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The best beans are homemade refried beans! The texture and flavor are WAY better than canned: plus they’re healthier too (and plant based).

Homemade refried beans
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The best refried beans? Homemade refried beans! Yes, you can easily buy refried beans in a can. And Alex and I often do! But after you make them at home, you’ll immediately taste the difference. The flavor and texture are loads better than the canned ones you can find at the store. (At least, the brands we’ve tried!) So when we have time, we love making refried beans at home. It’s seriously simple, and you can do it with canned beans or beans that have been cooked from dry. Side bonus: they’re plant based (vegan) and healthier than most recipes, too. Let’s cook!

Got an Instant Pot? Make our Easy Instant Pot Refried Beans instead (using dried beans).
Got black beans? Go to Refried Black Beans.

How to make homemade refried beans (a tutorial)

These homemade refried beans are easy to make, and take about 20 minutes total time. We guarantee that you’ll find it’s worth the time when you take your first taste! These refried beans taste rich and buttery, though they don’t have any butter or lard like traditional recipes. In fact, they’re a whole food plant based (WFPB) version, with only a touch of oil. Of course if you want to substitute butter or add a little more…we wouldn’t judge! Here’s how to make homemade refried beans.

Here’s our video showing all the steps below…

Step 1: Mince the garlic & drain the beans.

If you’re not a knife skills whiz, check out our video on how to mince garlic to do it in just 1 minute! Next, drain the beans if you’re using canned beans. Here’s the important part: save that can liquid! You’ll use it in the recipe. If you forget, you can just use water: no big deal! That’s also what you can use if you’re making these refried beans with beans that you cooked from scratch.

Instant pot pinto beans
If you’re using cooked beans, you can use water instead of can liquid!

Step 2: Saute the garlic, then cook the beans 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then saute the garlic for 1 minute until just before it starts to brown. Very gently add the beans: be careful because liquid hitting the hot oil can cause it to spit! Then add about ½ cup of the can liquid and the cumin, chili powder and salt.

Cook over medium low heat, bubbling gently, until the beans become soft and easily fall apart when mashed. This will take between 10 to 15 minutes: the exact timing depends on the brand of bean or whether you’re using beans cooked from dry.

How to make refried beans

Step 3: Mash!

Here’s the fun part: mash the beans! Mash them with a potato masher until they come to the desired consistency (or a fork, if you don’t have a masher). You also can add a little water if you’d like the beans to have a thinner texture. Now you’re ready to go: delicious, healthy homemade refried beans in about 20 minutes!

Homemade refried beans

5 best ways to serve homemade refried beans

There are so many great ways to serve homemade refried beans: we’d guess you don’t need a lot of help! BUT, if you’d like our favorite recipes…well, we hoped you’d ask! Here are our top ways to eat them:

  1. As a side. They’re the perfect side to go with tacos. Garnish with quesco fresco, chopped cilantro and a little chili powder.
  2. Taquitos! Make our Easy Baked Flautas (Taquitos!) as a tasty snack.
  3. Tacos. Our Refried Bean Tacos are mighty tasty.
  4. Refried bean dip. Wowza, this Easy Refried Bean Dip is good! And it’s vegan / plant-based.
  5. Sopes. Ever tried Homemade Sopes? They’re a fun alternative to tacos that are easy to make at home.
Homemade refried beans

This homemade refried beans recipe is…

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

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Homemade refried beans

Homemade Refried Beans (Easy & Healthy!)

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4.7 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ½ cups (4 servings) 1x
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The best beans are homemade refried beans! The texture and flavor are WAY better than canned: plus they’re healthier too (and plant based).


  • 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 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

All the beans!

Because Alex and I eat mainly vegetarian and vegan recipes, we have lots and lots of recipes with beans! Beans provide vital plant based protein in our diet. Here are a few more bean resources for you:

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. Anonymous says:

  2. Sandy Damiani says:

    How just wondering what a serving size is? Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      A heaping half cup.

  3. Carina Garcia says:

    I have yet to try this recipe, but probabalg will sometime in the near future.
    I just want to clarify something. In the title you emphasize “plant based”. Beans over all are plant based. So for you to put emphasis on it, are you implying that canned refried beans typically have some type of meat in them? Thanks

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Yes, many canned refried beans are cooked in fat from meat. Check the label for “vegetarian” if you are buying them.

  4. wendy fleming says:

    Can you freeze your homemade refried beans recipe?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes, it should freeze fine!

  5. DC says:

    OMG best refried beans since my last visit to my favorite Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee!

  6. Austin says:

    Thank you for this recipe!! I’ve used it multiple times now to make Fajitas for bigger groups of people.