Mexican refried beans or frijoles refritos are a Mexican food staple that everyone should master. You’ll love this easy authentic refried beans recipe because it’s better than canned or restaurant refried beans. This recipe makes the BEST refried beans!
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Frijoles refritos translates to refried beans.
But it’s a bit of a confusing translation because the beans aren’t actually re-fried or fried twice.
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.
Refried beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine and they require simple ingredients that are pantry stables. Plus this Mexican dish isn’t complicated to make, anyone can do it!
Best of all is that you will no longer have to rely on the canned stuff, and your wallet will thank you for it too.
I know you’re going to love this quick, easy, inexpensive, and delicious homemade refried bean recipe. Amigos, homemade refried beans will rock your world!
The Secret Ingredient to Authentic Homemade Refried Beans
When making refried beans, starting with freshly homemade beans is the secret to perfect authentic Mexican refried beans every time — just like our abuelas have been making for centuries.
I know many people like to use canned beans, but if you want the authentic Mexican taste skip the can and reach for the pot.
In a previous post, I shared my process for making a pot of Mexican beans from scratch, make sure to read that article and recipe.
I highly suggest you start by making a pot of homemade beans and using them to make your frijoles refritos. The taste and texture is always better.
My easy refried beans recipe doesn’t use lard and so it’s suitable for all diet types. I promise that you’ll find this recipe better than your favorite Mexican restaurant.
For those that just don’t have the time to make beans from scratch, I will include some tips for a canned version below.
Additional spices can be added to refried beans. Just don’t go overboard otherwise you’ll mask the yummy bean flavors.
- Ground Cumin: gives a slight smokiness to beans
- Chili Powder: To add heat when fresh chilies aren’t available.
- Chopped Tomato
- Chorizo: A lot of times when I have leftover refried beans I love mixing some veggie chorizo into them. A great idea is to first cook the chorizo and use that extra oil to mix in the beans.
Another thing to consider is that you may find that refried pinto beans taste different than do refried black beans. Just experiment and you’ll find what suits your taste buds best.
Again, the seasoning is all up to your taste buds. What ever you decide to use you’ll be able to create delicious beans for your next Mexican meal or countless Mexican dishes.
How to Make Authentic Mexican Refried Beans
Sort through the beans and discard any damaged ones. Thoroughly rinse under cold water. Place in a large pot with onion, garlic, epazote and plenty of water. Simmer until the beans are cooked through. Cooking time is between 1:30 to 2 hours.
Once cooked the cooking process for frijoles refritos is quite easy and you’ll be making your own refried beans in no time.
Drain beans, but make sure to reserve the bean cooking liquid and set it aside.
I also include the onion, garlic, and chile that I used when boiling the beans.
Heat a large cast iron skillet, or large frying pan, over medium heat then add the oil and allow to heat up.
Next add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes golden brown and a tad crispy. Then add in the chilies and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Browning the onion and adding the chile adds more depth of flavor to the beans.
Carefully add the cooked beans, a 1/4 cup of the bean broth, and with a potato masher begin to mash. Continue mashing until the beans have broken down. At this time add salt and any other seasonings and mix until well combined.
Simmer on low heat for about 8 minutes and stir often to prevent burning and the beans from drying out. Continue to mash and add bean broth until you reach your desired creamy texture.
What Texture Should Refried Beans Have
I like a bit of texture in my frijoles refritos, some like theirs smoother or creamier. It’s up to you to find your desired consistency.
Some authentic mexican restaurant tend to serve their refried beans a bit runnier or thicker than you are accustomed to, but at home it’s up to you.
I think the consistency should be made according to what the beans will be used for.
How to Serve
Now you are ready to serve them alongside some tacos, make crispy refried bean tacos, enchiladas, on tostadas or tortas or you can blend leftover refried beans to make a sauce for enfrijoladas and serve as a main dish.
They also make a delicious side dish to your meals or breakfasts like huevos rancheros or migas.
Spread refried beans over a bolillo and top with cheese and pico de gallo to make molletes.
Another of my favorite things to do with refried beans is to serve on homemade flour tortillas and make a bean and cheese burrito.
However you choose to eat your refried beans, I hope you enjoy them. Buen provecho!
How to Store & Reheat
Allow leftover beans to come to room temperature and place in an airtight container
Homemade refried beans will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Beans freeze extremely well. Place in either a Ziploc bag or freezer safe container. They’ll keep fresh for about 3 months. Defrost in the fridge the night before using.
You can reheat leftovers on the stove top. Add either leftover cooking bean broth or water or low-sodium broth to prevent them from drying out.
In the microwave reheat for 1 or 2 minutes. Also use a splash of liquid so they’ll reheat nice and creamy. If you can, cover when reheating so they don’t make a mess in your microwave.
“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.” Stine
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make refried beans using canned beans?
Of course refried beans from scratch taste better, but in a pinch yes you can make refried beans from a can, it’s easy.
Start by draining and thoroughly rinsing canned pinto beans. Then just follow the same instructions of my recipe below. You may want to add some vegetable broth or hot water when you’re mashing them, since in this case there is no cooking water from the homemade beans.
How to prevent dry refried beans?
Over cooking is the biggest cause of dry beans. But don’t worry this is easily preventable and fixed. Simply add some of the boiling broth or a little bit of warm water to bring back to the consistency you want. If the beans are too watery just cook down to thicken up. Make sure to store in air-tight containers to prevent drying out too.
Can you make refried beans without oil?
Yes you can. Instead of frying you can mash with the bean cooking liquid until they have your desired consistency.
Can you make refried beans in a pressure cooker?
Yes you can make refried beans in the Instant Pot. First you need to cook the beans then you can mash them.
Place the sorted and rinsed beans in the pot along with the other ingredients in my recipe. Select High Pressure and cook for 40 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes then remove some of the broth. Select Sauté function then use an immersion blender or potato masher until smooth and creamy.
I’m so happy you stopped by. If you have any questions or want to let me know how you liked this recipe, do leave a comment. Muchas gracias, I appreciate you!
Print The Recipe
Authentic Mexican Refried Beans Recipe (Frijoles Refritos)
- 2 cups pinto beans
- 1/4 small white onion optional
- 2 garlic cloves optional
- 4 leaves epazote herb optional
- 1 large jalapeño pepper optional
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup cooking bean broth
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil of choice
- ⅓ cup white onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic optional
- 2 whole chiles de arbol optional or use serrano or jalapeno
- large pinch sea salt adjust to taste
- Sort through the beans and discard any damaged ones. Thoroughly rinse under cold water. Place in a large pot with onion, garlic, epazote, jalapeno and plenty of water. Simmer until the beans are cooked through. Salt then cook for another 10 or so minutes. Total cooking time is between 1:30 to 2 hours.
- Drain beans, but make sure to reserve the bean cooking liquid and set it aside. You can either discard or keep the onion, garlic and pepper.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet, or large frying pan, over medium heat then add the oil and allow to heat up.
- Next add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes golden brown and a tad crispy. Then add in the chilies and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Carefully add the cooked beans, a 1/4 cup of the bean broth, and with a potato masher begin to mash. Continue mashing until the beans have broken down. At this time add salt and any other seasonings and mix until well combined.
- Simmer on low heat for about 8 minutes and stir often to prevent burning and the beans from drying out. Continue to mash and add bean broth until you reach your desired creamy texture.
- Serve as desired.
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Originally published on February 2014, updated February 2024 to add more helpful information.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…