How to Make Refried Beans

  • 01 of 10

    Start With Pinto Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    What You Will Need

    • 16 oz. bag of Pinto beans
    • A large bowl of water to soak the beans
    • Olla, stock pot or crock pot to cook the beans
    • Epazote (optional, if you have it available)
    • Fat for frying the beans (In order of preference- lard, pork fat, bacon renderings, coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil or any combination of those)
    • A comal, cast iron pan or another frying pan
    • A wooden spoon or other utensils to smash the beans with
    • Additional water to thin the beans (optional)

    First, you will need to soak the beans overnight in a large bowl of water. The water should cover the beans by at least 2 inches. Loosely cover them and let them soak for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. After soaking, rinse them thoroughly in a colander or strainer and keep an eye out for any rocks or debris that may be mixed in with the beans.

    Place the beans in an olla, stock pot or Crock-pot and add enough water to cover the beans. If you are using Epazote, you can add a sprig while the beans are cooking. Cook on low for 8to 10 hours, or until the beans are cooked and softened.

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  • 02 of 10

    Fully Cooked Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    When the beans are fully cooked, they should look like this. There should be very little or no water remaining because the beans should have absorbed it all. Remove the sprig of Epazote if you are using it.

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  • 03 of 10

    Preparing the Comal or Pan

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Prepare the comal or pan by heating about three tablespoons of the fat until it is melted. If your pan is heavy, use a wooden spoon to spread the fat around the pan, or pick up the pan and swirl the fat around. Try dropping a pinch of the bean into the fat, if it sizzles it is ready.

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  • 04 of 10

    Adding the beans to the hot pan

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Add a spoonful of the beans to the hot fat. There should be no liquid with the beans, or the liquid will spatter in the fat. Take care not to burn yourself during the frying process. Use oven mitts or a splatter shield to help prevent you from getting hit with the hot fat.

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  • 05 of 10

    Smashing the Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Using a wooden spoon or other mashing utensils, smash the beans a little bit at a time while they fry in the hot pan.

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  • 06 of 10

    Adding More Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    When the first spoonful of beans has been fried for a minute or two, push them to the side of the pan and add another spoonful of beans and begin to fry them. It is very important that you have sufficient fat in the pan, so add another tablespoon (or two) if you need too.

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  • 07 of 10

    Continue to Fry the Beans a Large Spoonful at a Time

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Continue to add the beans to the hot pan with a large serving spoon, approximately 1/2 at a time. Keep smashing them and frying them until they are all in the pan.

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  • 08 of 10

    Adding Liquid

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    The beans will be very thick at this point, and that might be fine for you, depending on what you are using them for. If you need to thin them out a little bit, add 1/4 of water and mix it in over medium heat until. Continue to add water until the beans are the right texture for you.

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  • 09 of 10

    Finished Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    You can serve them as they are, or you can simmer them while you add seasonings such as chopped garlic, chopped onion or garlic powder and onion powder.

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  • 10 of 10

    Refried Beans

    Refried beans
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Refried beans make a great side dish for just about any Mexican meal, and they can be added to soups, burritos, quesadillas and more. Feel free to get creative with your refried beans and add some additional flavors such as chopped jalapeños, hot chile sauce, chopped green chiles or a couple of pinches of cumin while they are simmering. You can also add toppings such as chopped onion, chopped cilantro or a sprinkle of queso fresco or Asadero.