Refried beans are the perfect way to add a tasty, healthy, and cheap addition to any Mexican-style meal. Making refried beans in the slow cooker makes it so easy, and you can make a very large batch at once. Freeze the leftovers, or use these slow cooker refried beans to feed a crowd.
What kind of beans do you use to make refried beans?
Refried beans are most commonly made of pinto beans. However, in some regions of Mexico (where refried beans originated), the recipe is sometimes made with black or kidney beans.
What are refried beans?
Refried beans are a dish comprised usually of cooked and mashed pinto beans. They are also popular in many other Latin American countries. Despite the name, refried beans aren’t actually fried twice. In fact, sometimes they’re not even fried at all. Refried simply comes from the Spanish phrase, “frijoles refritos”, or “well-friend beans”.
Frying is the traditional way of cooking and serving these beans. However, in general, mashed pinto beans are recognized as refried beans, whether fried or not. In this simple refried beans recipe, no frying is necessary!
How much does it cost to make refried beans?
Refried beans are a filling side dish to any Mexican meal, and they’re super cheap to make, too. This entire recipe costs approximately $2.50 to make, and it makes 23 servings. That’s just $0.11 per serving! (Read more about the cost-effectiveness of cooking your own beans.)
Can you freeze refried beans?
Absolutely! While this meal is perfect for feeding a crowd, we also make it often for regular family dinners. It’s so easy to freeze the leftovers. On taco night, we love pulling out a batch of ready-to-eat, homemade refried beans.
You can freeze your beans in either glass jars or plastic freezer bags. After cooking the beans, allow to cool thoroughly before spooning into freezer containers. Refried beans will stay good in the freezer for at least 3-6 months, sometimes much longer depending on your freezer.
Just make sure to leave yourself time to defrost the beans before adding them to your meal (6+ hours is best).
How to get refried beans out of freezer bags
I find that storing beans in freezer bags is the most effective for stacking and maximizing freezer space. However, it can be a little tricky to get every last drop of savory beans out of the bag. After squeezing out most of the beans, you can use a spatula to scrape the rest. Simply lay your bag on a flat surface and use the spatula to scrape the outside of the bag, pushing the beans toward the opening.
Step-by-step instructions for slow cooker refried beans
- Dump 2 pounds of dried pinto beans in a colander. Rinse and pick out any debris or damaged beans.
- Chop ½ of a medium onion. (It doesn’t need to be super fine, because everything will be blended together in the end.)
- Chop 4 cloves of fresh garlic.
- In a slow cooker, add beans, onion, garlic, spices, and water.
- Cook on high for 4 hours.
- Stir your beans to make sure all the ingredients are mixing together well.
- Cook on low for 2 more hours.
- Use an immersion blender to mix and mash your beans. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer. I did this for years, but finally getting an immersion blender changed my life! It’s so much easier!
- Serve straight out of your slow cooker! Or, transfer them to a bowl and top with a little cheese.
- If you’re going to freeze your beans, let them cool before transferring to jars or freezer bags.
Flavors to add to refried beans
This basic refried beans recipe is just so simple and delicious. If you’re used to eating canned refried beans, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavor. But you can also totally adapt the recipe and mix up the flavor, too! Here are some other ideas for spicing up your refried beans:
- Green chilis
- Lime juice
What to serve with slow cooker refried beans
Refried beans go well with pretty much any Mexican dish. Some of our favorite ways to eat refried beans are with tacos (any kind!), fajitas, and nachos. In addition, you can also use them as a dip for tortilla chips or for layered bean dip.
Refried beans FAQs:
Do you have to soak the beans overnight?
Nope! Unlike most dry bean recipes, this recipe requires no pre-soaking. You can throw the ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning and they will be deliciously ready at dinner time! Yay for less having to think ahead!
Why not just buy store-bought beans?
Homemade refried beans taste way better. You can make a ton of them at one time. And they’re healthier than eating beans from the store out of a can.
Can you freeze refried beans?
Easily! Let your beans cool, then put them in glass jars or plastic bags. Refried beans will last at least 3-6 months in the freezer—sometimes much longer.
What size slow cooker do I need for this recipe?
I use a 6-quart slow cooker, and this recipe fits in it quite well, with a bit of room to spare.
- 2 lbs dry pinto beans
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cilantro (optinal)
- 10 cups water
- Rinse pinto beans in a colander, removing any rocks or debris
- Chop onion and garlic (don't worry about chopping them too small, as they everything will get blended after cooking)
- Add all ingredients to a 3-quart slow cooker
- Cook on high for 4 hours
- Stir, and cook on low for 2 more hours
- Mash beans with an immersion blender or hand mixer
- To freeze, cool completely before spooning into glass jars or freezer bags.
- Makes 23, 1/2 cup servings.
Beans do not have to be soaked before cooking.