(Not) Refried Beans

$2.51 recipe / $0.28 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.78 from 68 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!

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.

Serve With: Homemade Tortilla Chips, Weeknight Enchiladas, Spiced Chickpea Tostadas

Chips being dipped into slow cooker (not) Refried Beans
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(Not) Refried Beans

4.78 from 68 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 minutes
Cook 5 hours
Total 5 hours 15 minutes


  • 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)


  • 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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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 179.82kcalCarbohydrates: 33.58gProtein: 11.24gFat: 0.7gSodium: 906.7mgFiber: 7.77g
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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. 

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

How to Make Slow COoker Refried Beans – 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.


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

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  1. These are fantastic, Beth. Thank you for such an easy, healthy, delicious recipe!

  2. Love love love this recipe! So simple but all the flavors really sing. And she’s not joking when she says you can just eat them with a spoon :) I’ve been making this since my college days about 10 years ago so you know they hold up. Thanks Budget Bytes team.

  3. I just put all the ingredients in the crockpot and then reread the instructions and realized I added the salt in before the cook. Will it still work or do I need to dump everything out and start over?