Refried Beans Without the Refry

Refried beans, or frijoles refritos, are a staple in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines and popular in other Latin American countries too. But did you know they’re not actually fried more than once?

The dish is traditionally prepared by simmering, stewing or pressure cooking pinto beans, then mashing them into a paste and frying them up with a generous amount of pork fat, or lard. The re-fried part is simply an error in translation. In Spanish, the prefix re- doesn’t mean again, rather it’s used as a form of emphasis. So frijoles refritos aren’t necessarily fried more than once, but they are fried very well.

With this Refried Beans Without the Refry recipe you can skip the fat and frying altogether. It’s one of the easiest and healthiest ways to get the flavor of restaurant refried beans without a lick of guilt. Simply place the beans, vegetables, spices and water in your slow cooker and go on with your day. It’s almost as easy as opening up a can — which you’ll likely never do again.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans Without the Refry

Makes 12 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours


  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/4-1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 9 cups water*


  1. Place the rinsed beans, onion halves, jalapeno, garlic, salt, black pepper and cumin in a large, 5-6 quart slow cooker.
  2. Pour in the water and stir to combine.
  3. Cook on High for 8 hours.
  4. At the end of cooking time, strain the beans, reserving the liquid.
  5. Mash the cooked beans with a potato masher or hand blender, adding reserved water as needed to your desired consistency.

*If a lot of the water evaporates during cooking and the beans are looking dry, don’t be afraid to add more water as needed.


This fail-proof recipe can easily be adapted to your taste. If you like black beans, try a pinto-black bean mix. For more heat, chop up a serrano or poblano instead of the jalapeno. A pinch of smoked paprika would add great depth of flavor, as would using chicken broth or vegetable stock in place of half of the water.

Six Sisters Stuff shows you how to make a similar — but much quicker — version of Refried Beans Without the Refry in the Instant Pot. And just in time for football season, here’s how to turn this recipe into a big batch of bean dip.


  • 2 cups salsa
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Mix all ingredients with the cooked refried beans and let cook a couple hours longer in the slow cooker until all flavors are blended.

Got leftovers?

This Refried Beans Without the Refry recipe makes a lot of beans, but they will keep well in the refrigerator for five days, and in an airtight container in the freezer for a few months. When you’re about ready to use them, thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving or adding to recipes.

Leftover refried beans are the perfect meatless filling for burritos and tacos and they’re essential for 7-Layer Dip and Nachos. How about these refried beans alongside a juicy, grilled steak? That sounds retebienor very, very good.

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