Quick and easy refried beans using canned pinto beans. Seasoned with onion and garlic and "fried" in bacon drippings, then mashed until smooth.
When we go out for Mexican food, I think my favorite part of the meal are the refried beans. Creamy and flavorful, the meal isn't complete without them. And guess what? These cheater restaurant-style refries are super easy to make at home and authentic tasting, the perfect side to all your favorite Mexican dishes.
Why is this recipe quick and easy?
Authentic refried beans are easy to make at home with canned pinto beans. They just need a few seasonings and and a potato masher and you'll have refried beans like a restaurant but at home, in a skillet on your stovetop in less than half an hour.
What kind of canned beans to use?
Use canned pinto beans, and don't drain the liquid. Use the entire contents, I told you, so easy. You can also try these refries with canned black beans if you'd like. I prefer pinto beans and that's the traditional bean to use.
How to make refried beans using canned pinto beans
Refried beans are pinto beans cooked with onion and garlic and then mashed and "fried" in lard. I like to use bacon drippings and always have some in the fridge, a big reason to save bacon grease! And canned pinto beans work just as well as soaking and simmering dried beans.
Here's how easy they are to make:
- Sauté some finely chopped onion in some bacon drippings in a skillet, then add some garlic.
- Add one can of pinto beans, do not rinse or drain, and a bit of water.
- Bring it all to a simmer, then start mashing with a potato masher until pretty smooth, or desired consistency, and starting to thicken up.
- Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a little queso fresco and serve.
What to serve with refried beans
- Refried beans make a great side to any Mexican-inspired meal. Serve as a side with some queso fresco crumbled on top, or a little shredded cheese melted on top like cheddar or Monterey Jack.
- They are a great addition to tacos, quesadillas and burritos. I always make some when I make my homemade ground beef taco filling
- Refries make a great side to enchiladas, like these ground turkey enchiladas
- Serve a side of refries alongside chile verde, with warm flour tortillas.
- And these easy refried beans are perfect for huevos rancheros!
Recipe notes and tips
- The finished beans will thicken substantially upon standing and cooling down. I like them on the soupier side, but you do you.
- I save bacon drippings but if you don't, just fry up some bacon and then either use the bacon for something else or crumble on top of the finished beans.
- The best fat choices for refries are lard or bacon drippings. If you find that undesirable or want a vegetarian take on refries, use corn oil for the fat. I have done just that when making them for my vegan-ish daughter.
- Try adding a little cumin to the onions and garlic for an extra layer of flavor.
- When reheating any leftover refried beans, I like the microwave. If reheating in a skillet, add a little water if necessary to loosen up the beans and make creamy again.
Once you've tried these easy refried beans, you'll be making them all the time at home. And you can, just keep canned pinto beans on hand and save your bacon drippings! Kelly??
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Easy Refried Beans
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings/grease or lard or corn oil
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 (16-oz.) can pinto beans, undrained
- ¼ cup water
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Crumbled queso fresco, for serving
- Heat bacon drippings in medium-large skillet. Add onions and stir and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add 1 can of pinto beans ~ do not rinse or drain ~ and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and then mash with a potato masher to desired consistency, about 7 to 10 minutes until pretty smooth and thickened up.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a little queso fresco crumbled on top.
- Cook beans to desired consistency, but keep in mind they will thicken upon standing and cooling.
- Can use lard or corn oil instead of bacon grease.
Sunday 5th of March 2023
Excellent and fast compared to the traditional time-consuming, original Mexican "Refritos" method.
Thursday 21st of April 2022
These turned out excellent! Thanks for the recipe
Thursday 6th of May 2021
Thank you, decided on a whim to make refried beans with a can of pinto beans I have. You helped me get ideas with this. I used a little coconut oil, garlic and Tajín with the beans and it turned out very tasty for me.
Wednesday 19th of May 2021
Sounds delicious!! Love the Tajin addition.
Thursday 25th of March 2021
Thank you for saving dinner! It was burrito night, and I asked my son (the bean lover of the family) to open up a few cans of Refried beans while I cooked the meat. Tragedy of tragedies, we were out! I said, oh well we can just heat up some whole pintos instead. He pleaded for me to please make the pintos into Refried beans.... a quick internet search brought up your recipe... with 5 hungry kids clamoring to eat, I decided to skip chopping up onions & garlic. Luckily I had bacon fat on hand. I melted it, threw in a few teaspoons of garlic powder & a tsp onion powder then mashed in 3 cans of pintos & water. Followed the rest of your recipe... everyone loved the beans! I look forward to trying it with real onions & garlic.
Friday 26th of March 2021
Sounds like you saved the day! Glad your kids approved. Bacon fat is the key ingredient, so you did great. It's such an easy way to make quick refries!!
Thursday 17th of December 2020
This turned out so good! I’ll never use canned refried beans again. Thanks!