5.0 from 2 votes

Homestyle Refried Beans

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Homestyle Refried beans: the comforting cornerstone of Mexican cuisine!

What are Refried Beans?

Homestyle Refried beans are a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine, keeping traditions alive! These tender, creamy beans are cooked with aromatics and salt, typically using pinto beans, and then fried in a generous amount of fat for a rich, comforting flavor. By mashing them into a creamy, chunky, or smooth consistency – whichever you prefer – we connect with our heritage and customs.

Overhead Refried beans display

Making Homestyle Refried Beans is so easy, and also on the budget. They are a comforting presence in many Mexican households, whether served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And the best part? They’re incredibly affordable, making them a staple for families and individuals alike.

Are Refried Beans Fried Twice?

Many people are puzzled by the term “refried” beans, wondering if it means they’re fried twice. As a native Spanish speaker, I never questioned the term, but I understand why it can raise questions. The prefix “re-” in Spanish doesn’t imply repetition, but rather intensification, similar to “very” or “extremely”. 

Homestyle refried beans display

In this case, “refried” actually means “well-fried”, implying a high level of doneness. In Spanish, the “re-” prefix is often used to express excitement or affirmation, emphasizing that something is done to the highest standard. If anything is cooked twice, it would be the beans, first in a pot, then fried in lard, but that’s not to say it is the reason they are called “refried” beans.

Ingredients

  • Beans: While pinto beans are popular in Mexico, Peruvian beans are also widely used in Mexican cuisine. We’ve chosen them for this recipe due to their delicate flavor, subtle sweetness, and exceptional creaminess when refried.
  • Onion: It is naturally sweet and mild in flavor. 
  • Bay leaf: Mild and savory. 
  • Garlic: Enhances the overall flavors of the ingredients with its depth and richness.
  • Pork Lard: It adds richness and depth, making tortillas crisper, tamales fluffier, and refried beans creamier.
  • Avocado oil: Avocado oil has a mild flavor and is considered a healthier oil option. It won’t overpower the dish, allowing the natural flavors to shine through.
  • Jalapeño Pepper: It brings bold, grassy flavors with a mild heat that complements without overpowering.
  • Mexican Oregano: Earthy and warm, with the traditional flavor of classic Mexican cuisine.
  • Cotija Cheese: Adds a salty, milky flavor and a unique texture that softens without melting. For a milder taste, use Queso Fresco, which provides a subtle, nuanced flavor.
  • Cilantro: Adds bright, citrusy, and fresh flavors. 

How to Make Refried Beans 

Cook the beans 

Sort through the beans, removing any rocks, broken, or shriveled beans, then give them a good rinse.

Add the drained beans, onion, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and water to the Instant Pot, cover, and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 45 minutes, followed by a 10-minute NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE, then QUICK RELEASE the remaining pressure, press CANCEL, and uncover.

Beans in pot, ready to cook.

Discard the bay leaf, garlic, and onion, then strain the beans and reserve both the beans and broth, setting them aside momentarily.

Refried beans 

Place a large pan over medium heat, melt the lard, and drizzle with oil.

Then add the chopped onion and jalapeño, cooking until golden brown.

Add the minced garlic and dried oregano to the pan, toasting for 1 minute.

Add the cooked beans, 1/4 cup of the reserved bean broth, and mash using a potato masher until creamy and chunky, adding more broth as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

Once hot and bubbly, stir in salt to taste, turn off the heat. Top with cheese and cilantro.

Homestyle refried beans display

Recipe Video Tutorial 

Below is my easy to follow video tutorial on how to make this Homestyle Refried Beans.

It will give you an additional in-depth knowledge and the visuals of the step-by-step process to enhance your understanding.

If you enjoyed the video please SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel and don’t forget to click the bell icon so you get a notification every time we post a brand new video. Thank you!

Cooking methods 

Instant pot: Cooking beans in an Instant Pot offers many benefits. No soaking is required, saving time and effort. The beans turn out soft, creamy, and tender, perfect for mashing. Plus, they’re done in nearly half the time it takes on the stovetop!

Stove top: Cooking beans on the stovetop is a cost-effective option, as it doesn’t require purchasing an Instant Pot. It also offers control over the cooking process and a traditional approach that many find comforting. No special equipment is needed, making it a great choice for those on a budget or who prefer a classic method. 

Clay pot: Clay pots (ollas de barro) are a traditional staple in Mexican cooking, offering even heat distribution and moisture retention. They impart a subtle, earthy flavor that’s characteristic of authentic Mexican cuisine. See my Authentic Frijoles de la Olla VIDEO for a visual guide on using clay pots and experiencing the traditional method.

Stove Top Instructions for Cooking Beans 

Sort through the beans, removing any rocks, broken, or shriveled beans, and then give them a good rinse (soaking overnight is optional.) 

Add the drained beans, onion, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and water to a large pot. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 2 hours, or until the beans are creamy and tender. Discard the bay leaf, garlic, and onion. 

Canned beans 

Yes, using canned beans is a perfectly fine option to skip the cooking process when making refried beans! Select cooked canned beans, not refried ones, which come pre-seasoned and fried. This way, you can customize the flavor to your liking. 

While there are many acceptable shortcuts for busy times, making refried beans from scratch at home yields unparalleled flavor. However, it’s good to know you have options, and canned beans can be a helpful alternative when time is limited.

Types of beans to use

Beans are a staple ingredient in Mexican Cuisine, grown for thousands of year as a key meal addition for families all across Mexico. There are so many popular choices but here are a few to keep it authentic: 

Blending Fats

Growing up, I observed my mother skillfully switching between two fats while cooking, combining the rich flavors of pork lard with neutral-tasting oil. This clever technique allowed her to preserve the depth of flavor in lard without overpowering the dish, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

overhead photo of oil being added to a pan

This step is optional, but it’s a game-changer for those looking to elevate their cooking. You have the flexibility to choose between:

  • Combine neutral-flavored oil with lard for a balanced taste
  • Use only oil for a lighter flavor profile
  • Use only lard for an intense, rich flavor

Elevate Your Refried Beans with Cheese!

Adding cheese to refried beans takes them to the next level! When using cheese, remember to balance the saltiness so the dish doesn’t become too salty.

  • Queso Fresco: My go-to option growing up in Mexico, perfect for a traditional flavor.
  • Cotija Cheese: Adds a salty kick, incredible for a bold and savory taste.
  • Shredded Queso Oaxaca: Creamy and melty, great for a rich and velvety texture.
  • Mozzarella: Extra-melty and cheesy, ideal for a decadent and indulgent twist.
close up of refried beans

Soaking Beans: Optional but Potentially Helpful

Soaking beans is not a crucial step, and I often skip it when cooking beans on short notice. However, if you choose to soak them, you may experience a few potential benefits. Soaking has been reported to:

  • Possibly reduce gas and bloating
  • Make the beans slightly more tender
  • Slightly reduce cooking time
Frijoles de la Olla

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Serving suggestions 

Peppers for Refried Beans

The choice of pepper depends on your desired level of heat and flavor profile. Here are some popular options:

1. Jalapeños: Known for their mild, grassy flavor and moderate heat level, jalapeños are a classic choice.

2. Serranos: With their bright, grassy flavor and spicy kick, serranos are perfect for those who enjoy a bit more heat.

3. Chile de arbol: These peppers pack a spicy punch, but also have sweet, slightly smoky undertones.

4. Powdered peppers: If you prefer a more subtle heat, try using ground chiles like guajillo, ancho, chipotle or chili powder. These can be added at the same time as the garlic, and lightly toasted for 1 minute before the beans go in.

To refrigerate, let the refried beans cool down completely, then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To freeze, transfer the cooled refried beans to a freezer-safe bag or container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheat refrigerated beans in a skillet over medium-low heat, adding a little water if needed for consistency. 

Reheat frozen beans after thawing them in the fridge overnight.

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FAQ: Your Questions Answered

What gives refried beans a good flavor?

The key to giving beans a good flavor is to experiment with different fats and frying ingredients, such as bacon fat and chorizo. Also, play around with peppers to add depth and heat.

Can I make refried beans ahead of time?

Yes, you can make refried beans ahead of time, and making large batches can be a great way to meal prep and save time, as long as you store them properly and reheat them slowly over low heat.

Are refried beans a traditional Mexican dish?

Yes, refried beans have been a staple in Mexican cuisine for generations, and are often served alongside other traditional dishes, such as Chile Verde, Bistec Ranchero, and Chiles Rellenos.

More Mexican Recipes 

Homestyle Refried Beans

Recipe by Villa Cocina
5.0 from 2 votes
Course: SidesCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 
Total time

1

hour 

15

minutes

Refried beans are a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine, keeping traditions alive! These tender, creamy beans are cooked with aromatics and salt, typically using pinto beans, and then fried in a generous amount of fat for a rich, comforting flavor.

Ingredients

  • Cook the Beans
  • 1 lb 1 mayocoba beans (peruano)

  • 1/2 ea 1/2 white onion 

  • 1 ea 1 bay leaf

  • 1 head 1 garlic, sliced end off 

  • 2 tsp 2 kosher salt

  • 10 cups 10 water

  • Refried Beans
  • 1 1/2 TBSP 1 1/2 pork lard

  • 1 1/2 TBSP 1 1/2 avocado oil

  • 1/2 ea 1/2 white onion, finely diced 

  • 1 ea 1 jalapeño pepper, de-seeded, finely diced  

  • 3 ea 3 garlic cloves, minced  

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 Mexican dry oregano

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 bean broth or to liking 

  • To taste To kosher salt

  • Top with:
  • Cotija cheese or Queso Fresco, crumbled

  • Cilantro, chopped

Directions

  • Cook the Beans
  • Sort through the beans, removing any rocks, broken, or shriveled beans, and then give them a good rinse.
  • Add the drained beans, onion, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and water to the Instant Pot, cover, and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 45 minutes, followed by a 10-minute NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE, then QUICK RELEASE the remaining pressure, press CANCEL, and uncover.
  • Discard the bay leaf, garlic, and onion, strain the beans and reserve both the beans and broth, setting them aside momentarily.
  • Refried Beans
  • Place a large pan over medium heat, melt the lard, and drizzle with oil, then add the chopped onion and jalapeño, cooking until golden brown. Add the minced garlic and dried oregano to the pan, toasting for 1 minute.
  • Add the cooked beans, 1/4 cup of the reserved bean broth, and mash using a potato masher until creamy and chunky, adding more broth as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Once hot and bubbly, stir in salt to taste, turn off the heat, and top with cheese and cilantro.

Equipment

  • Instant pot pro 10-in-1, 8 quartBuy Now!
  • OXO 6-inch fine mesh strainerBuy Now!
  • Ancient Cookware, Mexican Clay Pot, 4.5 QuartsBuy Now!

Recipe Video

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