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These rich, creamy refried beans are exactly what your taco night needs. Whether you slather them inside a hearty burrito, serve them atop some steaming rice, or eat them as they are, you’re in for a real treat. With only five ingredients and a few simple steps, this is one of the easiest side dishes you can make!
Refried beans is one of those dishes that always seems to taste better at a restaurant. After some trial and error, I’ve landed on a recipe for Mexican refried beans that is delicious and definitely restaurant-worthy!
Table of Contents
When it comes to great Mexican eats, the side dishes always steal the show. I love making my own queso, guacamole, salsa, and of course, beans. While they taste great in a restaurant, there’s something satisfying about making these dishes at home. They’re inexpensive and easy, and I like knowing exactly what goes into the food I eat. So, what goes into these easy refried beans? Very few ingredients!
All you need are dried beans, some garlic, onion, pepper, and one secret ingredient. In the end, you’ll wind up with a thick, creamy, savory pot of the best beans you’ll ever taste. Say goodbye to store-bought beans and treat your tastebuds to something great!
- Pinto Beans – You’ll need to use dry pinto beans for this easy refried beans recipe, not canned beans. I also like to use pinquinto when I can find them — they’re smaller than regular pinto beans, so they mash better and make for a creamier dish overall.
- Onion – Use one white or yellow onion for this recipe. White onions have a slightly less pungent flavor, but they are pretty much interchangeable.
- Guajillo Chili Pepper – These peppers aren’t crazy spicy, but they add the perfect amount of bold flavor to this dish. You could swap for ancho chilis for an even more robust flavor, just be sure to remove the stem and seeds.
- Garlic – One large clove of garlic is all you need. Ensure that it’s crushed, not minced. You don’t want an overpowering garlic flavor, and you’ll be removing the garlic clove before the beans are served.
- Lard – Here’s where the secret ingredient comes in. Use lard to add a rich, savory thickness to the beans, or, use bacon fat like I do. Leftover bacon fat is extremely rich in salty, savory goodness, and it adds an entirely new depth of flavor to these Mexican refried beans — I can’t recommend it enough!
- Prep Your Beans. Sort through the beans to ensure that there are no rocks or debris. Then, pour them into a stock pot and cover them with 2 inches of water. Add a quarter of your onion, the dried chili, and your crushed garlic.
- Simmer The Beans. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until they are tender.
- Remove From Heat. Remove the pot from the stove and discard the onion, garlic, and chili.
- Melt Lard. Cook the lard in a large skillet over high heat until it’s melted.
- Drain Beans. Drain your beans, reserving about 1 cup of water. Add them to the melted lard and cook for several minutes, stirring as you go.
- Mash Them Up. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to mash the beans. Add some of your reserved bean water and keep mashing until you reach the consistency and texture you’d like. If you want them extra-smooth, feel free to use a food processor.
- Season & Serve! Once finished, sprinkle some salt and black pepper into the beans and serve while hot. I recommend adding some crumbled cotija or queso fresco on top!
Is it necessary to soak beans before cooking?
I used to be in the “soak your beans first” camp, but no longer. I used to think it made a difference in speeding up the cooking time, but it didn’t. I thought it helped to remove some of those indigestible sugars that cause gas. That is not necessarily the case, but soak away if you think or feel it does!
I have also read that adding baking soda to the water when soaking dried beans before cooking decreases the content of the sugars that may cause gas. Again, up to you.
I have made these three different ways, and each result was the same. One stovetop, slow cooker, and pressure cooker (soaked and unsoaked) later, I decided that since most people forget to soak the beans before cooking them, why bother making them now? It will take too long.
No! It really should take no more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours total time on the stovetop!
How to use them
I even use refried beans in my Ground Beef Enchiladas, but if serving as a side, I like to crumble Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese on top when serving.
For other Mexican and Tex Mex recipes, try my Carne Adovada, Barbacoa Beef, Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers, Mexican Black Beans and Corn, Real Chili con Carne, Authentic Mexican Rice and a site favorite, Mexican Pickled Carrots. Enjoy!
What are Refried Beans Made of?
Since they’re so tasty, people often think that Mexican refried beans contain meat or some other special ingredient. As you’ll see from this recipe, this dish doesn’t contain much more than just beans! Beans are the main component and aromatics like garlic and other vegetables and seasonings add extra flavor.
What to Eat With Refried Beans?
The possibilities are almost endless. I like to use them in tacos or burritos, or I simply roll them up in warm tortillas with a sprinkle of cheese. They’re great on their own as a side dish and can even be eaten like a dip with tortilla chips.
Do You Have to Soak Beans Before Cooking?
Many people choose to soak their beans before cooking, but I don’t think that it is necessary for this refried beans recipe. Soaking them adds a lot of extra time to the process, and I have found that they come out perfectly rich and creamy without soaking before!
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Classic Refried Beans
- 1 lb dry pinto beans (See Note 1)
- 1 white or yellow onion
- 1 guajillo chili pepper (or Ancho, stem and seeds removed)
- 1 large garlic clove crushed only
- 1/4 cup lard (See Note 2)
- Pick through dry beans for any rocks or debris. Cover beans with 2 inches of water in a stock pot. Add a quarter onion (save remaining for other use), dried chili and crushed garlic.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Remove and discard the onion, chili and garlic. You should have about 5 cups of cooked beans.
- In a large skillet over high heat melt the lard.
- Drain beans, reserving about a cup of the bean water. Add the beans to the skillet. Fry for several minutes, stirring.
- Mash with the back of a spoon or potato masher. Add enough bean broth and continue mashing until your desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky and never purée in a food process. If you do, then by all means do it.
- Season with some salt and black pepper if needed. Serve with crumbled Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese on top.
- I also enjoy the pinquinto beans if can find them. Rancho Gordo is the brand. They are small than pinto beans and creamier when mashed I feel. This recipe makes six cups cooked beans, drained. If each serving is 1/2 cup it can feed 12 as a side dish. Although serving sizes vary per person!
- We are actually frying the beans and my little secret and why I really don’t add much salt at all to my beans is that I use bacon fat that I save. That stuff is liquid gold people. Save it! It delivers a wonderful level of flavor to the beans. BUT if you don’t like or eat bacon then use regular lard.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.