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This quick and simple easy refried beans recipe is ideal for hectic weeknight meals when you need a nutritious, vegetarian side dish for your preferred Mexican or Tex-Mex dinners. Pinto beans are typically used to make refried beans. Red kidney beans are also included in this variation as an intriguing option. 

What makes refried beans refried?

Contrary to what many people believe, refried beans are not actually fried twice. The name ‘refried’ comes from the Spanish term ‘frijoles refritos’, which means well-fried beans.

The cooking process involves boiling and mashing the beans before frying them once in oil or lard until they are browned.

Then, they are mashed again and cooked with seasonings. This process gives the dish its signature creamy texture and flavorful taste.

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What should I add to my canned refried beans?

There are a lot of ways to dress up canned refried beans and add some extra depth of flavor. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sauteed onions and garlic – Adding some sauteed onions and garlic can give your canned refried beans a restaurant-style taste.
  • Cumin – A little bit of ground cumin goes a long way in adding earthy warmth to the beans.
  • Paprika – Add a smoky flavor with paprika.
  • Cheese – Melt in some shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for added creaminess.
  • Lime juice – Brighten up the flavors with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  • Hot sauce – If you like things spicy, add a dash or two of hot sauce to the beans.
  • Bacon bits – For an indulgent twist, sprinkle in some crispy bacon bits.

These are just a few ideas to get you started! Experiment with different seasonings and toppings until you find what you like best.

What thickens refried beans?

If you’re looking to thicken your refried beans, there are a few techniques you can try:

  1. Cook them longer – The longer you cook your beans, the thicker they will become. So if you find that your refried beans are too thin for your liking, try cooking them for another 5-10 minutes.
  2. Mash them more – To achieve a thicker consistency, mash your beans more thoroughly using a fork or potato masher. This will break down the bean fibers and help release more starches, resulting in a creamier texture.
  3. Add flour or cornstarch – You can also add a bit of flour or cornstarch to your refried beans to thicken them up. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of either flour or cornstarch with some water until it forms a smooth paste, then stir it into the bean mixture while it’s simmering on the stove.

What are the ingredients to make refried beans?

This recipe has a prep time of 10 minutes and a cook time of 15 minutes. Here are the ingredients you’re going to need for 4 servings.

For best results, replace the olive oil in this recipe with bacon fat for a more delicious and genuine variant. 

  • Extra virgin olive oil – a flavor enhancer.
  • Yellow onion – provides more dimension because it is simultaneously sweet, savory, and peppery.
  • Garlic cloves – for a nutty and mild taste.
  • Sea salt and black pepper – primary seasonings to taste.
  • Pinto beans – have a creamy texture and a mild flavor that makes them ideal for mashing and frying.
  • Red kidney beans – add different textures and flavors to this recipe.
  • Ground cumin – has a warm, earthy flavor. 
  • Chili powder – for some heat and depth of flavor.
  • Smoked paprika – used to add depth of flavor and enhance the overall taste profile. 
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – provide a hint of spiciness and heat.
  • Fresh cilantro– to serve.

How to make refried beans?

It’s time to put this recipe together now that you’ve gathered all of your ingredients. 

To start, place a large skillet on your stove over medium-high heat and pour in some olive oil. Toss in some diced onions and minced garlic and season them with salt and black pepper according to your preference. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent, which should take about 4-5 minutes.

After that, reduce the heat to medium and add beans, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and the optional crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through and start to break apart slightly for approximately 8-10 minutes.

Lastly, remove from heat and puree the beans with an immersion blender or a potato masher until almost smooth. Serve it topped with fresh cilantro, if you want. Enjoy!

Now that you know all you need to know about easy refried beans, it is time to print or save the recipe with the exact measurements.

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Yield: 4

Easy Refried Beans

Easy Refried Beans

Traditionally, refried beans are made from pinto beans. This version also incorporates red kidney beans for an interesting alternative. 

This quick and easy recipe is perfect for busy weeknight meals or whenever you want a healthy, meatless side dish for your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex entrees.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 16-oz. cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • ½ t. smoked paprika


  • ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh cilantro, to serve


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, approximately 4-5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add beans, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through and start to break apart slightly, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and puree beans with an immersion blender or a potato masher until almost smooth. Serve topped with fresh cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!


Tip: For a more flavorful and authentic variation, substitute bacon grease for the olive oil in this recipe.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 566Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 87gFiber: 28gSugar: 2gProtein: 30g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

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