Where have pinto beans been all my life? I dismissed them after a couple of lackluster Mexican restaurant meals, but I’ve recently realized pinto beans in their full glory. They’re creamy and rich, and mix in beautifully with scrambled eggs, soup, rice and more.
Pinto beans also make the best refried beans, since they’re so buttery. I recently crossed the refried black beans recipe with my pinto beer beans (both available in my cookbook) and ended up with these outrageously delicious refried beans.
Fresh cilantro livens up these refried beans, and a squeeze of lime juice makes them taste more complex. Flavor aside, these refried beans are also a healthy source of plant-based protein and fiber (12 grams of each per serving). You can read up on pinto bean nutrition here.
Bonus? This recipe is so easy to make! I used high quality canned beans to make this recipe quickly. I tried home-cooked beans and couldn’t tell enough difference to bother doing it again. If you prefer to cook your own beans, though, you certainly can.
Cook up some onion in olive oil, add spices and beans, and your refried beans are ready in under 25 minutes. This recipe is far superior to store-bought refried beans, and it’s become a staple in my kitchen. I hope it becomes a staple in yours, too.
Uses for Refried Beans
Refried beans are a healthy side dish to serve along with any Mexican meal. They’re so good that I like to eat them with tortilla chips as a bean dip.
You can also use these protein-rich, vegan refried beans inside tacos, enchiladas and burritos. Spread them on the inside of a quesadilla or on top of a tostada. You can’t go wrong!
Refried Bean Tips
Chop the onions very small and be sure to cook them until tender. This is key to achieving a creamy texture. If the onions are too large or undercooked, they will be distracting and crunchy. No thanks!
Mash the beans as much as you’d like. I usually stop when the beans are half to three-quarters mashed, but you can mash them completely if you’d like perfectly creamy refried beans. (You’ll get even smoother results if you blend these beans in a food processor. I don’t recommend trying the blender since they are so thick.)
Use black beans if you prefer. Black beans aren’t as easily blended as pinto beans, so they’ll probably be a little more chunky. If you love black beans, you’ll love this version!
Add peppers for even more flavor. You can add a finely chopped bell pepper (any color) or jalapeño pepper(s) with the onion, for beans with extra flavor and texture. Jalapeños will make the beans more spicy—I recommend removing the seeds and membranes first so you have more control over the spice level.
Please let me know how these refried beans turn out for you in the comments! Your feedback keeps me going, and your star ratings encourage other readers to make the recipe. I’ll be back soon with more Mexican recipes, and you can view my Mexican recipe archive here.
Easy Refried Beans
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
These refried beans are delicious and so easy to make. This refried bean recipe is quick, too—use canned beans and they’re ready in 25 minutes! Plus, these beans are healthy, vegan and gluten free. Recipe yields 4 servings.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow or white onion (about ½ small onion)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked pinto beans
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (about ½ medium lime), to taste
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are turning translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the drained beans and water. Stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and remove the lid. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash up about at least half of the beans, until you reach your desired consistency. Continue to cook the beans, uncovered, stirring often, for 3 more minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste, and add more salt and lime juice if necessary. If the beans seem dry, add a very small splash of water and stir to combine. Cover until you’re ready to serve.
Change it up: Substitute black beans for the pinto beans.