Learn how to make refried beans from scratch! They're thick, creamy, and bright - a delicious side dish or addition to tacos, burritos, and more.
The first time I tried this refried beans recipe, I thought to myself, “What took me so long?!” After years of cooking with canned refried beans, I’d finally learned how to make refried beans from scratch. Let me tell you, I’m never looking back.
These homemade refried beans are creamier, brighter, and more complex than any you’d find in a can. I love serving them as a side dish or a dip with tortilla chips, but they’re delicious in tacos, taquitos, burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, too. Start with canned pinto beans, and they’ll be ready in minutes. Start with dried ones, and well…they’ll take a lot longer, but they’ll be even more flavorful. Either way, I think you’re going to love them.
How to Make Refried Beans
You can make this recipe in two ways: with canned beans or with dried ones. Even though it’s not as quick, I prefer cooking dry pinto beans here. That way, the whole pinto beans are well-seasoned, which creates more depth of flavor in the refried beans.
- To make this recipe with dry pinto beans, start by cooking them according to this method. Let them simmer until the beans are starting to fall apart and the bean broth has thickened.
- After that, this refried beans recipe is a breeze. Add a little more than half the beans and their cooking liquid to a blender with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water, and blend until smooth.
- Then, return the blended beans to the pot. Stir in avocado oil, lime juice, and chili powder, and adjust the seasonings to taste. If the mixture is too thick, add water, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings one more time. Finally, eat!
If you’re using canned beans, the process is similar. You’ll simmer the beans, along with the liquid from the can, with sautéed onions and spices for 15 minutes. Then, you’ll puree some of the beans and stir them back into the pot with a squeeze of lime juice. So easy!
Find both recipes with measurements below.
Refried Beans Serving Suggestions
Most often, I serve this refried beans recipe as a side dish, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. It pairs well with all kinds of Mexican and Tex-Mex food. Lately, I’ve been loving it with these Roasted Cauliflower Tacos and these Vegan Tacos. It would also be fantastic with enchiladas, Austin-style migas, or any of these vegetarian taco recipes.
Here are a few more of my favorite ways to serve it:
- As a dip. Scoop it up with tortilla chips, or spread it into seven-layer dip.
- In quesadillas. Use it as the glue in a vegan quesadilla, or slather it into one made with cheese. It’d be a great tostada topping too.
- In taquitos. Try it in this taquitos recipe!
- As part of a taco bar. For a fun taco night, set out the refried beans with tortillas, cilantro lime rice, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Let everyone customize their own meal!
How do you like to serve refried beans? Let me know in the comments!
More Tex-Mex and Mexican-Inspired Recipes
If you love this recipe, try one of these Tex-Mex or Mexican-inspired dishes next:
Option 1: Refried Beans from Dried Pinto Beans
- 1 recipe Pinto Beans, (cooked from scratch with seasonings)
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Water, as needed
- ½ to 1 teaspoon chili powder
Option 2: Refried Beans from Canned Pinto Beans
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cans unsalted* pinto beans, including liquid
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, more to taste
- Cotija cheese
- red pepper flakes
- To make refried beans from dried pinto beans: Prepare the full Pinto Beans recipe. Transfer a little more than half of the cooked beans to a blender with about 2 to 4 tablespoons of water, enough for the beans to blend. Return the blended beans to the pot and stir in the avocado oil, lime juice, and chili powder, to taste. If the mixture is too thick, stir in more water to reach your desired consistency.
- To make refried beans from canned pinto beans: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until softened. Stir in the cumin and chili powder, then add the beans, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Transfer 3/4 of the cooked beans to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended beans to the pot, and stir in the lime juice. Season to taste and serve.
- Serve the finished refried beans with cilantro, Cotija cheese and red pepper flakes, if desired.