Mexican Refried Beans Recipe |  Frijoles Refritos | How to make homemade Refried Beans
[Pictures/Recipe Updated to provide better explanation. Original post Aug 2009]

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 praising her unsurpassed skill 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 its usually even better, 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 were vegetarians?
her: Oh of course we are - we are v particular. We don't even eat eggs!

me:(confused all the more) but but..isn't lard something to do with pigs?
her: (laughing and giving me motherly looks) What? No.... its just another type of fat like margarine. 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:Ohhh OK! 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!

Mexican Refried Beans Recipe |  Frijoles Refritos | How to make homemade 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 translation from Spanish to English where the "Re" is used to mean "well" or "very" and not repetitions (as in English). So it just means very well fried/done beans. But then if you are food enthusiasts, you probably know this already.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 2-3 people
  • Yields: Around 4 cups
  • 2-3 tbsp butter or oil, see Tips
  • 1 cup finely chopped Onion
  • 3 cups cooked Pinto Beans
  • Salt to taste
    Optional Additions
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican Chilli Powder or Paprika
  • Mexican fresh cheese to garnish
  • Few sprigs of Cilantro to garnish
1.Butter: We want the mixture to be smooth and velvety - like a paste. Pinto beans is creamy but adding fat makes it utterly creamy.
1. Add the oil/butter. Once hot, add the onions (along with garlic, if using) and fry until browned.
2. Next add the spices and salt. If your beans have already been salted, then omit or add only as needed.
3. I make a big batch of pinto beans using my Instant Pot. Most of the beans I drain and freeze for later use. Some beans along with the bean water I save in a freezer friendly bag precisely to make refried beans. Simply thaw in the fridge the night before making the beans. This is my thawed beans all ready to go.
4. Add it to the pan.
5. Once hot, mash it with a potato masher or with the back of a skillet.
6. Cook it until the beans come together into a smooth thick paste. You will know its done when the beans peel out of the pans readily.
Garnish with cilantro (and cheese, if using) and serve hot either as a side to tortillas and/or Spanish rice. Or simply as an delicious and healthy dip for your corn/tortilla chips.
Mexican Refried Beans Recipe |  Frijoles Refritos | How to make homemade 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!

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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...