They are the all-star side dish at your favorite Mexican restaurant and a staple for any taco Tuesday Mexican meal at home. Delicious homemade refried beans take just a handful of ingredients to create one of America's favorite Mexican dishes. Pass the tortilla chips and let's get this party started!
If Mexican food is as loved in your house as it is in mine, you need a trusted recipe for authentic Mexican refried beans in your back pocket. They are economical, truly delicious and when made at home, we can eliminate the salt pork, bacon grease or bacon fat you find in some of the canned stuff. Using vegetable broth cubes or concentrate, we keep the whole dish vegetarian, and even use olive oil in place of vegetable oil.
You can start this recipe with dried whole beans in a large pot of water, or take a (perfectly acceptable) shortcut and grab 2-3 cans of pintos or black beans - drain and rinse and we're ready to go!
If starting with dried beans, you're welcome to season the cooking liquid. But I haven't seen a difference in the finished product when seasoning the beans before we mix them into the sauteed garlic, chopped onion and spicy peppers. The end result is a pot of delicious refried beans!
These refried pinto beans are a basic recipe, and I've included several variations below to help you customize this easy refried beans recipe for you and your family.
What you'll need to make Authentic Mexican Beans:
- dry pinto beans (or canned, drained and rinsed)
- yellow onion
- extra virgin olive oil
- garlic cloves
- jalapeño pepper
- vegetable stock concentrate (or bouillon cubes)
- sea salt and black pepper
Step by step instructions for making authentic Mexican beans:
To prepare dry beans, soak overnight. Drain and add to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Then cover and cook until the beans are tender - about 2 ½ hours. Cooking time can vary based on the freshness of your dried beans, so test and adjust cooking time, as needed. Reserve about 1 ½ cups of the cooking liquid from the bean pot. (if using cans of pinto beans, drain the beans and use a little water in the next step, instead of cooking water). Drain beans.
Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Then sauté diced onions, garlic and jalapeños for 6-8 minutes until very tender and fragrant.
Next, add the cooked beans to the pan, along with about ¾ cup reserved bean water and the vegetable stock concentrate or bouillon cubes.
Afterwards, using a potato masher or immersion blender, process the beans until smooth, adding a little bit more cooking liquid as needed to achieve the desired consistency for your authentic refried beans. Add salt and pepper.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve these flavorful refried beans with cilantro and cotija cheese.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions
If you're looking for a smoky flavor, add a half teaspoon of smoked paprika to the mix. When I'm using this pot of beans as my protein over salads, I like to season them as I would taco meat - with cumin, chili powder and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. A pinch of dried oregano will add an earthy touch - use a light hand as too much will turn your beans bitter. And I always love topping the beans with fresh cilantro.
So many ways! Add an extra jalapeno or two serrano peppers when sautéing the peppers and onions. A full teaspoon of red pepper flakes will dial up the heat. And if you have a shelf full of hot sauce, grab a few options and serve on the side so everyone can customize their own bean experience.
The jury is split on this issue. I still soak my beans overnight, but sometimes I'll do a quick-soak, which involves bringing dry, unsoaked beans to a boil for 2 minutes, then covering and removing from heat. Leave the beans to soak in that just-boiled water for 1 hour. Drain and then fill the pot and cook for about 2 hours, testing for doneness. Plenty of people on the interwebs insist soaking and quick-soaking are unnecessary - so if you give the no-soak method a try, let us know!
You can! I have made these beans in a slow cooker and found that soaked beans take about 5 hours on high, 8-9 hours on low.
My tiny European kitchen doesn't hold an Instant Pot, but I found excellent, detailed instructions on cooking beans in a pressure cooker here.
To store, transfer the Mexican style refried beans to an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. These beans freeze beautifully. You can freeze in smaller portions before or after mashing the beans and keep frozen for up to 2 months. To reheat, add to a saucepan with a little water and heat slowly on the stovetop until hot.
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