Easy Refried Beans Recipe

When it comes to comfort food, few dishes can compete with the rich and flavorful delight of our Easy Refried Beans recipe. Refried beans (from Spanishfrijoles refritos, lit. ’rehashed or warmed-over beans’) is a dish of cooked and mashed beans that is a traditional staple of Mexican[1] and Tex-Mex cuisine

Whether as a side dish, a main course, or a flavorful addition to tacos, burritos, and nachos, refried beans offer a unique blend of taste, texture, and cultural significance. In this article, we’ll dive into the history, preparation, and versatility of our easy refried beans.

A Brief History of Refried Beans

Refried beans, or “frijoles refritos” in Spanish, have a history dating back to ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Indigenous peoples like the Aztecs and Mayans cultivated beans, primarily black and pinto beans, which served as a dietary staple. These cultures used a method of cooking beans by mashing and then frying them in lard, creating a dish somewhat akin to the modern refried beans.

The Spanish colonization of the Americas introduced ingredients like pork fat and lard to the region. These influences further refined the preparation of this dish, which evolved into the dish we know today. Throughout the centuries, refried beans have remained a beloved element of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Easy Refried beans in a bowl , topped with a little shredded cheese.


Refried beans may sound complicated, but they’re remarkably easy to make.

They can even be made from leftover Mexican Charro Beans for even more flavor. The most traditional recipe typically involves the following ingredients:


  • 2 cups of cooked beans (usually pinto or black beans)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil (vegetable oil, lard, or bacon fat)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnishes (sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro, or diced tomatoes)


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté until they become soft and translucent.
  • Stir in the cooked beans, mashing them as they cook. You can use a potato masher to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Season with cumin, salt, and pepper, adjusting to your taste preferences.
  • Continue to cook and stir the mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until it reaches the desired thickness and consistency.
  • Serve the refried beans hot, garnished with your choice of sour cream, cheese, cilantro, or diced tomatoes.

Versatility of Refried Beans

One of the reasons refried beans have become so popular is their incredible versatility. They can be enjoyed in various ways, including:

As a side dish: Serve as a flavorful accompaniment to grilled meats, or vegetables.

In burritos and tacos: Refried beans add depth and creaminess to your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes.

In nachos: A layer of refried beans provides a sturdy base for cheesy and delicious nachos.

As a dip: Combine this dish with cheese, sour cream, and spices to create a delectable bean dip for tortilla chips.

As a vegetarian main course: Refried beans can be the star of the show, especially when combined with rice, salsa, and avocado.


Refried beans are more than just a side dish; they’re a culinary journey that spans centuries of history and cultural fusion. From their humble origins to the savory delight they’ve become today; these beans hold a special place in the hearts and kitchens of people worldwide.

Their simplicity, versatility, and rich flavor make them a favorite in many households. So, whether you’re adding them to your tacos, enjoying them as a dip, or savoring them as a main course, they are always delicious!

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Happy cooking and bon appétit!

Refried beans in a brown bowl and topped with a little shredded cheese.

Refried Beans

You can’t beat the simplicity and taste of Homemade Refried Beans. This recipe comes together so easy and is a much healthier version than any store bought.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 12


  • 1 large skillet



  • 16 ounces dry pinto beans
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon lard or oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon


Cook the 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 three 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 another 30 minutes until they’re done.
  • Remove the onion and as many beans as you want to refry. Reserve the bean broth water.

Refry the Beans

  • In a large skillet (preferably an iron skillet), heat lard or oil over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and lightly fry. Add the beans, seasonings 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.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, as needed. Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

You could also start this recipe using any leftover beans, or leftover charro beans.  Just as delicious!


    Calories: 237kcal
    Carbohydrates: 43g
    Protein: 14g
    Fat: 1g
    Saturated Fat: 1g
    Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g
    Monounsaturated Fat: 1g
    Sodium: 341mg
    Potassium: 945mg
    Fiber: 11g
    Sugar: 2g
    Vitamin A: 6IU
    Vitamin C: 6mg
    Calcium: 85mg
    Iron: 4mg
    Keyword beans, refried beans

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