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Easy Refried Beans

Quick and easy refried beans using canned pinto beans.  Seasoned with onion and garlic and "fried" in bacon drippings, then mashed until smooth.

Refried beans in serving dish with queso fresco.

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.

Refried beans in cast iron skillet with wooden spoon.

Why is this recipe quick and easy?

Potao masher in skillet with beans mixture.

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?

Ingredients, potato masher and cast iron skillet.

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.

Process photo collage with bacon drippings, onions and garlic

Process photo collage adding canned beans, water and bringing to simmer

Here's how easy they are to make:

  1. Sauté some finely chopped onion in some bacon drippings in a skillet, then add some garlic.
  2. Add one can of pinto beans, do not rinse or drain, and a bit of water.
  3. Bring it all to a simmer, then start mashing with a potato masher until pretty smooth, or desired consistency, and starting to thicken up.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a little queso fresco and serve.

Process photo mashig beans until smooth.

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!

Sideview in serving dish with cheese on top.

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??

Refried beans in serving dish with queso fresco.

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Refried beans in serving dish with queso fresco.

Easy Refried Beans

Easy creamy refried beans made with canned pinto beans, onion, garlic and bacon drippings.
4.91 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 71kcal


  • 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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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.


Calories: 71kcal Carbohydrates: 2g Protein: 1g Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 3g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 7mg Sodium: 13mg Potassium: 27mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Vitamin A: 1IU Vitamin C: 1mg Calcium: 6mg Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe? Please comment, rate it and share! And mention me on Instagram @thehungrybluebird or tag #thehungrybluebird so I can see!




Recipe Rating


Tuesday 13th of February 2024

Great recipe! Very flavorful. I added two Bay leaves while simmering I think it adds additional much needed background flavor.

Dena Pedersen

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Delicious. I cooked bacon in the pan and used that lard to sauté the onions and garlic


Sunday 5th of March 2023

Excellent and fast compared to the traditional time-consuming, original Mexican "Refritos" method.

Tammy B

Thursday 21st of April 2022

These turned out excellent! Thanks for the recipe

Ingrid Grillo-Willis

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.