Mexican Re-fried Beans

Homemade Mexican Re-fried Beans. Yum! Beans were one of my favorite things I was given to eat as a missionary. I got used to eating beans with the majority of our meals as we met and taught many awesome people from Mexico. Beans just make a meal complete. When I got home from Ricks and needed to earn money to pay for going on a mission, I got a job at the printing press for my church doing quality control for Books of Mormon and the Sunday School lesson manuals. It was a graveyard shift and was super hard ( I admire people who can do that and not be grumpy and can function:) ). The machinist who would fix the press when things got stuck was from Mexico and was thrilled when I got my mission call to Sacramento – his mom lived there. He told me how amazing she was and that she herself had raised her kids alone and went on several missions for our church. He hoped I could meet her. I honestly thought I highly doubt it, but it would be cool. In the first area that I served in for many months, there was this awesome older sister named Hermana Cervantes. She was the coolest lady – always willing to help you in any way she could, and she made everyone in our Zone (which included over 20 missionaries, 95% of which were 19 year old boys) lunch EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. We are talking carne asada, chicken, rice, salad, beans – the works! She would make so much food that even when we were done, she would send home food with us to share with the English sister missionaries we lived with. One day we went to visit Sister Cervantes to ask her for some help and there was my friend from the printing press plant visiting his mom! It really is a small world!

Sister Cervantes and I. She taught me how to make these awesome beans!

A few years ago I was reading an awesome food blog by a friend of mine – Maria at Real Life Dinner I saw this recipe for Homemade Re-Fried Beans and read the story of how she had come over to eat lunch at MY house and wanted the recipe for the beans I had learned how to make from Sister Cervantes – and it was now a regular for her family! Ha! You should check out her blog! She has some awesome recipes that are family friendly and good for busy moms!

Fun fact for the day: The term “re-fried” makes you think the beans are fried twice. Frijoles Refritos in Spanish actually just means “very fried” 🙂

Just a few photos so you can see a few tips:

The first photo shows you some of the “burned” beans. You will always rinse your beans several times to get all the dust/dirt off and you will look for beans that have a shriveled burnt look to them. I was told it will affect the flavor of your beans, so be sure to get all of them. I have also found a few small pebbles over the years so be on the look out – don’t want any broken teeth! You will rinse the beans until the water becomes clear. I rinse with pretty hot water, you can then let them soak over night for a quicker baking of the beans, or I will usually do it for an hour or two before I boil them. Maria at Real Life Dinner had a great idea of bringing the beans to a boil, putting a lid on, and then letting it soak for an hour before cooking, to speed up the process.
Then you cut and add the onion – I usually do it in half or 4ths as you will remove the onion pieces later. After boiling for 2 to 2 1/2 hours ( less if you have a pressure cooker – I wish I did!) your beans will be cooked through. You should be able to squish it between your fingers and they should be soft, no longer a chalky taste to them.
I love having a bit of “bean” in my beans if you know what I mean. I don’t like them to be completely smooth and blended so I blend about 3 cups in the blender until smooth and add that to the mix and mash away with a potato masher. This makes things mix and blend well still leaving “chunks” of beans.
If I ever feel that my beans are lacking in the salt department, I will sprinkle some garlic salt over the pot of beans and stir, testing them out until the flavor is just right. I will also add about 2 TBS of tomatillo/serrano pepper salsa to the mix and it gives it a nice kick that kids can still handle.
I have also omitted the oil/fat entirely. I was trying to make things have less calories and tried it out, no one even noticed and still loved the beans!
If your beans seem a bit “runny” with too much water, you just cook them longer and continue to mash and the water will slowly cook out until you find a consistency you like.
These babies are great with so many meals, and freeze really well. Here are just a few meals we enjoy the beans with at our house:

  • Spicy Chicken Tostadas
  • Navajo Tacos
  • Carne Asada

Anyone who eats my beans raves about them. If you try these, you will never go back to the canned bean, they really are that amazing!

See the Happy!

Mexican Re-Fried Bean

Authentic re-fried bean recipe that everyone loves.

Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
12 people 25 minutes 2.5 hours 2.5 hours
  • 1 2 lb bag pinto beans The older your beans are the longer they will take to cook, make sure they are fresh.
  • 1 large yellow onion Cut in half
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt I will sprinkle a bit of garlic salt at the end if I feel it needs it.
  • 1/3 cup canola oil You can also use lard if you like.
  1. Rinse your beans several times with hot water until the water becomes clear. Remove any “burned” looking beans or pebbles. Fill a large pot with about 7 qts of water to cover the beans. Let soak over night or do the quick method by turning the beans on high until a rolling boil and place a lid over the top, remove from heat and let soak one hour.
  2. Add the onion, salt, and garlic. Turn on high until you have a rolling boil. Cover with lid and turn down to medium heat to allow boil. Stir with wooden spoon every half hour or so. Check at 2 hours as some batches of beans will cook quicker than others. I usually cook them about 2 1/2 hours. If you can squish the bean between your fingers, they are no longer “chalky” you are ready to move forward.
  3. Carefully dump out water until the beans are barely covered with water. Using a large wooden spoon remove the large chunks of onion and throw out. Remove about 3 cups of beans and water and blend it in your blender. In another large pot add the oil and turn it on medium to heat it up. You will then add the beans to the oil and start mashing away until you feel they are the consistency you prefer.
  4. Add any garlic salt, green salsa or melt about 1 cup cheese and mix until the flavor is the way you like it.