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 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!
Watch How to Make Refried Beans
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 1x
- 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 2 ½ cups refried beans (21 ounces), enough for 5 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.
If this makes more than one store-bought can (which my nachos recipe calls for), can the rest be frozen or is it better to halve the recipe?
Sure! This should work well frozen once cooled. Let me know what you think.
Turned out great! I used it on taco shells as a base and it really pulled it all together. I am planning on making a bean dip with this recipe next time.
First off, your recipes are amazing! Thank you so much for the great content. Would you know if pink beans would work instead of the pinto beans?
I’m so glad you are loving my recipes! You could try it, but I haven’t myself so I can’t say for sure.
What are pink beans???
Google says they are commonly referred to as chili beans.
These are delicious!!! I usually find myself modifying recipes but this one was perfect as is! Thanks for making a refried bean lover out of me <3
great to hear you loved it, Sally! I appreciate your review.
Made this as a side to have with tacos. It was perfect. Yum yum.
Hi Kate! Love your recipes! I’m trying to get away from processed foods – do you any tips on how to “cook” fresh pinto beans for this recipe?
Hi Natasha, I don’t have a dry pinto bean recipe. I do know there are recipes out there. If if find a good one, let me know!
I put 2 cups dry pinto beans into about 7 cups water, boil in a big pot for about 2 minutes before covering & simmering for at least an hour. They worked well here! (I like to slightly overcook my beans so they’re more mashable).
To cook dry Pinto beans… I use around 250g-300g dried rinsed beans. Place in large saucepan and cover with water, so water is about 2-3 times the depth of beans. Bring to the boil. Then remove saucepan from heat and leave it and contents to cool for 1 hour. Then add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to the saucepan. Bring up to boil and leave simmering for 1- 1 1/4 hours. You should use the same water throughout. (This method replaces need to soak beans overnight). I also use the bean stock instead of water in the recipe above.
Brenda J Thacker
Perfect! Thanks. Made my refried beans come out very tasty. Thanks to both Kate and Matt. Froze my leftovers for taco night and natchos. Burritos were on the menu for dinner.
I’m glad you loved them, Brenda!
Easy and SO flavorful!
Quick, easy, and so yummy. I’m embarrassed to admit how recently I learned that making refried beans at home is incredibly simple to do but here we are, haha! Glad I came across this recipe.
I’m glad you did too, Lauren! Thank you for your review.
I made these yesterday, used them in tacos and they were excellent.
Thank you for sharing this recipe.
I have made it twice and will do so again.
I’ve never had much luck with homemade refried beans, but this was delicious! I only had one can of black beans, but I maintained the proportions for all of the ingredients except the water cilantro and lime, I cut these in half to be in proportion with the amount of beans. This was perfect for our tastes. Thank you Kate for a delicious recipe, I’ll definitely be making again soon.
I’m glad you loved it, Erin!
Thanks for a nice, easy recipe. I’ve never made refried beans before and they turned out great. I had a couple cans of mixed beans, and it still worked well (the only bean that didn’t smooth out as well were the chickpeas). It also freezes well, which is good because it makes so much.
That’s great to hear, Joyce!
Looking forward to trying your recipe. I found an Instant Pot recipe for cooking beans from dry to done no soak. I am going to pair them with your recipe. Thank you for sharing.
I hope you enjoy it, Kelly! I appreciate your review.
Would you please share the InstantPot or pressure cooker website?
Love this recipe. I used canned black beans since I had them & it was so easy, quick & delicious. My husband is going to be so happy–if there are any left when he gets home! :-) Thank you.
Quick question – I’m planning to try this but with the jalapeño added. Do I sauté that with the onion and garlic or when would it be best to add that in?
Hi Eva, If you plan to add peppers I would sauté and be mindful of seeds.
Can these be made a day ahead and re heated?
Hi Gail, these are good left over as well.
I make this recipe often. I use it to make bean and cheese quesadillas. I’ve made it with pinto, black, and great northern beans with great success. Sometimes I use canned beans, and sometimes I cook them from dry. This freezes really well, so I often make extra.
Thank you for your review, Sarah! I appreciate you sharing your variations.
This has become my go-to recipe for Taco Tuesday. Having a garden full of peppers this year I added a charred Poblano and Anaheim to spark it up a notch. I never buy canned refried beans anymore. THANK YOU
Wonderful to hear, MJ! I’m glad these beans are a go-to for you.
I overcooked some Rio Zape (pinto-like) beans a bit yesterday, which made them perfect for refried beans today. I had forgotten how good homemade refried beans are, thank you for the recipe! I plan to freeze some for future nachos.
in my opinion, leave out onions or garlic, always use lard not olive oil
Fab thanks so easy – made it with kids. Couldn’t find pinto beans so used kidney beans and it still was great.
Shala E Chandler
Step 2 says to add garlic, but I don’t see garlic in the list of ingredients. How much garlic is used?
Hi! It’s right below the salt in the ingredient list.
Looks great! When you say “chili powder”, do you mean pure powder (ground chili pepper only) or a typical commercial mix that already includes peppers, cumin, oregano, and salt?
Going to make it in a few days for taco bar dinner for 11.
Hi! It’s typically the blend of spices here in the US. I hope you try this recipe!
This recipe was perfect. I added extra salt and lemon juice and ended up using 2 cans of black beans since it was all I had but it still tasted great. I wanted a smoother consistency so after mashing it I put most of it in a blender and it was perfect. Thank you for this recipe! It was quick and easy and delicious.
Great recipe thank you!! The use of canned pinto beans makes this much easier than dried.
Best beans I’ve ever had.
I just made this. It turned out amazing! The only thing I did different was used chicken bone broth instead of the water. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Jessie! I’m excited you enjoyed it.
Excellent. I’ve made refried beans before and they were ok but not like these, I could have eaten the whole pot with a spoon, lol. I did add a large can of chopped green Chiles, otherwise just as written. Thank you!!
You know blended just a bit more and would make excellent bean dip as well.
Simple and really, really good! You were absolutely right about really cooking the onions down to fall apart tenderness.
I halved the recipe cuz there’s only 2 of us. Still, 5 Star!
I used butter rather than lard, which I think is most authentic and just a little less than you suggest, olive oil. I added water twice, then chicken bone broth and my beans were soaking it all up and getting creamier under my masher!
I make tacos from scratch and now I won’t rely so much on canned refries to help round out a quick , really really good taco feast! ( I admit to being a gringo living in Oregon but being a former resident of San Diego for over 20 years I have a real need to taste Mexican food !…fro the humble hot carrot to well, as ‘haute’, but not necessarily, hot, as we could find , as far as we could go down coastal Mexico and Baja, Cali. It’s healthy. Proteins, fiber rich , low fat and so very tasty. Thank you very much for a great basic recipe for a quick classic staple.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dani!
HI Kate. Ken here in Victoria, B.C. I have a couple of questions about your refried bean recipe please. It looks great! At the age of 77, I do everything within my power to stay healthy and fit. Amongst those things is carefully watching what I eat. I try to avoid salt and oil in my cooking altogether, but if the recipe absolutely requires them, I’ll consider using them in moderation. I’m wondering if the oil you use to cook the onions is to prevent them from sticking, or for taste. I usually use a high heat without oil to carmelize and then add water a couple of tablespoons at a time as necessary to prevent burning or sticking. Regarding the salt you’ve added, I’m wondering if that simply adds the taste of salt to the recipe, or does the presence of salt chemically interact with other ingredients to draw out their flavour? Thanx in advance for your response.
Hi Ken, if you prefer to not have salt, you can omit. The flavor will be different.
Kate! I’m on your website nearly every week making something or another, we love it all! Have you ever tried these in the instant pot?
That’s wonderful, Christy! I have not, sorry.
Hi Kate, I usually stick to black beans as they seem easier on my system that some other beans. However I used pinto beans for this and loved them. A comment on dried vs. canned. I buy beans 2k package and cook them and freeze in 2 cup lots. They freeze well – can’t tell the difference. Great recipe, thanks.
Thank you for sharing!
This is so flavorful and easy to boot! KUDOS!!!
Thank you, Susan! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Hi Kate. I only ever had refried beans at a pseudo mexican restaurant. They were so bad I have refused to try them again. How is this different. Are all refried beans the same? I don’t want to waste the ingredients if I won’t like it. Thank you.
Hi, I don’t find all are the same. I hope you try these!
Tried this on a whim and pleasantly surprised by the flavor and ease! I had just prepped roasted garlic so I used that. I also substituted ancho chili powder, chipotle powder, and smoked paprika along with frozen cilantro (still used cumin though). Blended in my Vitamix since the fork method wasn’t working for me. It’s pretty and flavorful! Already planning how to prep a large batch to freeze. Thank you!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Brandy! I appreciate you sharing how you made these beans. These should freeze nicely. Let me know what you think!
Great and easy recipe! Super Bowl Bean dip saved when I realized I didn’t have any cans of retried beans. I used onecan of pinto beans and one can great northern beans. Once the beans were done I added a can of Rotel and add some grated Colby jack cheese. Delicious!
Thank you for sharing, Terri!
I made this recipe last night! It was wonderful! I would absolutely recommend it to anyone! I only made half the recipe because it was just for me. I will be using this recipe from now on because it is easy and delicious.
So yummy and easy!
I love these Kate! If I make them a day in advance, do you recommend I heat them in the oven (or is it not recommended to make in advance?) Thank you!
You could try stove top too! Let me know what you think when you reheat them.
Couldn’t find canned refried beans on vacation in Aruba so I found this recipe. The whole family raved about them and swore they would never eat canned again!! Thank you for the great recipe!!
This was delish . Perfect to spread on tortillas shells and add your other favourite toppings!!
Great to hear, Jackie! I appreciate your review.
REBECCA P RUTLAND
I modified it for one can of beans since I’m a household of one. Came out great. Makes great bean, cheese and jalapeno nachos.
Sounds delicious, Rebecca! Thank you for your review.
I will never buy canned refried beans again. I have made this recipe several times and my whole family loves it.
Great to hear, Meg! I appreciate your review.
These were amazing! I’ll never buy premade again! Loving all your recipes from your blog and just bought your cookbook!! So far we love all of it!! Thank you
I’m glad you love them, Maureen!
I never really care for beans except chilli, but this recipe changed my opinion about beans. So delicious that I am addicted and want to try other types of beans. Thank you for this amazing recipe and technique ♥️
Kelly Anne Newkirk
Gonna try tonight……thank you!
My whole family went gaga for these and no one is a big bean lover. I didn’t even mention that I had done anything different but my husband said, “What was different about the refried beans tonight? They were phenomenal!” Thank you!!!!!!
You’re welcome, Amanda!
Hands down the best refried beans from pinto beans in can recipe! I followed the recipe to a tee except for the water and used canned chicken broth instead with a mix of salt and garlic salt, and added some canned jalapenos and wow! It was the boom! Even my husband was eating seconds like there was no tomorrow! Thank you for sharing your recipe! A keeper!
I’m glad you think so, Michelle! Thank you for your review.
I tend to loosely follow recipes and add my own flair.
This one I followed exactly (added a couple mini red peppers, as suggested)
OH MY GOSH!! SO GOOD!! These really are delicious, the kids actuallywanted 2nds.
That’s great to hear, Kristy! I appreciate your review.
Have made these twice now to go with chicken fajitas. A winner with the whole family including two teenage boys.
Hooray! Great to hear, Lisa.
what makes this recipe so high in sodium? Dried pinto beans are very low in sodium. Is it canned vs dried? thanks
This is made with canned beans. You can make your own beans or be sure to use low sodium and not add salt.
Made this today to go with our chicken taco’s. I didn’t have Pinto beans so subbed 1can of black beans and 1 can of cannellini beans. I also used chicken stock instead of water. Very tasty and a nice consistency. Never again, will we buy the fat laden canned refried beans. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you.
PS, so sorry to hear about cookie. Our condolences.
I’ll NEVER buy canned refried beans again! Looks like taco MONDAY!
Excellent!!!! And easy. And affordable. No change to recipe. Really good vegetarian lunches all ready to come together for the week!! (I’m trying!!)
I’m eating these beans right now and they are so good! So easy to make and so much better than the canned stuff! I made your Pico de Gallo to go with my tacos, too – thats another fabulous tecipe! I’ve never made anything bad from your blog. xo
I’m excited you enjoyed them, Korey! Thank you for your review.
I just wanted some refried beans, & looked for a recipe, so I got yours, sounds easy. since I am 88 yrs, old just want something different, hard to know what I want many times. want to try this. Thanks.
You’re welcome, Eleanor!
Used dried beans, soaked over night of course . Used to much water to grind, so cooking in the crockpot awesome thank you for the recipe
Easy and delicious!
I’m glad you enjoyed them, Krystal! I appreciate your review.
Yum. So easy to make. I added about 3 tbs finely chooped pablano pepper with the onion
I’m glad you loved it, Mark! I appreciate your review.