These refried beans are so easy to make you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them from scratch before.  They’re creamy, delicious and are made with an untraditional twist, no added fat.  Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole or your favorite topping.

Refried Beans with Cheese

Homemade refried beans are easy to make, have a creamy texture and taste so good.

The most time consuming part of making these beans is the time it takes to soak them.  

But the good news is that soaking them is the easiest part because they literally just sit in a bowl or a pot filled with water.

Plus while they’re soaking, they occasionally need to be drained and refilled with water.

The package instructions generally recommend soaking the pinto beans for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.  

There may also be a “quick soak” option on the package instructions.

The pinto beans in this recipe are soaked for 5 hours and then simmered for 2-1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.

Refried beans and cheese on plate

Then they’re transferred to a skillet, mashed and seasoned (with salt and pepper) just before serving.

TIP – Feel free to change up the seasonings if you like, such as adding garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin or chili powder.

Traditionally, it’s at this point when the refried beans are made with a small amount of fat such as lard, vegetable oil, bacon drippings or butter.

But in this recipe, instead of adding fat, just the liquid that the beans are cooked in is used when mashing them to form a “paste”.

Refried beans and cheese on fork

And then they’re served warm with the toppings of your choice.

In this recipe, the refried beans are topped with crumbled queso fresco, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced green onions (just the green tops).

Here are more Mexican Food recipes you may like “Easy Homemade Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas“, “Spicy Chicken and Lime Taquitos” and “Slow Cooker Ground Meat Taco Filling“.

Let’s check out the ingredients.

For the Refried Beans:

Pinto Beans Ingredients

Dried pinto beans, water, salt and ground black pepper

Options For the Toppings:

Refried beans on plate

Crumbled queso fresco cheese, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced green onions (just the green tops of the onion)…

Toppings for refried beans

Sour cream, shredded Monterey jack cheese, chopped tomatoes, and chopped or sliced avocado.

And of course red or green salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo would make delicious toppings for these refried beans.

printable recipe with the measurements and instructions is located at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how to make it.

For the Pinto Beans:

Sort the Beans – Lay the beans in a shallow layer on a cookie sheet, pie pan, platter or clean kitchen towel.

Then remove and discard any bad beans (broken, off-colored or shriveled), debris, pebbles, rocks or foreign material

Pinto Beans in Colander

Rinse the Beans – Place the sorted beans in a colander or strainer…

Pinto Beans in Colander

…and rinse them under cold running water.

Pinto Beans in Water

Soak the Beans – Transfer the beans to a large bowl or pot and add water to about 3/4’s full.

Amount of Time to Soak the Beans –  The package instructions generally recommend soaking the pinto beans for at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. 

Quick Soak – The package of dried pinto beans may also provide instructions for a “quick soak” where the pinto beans are boiled about 2 minutes then removed from the heat, left in the covered pot for about an hour, then drained and rinsed again before cooking.

In this recipe, the pinto beans soak for 5 hours.

Every 45 minutes to an hour, drain the beans, discard the water, and refill the soaking container (with the beans in it) with fresh water.

TIP – Changing out and replacing the water that the beans are soaking in may help with “de-gassing” the beans.

Once the pinto beans are done soaking, drain out and discard the water.

Add Salt to Water Pot

Cooking the Beans – In a large pot add hot water so that it’s about half full.

To the water, add salt and heat the pot on low heat (just enough heat to simmer the beans).

Add pinto beans to pot

To the pot, carefully add the soaked and drained pinto beans.

After adding the beans, if the water level is lower than 3/4’s full, add just enough water to bring up the level to 3/4’s full.

Stir beans in pot

Stir the beans periodically as they cook.

Let simmer until the beans are tender (about 2-1/2 hours).

Stir beans in pot

Keep a close eye on the pot of beans as it simmers because the water level will decrease

Cup of water on counter

…have a large cup of water nearby to refill the pot of beans before the water level gets too low.

Pour water in pot of beans

When the water level in the pot decreases by about 2 inches, add more water to bring the level back up to 3/4’s full.

More water may need to be added 2 or 3 times while the beans are simmering.

Continue to watch the pot of beans closely to make sure that there is still water in the pot (don’t let the pot run out of water or the beans will burn).

Spoon with pot of beans

After 2 hours and 10 minutes check the beans to make sure they’re tender.

Use a large slotted spoon to scoop out a couple of beans and transfer them onto a plate.  

When they’re cool enough to eat, give them a taste to make sure they’re tender.  

If not, continue to simmer the beans.

If the beans are tender, during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking them, let the water decrease to about 1/2 full without refilling it. 

Continue to watch the pot of beans closely to make sure that there is still water in the pot (don’t let the pot run out of water or the beans will burn).

After 2-1/2 hours of simmering the beans (or longer if needed), remove the pot from the heat and set it on an unused burner.

For the Refried Beans:

Skillet on stove top

To a large skillet…

Add beans to skillet

…using a slotted spoon, transfer just the pinto beans (not the liquid yet).  

TIP – Depending on the size of the skillet, the refried beans may need to be made in batches.

Add beans to skillet

Leave enough room in the skillet to add 2 to 3 ladles of cooking liquid.

Pinto bean stock in ladle

To the skillet…

Add bean stock in skillet

…add a ladle of the cooking liquid.

Bean stock in ladle

Add bean stock to skillet

Add more cooking liquid until it’s just enough to cover the beans that are in the skillet.

Add salt to beans

Add salt…

Add pepper to beans

…pepper…

Stir beans in skillet

…and stir.

Pinto beans in skillet

Heat the skillet on low heat.

Potato masher and beans

Using a potato masher

Mashing pinto beans in skillet

…gently mash the beans.

Mashing pinto beans in pan

Continue to mash the beans until…

Mashed pinto beans in pan

…they turn a pale color.

Stir mashed beans in pan

Next, continuously stir the beans…

Stir refried beans in pan

…until they reach the desired consistency…

Stir refried beans in pan

…a thick but still moist consistency not only looks appetizing but also tastes wonderful.

Stir refried beans in pan

The above picture is an example of how thick to make them.

If the refried beans get too dry or become a thick paste, just stir in a little more cooking liquid.

Salt to taste.

TIP – Salt really brings out the flavor of these refried beans so make sure to add enough.

Refried beans on platter

Serve the refried beans right away while they’re warm.

Refried pinto beans on plate

Top with crumbled queso fresco cheese…

Refried pinto beans on plate

…shredded cheddar cheese…

Refried beans on plate

…sliced green onion (chives)

Refried pinto beans on plate

…or other toppings such as sour cream, avocado or chopped tomatoes.

Refried beans and cheese on plate

Then dig in…

Refried beans and cheese on fork

…and enjoy…

Refried beans and cheese on fork

…each and every bite.

Thank you so much for stopping by CCC!

More Side Dishes You May Like:

Nacho Jalapeno Garlic Bread

Easy Macaroni and Cheese with Cavatappi Pasta

Sloppy Joe Macaroni and Cheese

Slow Cooker Roasted Garlic Pinto Bean Mash with Bacon

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Refried pinto beans on plate

Easy Homemade Refried Beans

These creamy refried beans are so easy to make you'll wonder why you haven't made them from scratch before. They're creamy, delicious and are made with an untraditional twist, no added fat.
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Ingredients

For the Pinto Beans:

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dried pinto beans
  • 5 dashes salt
  • 5 dashes ground black pepper
  • Water enough to fill the pot 3/4's full (with beans in the pot)
  • Water additional water to refill the pot as the beans cook and the water level decreases

For the Refried Beans:

  • Pinto beans with cooking liquid
  • 1 teaspoon salt or salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or add to taste

Equipment

  • A large pot
  • A large skillet

Instructions

For the Pinto Beans:

  • Sort the Beans - Lay the beans in a shallow layer on a cookie sheet, pie pan, platter or clean kitchen towel.
    Then remove and discard any bad beans (broken, off-colored or shriveled), debris, pebbles, rocks or foreign material
  • Rinse the Beans - Place the sorted beans in a colander or strainer and rinse them under cold running water.
  • Soak the Beans - Transfer the beans to a large bowl or pot and add water to about 3/4's full. Soak the beans for 5 hours. Every 45 minutes to an hour, drain the beans, discard the water, and refill the soaking container (with the beans) with fresh water.
  • Once the pinto beans are done soaking, drain out and discard the water.
  • Cooking the Beans - In a large pot add hot water so that it's about half full. To the water, add salt and heat the pot on low heat (just enough heat to simmer the beans).
  • To the pot, carefully add the soaked and drained pinto beans. After adding the beans, if the water level is lower than 3/4's full, add just enough water to bring up the level to 3/4's full.
  • Stir the beans periodically as they cook. Let simmer until the beans are tender (about 2-1/2 hours). Keep a close eye on the pot of beans as it simmers because the water level will decrease. Have a large cup of water nearby to refill the pot of beans before the water level gets too low.
  • When the water level in the pot decreases by about 2 inches, add more water to bring the level back up to 3/4's full. More water may need to be added 2 or 3 times while the beans are simmering.
    Continue to watch the pot of beans closely to make sure that there is still water in the pot (don't let the pot run out of water or the beans will burn).
  • After 2 hours and 10 minutes check the beans to make sure they're tender. Use a large slotted spoon to scoop out a couple of beans and transfer them onto a plate. When they're cool enough to eat, give them a taste to make sure they're tender. If not, continue to simmer the beans.
  • If the beans are tender, during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking them, let the water decrease to about 1/2 full without refilling it. 
    Continue to watch the pot of beans closely to make sure that there is still water in the pot (don't let the pot run out of water or the beans will burn).
  • After 2-1/2 hours of simmering the beans (or longer if needed), remove the pot from the heat and set it on an unused burner.

For the Refried Beans:

  • To a large skillet, using a slotted spoon, transfer just the pinto beans (not the liquid yet).
    Depending on the size of the skillet, the refried beans may need to be made in batches.
  • To the skillet, add a ladle of the cooking liquid. Add more cooking liquid until it's just enough to cover the beans that are in the skillet. Add salt, pepper and stir.
  • Heat the skillet on low heat. Using a potato masher, gently mash the beans. Continue to mash the beans until they turn a pale color.
  • Next, continuously stir the beans until they reach the desired consistency. A thick but still moist consistency not only looks appetizing but also tastes wonderful.
  • If the refried beans get too dry or become a thick paste, just stir in a little more cooking liquid. Salt to taste. Salt really brings out the flavor of these refried beans so make sure to add enough.
  • Serve the refried beans right away while they're warm. Top with queso fresco cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, avocado, tomato or your favorite topping.

Notes

TIPS

  1. Changing out and replacing the water that the beans are soaking in may help with "de-gassing" the beans.
  2. Depending on the size of the skillet, the refried beans may need to be made in batches.
  3. Feel free to change up the seasonings in the refried beans if you like, such as adding garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin or chili powder.
  4. Salt really brings out the flavor of these refried beans so make sure to add enough.