Refried beans are available ready to heat and eat at most supermarkets. However, many of these canned concoctions are full of sodium and other unsavory additives. Cooking your own refried beans is quick and easy, and allows you to control exactly what goes into the finished product.

Ready-to-eat refried beans are often made with pinto beans, but you can also use red kidney beans, dark red kidney beans, or black beans. Different seasonings pair well with different types of beans, so the flavor of your finished refried beans will differ depending on what kind you choose to use.

Following are instructions for a stovetop method of making refried beans. You will need a large skillet and a sturdy wooden spoon or potato masher for mashing the beans.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of beans (about 1 ½ cups)
  • seasonings of your choice

1) Decide what type of beans you wish to use, and gather your seasonings accordingly. If using kidney beans or pinto beans, you may want to add chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Cumin and black pepper are also good choices for black beans, along with lime juice or cilantro.

2) Drain your beans over a small bowl to reserve the liquid. Once most of the liquid has drained into the bowl, rinse the beans thoroughly in cool water and set aside.

3) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the beans and begin mashing them with the back of a wooden spoon. If you find that this leaves too many whole beans, use a potato masher to mash as many beans as possible, being careful not to scratch the pan.

5) Slowly add the reserved bean liquid until your refried beans are at the desired consistency. How dry or wet to make the mixture is up to you. Keep mashing until there are few whole beans left.

6) Add the chosen seasoning to taste. This is another thing that is up to personal preference, and it may take a few tries to get the flavor combination you want. If you like spicy refried beans, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Once your beans have the taste and consistency you want, remove the pan from the heat.

You now have a tasty batch of refried beans to use in burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

If your first batch isn’t perfect, don’t worry! Being free to experiment with different bean types and seasoning combinations is one of the biggest advantages of making your own refried beans. With a little practice, you’ll find your favorite method in no time.


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