(Not) Refried Beans

$2.75 recipe / $0.31 serving

Have you ever had refried beans that were so good that you wanted to just eat them plain out of a bowl? If you’ve been getting them out of a can, I’m gonna guess not.

These beans are just that. They have an incredible, complex flavor thanks to the jalapeno, chili, and other spices… and they’re completely GUILT FREE. Actually, you should not only feel guilt free, you should feel proud. You deserve to wear a little gold star pin that says “Winner!” on it just for eating these beans. Beans are full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants… and I promise you’ll want to come back for more.

My batch was just a tad on the spicy side and I know that many of you can’t go there for various reasons. So, I would suggest using half of a jalapeno and half of the chili powder. Both the jalapeno and the chili powder bring a lot of flavor along with their heat so I wouldn’t suggest nixing them all together. When preparing the jalapeno just be sure to remove ALL of the seeds and white ribs on the inside because this is where most of the heat lives.

This recipe makes about the same amount as three standard sized cans of refried beans. The left overs can be frozen so don’t worry about the volume. I used mine in a recipe (stay tuned) but you can also eat it as a dip, fill up some freezer burritos, or even stuff them into tacos. Refried beans are all-purpose, which is probably why they come as a side to every single entree at Mexican restaurants! Well, that and they’re cheap.

(not) Refried Beans

not refried beans

4.5 from 22 reviews
(not) refried beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.75
Cost Per Serving: $0.31
Serves: 9
  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans $1.32
  • 1 medium onion $0.89
  • 1 medium jalapeno $0.10
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic $0.24
  • 1 tsp cumin $0.05
  • ½ tsp chili powder $0.05
  • 10-15 cranks cracked black pepper $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp salt $0.05
  • 6 cups water $0.00
  1. Spread the dry beans out onto a baking sheet to pick through them and remove any stones or bad pieces. Place the beans in a colander and rinse with cool water.
  2. Slice open the jalapeno and remove the seeds and ribs by scraping with a spoon. Dice the jalapeno and the onion. Place the onion and jalapeno in the slow cooker along with the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Do not add the salt.
  3. Add the sorted and rinsed beans to the slow cooker along with 6 cups of water. Give everything a good stir to distribute the seasoning. Secure the lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8. It’s okay if they cook longer, they’ll just be easier to mash.
  4. After cooking, remove as much water as possible and reserve it in a bowl. Mash the beans and add the reserved water back in as needed. Make the beans a little thinner in texture than you’d expect because they will thicken as they cool. Season the beans with salt at this point. By adding salt at the end, you’ll need to add less and the beans won’t be so tough. I used approximately 1 Tbsp but add a little at a time until you’re satisfied. Serve warm!


To freeze, divide the beans up and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled. Place in freezer safe containers, remove as much air as possible, label and date, and then transfer to the freezer.

not refried beans

Step By Step Photos

sort beansStart by sorting through your beans. You don’t want any little rocks in your refried beans! Spreading them out on a baking sheet makes it really easy to see any bad pieces. Transfer the beans to a colander and give them a good rinse.

seasoningRemove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno with a spoon. Dice the jalapeno and onion then add them both to the slow cooker with the garlic, cumin, chili powder and freshly cracked black pepper. Do not add the salt. Adding salt before cooking will make the beans tougher and you’ll end up having to use twice as much.

add water beansAdd the cleaned and sorted beans along with 6 cups of water. Stir everything up so that the spices are well distributed.

stirSecure the lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours. After, it will look a little something like this.

extra liquidStir everything up to see how much extra liquid is in the pot. Remove as much liquid as possible but don’t throw it away. I was able to get about 1.75 cups out with a measuring cup which left just enough in there to mash them easily. You can mash with a potato masher or even use a hand mixer. Add more of the reserved liquid back in as you mash if needed.

mashed beansMash until you have a soft, goopy mess of beans. Make them a little thinner than you’d think because when they’ll thicken up some when they cool down to eating temperature. Season with salt at this point. Start by adding 1 tsp of salt at a time until they get to where you like. I ended up using about 1 tablespoon (or 3 teaspoons) of salt.

not refried beansEat them with chips, in a burrito, or just with a spoon like I did! :P


  1. Babs says:

    I am not a bean eater. Not at all. Those beans are just something they put on your plate at mexican restaurants to make it look like you have more food.

    Until I tried these. Unbelievable. I CRAVE them. If they are in the fridge, I keep making excuses to go out and eat a spoonful. Cold, hot, whatever! Oh and they make AMAZING 7 layer dip.

    I don’t like spicy, so I substituted canned green chiles for the jalapeno.


  2. teresa says:

    i must really have a tolerance for spicy… i always add at least three jalapenos with the seeds and light green flesh part into my beans and sometimes they arent spicy enough! I dont have a slow cooker but i cook pintos on the stove at a slow boil covered for two hours, uncovered for the last, and black beans for three hours covered, uncovered for the final and fourth hour. Hope this helps anyone without a slow cooker

  3. I’ve made this recipe three times now, I love it. I’ve been considering mixing things up and using black beans though. Would this recipe work OK with black beans as is, or do you think anything would need to be adjusted?

  4. Lauren W. says:

    This is now my new staple refried beans recipe! Turned out delicious and oh so healthy!

  5. Nicole says:

    Just found your site and really love it!!

    Quick question about this recipe – in New Zealand (where I live) the most common way to buy beans is in cans. These are uncooked and just in water. Do you know if these canned beans would still work with this recipe? I worry that since they are already moist, it may ruin things.

    Any thoughts much appreciated!

    • Correct, this recipe is for dry beans only. Using canned beans would require changing the liquid to bean ratio and, unfortunately, I couldn’t say exactly what ratio to use without testing it out.

  6. Brandy says:

    This is going to sound stupid but,how long to I cook them if i am not using a slow cooker? Mine broke on Monday after having it for 10 years and I have not gotten a new one yet.

    • Hmm, I’m not sure, but I think if you simmer them on the stove it might take a few hours. You’ll have to just keep checking them to see if they’re fall apart tender.

      • Brandy says:

        Thanks. Bye the way I love your site!! Everything we, my son and I, have eaten is great.

    • I cook beans all the time without a slow cooker. I don’t use cumin, jalapeno pepper or chilli pepper. I give the beans an overnight soak or at least 6 hour soak. I do use 1 or 1/2 a bay leaf.

      Combine the beans, garlic, onion, and bay leaf in a pot. Add enough water to reach about 1 1/2 inches over the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Add more water if the beans are absorbing too much liquid. The beans should be soupy when done, with plenty of liquid remaining. Season the beans with salt and pepper, to taste. I usually freeze. I use throughout the week by reheating in a small pot. I add water if needed and smash with a potato smasher. No frying needed.

  7. DaniM says:

    I will never buy canned beans again! I soaked, rinsed, and boiled mine (yes, I have to do everything the hard way). I reserved about 3 cups of the bean wage after cooking. I cooked the onion, jalepeno, garlic, and spices on the stove. Then I put everything in a food processor in batches and added the reserved water as needed. I added more salt am cumin to mine. These were awesome. Used some for your taco pizza and then vacumned packed and froze the leftovers. Yum! Thank you!!

  8. I accidentally bought pink beans instead of pinto beans (I was distracted by news that there had been a fire in the grocery store that day!). Can I use pink beans for this recipe?

  9. Kelly says:

    I made these and I will NEVER buy canned beans again.
    They taste SO much better and I usually have most of this stuff on hand so they end up being cheaper too.

  10. Phil says:

    Thanks for this recipe.
    I’d never tried refried beans before (live in UK) but love slow cooker recipes so gave it a go.
    I was 90% happy with the result. I kind of guessed at 5/6 cloves of garlic, but I think it was a bit too much as that was the main smell/flavour. Also only had chilli flakes, not powder so i think more than I used would have been better. I would probably use a whole jalapeno next time too.
    This is all down to personal taste obviously!
    Also, I filled the slow cooker the night before then just turned it on in the morning, don’t know if that affected the end result or not?!
    Great website by the way.

    • Shanna says:

      I’ve always been taught to rinse the beans after an overnight soak. And start the cooking with fresh water.

    • Anne says:

      Raw beans of any type are actually mildly poisonous. You soak the beans to activate enzymes that will destroy the toxins/to wash the toxins away. So, yes, not rinsing the beans will make them have a different flavor. They taste much, much better if you rinse them after soaking.

  11. Bess says:

    Can you use this recipe without a slow cooker? I have a rice cooker, but no slow cooker right now.

    • I don’t know if beans can be cooked in a rice cooker, but you can probably boil them on the stove top, although it will take a few hours.

  12. LaTrice says:

    First off Beth, I have to give you props for making homemade refried beans in a slow cooker, and to me, that idea is BRILLIANT!! I’m used to buying refried beans in a can, but I’m willing to try the homemade version. Is it possible that I can freeze the refried beans, and if so, how long will it last in the freezer?

    • Yes, beans freeze reall well! :) I usually try to use up frozen goods within about three months because I find that they start to dry out and lose quality after that, but there’s no solid rule about how long it will last.

  13. Jamie says:

    I’ve made these beans so many times it’s silly. I have the recipe memorized and they’re in the crockpot right now. Everyone loves them! I prefer to leave them whole instead of mashing…if the leftovers need to be mashed i can do it then. I refuse to buy canned refried beans any more. Thank you so much!

  14. Clove says:

    This is the first recipe I’ve made here that I wasn’t fond of, which surprised me seeing all the raving reviews. The taste just was not up to par with actually fried beans. They were certainly well seasoned, but there was no denying that it just tasted like mashed pinto beans. I put them in burritos and they tasted fine, just more like boiled, seasoned beans like the ones from chipotle. Some people really like that taste, so I imagine that’s where all the positive reception is from. I’m giving this recipe a low score not because I think it’s inherently a bad recipe, but because it does not live up the hype of being like traditional refried beans like those you might find at a good Mexican restaurant.

    • LaTrice says:

      I don’t want to sound rude, but refried beans are made from pinto beans!!!

      • Clove says:

        Um, yes, I know pinto beans are what go into refried beans. I have made them before, as a matter of fact, but thanks for pretending that I must be stupid to not like this recipe even after saying I believed it was a matter of personal taste. These do not have the taste of genuine refried beans. Like many recipes that rely on frying, the fat contributes much of the flavor assosciated with them. This is NOT a bad recipe, but it is being disingenuine to say it tastes the same as real refried beans.

  15. Should have been five stars:)

  16. These are our very favorite refried beans! We all love them- the husband, and 7, 5 and 1 year olds! We always easy refried bean nacho salads when we make these beans and dinner is eaten without one complaint! It’s one of my favorite nights:) I never keep jalapeños on hand so I always use a can of green chilies instead and it tastes awesome! Thank you for your recipes Beth! I always like what I cook from your site!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I noticed that this recipe is nearly identical to the one that was linked and recommended to you, from the site allrecipes.com, by a previous commenter. I find your site incredibly helpful, but I also think it’s important to honor those who originate the recipes even when slight modifications are made.

    • I don’t see the link you’re referring to, but I assure you, as a long time blogger I appreciate the importance of giving credit where credit is due. If I had worked off of another recipe, I would have cited it.

  18. sarah c says:

    YUM! Made these for the second time today, turned the leftovers from dinner into many frozen bean burritos for quick lunches. Thanks for sharing the budget friendly yums! I’ve pinned many of your recipes!

  19. If you try these and they don’t turn out – TRY AGAIN! Not sure what happened the first time, they were okay, but very pale and kinda tasteless. Followed the recipe exactly.

    This time I tried them – they were out of this WORLD! One difference I noticed was that after several hours in the crock, the top layer of beans was darker in color than the beans on the bottom, so every few hours I’d stir them up. Made a nice dark tan color in the end. That didn’t happen the first time so I’m wondering if I just didn’t cook long enough? Or maybe the onion I used was larger? Or maybe just a different brand of pinto beans?

    Also I throw these in the food processor once they are done cooking and I never seem to need to get rid of or add any liquid. Whatever is left in the crock at the end of the cooking time is just enough to help the beans blend up perfectly in the food processor.

    If you’re worried about spice – DON’T. Like Beth said, as long as you are getting rid of the seeds and ribs, you’ll get a great flavor without the spice.

    • Babs says:

      Or maybe the pinto beans were older… even if you just bought them. Beans that are older take longer to cook. :>)

  20. Lauren says:

    So I soaked beans for 24hrs… how would I make this with already soaked beans? Crock pot or stove? And whats the weight ratio to a can.. like ___cooked = 15oz can

    • It will need less water if they’re already soaked, but I’m not sure how much less. I’d need to experiment. I think 1.5 cups is about equal to one can. usually one pound of beans makes about 3 cans worth, but it may be different if they’re mashed.

  21. Karen says:

    Utterly fantastic!! Another winner. I zipped mine through the food processor to make it smooth. Made some great bean dip and taco filling!

  22. Esther says:

    This is about the fourth time I have made this recipe but I always use black beans. I’ve tasted the refried black beans with jalapeño from Trader Joes and they are awesome but this is way cheaper and tastes better. Yumm!

  23. I made these today and they turned out fab…as your recipes always do! I noticed that I had quite a bit of the cooking liquid left over even after keeping them thin like you said. It seemed a shame to just pour it down the drain, but I couldn’t think what else to do with it. (I had at least two cups worth.) Any thoughts?

    • Hmm, I don’t know. I wonder if you could use it in a soup?

      • Great news! I DID make a soup using the liquid from the beans, a can of diced tomatoes (I drained), 3 oz, cooked turkey sausage (removed from casing), half a bag of frozen spinach and about 2 cups of cooked brown rice. It was so delicious that I recently made the beans again just so that I could also make the soup again. I added a bit of homemade vegetable broth the second time because it needed more liquid. And these beans are awesome in your taco pizza, btw.

  24. Beth C says:

    I love this! I make this for my coworkers when we have potlucks at work. They can’t get enough! I love this! It’s good on its own or as a simple bean dip. Thanks Beth! I can’t wait to buy your book! :)

  25. Jessica Worst says:

    I tried this recipe in February for a crowd after finding it on Pinterest. Everyone loved it, I’ve been making it ever since. What has made this a staple for me, is freezing it in silicon muffin liners in a muffin tray. Pop them out, store in a freezer baggie and I can just grab a “bean muffin” to make the kids a quesadilla for lunch. I’ve even snuck greens into the recipe at the end when I blend with an immersion blender and no one is the wiser that they are getting a healthy does of green veggies. Thank you for a wonderful blueprint, and I have now been able to explore your awesome site and really enjoyed everything we tried!

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