Refried beans made with dried pinto beans, onion, and garlic is a delicious side dish and so easy to make from scratch!
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Why you’ll love this recipe!
📌 Rich and delicious flavor, so much better than canned refried beans and easy to boost the flavors you love.
📌 Cost effective! Dried beans are much less expensive than canned beans so you’re getting better food for less money. Love that!
📌 Simple to make. This recipe is just 5 simple ingredients and very easy to prepare.
- Beans – Dry pinto beans.
- Onion – Sweet yellow onion.
- Salt – Granulated table salt.
- Garlic – Fresh, minced.
- Oil/fat– Traditionally lard is used in this recipe, but we are more partial to olive oil. Any vegetable oil will work.
- Bay leaves – Dried bay leaves.
⭐ First, rinse the beans and remove any debris. Soak them in water overnight. Drain.
⭐ Then, add soaked beans to a pot, along with the onions, salt and bay leaves. Cover the beans with water and simmer until beans have cooked through.
⭐ Next, remove the bay leaves and onion and discard. Drain all but a small amount of the starchy water, set reserved water aside.
⭐ Finally, sauté garlic in oil until just fragrant. Add the beans and continue cooking. Mash beans, adding reserved water until desired consistency is reached.
Scroll down to the printable recipe card toward the bottom of this article for ingredient measurements and detailed cooking instructions.
What kind of beans are in refried beans?
Traditionally this recipe calls for pinto beans, but it can technically be prepared with any kind of bean you love. Occasionally we use black beans to change things up.
Can you prepare the beans ahead of time?
Absolutely, this is a great recipe for meal prep as you can fix it several days in advance and heat it up when you’re ready.
It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Heat it up in the microwave or on the stove top, whisking in a little water as you reheat it if necessary.
Storage and leftovers
How long do they last?
Leftovers will keep up to a week in the refrigerator and longer if frozen. Store in an air tight container for best results.
Can you freeze refried beans?
Yes! Allow the beans to cool, then store in a freezer-safe, air tight container for up to 6 months.
Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or on the stove top, whisking in a little water or broth as you reheat it if necessary.
Tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions
✅ Give it some spice by adding halved/seeded jalapenos with the onions and then removing before you mash.
✅ Try using stock or broth to cook the beans for another level of flavor.
✅ Top with your favorite garnishes like fresh cilantro, crumbled cheese, and pico de gallo.
More delicious Mexican inspired recipes
- Steak tostadas
- Burrito bowls
- Beef enchiladas
- Chicken tortilla soup
- See all our Mexican inspired dishes!
Other awesome side dishes
- Creamed peas
- Air fryer broccoli
- Smashed potatoes
- Stovetop mac and cheese
- See all our dinner side dishes
Tools we love
- Enameled cast iron pot – This pot is amazing and can be used on the stove top or in the oven. I use mine almost daily.
- White serving bowls – Love a simple serving dish! This one is perfect for holiday meals.
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How to Make Refried Beans
- 1 pound dry pinto beans
- 1 medium/large sweet yellow onion quartered
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more, to taste
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons oil or lard
- optional garnish: crumbled queso or cotijo cheese, cilantro
- Rinse the beans and remove any debris. Soak them in water in the refrigerator overnight (10 - 12 hours). Drain.
- Add the soaked beans to a large pot, along with the onions, salt, and bay leaves. Fill the pot with water so that there is about 2" of water above the beans.
- Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour, or until beans have cooked through and are soft. Keep an eye on the beans while they cook and add water periodically if it starts to get low.
- Remove the bay leaves and onion; discard. Reserve about 2 cups of the water, and drain the rest.
- In a large pot or skillet, over medium heat, add the fat/oil and the garlic and saute until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans to the skillet and cook for a few minutes.
- Lower heat and mash the beans using a fork or a potato masher, adding the reserved water a little at a time, until you've reached your desired texture and consistency. Salt to taste and garnish as desired.
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