Refried Beans Recipe

Until I found this refried beans recipe, I always bought canned refried beans to use in quesadillas or burritos. Now that I know how easy it is to make them from scratch, I prefer making my own. They are much tastier - and they are healthier and more economical too!

These make a good dip for tortilla chips. They are even substantial enough to be a meal.

Refried beans are not really "refried". The beans are cooked, and then pan-fried and mashed. Apparently "refried" is a mistranslation of the Spanish word for "well fried".

Check that you have these staples at home

  • in the cupboard

    • olive oil
    • canned pinto beans
    • garlic
    • ground cumin
    • salt
    • pepper

  • in the fridge or freezer

    • onions

Get out your equipment

  • Essential

    • a large skillet
    • a cutting board and sharp knife
    • a can opener
    • a mixing spoon or spatula

  • Nice to have but not necessary

    • a garlic press (if not, mince the garlic)
    • measuring cups and spoons (if not, just estimate)
    • a potato masher (if not, use a fork to mash the beans0

    The recipe

    3 Tbsp/45 mL olive oil

    2 cups/500 mL minced onion

    4 cloves garlic, pressed

    2 tsp/10 mL ground cumin

    1 tsp/5 mL salt

    1/2 tsp/2 mL pepper

    2 cans (each 19 oz/540 mL) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

    In a large skillet, heat the oil.

    Add the onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.

    Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

    Turn heat to low.

    Add the beans.
    Mix well.

    Mash the beans with a fork or a potato masher. Cook for a few more minutes until heated through.


    • Use black beans in place of the pinto beans.

    Ideas for making this recipe your own

    • Add some grated Cheddar cheese to the cooked beans. Stir until it melts.

    • Spice things up! Add some seeded and minced jalopeno pepper to the skillet - or a squirt of hot sauce, or some chili powder.

    • Try adding some more spices. Chili powder, coriander or paprika would all work well.

    • Add a bit of soy sauce or tamari, or some salsa.


    • To make this an even more economical meal, soak and cook your own dried beans from scratch.

    • If you are using canned beans, rinse them in a colander under running water to remove salt or other additives.

    • Use refried beans to make burritos:

      • Warm some tortillas.
      • Spread some beans on each tortilla.
      • Top with chopped lettuce, Guacamole, fried onions and peppers, and salsa.
      • Fold up the bottom of the tortilla, roll in the sides and eat.

    • Or use them in Quesadillas. There is an easy Quesadilla recipe in "Last Minute Meals".

    Menu suggestion

    For any easy supper, serve with

    • rice
    • corn
    • salsa
    • a salad

    If you enjoy this refried beans recipe, you may also like these other bean recipes: