How to Make Refried Beans

Bring flavor to your next Mexican-themed meal with homemade (and delicious!) refried beans.

Whether you’re hosting a Mexican-themed fiesta or doing “Taco Tuesday” for family dinner, you can’t go wrong by serving refried beans. The perfect side dish, this recipe is oh-so-simple to put together. Once you know how, you’re going to forget about the store-bought stuff forever! Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make refried beans:

How to Make Refried Beans

We used the Home-Style Refried Beans recipe.


  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice

Step 1: Start with the onions and garlic

Medium heat the oil in a skillet until it shimmers. Next, add the finely chopped onion. Stir occasionally and keep the pan on the heat for around five minutes or until the onions are soft.

Step 2: Give it a little flavor

It’s time to spice things up! Add the garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper to the pan. Cook the mixture for 60 seconds, while stirring as frequently as possible. Use the back of a fork to gently smash the garlic so it forms a paste-like consistency.

Step 3: Add the beans

The beans you choose for this side dish will have a great impact on the overall flavor. The most common type of bean used here is the pinto bean—which cooks down well and has a well-rounded, earthy taste. You may also want to experiment with black beans or cannellini beans for a unique take on the classic recipe. Drain the beans and add them to the skillet. Cover and cook on a medium heat for around five minutes, stirring regularly.

(Don’t have canned beans in your pantry? Here’s how to quick-soak dry beans.)

Step 4: Smash it up!

Remove the cover and lower the heat. Now, it’s time to have some fun! Use a potato masher to mash the beans up. Keep going until you reach the consistency that you desire. Some people prefer a ‘rustic’ coarse finish, while others prefer a smoother texture. The choice is all yours.

Step 5: Get zesty

Finally, taste the mixture to see whether you’ve got the right blend of seasonings. If it seems a little dry, you might want to give it a splash of water to loosen it up. You can also add some lime juice to give it a fresh flavor. Add salt to suit your taste buds and serve!

Now that you know how to make refried beans, you have to make tacos, fajitas or tostadas tonight! Check out our quick Mexican dinner recipes.

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Charlotte Grainger
Charlotte Grainger is a creative feature writer, with a flair for food, health and lifestyle pieces. Her work has been seen in a number of national publications including Beyond Words Magazine, Reader's Digest and Psychologies. When she’s not typing away, you can find her trying out new recipes or binging Netflix shows— sometimes simultaneously.