All you need is a few simple ingredients and time for the beans to get tender for restaurant-style refried beans cooked right on the stovetop. A healthy, vegan refried bean recipe!
Wouldn’t it be lovely if every night we could master the juggling of several side dishes? Lots of different flavors and textures on the plate, just like at our favorite Mexican restaurant?
I’ll admit I have my fallbacks when it comes to side dishes, steamed rice, a salad, sautéed veggies. Easy things I don’t have to think too hard about.
But if I’m really on top of my game, I’ll make a pot of beans and mash them into refried beans for a quick and easy side.
easy vegan refried beans recipe
The hardest part of this recipe is the waiting. Cooking dry beans just takes time. End of story.
For this beans recipe I soak the beans overnight then cook the beans for an hour or until they are tender enough to mash. The good news is all of this can be done way in advance so you can have refried beans whenever the mood hits!
We use 1 pound of dried beans for this recipe. After they cook, this one pot of beans makes two batches of refried beans.
Save the leftover whole beans in their broth to make another batch of refried beans later in the week or freeze for up to 6 months.
what makes refried beans refried?
Refried beans aren’t really fried, and then fried again. The name comes from a literal translation of the Spanish name, Frijoles Refritos, which means well-fried beans.
So in reality, they are not fried twice, but they are cooked twice. Once to soften the dry beans in simmering water and the second time, fried and mashed in oil.
what you’ll need
As ingredients lists go, this one is pretty minimal. I think there are 7 total ingredients but a couple of them like the onions and garlic do double duty.
One of the many things I love about this recipe is the ingredients are not only minimal but cost next to nothing and are happy to hang out in your pantry for weeks. So stock up!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Beans! I use pinto beans but you could use any dried beans you like. Black beans or peruano beans are good.
- White Onion
- Olive oil or any neutral oil. Avocado oil or sunflower oil would be good.
- Kosher Salt
- Serrano Pepper or substitute a couple teaspoons of chili powder
- Ground Coriander
- Dried oregano
how to make refried beans
Cover the beans with water by a couple of inches and soak overnight. You don’t have to do this step but it cuts way down on the cook time.
The next day drain the beans and rinse them. Place them in a large pot and fill with water. The water should be 3-4 inches above the level of the beans.
Add 1/2 of the onion and 4 of the garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender.
Heat the olive oil in the largest frying pan you own over medium high heat. Add the onions and the other 2 garlic cloves (that you’ve chopped) plus the chopped serrano pepper.
Season with the salt and let cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to brown. Add the coriander and oregano and let them toast for 30 seconds or so.
Take a dry measuring cup (like the one you’d use to measure flour) and ladle out 5 cups of the cooked beans with their liquid. You’ll need about equal amounts beans and liquid.
Add them to the onions. (You will get two batches of refried beans from a pound of cooked, dried beans).
Mash the beans with a potato masher until the beans have thickened and they reach your desired consistency.
If you want super smooth beans, transfer the whole thing to the blender and blend until smooth.
If you want, you can top them with slices of avocado, some fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
are refried beans healthy?
These are! Actually most refried beans are pretty healthy but sometimes contain lots of lard or bacon grease.
This is the nice part about making homemade refried beans. You get to control what goes in them!
This recipe uses olive oil and not that much of it which makes them not only very good for you but also vegan—so yay!
tips for making this recipe in the instant pot or slow cooker
Okay, I know I just said “beans take time” blah, blah, but if you are in a super rush, you can cook beans in your pressure cooker from dry in 30 minutes.
I don’t personally have a recipe for this but my friend Ale’s recipe for Instant Pot Refried Beans is a good one to check out.
As for slow cooker beans, you could follow my Crock Pot Borracho Beans recipe and blend them in the blender until smooth. FYI, this is not a vegan recipe, so omit the bacon if you are following a plant-based diet.
turn your beans into dinner
Of course these make a delicious side dish but there are lots more ways to use up your refried beans.
Slather them on toasted bread and top with cheese and pico de gallo to make Molletes.
Fill these enchiladas with refried beans instead of the cheese filling.
Last, two appetizer ideas. Top them with feta and bake until warm and bubbly for an awesome bean dip or I love Bricia Lopez’s idea of serving warm refried beans with a side of tostadas for dipping instead of guacamole from her Oaxaca Cookbook.
more mexican side dish recipes to try!
- Crock Pot Borracho Beans
- Roasted Mexican Street Carrots
- Coconut-Cilantro Rice
- Easy Mexican Rice
- Grilled Pierogy Mexican Street Corn
- Sofrito Black Beans
- Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Squash
show me your beans!
I want to prove to you how easy this recipe is but the only way to do that is for you to make them. When you do please let me know by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) !
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