Refried Beans

Some people believe that refried beans are fried twice. They aren’t; the “re” prefix of their Spanish name (frijoles refritos) means “very”. They are simply cooked “very well” – until they are soft enough to easily mash. My refried beans aren’t even “fried” once, as I don’t see the need to add oil (and certainly not the traditional lard). And since I make them in the pressure cooker, they take, tops, half an hour instead of several hours. Healthier and faster! Here’s how I do it:

Refried Beans

1 cup dried pinto beans
1/4 cup diced or crushed tomatoes
vegan bouillon (optional)
1 small or 1/2 medium to large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste; my chili powder is pretty hot and I was going for flavorful, not spicy), or some diced fresh jalapeno
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste

Soak the beans either in cold water overnight, or quick soak them by covering in plenty of water, bringing it to a boil, then covering and turning off the heat, and letting it sit for an hour. Drain, then put them in the pressure cooker with all of the other ingredients except the salt. Add water (or stock) to just cover the beans. Bring up to pressure, then reduce heat to low and cook for 6 minutes. Release the pressure, then heat over medium high heat to boil off the remaining water, salting to taste. When you reach a consistency that looks like this:

… remove from the heat and mash.

And that’s it!

Hardly harder than opening a can, right? And so much tastier.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, they are nearly as easy; they just take much longer. Follow the same instructions, but simply cook on the stove top for three to four hours, or until done. You could probably do it on low in a crockpot as well, although I never have.

My favorite way to eat them is in a burrito. Here’s the one I ate tonight, before I rolled it up:

It also features my pickled jalapenos and homemade taco sauce, which is essentially a small can (8 oz) of tomato sauce blended with garlic, onion powder, chili powder, pickled jalapeno juice, and salt.

I leave you with Gomez thinking pensively about the typical atypicalness of DC weather in March. It was 80 degrees on Monday, 70 on Tuesday, and then last night it snowed. It melted by noon, but Gomez and I hate snow!


  1. Jennifer Said,

    March 28, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I cook a lot, but for some reason refried beans have always intimidated me. Since I’m having an affair with my crockpot right now, I will definetly try the beans that way and let you know how they come out.

  2. Josiane Said,

    March 28, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    Yes, refried beans are exactly what I need while we’re stuck with this inconstant and colder than usual weather. Perfect! 🙂
    That burrito is so full of yummy stuff, it must have been awesomely good!

  3. Courtney Said,

    March 30, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    Yum! You say “1/4 diced or crushed tomatoes”–is that 1/4 CUP or 1/4 CAN or…?


  4. renae Said,

    March 30, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    Oops, sorry! 1/4 cup. I’ve corrected the recipe – thanks for pointing it out!

  5. Courtney Said,

    March 31, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

    Great–thanks! Can’t wait to give these a try. I wish I had a pressure cooker to make them as quickly as you did, but something tells me they will be worth the wait 🙂


  6. Carolyn Said,

    March 31, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

    Although I had no reason to get another pressure cooker, mine is just fine thank you, I recently succumbed to buying an electric version (as the original is buried in the commercial storage unit while I prep my house for sale, and I can’t freakin’ find it!!!) I used to do beans all the time in the stovetop pressure cooker, but had never thunk of doing refried beans the same way- thanks for this post, as refried beans have become rather pricey of late in these parts. Plus I need me some justification for the purchase of that second pressure cooker…

  7. Ksenia Said,

    April 11, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    I consider Spanish my first language and I didn’t know that the “refrito” meant very cooked instead of very fried…which means that you always learn something new every day.

    We had a pretty atypical weather here lately too, although in the opposite direction: it’s being incredibly warm for mid April. If it goes on like this, I think I’ll start my beach season in May instead of July.

  8. renae Said,

    April 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Ksenia, I’ve had all of two years of middle school Spanish – I’m sure you know much more than I do what “refrito” means! I think it would be more “very fried” than “very cooked”, although mine aren’t fried. Traditionally, though, I believe they would be fried with lard after they’ve been cooked until soft.

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