Refried Black Beans Recipe

This supremely simple refried black beans recipe is the key to easy dinner ideas: just spread in a tortilla and top with veggies for a quick taco night!

Refried Black Beans Recipe | How to make refried black beans

When I first started cooking, my expectations for the process were 100% unrealistic. I thought 10 minutes in the kitchen could generate a deliciously fresh and seasonal dinner (and no mess to clean up afterward). Wrong. My first few years in the kitchen were spent realigning my view of “quick and easy” with the limitations of cooking.

Alex and I spent years of cooking and testing shortcuts and came to a few conclusions. First of all, even the quickest and easiest of recipes require actual labor—and cleanup. Next: easy is not necessarily quick, nor is quick easy. And finally, if you’re not used to it, fitting cooking into your life really is not easy. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s relatively simple. Pretty simple, in fact: and we’ve written a book called Pretty Simple Cooking to explain that more. And to illustrate this concept: our simplest refried black beans recipe. (Keep reading.)

Want to try pinto beans? Go to Homemade Refried Beans or Instant Pot Refried Beans.

Refried black beans recipe | How to make refried black beans
Want more with black beans? Head to our Best Black Beans Recipes.

How to make refried black beans

The difference between easy and simple? In our minds, an easy refried black beans recipe would be something like dumping a can of beans into a blender with garlic powder and blending for 30 seconds. Tasty, maybe, but lacking a little integrity in flavor. A simple refried black beans recipe, on the other hand, requires mincing real garlic and simmering it with beans in olive oil with a bit of the can liquid for about 15 minutes. It requires mashing down the beans with the back of your spoon. And what results is a silky, savory bean mixture that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours—and it’s absolutely worth the minimal time and effort.

Another theme of our pretty simple cooking approach is that “simple” requires a little bit of savvy. It’s understanding that prepping a few items the night before can make for a dinner that comes together in minutes. It’s working on “project” type recipes on the weekends or your days off, and then eating them throughout the week. It’s having a few cans of beans in the pantry and a couple tortillas in the refrigerator for those nights when you have no energy to cook. Just a bit of planning ahead can make the cooking process truly simple.

How to serve this refried black beans recipe

This refried black beans recipe is one we’ve been making for quite a while. The amount of flavor coaxed out in just over 15 minutes is notable. Just like your favorite belt, they accessorize with anything: they’re an especially great side to go with tacos.

You can also use them as a filling for these Refried Bean Tacos and these Homemade Sopes! Once you’ve mastered these refried black beans, there’s really no recipe needed. Simply combine with a tortilla, some chopped veggies, and a sprinkling of shredded cheese and you’ve got weeknight tacos. Or serve them alongside scrambled eggs with salsa for a hearty savory breakfast.

The book: Pretty Simple Cooking

A version of this refried black beans recipe is featured in our cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks and best healthy cookbooks of 2018.
Click here to order Pretty Simple Cooking!

Looking for easy recipes?

As noted above, there are few truly easy recipes—but there are plenty of pretty simple ones! Outside of this refried black beans recipe, here are a few of our favorite easy recipes for weeknight dinners! And if you’re looking for bean recipes, head over to our Best Bean Recipes.

This recipe is…

This refried black beans recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Refried Black Beans Recipe

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (71 votes, average: 4.06 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups (4 servings) 1x


This supremely simple refried black beans recipe is the key to easy dinner ideas: just spread in a tortilla and top with veggies for a quick taco night!


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans (or 3 cups cooked or Instant Pot black beans)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper


  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. Add the beans, 1/2 cup of the reserved can liquid, the kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper.
  3. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often and smashing the beans toward the end of the cook time, until most of the liquid has cooked out and the texture is mashed and thick, but not dry. Continue to add small amounts of the can liquid if the beans become too dry, and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan until you achieve a fairly creamy consistency where there are still some beans that are whole. Taste and season with additional salt as desired, then serve immediately.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Sauteed
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Easy, Simple, Healthy, Black Bean, Refried, Beans

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Maja Harder
    August 14, 2017 at 2:37 am

    This sounds so so simple, and still really delicious. Will have to try it soon :)

  • Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    If you’re using black beans cooked from dry, would you just use water in place of the canned liquid?

    • Reply
      August 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Great question! Yes, I would use water, or the cooking liquid if you have it!!

      • Reply
        August 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        Great, thanks for the response! I’ll definitely try this one out!

        • Reply
          August 14, 2017 at 1:47 pm

          One note — the texture of cooked black beans is a little different. You may need to cook it a bit longer and/or add a bit more salt!

  • Reply
    Kelli @ Hungry Hobby
    August 14, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Such a great point! Sometimes just a little something extra makes ALL the difference!

  • Reply
    Christine H
    August 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Cooked black beans from dry — soaked them overnight, and then cooked them 10 min. in my pressure cooker (so easy!) Froze half of them in the liquid; kept the other half (also in liquid) for this recipe. Just made this tonight–they were great! I added a little bit of cumin to the recipe, as well, and I also mashed them slightly with a hand masher, I had to use a bit of the “pot liqqer” to keep them moist. My husband, son, and myself all loved them. Will definitely make again!

    • Reply
      September 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you so much for reporting back on this! I’m very glad to know that this worked with beans that were cooked from dry. Adding cumin is perfect, and a hand masher is a great choice since dried beans are a bit tougher. THANKS for making it!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Hello! I just made your refried beans with kidney beans (all I had in the cupboard) and added some chopped spring onions- was delicious thanks for reminding me that a bit of stirring something in a pot is really worth it!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    These were so easy and tasted just like I had hoped! Thanks for such an easy, delicious recipe

    • Reply
      October 5, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Oh hooray! We’re so glad to hear it. You are so welcome!

  • Reply
    Kenya Hall
    December 10, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    It turned out great! I’d rather them make them myself now then buying the canned refried beans

    • Reply
      December 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

      We’re the same way! So much flavor, you don’t miss canned refried beans. Thanks for trying these!

  • Reply
    val banks
    December 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Can I make these a day ahead?

    • Reply
      December 13, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Yes! You can absolutely make these ahead and reheat them. If they’re too thick, add a bit of water when you heat them up so they come to the correct consistency!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Like another who commented, I was out of canned refried beans and all I had in the pantry were 2 cans of black beans. You’re recipe worked out supremely well! Also like another, I added cumin; I also added some dried chopped onions and some ground jalapeno. WONDERFUL on our tostadas tonight, much much better than canned refried beans. This will always be my go-to recipe! Thank you for sharing it!

  • Reply
    May 2, 2020 at 3:22 am

    I made these tonight with cauliflower tacos- SO GOOD! My boyfriend and I loved them, thank you!!

  • Reply
    cleo gauthier
    June 18, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    This was great! I did only a half recipe because I did not need that much for my taco salad casserole. This is a delicious and easy recipe that is perfect for when you don’t have any refried beans on hand!

  • Reply
    Reena Bansal
    August 31, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Excellent beans even though I think 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper was way too much!!! Even better the next day. Next time I have it I’m making it a day ahead to bring out the excellent flavors. Thanks for the recipe

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