Quick and Easy Refried Beans

5 from 2 votes

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These (vegan/vegetarian) refried beans are much healthier than a lot of restaurant versions, but well seasoned and so flavorful and creamy!

Homemade refried beans in glass dish on marble counter.

Homemade refried beans are leaps and bounds better than those in a can — and so easy to make, in only 20 minutes! The texture and the flavor are amazing. Plus, you can control the salt level, which can get quite high in packaged refried beans. And while you can certainly make them from dried beans, making them from canned beans is much faster and simpler. This recipe is not only vegetarian but also vegan, so everyone at the table can enjoy homemade refried beans.

The flavor and texture of these refried beans is very satisfyingly creamy and rich. These plant-based beans don’t contain any butter or lard, only olive oil. They are also gluten-free and dairy-free, and packed with protein and fiber. These are much healthier than traditional refried beans, which often contain a lot of saturated fat. But did I mention how delicious they are? That’s the most important part.

Homemade refried beans in glass dish on white marble table.

Ingredients

  • Beans – You can make refried beans with kidney, pinto, or black beans, all with excellent results. It really just depends on what kind of beans you like and what you are serving them with. 
  • Water – This loosens the pureed beans up and gives them the proper texture.
  • Olive oil – Use a good olive oil, and don’t be tempted to reduce the amount. The olive oil adds so much richness, silkiness, and flavor to these beans.
  • Onion – White, yellow, or red can all work here.
  • Jalapeño pepper – Make sure to seed the jalapeño unless you want a really spicy refried bean dish.
  • Garlic – Use fresh if at all possible.
  • Cumin – This gives the refried beans a Mexican/Tex-Mex vibe. Toasting the cumin in the pan before adding the beans brings out the earthy, smoky flavor of the spice.
  • Fresh cilantro – Totally optional, but a nice fresh touch.
Jalapeno pepper, pinto beans, onion, cumin, and olive oil are the ingredients for homemade refried beans.

Creamy and flavorful, these quick and easy vegan refried beans are great as a side, or used in all kinds of Mexican recipes.

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Tips for Making Refried Beans

  • Make sure you mince your garlic very finely and chop the onions and jalapeños very finely as well. This way, they will bend into the refried beans and keep the smooth, creamy consistency.
  • The simple additional step of toasting the ground cumin will pay dividends in terms of adding a toasty, smoky warm flavor to your refried beans. It takes all of 1 minute, and you’ll taste the difference right away. 
  • Using the food processor to puree the beans saves you the tedious task of mashing them in the pan and creates a smoother texture. If you like your refried beans a bit chunkier, you can pulse them in the food processor and stop when they reach the desired consistency. This also helps break up the beans’ skins, which can be unpleasantly tough to eat. The skins will essentially dissolve into the mashed beans. You can also mash them with a potato masher if you like.
  • If you want thicker refried beans, cook them for several more minutes, stirring frequently. Keep in mind that they will continue to thicken as they cool down.
  • If you want to start by cooking dried beans from scratch instead of using canned beans, save 1 cup of the cooking water to loosen them up. Otherwise, you will just use plain old water. 

FAQs

Are refried beans vegan?


Refried beans are usually not vegan, often made with some sort of animal fat, traditionally even lard. However, these are vegan, because the fat that’s used is olive oil, which is plant-based, and there are no other animal-based ingredients added.

What makes refried beans refried?

The name implies that the beans are fried twice, but that’s not actually the case! The name comes from a fuzzy translation of the Spanish phrase Frijoles Refritos, which translates to “well-fried beans.” The “re” in front of fritos (which means fried) adds emphasis, so the name really means that the beans are well-fried, not fried two times.

Are refried beans healthy or not?

The beans themselves are very healthy, but some refried bean recipes often contain a lot of fat and sodium. These refried beans are fairly healthy, cooked with a moderate amount of olive oil vs. another animal fat. If you’ve ever wondered why some refried beans taste so good in a restaurant…well, the answer might be a lot of butter or bacon fat or lard.

What can I add to refried beans to make them taste better?

These refried beans are just delicious thanks to the addition, of jalapeño, cumin, garlic, and onion. Salt and pepper and the optional addition of cilantro add flavor as well.

Woman spreading refried beans on flour tortilla with a spoon.

How to Make Homemade Refried Beans

  1. Place the beans and the water in a food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño peppers and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and golden.
  3. Add the cumin and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for another minute or two until you can smell the garlic and cumin.
  4. Add the bean mixture and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the beans have thickened and are smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the cilantro, if using. 

Storage and Reheating

Refried beans will last for up to a week well covered in the fridge. Reheat them in a pot over low heat, with a couple of tablespoons of water added to loosen them up, stirring frequently.

How to Serve Refried Beans

Enjoy your homemade refried beans warm with:

Also, they are a main ingredient in baleadas, and if you made baleadas with homemade refried beans, you are in for a total treat!

Quick and Easy Refried Beans: These (vegan/vegetarian) refried beans are much healthier than a lot of restaurant versions, but well seasoned and so flavorful and creamy!

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Baleadas with flour tortilla topped with refried beans, queso fresco, and avocado slices.
Baleadas

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5 from 2 votes

Quick and Easy Refried Beans

These (vegan/vegetarian) refried beans are much healthier than a lot of restaurant versions, but well seasoned and so flavorful and creamy!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
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Ingredients 

  • 3 cans (15-ounces each pinto, kidney, or black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup water
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (seeded and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions 

  • Place the beans and water in a food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño peppers and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. Add the cumin and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 1 to 2 minutes, until you can smell the garlic and cumin.
  • Add the bean mixture and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the beans have thickened and are smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Stir in the cilantro, if using.

Notes

  • Make sure you mince your garlic very finely and chop the onions and jalapeños very finely as well. This way, they will bend into the refried beans and keep the smooth, creamy consistency.
  • The simple additional step of toasting the ground cumin will pay dividends in terms of adding a toasty, smoky warm flavor to your refried beans. It takes all of 1 minute, and you’ll taste the difference right away. 
  • Using the food processor to puree the beans saves you the tedious task of mashing them in the pan and creates a smoother texture. If you like your refried beans a bit chunkier, you can pulse them in the food processor and stop when they reach the desired consistency. This also helps break up the beans’ skins, which can be unpleasantly tough to eat. The skins will essentially dissolve into the mashed beans. You can also mash them with a potato masher if you like.
  • If you want thicker refried beans, cook them for several more minutes, stirring frequently. Keep in mind that they will continue to thicken as they cool down.
  • If you want to start by cooking dried beans from scratch instead of using canned beans, save 1 cup of the cooking water to loosen them up. Otherwise, you will just use plain old water. 

Nutrition

Calories: 117kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Sodium: 198mg, Potassium: 47mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 0.4mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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