If you love the creamy, smooth refried beans served at your favorite Mexican restaurant, you’ll be excited to learn how easy they are to recreate at home. With just a few simple ingredients and easy techniques, you can whip up a batch of refried beans that rival any restaurant.

Here’s the quick answer: to make restaurant-quality refried beans, you’ll need dried pinto beans, onion, garlic, chicken or vegetable broth, lard or oil, and seasonings like cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Soak the beans overnight, then simmer until tender.

Fry onion and garlic in the fat, then mash the cooked beans and add to the pan. Cook until desired consistency, adding broth as needed. Season to taste.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make smooth, delicious refried beans from scratch. You’ll learn tips for selecting and preparing the beans, the best fat to use, how to achieve the ideal texture, and how to boost flavor.

We’ll also provide a step-by-step recipe, storage instructions, and serving ideas so you can enjoy restaurant-caliber refried beans anytime.

Selecting and Preparing the Beans

Choosing the Right Bean Variety

When it comes to making restaurant-style refried beans from scratch, choosing the right bean variety is crucial. Pinto beans are the most commonly used beans for refried beans due to their creamy texture and earthy flavor.

However, you can also experiment with other varieties such as black beans or kidney beans to add a unique twist to your dish. Each variety has its own distinct taste and texture, so feel free to explore and find the one that suits your palate best.

Picking Quality Beans

To ensure the best flavor and texture in your refried beans, it’s important to pick quality beans. Look for beans that are plump, uniform in size, and free from any cracks or blemishes. Avoid beans that appear wrinkled or discolored, as these are signs of age and may affect the taste of your final dish.

Additionally, purchasing beans from a reputable source or a trusted brand can also guarantee their quality.

Soaking the Beans

Before cooking the beans, it’s essential to soak them to improve their texture and reduce cooking time. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Soaking not only softens the beans but also helps to remove any impurities and make them easier to digest. After soaking, drain the beans and rinse them thoroughly before cooking.

Cooking the Beans

To cook the beans, you can either use a stovetop or a pressure cooker. If using a stovetop, add the soaked and rinsed beans to a large pot and cover them with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans simmer until they are tender.

This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the variety and freshness of the beans. If using a pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking times and water ratios.

Pro tip: Adding a bay leaf, garlic cloves, or onion to the cooking water can infuse the beans with extra flavor. Be sure to season the beans with salt towards the end of the cooking process, as adding salt at the beginning can make the beans tough.

Once the beans are cooked, they are ready to be mashed and transformed into delicious restaurant-style refried beans. So, let’s move on to the next step in the process!

Key Ingredients and Technique

Onion and Garlic

The first step to making restaurant-style refried beans from scratch is to start with a flavorful base. This is where onion and garlic come in. Sautéing finely chopped onions and minced garlic in a little bit of oil or fat adds a depth of flavor to the beans.

The aroma will fill your kitchen and make your mouth water.


The choice of fat or oil is crucial for achieving that rich and creamy texture in refried beans. Traditional recipes call for lard, as it adds a distinct flavor and creaminess to the beans. However, if you prefer a healthier option, you can use olive oil or vegetable oil instead.

Just make sure to use a good amount of fat/oil to coat the beans and prevent them from sticking to the pan.

Mashing the Beans

The technique of mashing the beans is what gives refried beans their signature texture. Once the onions and garlic are sautéed, add the cooked beans to the pan and start mashing them with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.

This step allows the beans to absorb the flavors of the onion, garlic, and fat/oil, resulting in a creamy and delicious consistency.

Achieving the Perfect Texture

When it comes to the texture of refried beans, it’s all about personal preference. Some people prefer a chunkier texture, while others like them smoother. To achieve a chunky texture, mash the beans just enough to break them down but leave some whole or partially mashed beans.

For a smoother consistency, continue mashing until the beans are completely smooth.

Broth for Creaminess

To add an extra layer of creaminess to your refried beans, consider adding a bit of broth. Chicken or vegetable broth works well and adds flavor without overpowering the beans. Gradually add the broth while mashing the beans until you reach your desired consistency.

Be mindful not to add too much liquid, as you don’t want your beans to become soupy.


Lastly, don’t forget to season your refried beans with the right combination of spices and herbs. Common seasonings include cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Add these seasonings to taste, starting with a small amount and adjusting as needed.

Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away, so go easy on the salt and spices.

By following these key ingredients and techniques, you’ll be able to make restaurant-style refried beans from scratch that are bursting with flavor and have the perfect texture. Experiment with different variations and find the combination that suits your taste buds.

Enjoy your homemade refried beans as a side dish, a filling for burritos, or even as a dip for tortilla chips. Bon appétit!

Step-by-Step Recipe


To make restaurant-style refried beans from scratch, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of pinto beans
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Feel free to adjust the quantities of spices and seasonings according to your taste preferences.


Follow these steps to make delicious restaurant-style refried beans:

  1. Start by rinsing the pinto beans thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  2. In a large pot, combine the rinsed beans and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
  3. Once the beans are cooked, drain them and set aside.
  4. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic, and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
  5. Add the cooked beans to the pan and mash them using a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Continue mashing until you achieve the desired texture.
  6. Season the beans with cumin powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Cook the beans for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are heated through.
  8. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Tips and Variations

Here are some tips and variations to enhance your homemade refried beans:

  • Add some bacon: For a smoky flavor, fry some bacon and crumble it into the beans.
  • Use lard: Traditional refried beans are made with lard, which adds richness and flavor. If you prefer, substitute vegetable oil with lard.
  • Experiment with spices: Feel free to add other spices and herbs to customize the flavor of your refried beans. Some popular options include oregano, paprika, and chipotle powder.
  • Serve with toppings: Top your refried beans with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole for a delicious and satisfying meal.

For more recipe ideas and inspiration, check out Food Network or Allrecipes.

Storage and Serving Suggestions


Once you have made a delicious batch of restaurant-style refried beans from scratch, you may be wondering how to store them properly to maintain their flavor and texture. Here are some storage tips to help you:

  • Refrigeration: Store the refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can stay fresh for up to 4-5 days.
  • Freezing: If you have made a large batch and want to store them for longer, freezing is a great option. Place the refried beans in freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags, making sure to remove any excess air. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Portioning: Consider portioning the refried beans before storing them. This way, you can thaw only the amount you need without having to defrost the entire batch.

Remember to label the containers or bags with the date to keep track of their freshness.

Serving and Uses for Refried Beans

Refried beans are incredibly versatile and can be used in various dishes. Here are some suggestions on how to serve and use your homemade refried beans:

  • Side Dish: Serve refried beans as a delicious side dish alongside your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex meals. They pair well with tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas.
  • Dip: Refried beans can be transformed into a tasty dip by adding some salsa, cheese, and spices. They make a great addition to any party or gathering.
  • Ingredient: Use refried beans as an ingredient in other dishes. They can be added to casseroles, soups, or even stuffed inside bell peppers for a flavorful twist.
  • Topping: Top your nachos, baked potatoes, or even hamburgers with a spoonful of refried beans for an extra burst of flavor.

Get creative and experiment with different ways to incorporate refried beans into your meals. They are a fantastic source of protein and fiber, making them a healthy and delicious addition to your diet.

For more recipe ideas and inspiration, you can visit websites like AllRecipes.com or FoodNetwork.com.


With the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to create smooth, flavorful homemade refried beans that are just as delicious as any restaurant. The secret is starting with quality dried beans, cooking them until tender, and then refrying them in fat or oil with aromatic ingredients.

Mix in flavorful seasonings, broth for creaminess, and mash to your desired texture. Our easy recipe walks you through each step for bean perfection. Keep a batch of these tasty refried beans on hand to enhance tacos, burritos, nachos and more Mexican favorites.

Making your own refried beans from scratch lets you control the ingredients and quality. Once you master the technique, you may never buy canned refried beans again. Your homemade version will become your new go-to for Mexican night!

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