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How to Make Refried Beans | The Slow Cooker Method

Learn how to make refried beans the easy way. Healthy, filling and versatile during busy weeknights. Refried beans are a must have staple in your kitchen.

Beans mashed in the crockpot.

“Several people have asked me why, when the beans are fried, they are called refried. Nobody I asked in Mexico seemed to know until quite suddenly it dawned on me. The Mexicans have a habit of qualifying a word to emphasize the meaning by adding the prefix re-. They will get the oil very hot (requemar), or something will be very good (retebien). Thus refrito beans are well fried, which they certainly are, since they are fried until they are almost dry.”

Diana Kennedy – The Cuisines of Mexico

There are several methods for cooking refried beans. Originally, they were stewed for a long time until the beans were thoroughly cooked, then mashed to make a paste. It is very easy to make a big batch of beans to keep in the fridge then re-heat on the stove in some fat. Frying beans in fat adds flavor and is a common method for re-heating food for people that don’t or didn’t have a microwave. Hard to believe but microwaves weren’t always here nor does everybody on this planet have one.

For those people who eat low-fat diets and have microwaves, the beans never make it to the frying pan. They are cooked once and mashed.

For those that need fast, simple recipes, canned beans have taken center stage in the refried beans arena making it even easier to whip up a batch. You can buy fried beans canned, but then you don’t have as much control as to what goes in them. For some people, that is important.

If you are a clean-eating minimalist, cooking refried beans from scratch is the way to go, especially if you can buy your beans in bulk. You save money and make less trash.

The types of beans used in refried beans recipes differs according to region, personal preference and family tradition.

In Central America they use a small red bean known as Red Silk beans, or Frijol Rojo de Seda. This bean is popular in this region for its soft and creamy texture that still can hold its shape after reheating multiple times. Like most beans, it is high in protein, fiber and minerals. It is common to use this bean for both mashing as in refried beans or beans and rice.

Another bean that is popular for refried beans in Central America is the black bean, known as Frijol Negro. It is the main bean used for whole bean and mashed bean recipes in Guatemala.

Perhaps the most known refried bean type in the United States is the Mexican version with pinto beans. Pinto beans become very soft when stewed and has a creamy texture similar to the Red Silk bean.

A bag of Salvadoran Red Beans.
A bag of Guatemalan black beans.

Today I am going to share with you my favorite bean recipe. This is a recipe that my sister-in-law adapted to the slow cooker. Its seasonings are perfectly balanced with a hint of heat thanks to a chipotle in adobo sauce.

Chipotles in adobo sauce can be found in a small can in the international section of your average American supermarket. There are several chilis in a can and I usually only use one or two. For information on how I preserve the rest, this article contains my kitchen hack.

This recipe is one of my easiest recipes. It is a 100% dump and cook in a slow cooker method. After mashing you can either serve as is or fry in the fat of your choice for some added richness and flavor. If you don’t have a microwave, it’s a great way to reheat the beans too.

This is the bean recipe I use for Baleadas, a Honduran-style taco made with refried beans, cotija cheese and sour cream. When I am having exceptional fun in the kitchen and have the time, I also cook up these easy Honduran tortillas.

If your weeknights are hectic, no problem. Simply make a big batch on the weekend to enjoy all week long. To save time you can use the shelf stable tortillas. Simply heat them on a burner or in a skillet to toast the raw flavor out of them. You could also buy some ‘fresh’ uncooked tortillas in the refrigerator sections and fry them up at home. Another great hack is to buy homemade tortillas from Mexican restaurants that offer that service. You will have to call around.

A bowl of refried beans with sour cream on top.

Quick meal ideas with refried beans:

  • A scoop of refried beans in a small tortilla with a slice of cheddar cheese, microwave until hot.
  • Smear some on a large tortilla, add scrambled eggs, cheddar and salsa. Fold into a burrito and microwave or heat in a skillet until hot for a filling breakfast burrito.
  • As a side dish with a dollop of sour cream and chives sprinkled on top.
  • In Baleadas, a Honduran taco.
  • Scooped over some tortilla chips, sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese and top with sliced, pickled jalapeños. Microwave or heat under a broiler until hot and the cheese melts.
Small red beans on a plate.
Refried Bean ingredients in a crockpot.

If you make this, leave a comment, it keeps me going and lets others know how the recipe went. Thanks and buen provecho!

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Mashed beans on a plate.
A bowl of refried beans.

How to Make Refried Beans | The Slow Cooker Method

Yield: 10 sides
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Learn how to make refried beans the easy way. Healthy, filling and versatile during busy weeknights. Refried beans are a must have staple in your kitchen.

Ingredients

 

  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce (canned)
  • 2 cups of red silk beans or other small red or black bean, soaked over night and rinsed well.
  • 3 cups of water

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a crockpot and cook on high for 6 hours.
  2. Mash with a bean masher or a fork until desired texture has been achieved.  Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with optional garnishes.
  4. Optional second frying method:  In a large skillet, add 1/4 cup of neutral flavored oil or lard.  Heat over medium heat and add beans.  Stir well and let simmer until desired thickness has been reached and the beans are heated through.  If you choose this method it will add 15 calories per serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 82Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 427mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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Hannah

Monday 28th of January 2019

These were great and I loved that you didn’t have to re-fry them. I used black beans and ate them with avacodo slices on a tortilla.... so simple and so delicious! Next time I make them I’m going to try them with your homemade torialla recipe 🙂

Tina

Friday 1st of February 2019

Oh my gosh, this was fun to make. I'm glad you tried this, it really is one of my recent favorites. I've made this several times now, even for my SIL who visited last month whom originally gave me the recipe. It was a great hit with the family. So healthy too, definitely try the tortillas. I love fresh flatbread:)

Laura

Saturday 19th of January 2019

I have made something similar to this. It was fantastic. I love using my crockpot. Definitely going to make this.

Dave

Tuesday 8th of January 2019

I really appreciate dump and cook slow cooker recipes. Those are the ones I keep going back to. I will definitely make these easy refried beans, it may make my regular rotation. Thanks for this!

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