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 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.
Have you tried making a big batch from dried beans and freezing?
Hi Cheryl, we haven’t tried freezing the refried beans, though I think it would work well! Regular cooked beans freeze perfectly.
we freeze refried beans all the time. we store in small glass containers (labelled) and defrost in the fridge. just perfect.
Looks amazing, per usual. Do you think it would lose much without the onions? I cannot have them at all, post-COVID.
Hi Anne, I think it would be fine without the onion – you could add a little more of the other seasonings, to taste, if you felt like it needs more flavor in the end.
Absolutely love the refried beans! I sauteed a chopped jalapeño with the onion. It worked. My very fussy granddaughter asked me to make them ever week.
I’m so glad you both loved it!
I made the canned version. The flavor is vastly superior to any canned refried beans. That said, I had two issues. First of all, the result was too salty. I suppose the salt level varies with the brand of pinto beans, so I would taste before adding. Secondly, the finished product was too liquidy despite simmering for half an hour without a lid. I ended up adding a sprinkle of masa harina which made for the right consistency and I thought added to the flavor.
Hi James, thank you for sharing. I’ll add a note about using un-salted pinto beans, I didn’t think of it because the pinto beans I usually get are just plain.
I use Eden brand beans. They cook them in a little Kombu and are superior quality. They’re also in a bpa free can . Thanks for this great recipe.
Buyer beware. The two cans of pinto beans I purchased ended up having 60% (each) of your daily allotment of sodium.
I discovered this (oops) after I took my first bite.
Will be using dry beans next time. haha. Regardless, I will be making this again.
Hi Kevin, you can also look for canned beans with no added salt – mine were unseasoned and very plain.
I made the version using canned pinto beans. They were so easy and delicious! Unfortunately the end product was quite runny for our liking. I think next time (yes, these will be the only refried beans I will eat from now on!) I will reserve the liquid from the canned pintos and add as needed to reach our desired thickness. So happy to have found your site and I can’t wait to try more!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them! If you cook them a little longer, they’ll thicken up.
Would I follow this same recipe if I were to use black beans? Also, I made the seven layer vegan dip and it was delicious!
yep! You can use black beans with the same recipe.
I didn’t see in the recipe how many cans of pinto beans to use for this recipe. To keep the ratios right, can you post that?
Hi Lexi – 2 cans, the full recipe is listed in the recipe card at the bottom of the post (above the comments). Hope that helps!
What would you recommend as an alternative oil in place of the avocado oil?
Hi Nikki, you can use olive oil or any other neutral cooking oil. The only one I wouldn’t use is coconut.
On the canned beans, I’ve always found they give us too much gas if we don’t rinse the liquid from the fan off the beans. You recommend keeping the liquid?
Hi Tricia, yep, the liquid makes them creamy and I haven’t had any issues. You might be able to drain them and add fresh water or broth for the extra liquid. I haven’t tested it that way, so I don’t know the specific amount.