican food in restaurants. Time to start preparing some at home. Thanks for this.

    • Kris Bordessa May 10, 2011, 7:40 am

      I think to completely rival the beans you get at a Mexican restaurant you’d need to add a bit of lard…

      • Sharon Aug 22, 2015, 11:55 am

        Amen. The lard is a glaring omission. Makes all the difference in the world.

        • Kris Bordessa Aug 24, 2015, 8:19 am

          You are certainly free to add lard. The recipe as it came to me did not include it and we loved them just as they were. We might have to try adding lard one of these times, though.

  • MyKidsEatSquid May 10, 2011, 9:59 am

    I’ve been wanting to get a pressure cooker. My mom used it all the time growing up. We make our refried beans by using a bit of bacon grease or lard–as you might imagine it makes them creamier:) But not healthier…

  • Heather Anderson May 10, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I am really looking forward to trying these. I just gave up on refried beans because I couldn’t get them right. We had settled for whole beans in our burritos rather than buying canned. Thanks.

  • Joan Lambert Bailey May 10, 2011, 4:21 pm

    I’ve been giving some serious thought to making refried beans again. We made them often, along with tortillas, when we lived in Kazakhstan. It was loads of work (no blender or food processor there), but so pathetically tasty. I’m inspired! I may even try them with some of the beans I find at the farmer’s markets here. Thanks!

  • merr May 11, 2011, 4:29 pm

    This may sound funny but I always wonderful HOW refried beans were made but never looked it up. Now, no need! Thanks, Kris!

  • Donna Hull May 15, 2011, 3:57 pm

    I always thought refried beans were unhealthy but not the way you’re cooking them. I’ll be trying this recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa May 15, 2011, 6:14 pm

      I think you’ll like them, Donna. We’ve gone through tons of recipes and this is the one – my kids think they’re *better than Rosarita!

  • Melisa Aug 4, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Has anyone tried making these beans and adding a little coconut oil in lieu of lard or bacon grease? I am thinking of trying.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011, 5:00 pm

      Melissa, the recipe itself doesn’t call for lard or bacon grease. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t add a little coconut oil. I may try that the next time I make them, actually!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011, 5:00 pm

      Melisa, the recipe itself doesn’t call for lard or bacon grease. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t add a little coconut oil. I may try that the next time I make them, actually!

  • Madeleine @ NZ Ecochick Dec 31, 2011, 2:48 pm

    Thank you so much for linking this fantastic and informative post to NZ Ecochick. We’ve made these and they are super easy and so yummy. I always look forward to your posts. All the best M xx

  • Rebecca Glenn May 4, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Yes, I have. I forgot to mention it, and thank you for this recipe, at your blog. I made a full batch last week and have some stocked in the freezer. We go through beans quickly around here.

  • Cathie Feb 12, 2013, 11:27 am

    I make them in a similar fashion, but in the crock pot. They are so much tastier than canned! I just made some yesterday, in fact.

  • Siobhan Feb 14, 2013, 10:36 am

    Wow…these are great. Just finished making it. I let the kids try and they were begging for more. 🙂 That’s always a plus. 🙂
    Blessings today
    SIobhan

  • Kathleen Schoen Jan 9, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Has anyone tried making these in a slow cooker?

  • Larry Jan 31, 2014, 6:25 pm

    This may be a healthy bean recipe, and it may be a tasty bean recipe, but it is not a recipe for refried beans.  Refried beans are called “refried” because they are cooked twice.  First they are boiled, and then they are fried in lard.  If you cannot bring yourself to make the authentic product because of the fat content, find another name for what you do want to make.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 31, 2014, 6:34 pm

      I’ve got no problem with fat. My problem has been replicating the Rosarita “refried” beans that my family loves. Are Rosarita’s actually refried? I don’t know, but that’s what they call ’em. I’ve tried a variety of methods – including lard and REfrying – only to find that this is the closest iteration, regardless of technicalities. Thanks for stopping by to point out my error.

  • Rebecca May 13, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Another way to make “re-fried” beans is to whip them up in a kitchen aid using the whisk attachment.

  • Ginny Sep 12, 2015, 4:35 am

    I bottle beans in my pressure cooker. Then when I want refried beans I simply drain of the liquid and fry them up in a little fat. Smash them with a fork or potatoe masher. I add milk or cream to mine.

  • Denise Corriveau Jun 9, 2016, 1:56 pm

    Just checking: if we use the pressure cooker, do we still have to soak the beans or do we skip that step? Thanks.

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 13, 2016, 6:41 am

      Depends on who you talk to! You can skip this step with regard to the beans getting *cooked. Some people like to soak the beans to remove the phytic acid for health reasons, though.

  • Rachel Jun 16, 2016, 4:41 am

    So excited to make these today! The beans have been soaking all night & the hubby will be home soon to finish the process with me! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 18, 2016, 12:14 pm

      How did they turn out??

  • Katha Nov 12, 2016, 9:42 am

    Wow! This recipe is great! Thanks for sharing it! I hate having to run to the store for a can and I hate buying a box at Sam’s for a small fortune. Happy dance happy dance.

  • Karen Oct 10, 2017, 2:57 pm

    Can you can the refried beans

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017, 8:17 am

      This recipe is NOT approved for canning. I freeze them.

      • Carol L Jun 6, 2020, 4:15 pm

        WHY can’t you can these?

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 10:20 pm

    So easy to make and very yummy!

  • Sarah Dickison Aug 9, 2018, 8:03 am

    Oh’ my goodness ! Thank you SO much. The kids voted. These taste exactly like Taco bell. (Which is a great second to Rosarita) No changes made. 5 STARS from this family of 10 !

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 16, 2018, 8:34 pm

      This just made my day! Glad you liked them; we do, too!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 28, 2019, 11:01 am

      Awesome! I’m so glad!

  • Sarah Dickison Aug 9, 2018, 8:07 am
  • Michelle Marie Oct 4, 2020, 4:14 am

    GREAT SHARING !!!!!

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