Frijoles Refritos (Authentic Refried Beans)

Frijoles refritos are a creamy side dish perfect to pair with your favorite Mexican meals, those homemade and authentic refried beans are truly delicious and so easy to make at home.

Authentic refried beans. Frijoles refritos.

I remember when I was a kid, coming back from school so hungry that my mom will give me a taquito con frijoles refritos (taco with refried beans) so I could wait until lunch was ready. And believe me when I tell you that this is a typical scene in many Mexican households.

What are frijoles refritos?

Frijoles refritos are a side dish consisting of cooked beans fried and mashed until creamy. The recipe is a staple in Mexican cuisine and is usually prepared to accompany many of the traditional Mexican dishes but also to eat them as a main dish alongside tortillas or bread.

In Spanish, the prefix re– is just a form of emphasis and not a form of action that undertakes more than once. Therefore, frijoles refritos (refried beans) are not beans fried twice but beans that have been fried thoroughly.

Authentic refried beans, aka frijoles refritps, served with pickled jalapeños, queso fresco and corn chips.

Most asked questions:

What kind of beans to use?

The most common types are pinto, bayo, black. You can use the ones you prefer but I strongly suggest paying attention that the ones you buy are not too old because those can be tough to cook.

Can I use canned beans?

Yes, of course! In this case, I’ll suggest first frying a few chopped onions before adding the beans to the pan, to give an extra flavor. Or you can also sauté one garlic clove, add some chilies, a pinch of cumin, etc.

How To Store?

After you made them and once cooled, place them into an airtight container. Refried beans can last in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

How To Reheat?

To reheat, place leftovers in a pan, add a little bit of water, and stir, then heat them up at medium heat. Otherwise, heating them in a microwave for a few minutes works nicely too.

Can I Freeze Them?

Yes! Frijoles fritos are perfect to freeze. Divide them into small portions, place them in freezer-proof containers or freezer bags, and store them. They last for 2-3 months.

The step by step recipe

Start by cooking the beans. You can use any method you prefer, in this recipe I recommend using a pressure or Instant Pot as it speeds up times.

But I suggest reading our easy recipe for de la olla beans as it includes different methods for cooking and choosing the one that fits your style and time available.

Cooked beans in an instant pot.

Now, place lard in a frying pan and heat it over medium-low heat. Be careful as we don’t want the lard to smoke, just to melt and heat. You’ll notice the lard is ready when it changes its color slightly. Again, make sure it doesn’t smoke!

Melted lard in a pan.

Now, carefully, add the cooked beans to the pan. If it’s your first time making refried beans I suggest using cooking gloves for this step to prevent burning your hands or arms.

Adding beans carefully in a pan.

Shake the pan to spread well the beans 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.

Beans cooking in a pan.

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 bowl).

Mashing beans in a pan with a potato masher.

The texture

  • The texture of frijoles refritos can have some variations, depending how you want to use the dish. For example, if you want them as a spread for burritos or a sandwich, just cook/smash a bit longer to allow the liquids to evaporate.
  • On the other hand, if you want to use them as a side dish you might want them more creamy and in this case you can add a little bit of cooking water to the pan.
Frijoles refritos close-up, served with totopos, cheese, and green chilies.

Useful Recipe Notes

  • Keep it simple. You don’t really need fancy and complicated ingredients to make frijoles refritos. Good quality beans and flavored fat would be enough to deliver the most delicious and authentic refried beans.
  • Use lard. Lard is the key for creaminess and deliciousness in authentic refried beans. You can replace pork lard with bacon grease or butter if you prefer.
  • Rinse. If using canned beans, give them a good rinse before adding them to the pan. Don’t worry, they won’t lose flavor, on the contrary, you’ll get rid of that unpleasant preservative flavor some canned beans have.
  • Make it vegan. Olive oil or your favorite vegetable oil will turn this recipe into vegan.

How to serve and eat authentic refried beans?

Authentic refried beans are eaten in so many ways, all day long. As a breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. The possibilities are endless for serving this classic of Mexican cuisine, for example:

Huevos rancheros served with salsa chile de arbol and frijoles refritos.

Need extras?

  • ONIONS. Fry a small chopped onions before adding the beans to the pan.
  • SPICY. Fresh or dry, just add a few slices of your favorite chili peppers for a spicy touch.
  • AROMATIC. A pinch of cumin, minced garlic, oregano, or a spring of epazote will add a wonderful aroma to the dish. Just, keep the balance.

Watch How To Make The Recipe

Did you know? Mexico is a center of diversity for beans. According to the SNICS, 70 species of 150 are from this country and five oh those have been domesticated and can be found in their wild and cultivated form.

SNICS – https://datos.gob.mx/busca/organization/about/snics

This recipe was posted originally on September 6, 2017. It was been republished in October 2021 to add more info, photos, and a video.

Frijoles refritos recipe.

Frijoles Refritos

Frijoles Refritos are a staple Mexican side dish. Use them to serve with your main meals or as a dip scooping them out with corn chips.
PREP 2 minutes
COOK 5 minutes
TOTAL 7 minutes
4.5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb dried pinto beans
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • salt (to taste)
  • 5 Tbsp pork lard or oil (use less if you want)

Instructions

  • 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.

NOTES

You can cook your beans in a regular pot on the stove or a slow cooker pot. Read our guide for cooking beans at home.
Nutrition
Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 808mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 219IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg
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