Refried beans are always fried in lard or bacon drippings in Mexico and the Southwest. In this recipe their flavor comes from the cumin and chili, which are sauteed with them, and from the garlic, onion and cilantro, which are simmered with them in the boiling water.

EatingWell Test Kitchen


Recipe Summary

1 hr 45 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Soak beans overnight in 8 cups water. (Alternatively, place beans in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain.

  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, nonstick, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bean pot or Dutch oven, and saute onions and 4 cloves garlic over medium heat until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked beans and 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour, uncovered. Add more garlic, if you wish, cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt, and continue to simmer, adding water as needed, until the beans are soft and the liquid is thick and aromatic and barely covers the beans, about 45 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

  • Allow the beans to cool. Mash them coarsely in batches in a food processor or blender or with a potato masher. Make sure not to puree until smooth; you want texture.

  • Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet and add chili powder and cumin. Saute for 1 minute over medium heat and add the mashed beans (this can be done in batches, depending on the size of your pan). Taste for salt, adding 1/2 teaspoon more if desired, and fry the beans, stirring often, until they begin to get crusty and aromatic. If they seem too dry, add some water. Mash and stir as they cook. There should be enough liquid so that they bubble as they cook, while at the same time a thin crust forms on the bottom. Cook for about 10 to 20 minutes and either serve immediately topped with a dollop of yogurt, or transfer to an oiled serving dish if you plan to reheat the beans later.


Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes. If the beans seem dry, moisten them with water before reheating.

Nutrition Facts

172 calories; protein 10.1g; carbohydrates 28.1g; dietary fiber 10.2g; sugars 0.7g; fat 2.7g; saturated fat 0.3g; vitamin a iu 349.5IU; vitamin c 1.6mg; folate 164.2mcg; calcium 54.1mg; iron 2.7mg; magnesium 82.9mg; potassium 436.4mg; sodium 394.1mg; thiamin 0.3mg.

Reviews (2)

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2 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
Time consuming but worth every minute! My husband and I just finished gobbling these up with the Jalepeno Lime Chicken (also on this site)! These refried beans are simply AWESOME!! They are time consuming to make & require some planning ahead but let me tell you; these are totally worth it! Absolutely delicious! I cut the recipe by 1/4 for my husband and I. The only changes I made was that for the two of us I used 1/2 a large onion 4 garlic cloves 1/2 tsp. chili powder and 1 heaping tsp. of ground cumin. Oh and 1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder and freshly ground pepper. I used 1 Tbsp. of dried cilantro for the fresh too! The times listed to cook were right on for this smaller batch so I think the full recipe might require additional time to cook. I sprinkled some fat-free cheddar cheese 1 tsp. of fat-free sour cream and 1 heaping Tbsp. of salsa on top. Wonderful! We'll never eat canned or whole-fat refried beans again!! Pros: Light healthy flavorful-best refried beans we've ever had! Cons: Time consuming Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Changed these to "un-fried beans". I cooked the beans garlic and onions in the pressure cooker then when cooked/cooled put everything in the food processor. Didn't bother to actually fry them; these also freeze well in muffin cups. Read More