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These easy vegan refried beans have incredible buttery flavor, and only take 20 minutes to make! Homemade tastes so much better than canned!

Vegan refried beans
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Looking for the best refried beans out there? Well run, don’t walk, to make these homemade vegan refried beans! They’ve got a creamy texture and buttery flavor that tastes loads better than canned beans. Even better: they’re fully plant based! Garlic, olive oil, and a few spices make these vegan beans taste incredible. You can use canned beans or beans that were cooked from dry. If you’re using dried beans, we highly recommend our Instant Pot refried beans recipe: it’s tasty and seriously quick. Ready to get cooking?

Vegan refried beans

Secrets to the BEST vegan refried beans!

Homemade refried beans are often made with bacon fat, lard, or butter. But this vegan refried beans recipe has a healthy spin: it’s got big flavor using only olive oil! It’s so easy and tastes so much better than canned, you’ll be hooked on making your own beans at home. Here are a few tips to getting the best refried beans:

  • Use canned or dry pinto beans. It’s quickest to use canned pinto beans, but you can use cooked pinto beans if you have them on hand. Or, use our Instant Pot refried beans recipe if you have a pressure cooker and want to use dry beans.
  • The flavor secrets: garlic, chili powder, & cumin. That’s it! This vegan refried beans recipe uses simple seasonings to get big flavor. You’ll saute the garlic in olive oil, then add the beans and spices and cook until they’re infused.
  • Can liquid adds creaminess. Using the pinto bean can liquid for cooking the beans adds creaminess and body! If you’re using dry beans, water works too.
  • Use a potato masher! The best way to get that refried bean texture? A potato masher! (A fork works if you don’t have one.)
Vegan refried beans

Mix it up: customizing refried beans

Now, you can flex the recipe a bit depending on your taste! Here are a few ways to alter the recipe to add a little flair:

  • Use black beans. You can easily use black beans here, or go to our Refried Black Beans Recipe.
  • Use vegan butter. Want it to taste even butterier? Use vegan butter in place of olive oil. Look for a vegan butter that is organic and minimally processed with real food ingredients (Miyoko’s is a good brand).
  • Spice it up. These refried beans are not spicy as is. If you’d like to add heat, consider adding jalapeno peppers (sliced fresh on top, or pickled), canned green chilis, adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers, or a pinch of chipotle powder.
Easy refried bean dip
Try them in our vegan refried bean dip (you’ll need a double recipe).

Ways to serve vegan refried beans

How to serve these vegan refried beans? Outside of just a side dish, they’re a fantastic component to add plant based protein to vegan meals. Here are a few of our top ways to serve them:

  1. With Vegan Carnitas Tacos. They’re the perfect side to go with tacos, specifically these Vegan Carnitas Tacos.
  2. As refried bean dip. This Easy Refried Bean Dip is incredibly good…and vegan!
  3. As a taco filling. Our Refried Bean Tacos are mighty tasty: they’ve even got a creamy chipotle vegan sauce.
  4. On vegan nachos. Try our BEST Vegan Nachos, and use these vegan refried beans in place of the lentils and rice. The vegan nacho cheese is out of this world good!
  5. In cauliflower tacos. These Cauliflower Tacos are a fan favorite: use these vegan refried beans in place of the refried black beans. Top with Yum Yum Sauce made with vegan mayo.
  6. In taquitos. Make our Easy Baked Flautas (Taquitos!) as a tasty snack: omit the cheese to keep it plant based.
  7. As a sopes filling. Ever tried Homemade Sopes? They’re a fun alternative to tacos that are easy to make at home.
  8. With lentil tacos. These Easy Vegan Lentil Tacos would be even more filling served with a side of refried beans.

This vegan refried beans recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Vegan refried beans

Easy Vegan Refried Beans

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ½ cups (4 servings) 1x


These easy vegan refried beans have incredible buttery flavor, and only take 20 minutes to make! Homemade tastes so much better than canned!


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans or 3 cups cooked pinto beans, plus ¾ cup can liquid or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Mince the garlic. Drain the beans and reserve the can liquid in a glass measuring cup. (Use water if using cooked beans.)
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant but before it browns.
  3. Turn the heat to medium low and carefully add the beans (liquid hitting oil can cause it to spit!), ½ cup of the reserved can liquid, cumin, chili powder, and kosher salt. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the remaining ¼ cup can liquid when it starts to become drier. (How long you cook will depend on the bean brand or whether you’re using beans cooked from dry.) When the liquid gets thick and the beans become easy to mash, remove from the heat. Mash with a potato masher (or a fork) until the desired texture is reached. If you’d like to loosen up the texture, add more water. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

More plant based resources

Looking to eat more vegan and plant based recipes? Here are some of our favorite resources:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Joan says:

    Excellent and so easy. Thank you!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!