In a previous post, I shared my process for making a pot of Mexican beans, make sure to read that article and recipe. Today we are going to turn them into vegan refried beans — made easy and vegan, of course!
What Does Frijoles Refritos Mean
The words frijoles refritos translate to refried beans, but that is not correct because the beans aren’t actually re-fried or fried twice.
How many of you were wondering why beans would need to be fried twice? Haha!
Let’s break it down frijoles means beans and refritos means well-fried. In English, the prefix “re” is used to express an action done twice, in Mexican-Spanish we commonly use it for emphasis.
So frijoles refritos actually means very well-fried beans.
Spanish lesson aside just know that you won’t have to fry your beans twice. But please don’t ask me how or who invented frijoles refritos — I don’t know, all I know is that homemade refried beans will rock your world.
Canned Refried Beans vs Homemade
When making refried beans starting with freshly homemade beans is THE secret to perfect beans everytime.
I know many people like to use canned beans, but if you want the Mexican taste skip the can and reach for the pot. (Learn how to with my recipe)
Refried Beans from Scratch is Cheaper
One of the best benefits of homemade vs canned beans (both boiled and refried) it the money you save.
Dried beans are much cheaper than canned.
My biggest prejudice against canned beans is the tin taste they impart on the beans. You can drain and rinse them, but I find that taste lingers regardless.
Fats Used for Refried Beans
Traditionally, the fat which gives Mexican refried beans its unique taste, is manteca de cerdo or pig lard.
This is something to be aware of when you’re eating out, as the more traditional Mexican restaurants will use lard. So when eating out do ask if they use lard or oil to make their beans.
A solid fat, vegan alternative to lard is vegetable shortening. You can use that if you’d like.
Many people, including myself, like to use oil instead of lard.
Though untraditional, my personal preference is olive oil. I use this oil because of health reasons as some vegetable oils can cause inflammation. But you’re free to use any type of vegetable that you like.
Side story for you: I once received hate mail from a self-described “small town American woman with some knowledge of Mexican food” basically calling me a fake Mexican because I don’t use lard in any of my cooking. Since she obviously knows more about being Mexican than I do, next time I won’t forget to carry a packet of lard along with my sombrero, tequila bottle, leaf blower, and burrito, as I’m running and yelling “Arriba, Arriba!!”.
Say No to Butter!
Under NO circumstances would I suggest using butter or margarine to make refried beans. I once had the misfortune of tasting the results of that (awful) combination. Ah, the things you’ll eat just to be a good friend. Stick to oil!
How to Give Refried Beans More Flavor
Just as I mentioned in my recipe for making frijoles de olla, here too additional flavourings can vary greatly from one cook to another.
You can fry the beans along with some onion, garlic, and/or chiles of your liking. Spices like ground cumin, black pepper, and of course salt are good additions depending on how you’ll use the refried beans.
Chopped tomato or even veggie chorizo (soyrizo) can be used for an extra boost of flavour! If you cook them with soyrizo you can use soyrizo the oil for frying the beans.
If you have boiled the beans in just water and a bit of salt, I would highly suggest adding some extra flavorings to your refried beans. Experiment until you find the combination your family loves.
I personally like to leave in the onion, garlic, and epazote that are used to boil the beans, but I always remove the Serrano pepper and instead use a couple/few dried chiles when I’m making refried beans. Again it is all up to your tastebuds.
What Texture Should Refried Beans Have
I like a bit of texture in my frijoles refritos, some like theirs smoother.
My advice is to mash until you like the texture. Another aspect to the texture is the thinness or thickness of the beans. Some restaurants tend to serve their frijoles refritos a bit runnier than I’m accustomed to, they still taste delicious though.
I think the consistency should be made according to what the beans will be used for.
For example, if you’ll be using the refried beans as a side maybe leave them with a thicker constancy; if they will be used to spread over a tostada or bread roll, then I would suggest a medium consistency to make spreading easier.
Again, this is just simple advice so feel free to cook until you like the consistency.
How to Prevent Dry Refried Beans
Over cooking is the biggest cause of dry beans. But don’t worry this is easily fixed.
If your beans begin drying out then add some of the boiling broth or a little bit of water to bring back to the consistency you want. If the beans are too watery just cook down to thicken up.
Homemade Vegan Refried Beans (Quick and Easy Recipe)
- 2 heaping cups + broth from batch of homemade pinto beans
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil of choice
- ⅓ cup of finely chopped white onion optional
- 2-3 dried chiles de arbol or dried/fresh chile of choice optional
- pinch of sea salt if necessary
- After cooking the pinto beans, reserve the broth. If you'd like you can remove the onion, garlic, epazote and chile used to boil the beans, I like to keep the epazote, onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, once it's hot add the onion and cook until browned and crispy (this gives it a great taste, or you can just sauté until tender.) Next add the dried or fresh chiles and cook just until they brown or begin to blister — this happens quickly so be ready to proceed. Next add the boiled beans — be careful because it will splash, allow to fry for about 3 minutes. Next add about ¼ cup of the broth and then begin mashing the beans until you achieve the desired texture. The broth will help with the mashing and you'll need to add a little bit of the broth to help you achieve the texture you desire. Continue to "fry" for about 5-8 minutes or until they have the consistency you want. Remember to adjust the consistency to your needs by cooking longer to thicken or adding more broth/water to thin out. Taste and add salt as desired.
Congratulations, you’ve now made refried beans like a Mexican!
However you choose to eat your refried beans, I hope you enjoy them. Buen provecho!
Ingredients used in this recipe. (Purchases through these Amazon links help support this blog. Thank you!)