This Frijoles Refritos recipe is the best Mexican side dish you were looking for. Get ready to savor the authentic flavors of Mexico from the comfort of your own kitchen!
Frijoles refritos are a traditional Mexican dish made from cooked and mashed beans. They are commonly served as a side dish or used as a filling in various Mexican recipes.
Frijoles refritos are typically made by cooking pinto or black beans until they are tender. Once cooked, the beans are called frijoles de la olla (pot beans).
The cooked beans are then mashed or pureed and cooked again in pork lard or oil, along with onions, garlic, and various spices. The process of frying the beans gives them a rich and creamy texture.
- Beans: The most common types of beans used for refried beans are pinto or black beans.
- Onion: To cook the beans, use any type you prefer.
- Garlic: To cook the beans, 1 or 2 cloves is enough.
- Salt: Use any type you prefer.
- Fat or oil: Authentic refried beans call for pork lard (manteca), but you can also use bacon grease, extra virgin olive oil, or your favorite cooking oil.
How To Make Frijoles Refritos
Place cleaned and rinsed beans in the pot where you want to cook them (I am using an Instant Pot), add enough water to cover them by 1 inch, then add garlic, onion, and salt.
Cook for as long as it takes for the beans to be nicely tender, adding more water if necessary. I cooked them for 35 minutes, but on the stove, they will take from 1 to 1 hour and a half to cook.
Now, place the lard in a frying pan and heat it over medium-low heat. Be careful as we don’t want the lard to smoke, but only to melt and heat.
You’ll notice the lard is ready when it changes its color slightly. Again, make sure it doesn’t smoke!
TOP TIP: Here is where you can add other flavorings, such as chopped onions, fresh chiles, minced garlic, etc. I am keeping my refried beans simple, so I just used homemade pork lard.
Now, carefully, add the cooked beans to the pan. Make sure you add the beans slowly or they will splatter at the contact with the hot lard.
Shake the pan to spread the beans well and allow to heat for 1 minute, especially if your beans were taken straight from the fridge as heated beans will be easier to smash.
Low the heat to the lowest point your stove allows.
Using a potato masher, mash the beans until your desired consistency, then cook for a minute while stirring to make them more creamy (read my notes below).
Expert Tips & Notes
- Bacon or chorizo: To make chorizo beans you can cook some chorizo in the lard before adding the beans.
- Jalapeños or other chili peppers: For a spicier version, you can add finely chopped jalapeños or other chili peppers to the beans while frying.
- Cheese & bacon: Some recipes like frijoles puercos call for the addition of cheese and bacon to make an indulgent dish.
- Epazote: This is a traditional herb used in Mexican cooking, particularly with beans. It adds a unique flavor to the refried beans.
- Spices & aromatics: A pinch of cumin, minced garlic, oregano, or a spring of epazote will add a wonderful aroma to the dish.
How To Serve Refried Beans
Frijoles refritos are often served as a classic side dish alongside Mexican or Tex-Mex meals. They are a main component and the perfect side for Mexican breakfast dishes.
Simply scoop a portion onto a plate or in a small bowl and serve it alongside your main course. Here are some common ways to serve and enjoy this Mexican side:
- SIDE DISH: Especially for breakfast recipes such as chilaquiles rojos or huevos rancheros, but also for main meals like chicharrón en salsa verde.
- FILLING AND SPREAD: As a filling for the traditional Tlacoyos or as a main ingredient for tostadas de frijoles, burritos, sandwiches, or sopes.
- DIP: They can be used as a flavorful bean dip for tortilla totopos chips or vegetable sticks. Just transfer the refried beans to a serving dish and garnish with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, or a dollop of sour cream. It makes a great appetizer or party snack.
Store & Reheat
Allow the frijoles refritos to cool completely before storing them. Transfer them to an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
SUPER TIP: Divide the refried beans into smaller portions so you can thaw and reheat only what you need.
- Stovetop: Transfer the desired amount of refried beans to a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add a small amount of water or milk to loosen the beans if necessary. Heat until the beans are warmed through.
- Microwave: Place the desired amount of refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape. Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the beans are heated through.
Are frijoles refritos healthy for you?
Frijoles refritos, or refried beans, can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation. Traditional recipes may call for lard, which is high in saturated fat. However, you can make healthier versions by using healthier fats like extra virgin olive oil. Be mindful of the portion size and moderation to keep fat intake in check
Why refried beans are called that?
The term refried beans is a bit of a misnomer, as the beans are not actually fried twice. The name “refried” comes from the Spanish term frijoles refritos, which translates to well-fried beans.
The word refritos in Spanish refers to the beans being well-cooked or well-fried, rather than being fried multiple times. The prefix “re-” in this context emphasizes the thoroughness of the cooking process.
More Mexican Beans Recipes
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- Large pot
- frying pan
- Potato masher
- 1 pound dried pinto beans
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- salt (to taste)
- 5 Tablespoons pork lard or oil (use less if you want)
- Place beans in your Instant Pot and add garlic and onion.
- Add 6 cups of water and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes (read notes).
- Natural release for 15 minutes, then move the valve to completely release the stem.
- Add salt to taste and mix well.
Fry the beans
- Place lard in a frying pan and heat it over medium-low heat.
- Carefully, add the cooked beans to the pan.
- Shake the pan to spread well the beans and allow to simmer for 1 minute.
- Low the heat and use a potato masher to mash the beans until your desired consistency.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.