(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 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

4.8 from 9 reviews

(not) refried beans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $2.75
Cost Per Serving: $0.31
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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

88 Comments

  1. These look wonderful! I’ve never worked with dry beans before – you make it look easy!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Using gas or electric for so many hours will add to the cost making as opposed to buying already cooked. Sometimes its not worth the effort and expense ?

  3. Oh, homemade beans are worth the effort and whatever else! A crockpot uses very little energy anyway… and Beth, I like to stir cheese into mine! Mmmm mmm mmmm.

  4. I’ll be making these this week, I’ve only ever had canned so I’m interested on how much better they are :) And to Anon, a slow cooker costs like 2 cents an hour to operate…or some low number like that.

  5. Ah-Mazing!!!! I LOVE beans. My husband, he hates that I love beans ;) Making these this weekend for a party.

  6. Erin says:

    Funny I just made a nearly identical recipe for the first time a few weeks ago for a Mexican themed party. They were so good. I thought about making up another batch and freezing them in meal sized portions.

  7. @ Anonymous…A 15 oz can or Little Bear Organic refried beans was $2.75 at the store. Dry pinto beans in the natural food section were $.99 a pound. I usually cook 3-4 pounds at a time. Pre-soaking them cuts down the cooking time. I soak about 8 hours, usually. @BB…My recipe is a lot like yours , with the onions and spices, but we keep it mild. When mashed and cooled I pack them into 1, 2 and 4 cup freezer containers. When the children stop by they usually take a couple home with them. I need to do this again, almost out.

    I have never tried the slow-cooker. We have a gas cook top so just simmer on low for as long as it takes. I think the quality of the finished product far outweighs the price of the cooking, though I can’t imagine it adds that much, especially when cooking a large batch at once.

  8. Word. Slow cooker beans are so easy and tasty! I like to add a bit of grated cheese to mine as well… maybe it’s just an Oregon thing. I also like a few dried chipotles and a bit of tapitio in mine.

    I’m a bit surprised though that 1lbs of pinto beans cost so much; out here they are only $0.79 per 1lbs bag!

  9. I am a bean-a-holic. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  10. Love this. I have made refried beans from canned pinto beans, but I love that this recipe uses the dried beans and a crock pot! The spices in this sound wonderful and the pictures look great! These are also so much healthier than the canned because of the sodium content – thanks for this recipe!!

  11. Wow I’ll have to try this. I’m the only person who likes refried beans and I end up wasting most of the can since it never gets eaten. This way I could make it from scratch and freeze it into individual portions. I’ll have to try this out soon!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I will be bookmarking this and coming back to it for sure. I’m a beans anytime girl, but they are a particular favourite once there’s a bit more of a chill in the air at night.

  13. Shady says:

    Looks like the comment I posted the other day didn’t work. I buy in bulk so I’m not sure how much 2lbs of beans are. Can you give an approximate measurement in cups? Thanks

  14. Shady – one pound of dry beans is about 2 cups. The recipe is pretty forgiving, though, so if you’re over or under a bit it won’t make much of a difference :)

  15. They are sitting in my fridge “cooling” at this very moment. I let them cook overnight and used my immersion blender to mush it all up. Can’t wait to make…something…anything…with them tonight! Thanks for the great idea, I love eliminating all gobs of salt from bean recipes!

  16. Will this work with black beans does everyone think? I don’t really like the flavor of pinto beans…at least I don’t think I do. I’ve never had anything other than mass-produced pinto bean foods…Scratch that – I think I’ll try it anyways and see:o)

    PS: LOVE LOVE LOVE the new hairdo!

  17. JSMDOLL – yep, it will work with black beans! I was planning on doing that in the near future, too :) I love refried black beans from the can so I can only imagine how awesome they’d be made fresh!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you SO much!! This looks like a great recipe! I love working with dry beans & love the slow cooker. I have discoverd (slowly as I’m not a very good cook) how yummy homemade food is and I especially like that I can control fat & sodium intake and so forth. Great blog!

  19. Great!! One of your best to date. You keep coming out with great food. A++

  20. This was great! Thank you for sharing. I also really enjoy the aspect of no added fat.

  21. I have been looking for a (not) refried bean recipe that I can use for canning. Would you know how I could change it around to do that? I have a HUGE bag from Costco and need to can them really soon!

    • Esther says:

      I live on the Gulf Coast and it’s hard to buy things such as potatoes, onions, bread, etc. I keep my beans, any kind in the fridge. It seems to help them last longer.

  22. Shalin – Unfortunately I don’t know much about canning :( But dry beans should stay good in your pantry for quite some time as long as you keep them sealed tight… or you can make a big batch and just stock your freezer.

  23. Rose says:

    How long will this last in the fridge? I can’t wait to try this!!

  24. Rose – about 5 days or so (until it gets that bad bean stink!) But, it freezes wondefully!

  25. I made this recipe with black beans and it was delicious. I served it with some cojito cheese on top. This is a keeper. Thanks for your delicious and easy recipes!

  26. Anonymous says:

    This is an amazingly easy, cheap and DELICIOUS recipe! Thank you so much :) I just made my second batch and it’s my new favorite recipe. I’m trying out a wheat-free diet, so this plus corn tortillas is a delicious, healthy winner. Yays!

  27. Thanks for the recipe. I found this on Pinterest and tried it over the weekend. Made taco pizza tonight and burritos for tomorrow. I think I need a better mashing technique next time, mine didnt end up as smooth as I’d have liked. But, they were tasty. Def. Worth the effort. Thanks!

  28. I just made these tonight for dinner!! They are absolutely the best (not)refried beans I’ve ever had! Thank you so much for the recipe!!

  29. JamieD. says:

    My husband has made these beans about four times since this recipe has been posted…and he usually at least doubles it. So, I guess you can say it works out well for us. I’ve NEVER liked refried beans before these! Wow! I’m going to make another batch now to make into freezer burritos that he can take to work.

    We have found that the time it takes to cook the beans all the way down is worth it in flavor. Not absolutely revolutionary, but there’s a noticeable impact. Hubby forgot to skim out the water one time before he mashed them, so we just let it cook down. That “bean water” makes a difference!

  30. Teri says:

    I have made these twice and love them.

  31. Anonymous says:

    tried this recipe just last night…it was AMAZING! I love all things mexican food and refried beans are not so good for you…especially from a can. However, this is such a healthier option! Thanks so much for sharing it:)

  32. Just wondering how I would freeze this and reheat them. I am new to the “cooking” game.. and trying to make things up and have them stocked in the freezer..

  33. Anonymous says:

    I don’t like spicy stuff. How would this be if I left out the jalapeno?

  34. Amy – I think the best way to freeze these are in small re-sealable containers like ziplock or glad. That way you can just place them in the refrigerator for a day to thaw or microwave them. I usually freeze my stuff in single serving size portions or in 2-3 serving portions. That way you can thaw only what you need and keep the rest frozen. Hope that helped!

    Anon – These beans will still be great without the jalapeno!

  35. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband is determined to use lard in his homemade beans, the thought makes me want to hurl. Can’t wait to try these, they look awesome.

  36. Tanna says:

    Yummm! I love refried beans and these look wonderfully easy! Thank you :)

  37. This is a great and healthy recipe, that is super versatile. I added some green pepper to the pot while it cooked, and it added a nice flavour, to an already superb dish. I froze some of the mix into single serving portions, made some freezer burritos, and spread some leftovers on toast, with a tomato and an egg for a super quick and yummy breakfast. I am trying to eat less meat, so this is a great recipe to not only eat well, but also meatless! I have your Beef Taco in the crockpot as I write this, and can’t wait to try that for dinner. Smells wonderful! I am soooo glad I found your blog. :-)

  38. I’m trying to find a great recipe for Mexican style pinto beans (charro beans to us Texans). I would assume they would be great not mashed as well, right? I was thinking of adding cilantro and oregano. :) Or doing two lbs, and leaving one pinto and mashing the other lb.

  39. Ashley – I’ve never had charro beans, but I bet these would taste just as good un-mashed… and adding extra herbs can never hurt! :) Your idea for cooking a double batch and mashing half is also great!

  40. I made these and then made the freezer burrito idea that you posted as well! Turned out awesome!
    http://melizerd.blogspot.com/2012/01/food-i-made.html

    http://melizerd.blogspot.com/2012/01/notrefried-bean-burritos.html

    Thanks so much! Up next is the English Muffins! Wish me luck!!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Can I use a pot or rice cooker instead of a slow cooker?

  42. You can definitely use a pot, just simmer them until they’re tender and then proceed as usual. I’ve never used a rice cooker for anything but rice, so I’m not sure if that would work.

  43. Just made these – SO GOOD. Thanks so much!

  44. I have a whole bunch of canned pinto beans. Could I use canned beans to make this and how would it change how I make it?

  45. Scott and Danielle – you could use the method that I used for these quick seasoned black beans. It should work great!

  46. MicheleP says:

    These are AMAZING. I can’t imagine buying refried beans again. Thanks Beth, for showing once again, that homemade is less expensive, EASY and tasts GREAT.

  47. I have been looking for a way to make pink beans like my husbands mother but they never seemed to come out right. I used this slow cooker recipe with a few changes to make them and they turned out great! Not only can I serve them over rice but they also are yummy mashed up for refried beans. Thanks for the technique.

  48. how come you aren’t using a pressure cooker for your beans? they do such an amazing job, my partner who has always stove-topped the beans has been converted in only a few months to swearing by pressure cooked beans. soft and supple in under two hours (many in just an hour) and yummy. no problems with beans not getting soft…

  49. how come you aren’t using a pressure cooker for your beans? they do such an amazing job, my partner who has always stove-topped the beans has been converted in only a few months to swearing by pressure cooked beans. soft and supple in under two hours (many in just an hour) and yummy. no problems with beans not getting soft…

  50. ecoteri – I didn’t use a pressure cooker simply because I don’t have one yet ;)

  51. Holly says:

    Bah. I didn’t have any pinto beans on hand, so I ended up using red kidney beans…bad call. The consistency is weird and lumpy and I dunno, they just taste ok, but nothing stellar (and I’ve had really stellar refried beans!). I think I’m going to recycle them into sloppy joe filling or something.

  52. thanks for sharing! what a great site you have. Thanks again

  53. You weren’t kidding. I ate these out of the bowl.

    So. Delicious.

  54. So much healthier than out of a can!

  55. @Holly – It’s best to *never* cook red kidney beans from dry in a slow cooker! There’s a toxin that doesn’t get fully cooked out due to the low heat level. Other types of beans are okay. Here’s more info: http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/foodborneillness/foodborneillnessfoodbornepathogensnaturaltoxins/badbugbook/ucm071092.htm

  56. I was really excited to try this out and I followed all the directions and stuff but after 8 hours on low in my slow cooker, the beans were still a little firm. I decided to start mashing them anyway, and after mashing, etc. everything was a lot different than your photos :(. The mixture was much lighter and not as creamy. It also didn’t taste that good. I put in some of the water that I took out, thinking that could make a difference, but it didn’t. I have it in the slow cooker again(with a little more bean-water), and I plan on cooking the mixture on high a little more. Perhaps that will bring them to the right consistency/flavor.

  57. OH would it have made a difference that I let the mixture soak in the pot a little bit before I started cooking? Everything sat in the pot for several hours before I turned on the slow-cooker.

  58. Dan – Actually, letting it soak should have made it cook/soften faster. If you added salt before cooking, that can prevent them from getting soft, but I’m sure you saw that in the instructions. I’m beginning to wonder if the mineral content in people’s water affects how well the beans cook because a good number of people couldn’t get their slow cooker baked beans to soften either. Those are the only things I can think of. Hopefully cooking them on high for a little longer helped!

  59. Just made these…so easy and SO good!

  60. Anonymous says:

    While cooking do you add water when it cooks down?

  61. Anon – There should be plenty of water to last the entire cooking time. The lid on the slow cooker helps prevent the liquid from evaporating away. In fact, there is so much water that I removed some of it before mashing the beans up. I hope that helps!

  62. Anonymous says:

    Great recipe! The only thing I would change is less salt. I would probably put in 1 teaspoon and see how you like it. I love how easy this was!

  63. These are great we make them all the time. I substitute canned jalapenos for the fresh and add a couple tablespoons of the juice. Delicious!

  64. Do you think I could use canned jalapenos? I want to make these, but that’s all I have on hand!

    Thanks!

  65. Rebecca – Yep, that would work. They do have a slightly different flavor because they’re pickled (salt and vinegar), but I think that flavor would still be great!

  66. Devon says:

    I finally made this (after it had been sitting in my bookmarks for months). These are the best beans I have ever had. I still can’t believe they don’t have any oil or added fat. You are amazing!

  67. I just finished my monthly batch of beans – these have become a staple in our house! SO (so, so, so, so, so) good, and so versitile; 1000% better than anything out of a can!! In fact, I made my daughter a bean burrito last night (she doesn’t love the Chorizo & Sweet Potato Enchilladas yet) and had to use canned beans. Even though I used the brand that used to be her favorite, she took one bite and said “Mom, these aren’t your beans, are they? These are kinda weird.” I love that I can feed these to her and feel great about what she’s eating, and she thinks she’s getting a treat. I can’t thank you enough for this recipe. . . again!

  68. I add my refrieds to warmed tortillas topped with some cheese, a dribble of ketchup, a blop of sour cream and a runny fried egg. Best cheap breakfast ever!

  69. Anonymous says:

    Can you double the recipe? and have it come out ok?

  70. Anonymous – as long as you have a slow cooker that is big enough to hold a double recipe, it will still work fine :)

  71. Tapati says:

    One variable in beans softening is age. The longer they sit, the dryer they get so old beans need more cooking time and liquid to soften properly. That’s one of the selling points at Rancho Gordo–fresher beans. (Besides their heirloom varieties.) It makes a big difference. I’d cook older beans on a stove top or in a pressure cooker where you can vary the heat if needed.

  72. nnnic says:

    Wow! Such depth of flavour. This is a keeper.

    Fabulous recipe, thank you so much!

  73. TheGrandmother says:

    I love Mexican food. Store bought caan beans have gotten so expensive. I’m making these.

  74. Casey says:

    My first recipe in my new apartment! Thanks again for an amazing, never-fail recipe!

  75. Brandon says:

    Oh man another winner. This was good. So good. I made some for tacos and it was beyond delicious. I cooked the beans on low for 8 hours and added some cilantro and oregano from my garden. I am already thing of stuff to add to this.

  76. 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!

  77. 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! :)

  78. 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.

  79. 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!

  80. 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!

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

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