Quick Refried Beans

Turn a can of pinto beans into creamy, flavorful refried beans that are ready to serve with all your favorite tacos and burritos. Jump to Recipe

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Making Mexican Refried Beans at home couldn't be easier. These fast and easy refried beans taste so much better than canned and are ready in less than twenty minutes. Serve them with some shrimp tacos or chicken tostadas for a meal that tastes like takeout.

I never ate refried beans, or beans really, until I moved to California and finally tried the real thing. Before that the only beans I would eat were homemade, New England style baked beans and that was on a very rare occasion. They just weren’t my thing, until I tried my first real, authentic homemade refried beans. They were creamy, rich, and full of flavor something entirely different than the dry, canned varieties I had tried.

However given that many of the restaurant versions are loaded with lard and a homemade version can take 8-10 hours to make, I wanted to find a quick way to create delicious refried beans at home. This recipe is the result. Canned beans that are doctored up with some onions, garlic, and jalapeno and then mashed to the perfect consistency. Personally I like mine with some texture, but for a smoother version just pop everything into a food processor or blender.

In case you are wondering, refried beans are traditionally made with pinto beans. Pinto beans get creamy and mash really well, which is why they are the number one choice for refried beans. However, you can also make refried beans with black beans or another bean from the pantry. 

Refried beans in a bowl with shredded cheese, limes, cilantro, and chips on the side.

How are refried beans made?

Traditionally refried beans are made by cooking dry pinto beans for hours on the stovetop or a slow cooker. Once the beans are tender, they are drained of the excess liquid and added to a hot pan with some kind of fat, usually lard. Some recipes call for some onion, garlic, or spices as well. Then the beans are cooked and mashed with some water or broth. Not difficult but time consuming.

This shortcut version uses canned pinto beans but tastes just as delicious. Start by building flavor with some sauteed onions, garlic, and a jalapeno pepper for a hint of spice. Then once these are nice and tender, add the drained canned beans and broth. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash to your desired texture. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

What to eat with refried beans?

There are endless options when it comes to how to eat refried beans and around here we eat them everything from eggs to chips to all the tacos and burritos. With that said, here are some favorites:

  • Make quesadillas using refried beans in place of regular canned beans. This boosts the flavor of the quesadilla and helps it stay together since the refried beans act as a binder. You can also serve the refried beans on the side as a dip or spread them right on top of the quesadilla before serving.
  • Serve these alongside some tacos like these Easy Fish Tacos, Chicken Soft Tacos, or Steak Tacos.
  • Try making your own burrito with a layer of refried beans, cooked rice or quinoa, leftover cooked chicken, salsa, and cheese. 
  • Tostadas are basically a crispy tortilla topped with refried beans and all the toppings. Try making these Shrimp Tostadas for an easy, quick meal.
  • For something unexpected, make a quick veggie wrap starting with a thin layer of refried beans. This adds protein and fiber to your wrap and also will help hold it together. 

Recipe Ideas, Tips, and Easy Swaps

  • This recipe will work with black beans as well, but they won't mash quote as well so you may need a little extra liquid. Other canned beans can also be used but pinto beans result in the creamiest refried beans.
  • If you don't want a spicy bean dish, then just leave out the jalapeno pepper. If you want a spicy option but don't have a jalapeno, you can add some chili powder or canned adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers.
  • Make sure to dice the onions, garlic, and jalapeno nice and small and cook them completely. They should blend seamlessly into the beans.
  • My favorite way to serve these beans is with melted cheese and a few big spoonfuls of pico de Gallo. 

Easy refried pinto beans in a wooden bowl with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Are refried beans good for you?

Traditional refried beans tend to be made with a large amount of lard or oil so they aren't always the healthiest choices even though beans on their own are normally healthy.

This version made with heart-healthy olive oil is a much better option with lots of fiber and plant-based protein. 

This recipe was originally shared over 5 years ago but has been updated with new photos, tips, and cooking ideas.

The Recipe
Quick Refried Beans

Quick Refried Beans

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  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 2 U garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 U jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 15 oz. canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • Salt and pepper

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet.


Add the onion, garlic, and peppers if you are using them. Cook for 4-5 minutes until onion begins to soften.


Add the beans and broth. Cook for about 5 minutes until beans are warm.


Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Mash the beans using a spoon or pulse in a food processor to your desired texture.

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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1/2 cup (167g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 151
Calories from Fat 25
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 383mg
Total Carbohydrate 25g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 1g
Protein 8g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

† SmartPoints™ calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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About the author Meet Kristen Mccaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tired and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Quick Refried Beans
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Machel Morton
March 18, 2017 - 12:43
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These refried beans are delicious!! Even my kids love them. Definitely a staple in my house. It's so nice to know exactly what is in the food we are eating.
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