Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)

******** Warning - Rant runneth over! ***********

About 2 years back, when I first started exploring other cuisines than my own, I happened to visit this family where the wife was a self proclaimed chef with an awesome palate. The diligent husband (bless him) spent 50 minutes eating our ears off praising her unsurpassed skill, talent, exquisite palate and her boundless knowledge of all food items crossing boundaries across the world. We were treated to Mexican cuisine and I like any diligent learner kept asking her questions.

me: How did you prepare this side dish? Its yummy...
her: Oh Usually its more yummy, but I ran out of a crucial ingredient and had to make do with butter.

me: Oh what's that?
her: Lard - its crucial and traditional to this dish

me:(confused) Oh, I thought K told me you guyz were vegetarians?
her: Oh of course we are - we are v particular. We dont even eat eggs!

me:(confused all the more) but but..isn't lard something to do with pig or something?
her: (laughing and giving me motherly looks) Shows you just started cooking - you have a long way to go - But I agree in a new country such confusions are bound to happen.

me:(nodding enthusiastically) Yeah you are right. One more questions - why is this called refried beans?
her: Obviously because its fried twice. I first mash it using butter/lard in a skillet - almost frying right. And then when I mix it with onions and other seasoning, I fry it once more using some more lard/butter.

me:Ohhhh OK gotcha! Its sure a heavy dish! Guess have to hit the gym for 5 hours after this hahaha
her: Yeah - what to do good and tasty foods are always so high in calories!

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)
Few weeks later, we actually stopped eating out!!!!! I started reading and getting to know of ingredients to the point of obsession and I came to acknowledge the possibility that people claiming to be experts could actually be outright wrong!! For all the vegetarians out there - Next time you go out to your favorite Mexican restaurants, keep your mind open to the fact that beans can be made with lard (which is in fact pig's fat) and ask if they have it without it. For all the food enthusiasts, Refried beans does not mean Fried twice - its actually error in absolute translation from Mexican to English where the "Re" is used to mean "well" or "Very" and not repetitions (as in English) - But then if you are food enthusiasts, you probably know this already. And with today's post, I am going to show you that this dish can be all buttery and yummy without the addition of butter. I make it with 1/4 tsp of oil and it still ends up tasty. I feel like shouting from the rooftops - Good and Yummy Food NEED NOT be calorie rich! ****** Phew! OK...Rant now Over ********************
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 2 people
  • 1 cup pinto beans ( or kidney beans/black beans ) or use canned beans
  • 1 red onion,chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or as per your taste)
  • 1 tomato,chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 green pablano chilles/green chillies, sliced thinly (or as per taste)
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro sprigs for garnish
1. Soak the pinto beans overnight. Or if you are in a hurry, then its ok to skip the process - just use your pressure cooker.Its god send!
2. You can either cook until beans are soft or to simplify things, cook till mush too. It doesn't really matter in this case if overcooked since you are ultimately going to mash it anyways while cooking. If you have cooking liquid - keep it, you can use it later if you feel that your beans are too thick in consistency. Or you can use water too.
3. Meanwhile, in a skillet add 1/4 tsp of corn oil (or any vegetable oil), add bay leaf, garlic, onions and some salt, Saute them until onions are soft and aromatic.
4. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 min until tomatoes get soft.
5. Add the cooked pinto beans, give it a stir to combine with the rest.
6. Using a potato masher or back of your spatula mash them well until it becomes almost a gooey mass
7. Add salt , if needed and mix well until well combined
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot either as a side to tortillas, chapati or Spanish rice. Or simply as an delicious and healthy dip for your corn/tortilla chips. Low fat, guilt free and nutritious. What more - its yummy and simple to make too :) Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)

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2 Member Reviews

By Christine on May 13, 2013

I'm making this right now and have some problems.

1.  It would have been nice if you had told me how long to cook the beans since it's been decades since I've made beans from scratch and forgot.  I had to go to another recipe and found out I need to boil them for 2 1/2 hours!

2.  I have a pablana pepper which is about ten times the size of a green chili and have no idea how much to use.

3.  You don't say when to add the pepper.  I'm assuming by the picture that I'll add it when I add the onions.

By Aarthy on Feb 25, 2012


By Diedre on Aug 26, 2015

Awesome vegan refried bean recipe. Thanks!

By Sue on Aug 3, 2015

This sounds absolutley yummy! I am definitely going to make this and then...refried bean and hummus tacos, enchiladas, and the list goes on!

By Valerie on Jun 25, 2015

I cannot even BEGIN to tell you the number of times I have met such "vegetarians". I'll admit, I sometimes sneak a marshmallow (knowing the geletin is most likely animal derived) or buy store brand sugar (aware that it most likely has been processed with bone char), but so many people will do these things without realizing what they are eating. OMG. To say lard is veggie safe. :roll: HA! I also knew a girl in college who was a vegan, but never checked to see if anything was baked with eggs... Some people. ;) I'll be making this tomorrow! I have a bag of pinto beans ready to use!

By James on Feb 11, 2015

Made it, loved it. Basta :-P rd-ized it a wee bit. Used Chipolti Sauce in Adabo because that is what I had. Wonderful! And it is a great filling for burritos!

By Refried Bean Dip Healthy - Food Recipe on Oct 24, 2014

[...] How to make healthy refried beans recipe at home | mexican 1 cup pinto beans ( or kidney beans/black beans ) or use canned beans; 1 red onion,chopped; 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or as per your taste) 1 tomato,chopped. None found. Meet The Author : tdnams [...]

By Healthy Quick Recipes Using Refried Beans – About Food & Health on Aug 7, 2014

[...] How to make healthy Refried Beans Recipe at home | Mexican … – Aug 19, 2009  · You can either cook until beans are soft or to simplify things, cook till mush too. It doesn’t really matter in this case if overcooked since you are … [...]

By Karen Milburn on Aug 5, 2014

Your friend is mistaken. Lard is ALWAYS from pork fat. Newer products like solid Crisco is made from vegetables and that can be used in place of lard, but a pig is a pig and no vegetarian would use it.

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By momtobe on Nov 8, 2013

This is amazing pregnancy food! I saw another commentator said so too. I can hardly eat anything but this is filling healthy and stays down! I made a double batch and ate almost the whole thing! Loved that I could start with dry beans rather than canned!

By Carol on Sep 25, 2013

8-O ok, I'm Mexican, and this dish was awesome. I am on a diet, (too many tamales) and had been looking for a much healthier, but good tasting version of the frijoles refritos!!! Thanks a million!!!

By Pep on May 13, 2013

In Mexico this sidedish born as a subproduct. The main dish would be Frijoles, plain boiled beans with a lot of stock. Every old Mexican kitchen has a bog pot of them. Before freezer, you have to boil over and over to prevent from rotting. After a few times it losts almost all the water, making it thick. Then they mashed and fried on a skillet until lost remainent water to desired consistence. Adding onion and "manteca de cerdo" really boost the taste. (sorry, I apologize for my bad english I hope I can transmite the main idea)

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By Nicole on Apr 4, 2013

I gave this a whirl last night but made it 50/50 with kidney beans and chickpeas. It turned out super delicious and the chickpeas gave it a nice earthy nutty flavor.

By Shirley Smith on Dec 30, 2012

Hope everyone knows to remove the bay leaf 8-O

By Monica I. on Apr 28, 2012

Just wondering about cooking the beans in a pressure cooker… I love my pressure cooker, but beans I have never tried! How long? Vigorous rocking, gentle rock… how much water? (My pressure cooker is older than I am… Aluminum Presto with twist-lock lid and rocker, no new-fangled gauges for me!) Thanks!

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By Aarthy on Feb 24, 2012

made it ! Yummy n delicious !!! wow no masalas !!!

By Navya on Feb 21, 2012

I made this today, and hubby loved it - it was a huge hit at home and with me being pregnant right now ( it is one of the tastiest dishes I have had because I have been throwing up most of what I eat..) I just wanted to thank you for giving us a healthy but creamy dish. I made it for breakfast and served it with bread toast :) we finished all of the beans .. thank you so much!

By Quora on Feb 2, 2012

Does anyone actually fry beans twice to make 'refried' beans?... Jim. I had remembered a long time ago that someone told me that refritos meant well-fried so that's what I always thought it meant, but to be sure I looked it up. and according to Wikipedia 're' in Mexicai-Spanish means well or very. In Spanish it d...

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By Lalitha Chandrasekar on Oct 6, 2010

Looks great! I am new to cooking and am always at a loss for ideas, love your site...

By Andrew on Sep 24, 2010

Just made this dish, and I am never eating out at a Mexican restaurant again! With a Spanish brown rice inside a tortilla... Heaven! X) Healthy without all sorts of added oils or fats, and so fresh! Filled me up, quick, and inexpensive (especially considering the nutrition + easy/speed!!!). I look forward to the leftovers and making it again! :) Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!!

By Jes on Mar 16, 2010

PS. 'Manteca' by itself can mean lard, margarine, vegetable shortning, or even butter, depending on dialect. So don't freak if the waiter says the restaurant uses manteca...make sure it's manteca de cerdo, which is specifically lard. Chances are good they are using a vegetable-base manteca unless you're in a really old-style restaurant.

Jes - You made my day, with your kind words about the site and that information I have been dying to get my hands on! I wil surely make sure its not manteca de cerdo! Its a boon to know! Thanks a million :) --DK

By Jes on Mar 16, 2010

1) I simply love this site. You people have real clinary genius. Blessings! 2) I grew up eating Mexican food, so I'd like to contribute my two cents. Almost all chiles except jalapenos (but definitely poblanos) taste better and are easier to eat if you grill or bake them to blister the skin, and then remove the skin. Refried beans should have soft bits of chile--if you don't peel the chiles, you're likely to get chewier, tougher bits than ideal. 3) That badam ka hlwa recipe should be illegal. It's that good.

By jenney on Nov 17, 2009

We're from California and love refried beans, but you're right, in authentic Mexican restaurants, lard is omnipresent. You have to ask the waiter if they use manteca de cerdo (pig fat) because sometimes the waiter's English doesn't include the word "lard"! Thanks for the recipe!

Oh thanks for THE word to ask Jenney! I am like super paranoid and until now the waiters have been enthusiastically nodding their heads in negative when I asked for lard. Hopefully they understood what exactly I was asking! Next time I am not taking chances...I am repeating manteca de cerdo in my head now ;)

By Ashi on Nov 13, 2009

Hello.. i am a regular reader of your blog but never posted a comment before. I tried yesterday the refreied beans recipe and it was amazing and so quick. I usually work late and hectic hours and am in constant search of quick home made recipes that are satisfying. This recipe just hit the mark and will be a regular in my monthly menu . Thanks a lot for making the recipe so easy and quick.

Hi Ashi, thank you and am glad you found the recipe helpful. I am also always on the lookout to make quick and easy recipes due to hectic schedule. You can find more here - You might like few others which can catch your fancy and tastebuds :) -- DK

By Kevin on Sep 21, 2009

I do this but use peanut (groundnut) oil, which I think gives it more of the authentic flavor I grew up with (south Texas).

By Katie Killjoy on Sep 8, 2009

I just made this and it was great! I love refried beans and I always used to feel so guilty about eating them. Thanks so much : )

Thanks Katie - I am glad you liked it. :)

By K on Aug 20, 2009

I totally agree with you, good and tasty food need not be calorie rich! I have the same experience too with people claiming to know everything and misleading. Good piece of info about the lard. will keep that in mind:)

By PARI on Aug 20, 2009

Hi! that's an entertaining post and a very well explained recipe.

By sra on Aug 20, 2009

Lardy-duh! (Such a natural pun, couldn't resist it.)


By Parita on Aug 20, 2009

I once made a similar dish with rajma but didnt mash them completely, never knew mexican dishes are so easy, this will go so well with!

By Priya on Aug 19, 2009

Thats a delicious and protein packed dip..suits prefectly for Indian rotis and mexican tortillas na!!

By CurryLeaf on Aug 19, 2009

HAHAHA,Love the post.I too was told and had seen in few sites that refried is twice fried.What you said about lard is true and I too used to ask for vegetarian/vegan beans in Mexican rstnts.

By Priya on Aug 19, 2009

Entertaining rant. :-) and nice photos.. Yesterday night i made something similar to this as side dish for roti which means i have unknowingly made a mexican dish.:-)

By Chakh...le...Re!!! on Aug 19, 2009

Loved the recipe!! Looks yummy!!

By PJ on Aug 19, 2009

I have been preparing a recipe exactly the same with red beans but a little watery..I just made up this recipe and when people asked me what it is called,I usually say Red bean gravy but now I can claim I have been cooking Mexican hihihi!!! - See now thats what I call as hidden and raw talent ;) The mexican gods must have blessed you(!!) :-D - DK

By Cilantro on Aug 19, 2009

Next time I go into a Mexican restaurant, I will have ask them first about lard. I do agree with you that Good and Yummy Food need not be calorie rich but they do taste even better when done so.

By Soma on Aug 19, 2009

non egg eating vegetarians frying beans twice in lard:-D.. some expert! well your non lard version looks fantastic.. we always take the regular beans & sometimes they just make the regular ones or whatever kind.. .lard free if possible.

By Shankari on Aug 19, 2009

You are so right Dhivya..tasty food does not have to be high in calories...