(Not) Refried Beans

$2.51 recipe / $0.28 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.77 from 64 votes
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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 your refried beans out of a can, I’m going to guess you haven’t.

These (not) refried beans are that delicious. They have an incredibly complex flavor thanks to the jalapeño, chili, and other spices. The beans are so good and so flavorful, you’ll be tempted to serve them as your main dish. Dress them up with some roasted corn, crumbly cheese, and maybe some grilled zucchini and you can make a bowl out of them!

Goes Well With: Homemade Tortilla Chips, Weeknight Enchiladas, Spiced Chickpea Tostadas

Originally posted 8-14-11, updated 8-19-16

(not) Refried Beans

A bowl full of slow cooker (not) Refried Beans ready for dipping. Topped with sliced jalapeño

How to Use (Not) Refried Beans

This recipe makes about the same amount as three standard 15oz. size cans of refried beans. The left overs can be frozen so don’t worry about the large volume. You can use them as a chip dip, in a quick batch of Weeknight Enchiladas, to fill burritos, layered into a 7 Layer Dip, or more. These beans are versastile, so you’ll be glad you made a big batch!

How to Freeze Refried Beans

To freeze these beans first make sure you cool them completely in the refrigerator. Then, simply spoon them into a freezer bag in recipe-sized portions, squeeze out the air, and transfer to the freezer. I suggest about 1.5 cups per bag because this is roughly the same amount as a can of refried beans. Oh, and don’t forget to label and date the bags!

How to Make The Beans Less Spicy

My batch was just a tad on the spicy side, but I know not everyone is as big of a fan of spicy as I am. So, to make your refried beans less spicy, use half of a jalapeño and making sure you scrape out ALL the seeds. The jalapeño brings a lot of flavor with its heat, so I wouldn’t suggest nixing it all together. Just be sure to remove ALL of the seeds and white ribs on the inside of the jalapeño because that is where most of the heat lives.

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(Not) Refried Beans

4.77 from 64 votes
Use your slow cooker to make these incredibly flavorful (not) refried beans with next to no effort. They're versatile, delicious, and freezer friendly. 
Servings 9 about 1/2 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 5 hrs
Total 5 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans ($1.45)
  • 1 medium onion ($0.42)
  • 1 medium jalapeno ($0.13)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 tsp cumin ($0.10)
  • 1/2 Tbs chili powder ($0.15)
  • 10-15 cranks cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 6 cups water ($0.00)
  • 2-3 tsp salt ($0.05)

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • Dice the onion. Cut the stem off the jalapeño, slice it open lengthwise, and remove the seeds and ribs by scraping with a spoon. Dice the jalapeño and mince the garlic. Place the onion, garlic, and jalapeño in the slow cooker along with the cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Do not add the salt.
  • Add the sorted and rinsed beans to the slow cooker along with 6 cups of water. Stir everything 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.
  • After cooking, remove about 1 cup of the water 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 mashed beans with salt, beginning with one teaspoon and adding more to taste. I used approximately 1 Tbsp but add a little at a time until you’re satisfied. Serve warm!

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Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 179.82kcalCarbohydrates: 33.58gProtein: 11.24gFat: 0.7gSodium: 906.7mgFiber: 7.77g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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The slow cooker I use is an older model, but the newer version of the same model is this Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Slow Cooker, 6 qt. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Chips being dipped into slow cooker (not) Refried Beans

Two bowls of slow cooker (not) Refried Beans with jalapeño garnishes

Step By Step Photos

Rinsed Beans
Start by sorting through one pound pinto beans to remove any stones or debris. Transfer the beans to a colander and give them a good rinse.

Onions Garlic Jalapeno and Spices
Dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Cut the stem off one jalapeño, then slice it open lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and ribs. Dice the jalapeño. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño to the slow cooker along with 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill).

Chili Powder

This is the chili powder that I use. It’s completely mild and contains very little salt. If you use another brand, it may have spicy red chiles in it, so be aware of the amount that you’re using and adjust accordingly.

Beans in Slow Cooker
Add the rinsed beans to the slow cooker.

Water

Add six cups of water and give everything a stir.

Slow Cooked Pinto Beans
Secure 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. The longer it goes, the better because the beans will become more tender and easier to mash.

Remove Excess Water
Stir everything up to see how much extra liquid is in the pot. Remove about one cup of water, but don’t throw it away.

Mash Beans

Mash the beans with a potato masher or even use a hand mixer. Add more of the reserved liquid back in as you mash if needed. Mash until the beans are fairly smooth. Make them a little thinner than you’d think because when they’ll thicken up some when they cool down to eating temperature. Once mashed, it’s time to finally season with salt. This is when you’ll see the flavors pop. 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.

A chip being dipped into a bowl of slow cooker (not) refried beans with jalapeño garnish
Eat them with chips, in a burrito, or just with a spoon like I did! :P

Use your slow cooker to make these low fat and incredibly flavorful (not) refried beans and barely lift a finger. BudgetBytes.com
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  1. I’ve used this recipe for years and always appreciate how tasty and economical of a dish it is. It’s a fraction of the cost of canned refried beans, wholesome, filling, and easy. Thanks for this one!!

  2. Hi! Any suggestions if there’s no slowcooker (and the like) available? Just regular pots and pans…
    Sadly, where I live refried beans aren’t anything you’d find in the grocery shops on a regular basis and if you do, it’s usualy only one not so great brand- or imports from overseas, which I find a tad wasteful for something I’d eat all the time if I could, so while they might not be the real stuff anyways- canned refried beans aren’t even an option. Heeeeelp!

    1. Hi Mella. For slow cooking on a stovetop, use a large pot, ideally made of stainless steel or aluminum. Add the ingredients, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently until beans are tender but firm. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety and age of the bean. XOXO -Monti

  3. I’m vegetarian and eat a LOT of beans, and this is one of my favorite recipes. So easy, cheap, and delicious! I use it as the main component of taco salad. 

  4. This was delicious in my slow cooker!
    I might try this in my Instant Pot next :)

  5. This was sooo easy and delicious! I left out the jalapeño because I’m a wimp and didn’t want to cut one up. I did add in a few dashes of cayenne for just a slight kick though. I think next time I won’t add back in any of the liquid because they were pretty thin and turned a little soupy when I reheated for burrito bowls. But delicious and made SO much, will def freeze probably at least half!

  6. I prefer a sweeter flavor so I added some ketchup and a ton of sriracha. It made for amazing bean dip.

  7. I’ve made this many times and it always turns out great. Freezes well too. No need to look for another recipe! I sometimes pull some whole beans out before mashing to use for different purposes. The spice level as written is perfect for our family.

  8. We usually LOVE Budget Bytes recipes. This one did not turn out at all. Really soupy and an off taste. 

    1. The recipe includes removing water before purée and adding it back In afterwards to desired consistency. 

  9. I was surprised by how well this actually turned out because it was so easy. I left out the jalapeño and It still delicious! Thanks!

  10. I love Budget Bytes! I’ve made a ton of Beth’s recipes over the years and have loved most of them (not all but that’s how it goes when trying new things). This is by far my favorite recipe, though. I love making these as a side for any Mexican main dish I’m making like chili rellenos. I prefer to mash them by hand so some whole beans remain which gives it a great consistency and flavor just like a good Mexican restaurant. Thanks Beth!

  11. First time making refried beans and this was delicious! My boyfriend kept sneaking back to the crock pot for more. 

  12. I am interested in trying this but the calorie count (179k for 1/2 cup) seems disproportionately high. Looking at several canned varieties of fat free refried beans, they are around 100k for 1/2 cup so I am wondering if the math is wrong somewhere as there isn’t much in this recipe contributing calories besides beans.

    1. The nutrition data provided is calculated using all ingredients listed on the recipe card, including any ingredient listed as optional. Keep in mind that recipes that involve marinades, breading, salad dressings, oil for frying, or salt for cooking pasta and potatoes may be skewed because some of these ingredients will be discarded and not included in the final edible portion.

    2. The person who wrote the serving size and nutrition information forgot to specify that the nutrition information is for a 1/2 cup of DRY beans not prepared beans. 1/2 cup of dry beans will more than double in volume when cooked. The nutrition info provided here would be for over 1 cup prepared.