25 February 2010

Refried Beans From Scratch

Refried beans is one of those foods that has grown on me over the years. What used to be a vaguely icky side dish in Tex-Mex restaurants is now an absolutely crucial component of quesadillas. I made them from scratch once a long time ago, and remember it as an easy but long and tedious process. But this morning I discovered that it doesn't have to be that way! Making refried beans is incredibly simple, and you get so much more food for the same amount of money you'd spend on buying them canned. It is one of those foods that can be done in numerous ways – the only absolutely essential ingredient is beans (and water).

I used:
dry pinto beans (about 2 ½ cups)
one large red onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
one tomato, diced
olive oil
cumin and chili powder

This makes a HUGE amount of beans! You might as well make a ton at once, since they freeze well.

Soak your beans in water overnight, then boil them until tender. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the beans and how long they soaked. Drain the beans, but save some of the beany water! You'll need it later. I had about 8 cups of cooked beans, but you can make less! You can also start with canned beans if you want.

In a large pot, cook your onion and garlic in a generous amount of oil until the onion is translucent. Turn the heat to low. Add the tomato and some of the beans, and mash it all together with a potato masher. Keep adding beans in batches and mashing them, keeping the heat on. As you go, incorporate a little more olive oil and some of the bean water – the beans will dry out a little after you're done, so make it a little more liquid-y than you think you'll want it. Add salt and spices to taste! The beans will soak up tons of salt.

The great thing about making your own refried beans is that you can control the amount and type of fat, salt, and seasonings. It tastes better than store-bought, and it is super cheap. And super easy! Seriously, try this!


  1. oo! I have been thinking about making my own refried beans but haven't bothered to try... How do you freeze and then reheat them? Do you freeze them in small amounts so you can only reheat a bit at a time, or what? And do you reheat in the microwave, on the stove, by defrosting first?

  2. Hmm, you have put a lot more thought into freezing than I have. I just put a yogurt container full of beans in the freezer, and it'll probably be a pain to defrost. I guess I'll just let it thaw in the fridge and hope for the best...