Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Mexican refried beans are an easy recipe everyone should master! No more buying awful tasting canned refried beans, you’ll love this easy homemade recipe for authentic Mexican refried beans.

A pantry staple recipe that’s quick, easy, inexpensive and delicious.

Easy Vegan Refried Beans

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.

Cooked Pinto Beans

Homemade Refried Beans

When making refried beans starting with freshly homemade beans is THE secret to perfect beans every time.

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’ll save.

Dried beans are much cheaper than canned.

Refried Beans from Can

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.

But if in a pinch you want to make refried beans from a can, it’s easy. All you would do is drain and rinse them thoroughly. Then just follow the instructions of my recipe below.

They’ll taste much better than just mashing the rinsed canned beans.

Ingredients for refried beans

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 she was calling me a fake Mexican because I don’t use lard in any of my cooking.

Well, 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!!”. 

Don’t Use Butter in Refried Beans

Under NO circumstances would I suggest using butter or margarine to make refried beans. Both have strong flavors which will overpower the bean taste.

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!

Homemade Vegan Refried Beans

How to Season Refried Bean

Just as I mentioned in my recipe for making frijoles de olla, here too additional flavourings can vary greatly from one cook to another.

Frying the beans with the following vegetables helps build a great base of delicious flavors.

  • onion
  • garlic
  • dried or fresh chiles

Spices are also a great addition to refried beans. Just don’t go overboard on them otherwise you’ll mask the yummy bean flavors.

  • ground cumin gives a slight smokeyness to beans
  • black pepper, though not too commonly used can give a slight spiciness to those that don’t want fresh or dried chile heat
  • salt of course is a must!

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 dried chiles when I’m making refried beans.

Again, the seasoning is all up to your taste buds.

Vegan Refried Beans

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 refried beans 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 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.

Refried Beans Recipe
Refried Beans Recipe | How to Make Mexican Refried Pinto Beans

Mexican Refried Beans Recipe

Making your own refried beans at home is so incredibly easy. It’s great if you can start with homemade boiled beans. Then cook them like in my recipe below.

This refried beans recipe is vegan, and it can be served to anyone!

Easy Vegan Refried Beans

Refried Beans Recipe (Quick, Easy & Vegan)

Nancy Lopez-McHugh & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
No more buying awful tasting canned refried beans, you'll love this easy homemade recipe for authentic refried beans. A pantry staple recipe that's quick, easy, inexpensive and delicious.
4.34 from 6 votes
Save Recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican, vegan
Servings 4 servings
Calories 221 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups homemade pinto beans (include some broth too)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil of choice
  • cup of finely chopped white onion
  • 2 to 3 dried chiles de arbol or dried/fresh chile of choice
  • pinch of sea salt if necessary

Instructions
 

  • 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.
    Refried Beans Recipe
  • 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.

Video

Notes

If you’ve started with my homemade boiled 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.
 
•You could also add mince garlic with the chile.
•veggie chorizo can be added for extra flavor if desired. First cook the chorizo through, in the same pan and without discarding the oil cook the onion (if using) and then mash the beans.
•Spices such as ground black pepper, ground cumin, achiote, oregano may also be used. Add them as you’re mashing the beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 4servingsCalories: 221kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 397mgFiber: 8gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 66IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword beans, mexican food basics, pantry cooking, pantry staple, staple
Tried this recipe?Mention @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicamademeatless!
Authentic Refried Beans Recipe

Congratulations, you’ve now made refried beans like a Mexican!

Now you are ready to serve them alongside some tacos or enchiladas, on tostadas or tortas or you can blend leftover refried or boiled beans to make a sauce for enfrijoladas. You could also serve them on homemade flour tortillas to make burritos!

However you choose to eat your refried beans, I hope you enjoy them. Buen provecho! 

How to Make Vegan Beans

Ingredients used in this recipe. (Purchases through these Amazon links help support this blog. Thank you!)

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61 Comments

  1. Once again great article,I think you’ve explained the process of bean frying very well, I like the dact that you pretty much leave it to the cook to choose their consistancy and flavours and not just stick with on particular way of doing it. I thinks every recipy should give you some play room I always have a hard time following a recipy to a t ,so this is great. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with all of us..
    P.S PLEASE ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SOMBRERO SO WEKNOW YOU’RE A TRUE MEXICAN :-!!!!!!! 🙂 love you

    1. Oh, for sure I don’t ever leave home with out mi sombrero! Lol!:) Thank you I’m glad you enjoyed the articles and recipe. I think cooking is a very personal thing and making the processes and results our own is one of the best things about being in the kitchen. Love you!

  2. I like to add a little bacon to my refried beans and all the bacon drippings. Not so much bacon as to over power the taste but enough to let one know that it is there. I cut the bacon into very small pieces and it adds some texture to final product. I agree that making beans from scratch is the only way to go.

  3. I like my frijolitos with a spicy kick. I fry chopped fresh jalapeños with my frijoles. For a milder spice, mi mami uses banana peppers. Both are delicious with chips and queso fresco. Provecho!

  4. Yum! I love love love refried beans. And, yes, I use lard to cook them. Gives such a special flavor. Does that make me more Mexican than you? Maybe we should ask your small time lady reader? ;=) Actually, I did read somewhere that lard is not as bad for you as people say, but to each his own. Who could say no to olive oil? Not me, of course!

    1. Haha, for sure Frank you are more Mexican than me.:) We love using olive oil for it’s anti-inflammatory properties otherwise I lard would have been a once in a while ingredient in my kitchen. Gracias amigo!

  5. Love this post Nancy! Here in New Mexico you get frijoles refritos made thick and thin and most always with lard. I do always eat them when they come on the plate because I love them. However, at home, I’d rather not use lard so thanks for all of the great information on how to make these at home, but more healthy! Gotta love those people who write and tell you you’re doing something wrong. 🙂 I always find it rather amusing because it’s like there is one and only one way to make a dish! NOT!

  6. As much as I love Mexican food, I’ve never made refried beans. Your recipe looks so simple and delicious! I’m drooling now for Mexican food. Great post, Nancy!

  7. “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!!”. ”

    LOL OMG, girl. People be CRAZY. I have ZERO problem with people sharing their traditions and their version of something but not in a dogmatic, unyielding manner. Different strokes for different folks, right? 🙂 Thanks for sharing the story; I needed a good laugh. 🙂

  8. Your comments about Lard hit a nerve. I grew up in the Southwest amidst some of the most delicious Mexican food one could ever consume. Later I traveled and worked around the world always anxious about where my next Mexican meal would be found, and that was almost always when I traveled back to the southwest. When posted back to California for a large company, my wife and me traveled to Mexico City to visit good friends. I was utterly surprised at the different flavors there, delicious, but so different from the Sonoran Cuisine I was used to. I’ve grown used to all the different flavors from all the regions of Mexico and with it the love of variations in cooking to bring out every imaginative flavor possible. Thank you, your website is incredibly creative.

  9. One thing I learned from living with my mother. “Mexican” is about as different from family to family as Maine and Calofornia. I have come to realize that it is more of a family to family thing. And I started using lard again. I don’t think it is as bad as people say. I was trying to be healthy and use olive oil but some things just don’t work; like tortillas. So I am not afraid of a little lard in the recipe. I learned how to make bread from my mother in law and it uses way more crisco AND oil than the little lard I put on tortillas or use for frying.

    1. Hi John!

      In Mexico every region has a preferred bean for making this. I grew up eating pintos but where I live now, in the Yucatan Penninsula, black beans are more popular. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, beans are all yummy. Thanks 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. I have made your frijoles refritos so many times. I very much appreciate both your recipe and your thorough description. And my family-in-law was very impressed by this as a side today – thanks to you.

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