Authentic Mexican Refried Beans Recipe (Frijoles Refritos)

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!

A stainless steal pan filled with creamy refried beans.
Authentic Homemade Refried Beans

Frijoles Refritos

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!

View from above a table lined with a white tablecloth and on top is a pan filled with refried beans and a spoon mixing them.
Homemade Authentic Frijoles Refritos

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.

Serving cooked Mexican beans from scratch into a small blue bowl.

For those that just don’t have the time to make beans from scratch, I will include some tips for a canned version below. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Homemade and from scratch is cheaper or more budget friendly. 
The ingredients are all kitchen staples.
Using dried beans is much cheaper than buying canned refried beans. 
Always have the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. 
This recipe can be adapted to all the diets in your home.

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View from above of ingredients to make refried beans: pinto beans, onion, bean broth, oil, salt and red chilies.
Frijoles Refritos Ingredients

🌿Ingredients for Mexican Refried Beans

While the ingredients for frijoles refritos is pretty basic, do know that there are many variations. Below are the ingredient for my base recipe.

Home-cooked Beans: I start with dry pinto beans that I cook at home. You can also use any kind of beans you’d like. Besides the pintos I use black beans, or Bayos or Peruvian beans. All are also a great choice. Any will do, it’s a matter of personal choice.

Bean Broth: Make sure to save some of the bean water from when you boil the beans. This will help you get creamy refried beans.

Onions: You can use either white or yellow onion. 

Garlic: I love to add garlic cloves, but it’s up to you.

Chiles: You can use anything from jalapeño peppers, serrano peppers or even dried chilies like chile de arbol. 

Seasonings: Salt is a must, of course, and most people keep it that simple but others add spices or herbs too.

Fat: To fry the beans traditionally pork lard or manteca de cerdo is used. In the Mexican-American community many people like to use bacon fat or bacon grease to give their beans more flavor.
My personal preference is olive oil for health reasons, but use any type of vegetable oil that you like.
Even vegetable shortening can be used – just don’t use butter or margarine to make refried beans; both have strong flavors which will overpower the bean taste.

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A woman's hand holding up three different type of potato mashers.
Different Types of Potato Mashers for Beans

Ingredient Alternatives

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

An enameled cast iron pot filled with cooked pinto bean sitting on top of a white table cloth.

Step 1
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.

A blue and white bowl filled with cooked pinto beans sitting on a white linen.

Step 2
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. 

Heating oil in a large frying pan with some chopped onion to make refried beans.

Step 3
Heat a large cast iron skillet, or large frying pan, over medium heat then add the oil and allow to heat up.

Frying chopped white onion with some chile de arbol in a large stainless steal pan.

Step 4
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. 

Mashing pinto beans in a stainless steal pan.
Mashing Whole Beans to Make Refried Beans

Step 5
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.

Closeup view of a wooden spoon filled with refried pinto beans.

Step 6
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. 

A pan filled with mashed refried beans.

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. 

A woman's hand using one tortilla chip to scoop up refried beans from a pan.

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.

You could also serve them as a bean dip topped with fresh cilantro and some crumbled queso fresco. Or cook with chorizo to make a delicious dip. Don’t forget the tortilla chips for dipping! 

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

Refrigerator
Homemade refried beans will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Freezer
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.

Reheating
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.

Two Ziploc bags filled with refried beans sitting on top of a wood table.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“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
Don’t forget to add your review

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. 

Nancy Lopez author of Mexican Made Meatless

Gracias

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!

Close up view of a tortilla chip topped with creamy refried beans.
Delicious and Homemade Frijoles Refritos

Print The Recipe

A pan filled with refried beans and a spoon mixing them.

Authentic Mexican Refried Beans Recipe (Frijoles Refritos)

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
This authentic Mexican refried beans or frijoles refritos are creamy, easy to make and budget friendly. You’ll love this homemade recipe that tastes way better than store-bought or restaurant refried beans. This family recipe makes THE best refried beans!
5 from 67 votes
Save Recipe Pin Recipe Leave a Review
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican, vegan
Servings 6 servings
Calories 152 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
    A wood spoon scooping out cooked pinto beans from a blue pot.
  • 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.
    A blue and white bowl filled with cooked pinto beans sitting on a white linen.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet, or large frying pan, over medium heat then add the oil and allow to heat up.
    Heating oil in a large frying pan with some chopped onion to make refried beans.
  • 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.
    Frying chopped white onion with some chile de arbol in a large stainless steal pan.
  • 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.
    Mashing pinto beans in a stainless steal pan.
  • 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. 
    Closeup view of a wooden spoon filled with refried pinto beans.
  • Serve as desired.
    Close up view of a tortilla chip topped with creamy refried beans.

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: 6servingsCalories: 152kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 5gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 16mgPotassium: 288mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 114IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicanmademeatless!

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A pan filled with authentic Mexican refried beans inside a stainless steal pan.

Originally published on February 2014, updated February 2024 to add more helpful information.

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66 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    “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. 5 stars
    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 🙂

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