Easy Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Prep 5 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 15 mins
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These easy Refried Beans are perfect for side dishes, on tacos, in burritos, and more! Everyone will love their simple, savory taste and perfect texture.

A Super-Versatile Mexican Side Dish

One of my favorite sides in Mexican cuisine? Refried beans. I know, I know – guacamole and salsa are much showier, tortilla chips have that crunchy, can’t-stop-eating vibe… but seriously, a silky serving of frijoles refritos (aka refried beans) adds such a satisfying richness to Mexican food! 

Whether layered into a burrito or served with rice, refried beans are hearty, flavorful, and have that homestyle goodness I just can’t resist. But you don’t have to wait until your next visit to a restaurant to enjoy them! Refried beans are actually a snap to make at home, with just a few ingredients.

Love flavorful Mexican style beans? Make sure to check out my recipe for Instant Pot Charro Beans!

Close-up shot of a bowl of refried beans.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

Depending on how you make them, refried beans can be a great, healthy dish. Beans pack plenty of protein, carbs, and fiber into each serving, as well as adding iron, magnesium, and other nutrients to your diet. Olive oil is a healthy fat, too!

From top left: Olive oil, whole beans, queso fresco, chopped cilantro, salsa.

What Are Refried Beans Made Of?

The basic recipe for refried beans only requires a few ingredients, and you probably already have them on hand: beans, olive oil, and a couple of seasonings. Here’s what I use:

  • Whole Beans: Any cooked, whole beans are fine – canned beans, ranchero beans, borracho beans, charro beans, etc. Don’t drain the liquid!
  • Olive Oil: If you don’t have (or don’t want to use) olive oil, you can substitute canola oil, vegetable oil, or any other cooking oil you like. Some oils have stronger flavors than others, so you may want to watch that.
  • Garlic Salt: Or a combination of garlic powder and regular salt.
  • Cumin: Ground cumin is a great mild spice that adds an earthy, Tex-Mex flavor. 
  • Optional Toppings: Salsa, queso fresco, and/or chopped cilantro are all tasty toppings with freshly-made refried beans.
Beans cooking in a skillet. A potato masher is resting in the beans, and small dishes of salsa, cilantro, and queso fresco are nearby.

How to Make ‘Em

The process for making your own homemade refried beans? Super easy. Seriously, you will never want to grab a can of them again! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Heat the Oil and Add the Beans. In your favorite heavy skillet, heat up the oil a bit, until it’s warm. Then add the beans along with some of their juices.
  2. Simmer/Mash. Let the beans heat until they are bubbling, and then start mashing. You can use a potato masher (or a fork, if you don’t have a potato masher). Mash and stir until the beans are mostly smooth, with a few small pieces of beans left for hidden bits of texture. So good!
  3. Season. Add the spices to the beans, stir, and taste. If you like, you can also add some salsa for more flavor. Cook until thickened, then remove them from heat.
  4. Enjoy! Sprinkle cheese and cilantro over the beans and serve!
Mashed beans simmering in a skillet.

Tips for Success

Of course, with a recipe like refried beans, there are a million different ways to tweak the flavor and customize the ingredients. Again, think mashed potatoes! There’s no one recipe – everyone makes them a little differently. Here are just a couple of ways to change things up:

  • No-Oil Option: Instead of frying in oil, many times I throw the beans in a blender and pulse a few times until they are blended, but still chunky. Then I pour them into a pan and cook them until they are a bit thickened. No oil needed.
  • Traditional Option: If you can get your hands on good-quality lard, you can use that instead of the oil to make your refried beans. This is a very traditional way to make them, and it gives a great, creamy result. Heat the lard in a cast-iron skillet, and then add the beans with a little bit of broth or bean cooking liquid. Mash, stir and cook until the beans are creamy, and just starting to brown a little here and there. 
  • Optional Seasonings: You can throw all kinds of goodies in the pan to add some oomph to your refried beans. Try sauteed minced onion, a little jalapeno, herbs like oregano or thyme, a dash of hot sauce.. Whatever makes your mouth happy!
A ceramic bowl with painted decorations around the edge, filled with frijoles refritos topped with queso fresco.

Yummy Serving Ideas

Refried beans are so versatile, and can be served as a side dish to nearly every Mexican dish. Growing up, my favorite way to eat them was wrapped up in a warm homemade flour tortilla! Try them as a dip, with cheese and salsa on top, or as a side/topping for your favorite…

Overhead shot of a table set with a stack of plates and forks, a stack of tortillas in a red checkered napkin, a bowl of frijoles refritos, and dishes of toppings.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Refried beans store well in an airtight container for a week in the fridge, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

More Easy Mexican Recipes

Looking for more easy Mexican recipes? Well, you have come to the right place! I have a ton! Here are a few favorites of mine:

Yield: 4 Servings

Easy Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

A large bowl of refried beans, garnished with cheese crumbles and fresh cilantro, next to a stack of tortillas in a cloth napkin.

These easy Refried Beans are perfect for side dishes, on tacos, in burritos, and more! Everyone will love their simple, savory taste and perfect texture.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the Refried Beans:

  • 2 cups whole beans (ranchero beans, borracho beans, charro beans, canned beans), don’t drain
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola/vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

Optional Toppings:

  • ½ cup salsa, to serve with or on the beans
  • ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a skillet, heat the oil till warm, then add the beans with juices.
  2. Let them heat till bubbling and using a potato masher, mash the beans till pretty smooth. There will be a few small pieces of beans left and this is fine, it adds little hidden bites of texture.
  3. Add the spices and you can also add some salsa for more flavor, if desired. Cook until thickened, then remove from heat.
  4. Sprinkle cheese and cilantro over the beans and serve!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 266Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 1396mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 9gSugar: 17gProtein: 12g

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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