Beans are a pantry staple for us, and one of the main ways we stretch meals. My husband and I both like the taste of them, so we don’t mind eating them a few times per week to keep our food budget low.
While our go-to is regular beans and rice, sometimes I like to add a little variety by cooking beans in a different way, like putting them in soup or chili, or using refried beans for homemade burritos. We’ve done our best to ditch canned goods (here’s why), so I prep all our beans from scratch. But it’s not hard! And it saves money.
Several months ago I tried my hand at making refried beans from scratch, and they turned out great! I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you today. After you make this once, you’ll probably find ways to tweak it to your taste: adding dried herbs, a twist of lime, grated cheese, etc. Like whipping up salsa or guacamole, there are endless options, and you can play with it each time to find what suits your family best!
Easy Homemade Refried Beans
- 6 cups cooked pinto beans (2 cups OR 1 lb when dry)
- 1/3 cup bacon grease or butter
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt*
- 1 tsp paprika
- Liquid of your choice: milk, chicken broth, or liquid from canned or cooked beans
- In a large pot or cast-iron skillet, melt the bacon grease over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute for 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
- Add beans, cumin, salt, paprika, and 3/4 cup liquid to pot. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use a potato masher or hand blender to mash beans until they reach the desired consistency. If beans are too dry, add additional liquid. If beans are too wet, let them simmer for a little longer to absorb more liquid. Add additional salt and spices as needed. (*We don’t like ours too salty, so you might find that this recipe needs more salt, depending on how salty your bacon grease is.)
Serve refried beans on homemade tacos or burritos, with chips, or as a side dish. They freeze well, too!