Bowl of homemade refried beans to enjoy

Homemade Refried Beans

February 10, 2016 by Michelle

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Homemade refried beans? Absolutely, and wow are they easy to make. Who knew! Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
Homemade refried beans ready to enjoy for burritos or 7 layer dip or any delicious meal

We’re well into 2016, and yesterday was Packzi Day (think gorgeous donuts filled with all sorts of good things as a way to use up all the goodies that were forbidden during Lent). Needless to say, I am still working on and focusing on eating better for me foods.

So how do homemade refried beans fit into that? Trust me, they do.

Refried beans were one of those foods that I always steered away from because “they’re so unhealthy” and “they have so much fat” – and so I generally don’t eat them. But there are some foods I love and crave occasionally that have refried beans.

When I eat out at a Mexican restaurant, refried beans and rice with a little queso fresco? Yum! Or 7 layer dip. That’s one of your favorite party foods, too, isn’t it?

Orrrrr there’s the Taco Bell bean burrito that is the only thing I ever order on the rare occasions I eat there. But oh man, they’re so good.

Make your own Taco Bell Bean Burritos with homemade refriend beans

Then I started playing with homemade refried beans and I realized that they actually aren’t all that unhealthy, and no, they don’t have a ton of fat. Wait, what? Truly.

And for the last couple months, I’ve been making a big batch of refried beans every few weeks to enjoy. I’ll often make my own version of the Taco Bell bean burrito – tortilla, refried beans, diced onion, shredded cheddar, and red sauce all rolled up in a yummy blanket of goodness.

With a big batch, I’ll make a whole bunch of the burritos and wrap them individually in paper towels, place them in a tightly sealed container and freeze them for a quick lunch that I can microwave and enjoy.

Bowl of homemade refried beans to enjoy

Don’t believe me that homemade refried beans aren’t fat filled, unhealthy, and something to avoid? The entire recipe uses 2 tablespoons of oil, and that’s the only fat in the entire dish.

I use that much or more when I make soups or pasta sauce or any number of dishes, and those aren’t considered fattening. There’s a small amount of brown sugar in there, as well, to give it a little bump of sweetness and flavor, but again it’s a single tablespoon.

Aside from that, it’s onions, spices, and pinto beans. The beans have plenty of fiber and protein, but they aren’t a source of fat.

Give them a chance. Homemade refried beans are quick to make and they are absolutely delicious for so many recipes.

How to Make Homemade Refried Beans Recipe

In a large heavy pan, add the olive oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and beans that you have cooked yourself or drained and rinsed.

Let them saute while you mince your garlic. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook up beans and onions for refried beans

Add your brown sugar, cumin, salt, smoked paprika, and chili powder, then stir to combine. Saute with the spices for another couple minutes to release the oils in the spices.

Add spices to refried beans

Add the stock and let simmer for another five minutes. I usually use either vegetable or chicken stock, depending on what I have on hand. When you use vegetable stock, this makes completely vegan refried beans.

Add chicken stock to cooked onions and beans

Use an immersion blender to puree the beans completely. An immersion blender is one of those tools I didn’t know how badly I needed until I got one, and I use it constantly, whether for making tomato sauce, potato soup, or yes, refried beans.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Be sure to not fill the blender more than a third full at a time and use a kitchen towel to hold the top on to ensure that the top doesn’t pop off due to the pressure.

If the beans are too thick, add a little extra stock, a teaspoon at a time. Zoop it up after each addition so you know when it gets to your preferred consistency.

Puree the refried beans once they have simmered and cooked

Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to three days. This will freeze for future use, as well.

Homemade Refried Beans

Homemade Refried Beans

Yield: 4 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Puree Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

These homemade refried beans are quick and easy to make and taste amazing for all sorts of recipes. Throw away your notion that they are full of fat and unhealthy. Homemade and vegan refried beans fit none of that stereotype!


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 1/2 c pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 can)
  • 1 c onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 c vegetable stock


  1. Heat heavy pan on medium. Add oil. When oil shimmers, add beans and onions. Saute while mincing garlic, then add garlic and saute for another two to three minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and chili powder. Stir to distribute and cook for a 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock and simmer for five minutes.
  4. Puree the refried beans with an immersion blender or a regular blender, filling no more than one-third full and using a kitchen towel to hold the top on if using a traditional blender. Add stock a teaspoon at a time if the beans are too thick.
  5. Serve immediately. Store leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to three days.


  • Feel free to cook your own pinto beans, or use a can of beans that has been drained and rinsed.
  • This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to make a larger batch.
  • Using vegetable stock makes these vegan, but sub chicken stock if you like.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 993mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 12g

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Have you ever made homemade refried beans? What is your favorite Mexican recipe that uses them?

More great Mexican inspired recipes:

Easy Homemade Refried Beans Recipe to make your Mexican meals at home

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  • Easy Peasy Life Matters

    Oh this sounds so good right now! Pinned! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Elsa | the whinery

    I love this! I’ve always wondered if I could make refried beans at home, I love it but I’ve been hesitant about the canned ones. This would go really well with a taco dish I’m planning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder

    The description “healthy refried beans” is like an oxymoron, but this is awesome! Gret for a Texas girl like me

  • Katie @ A Mother Thing

    Awesome! I literally last night tried to make my own refried beans. My 16 month old son thought they were great, but I didn’t much enjoy them. I will be trying this for sure!

    • Michelle

      If your 16 month old enjoyed them, that’s definitely a win! This is my favorite version of them, but feel free to change up the spice levels (more salt? more sugar? more cumin?) after you make it to suit your own tastes. I think I may have to make another batch today!

  • nisha

    Is the brown sugar important? can we use maplesyrup instead?
    can’t have sugar ๐Ÿ™ … what do you recommend?

    • Michelle

      I haven’t ever tried it with maple syrup. The sugar does balance it some, so I’d include something. I assume you can’t do molasses or stevia, right? It’s worth a try without any sugar to see how it tastes to you and then try adding in a little of alternatives you can have to see what you like the best.

  • Brenda

    I’ve tried a lot of refried bean recipes & I think the brown sugar is key & makes all the difference in the world. These are amazing!

    • Michelle

      Awwww thank you! And yes – the touch of brown sugar really makes a huge difference, I think! I’m glad to hear you love these, too ๐Ÿ™‚

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