Refried beans are super delicious, but often made with lard. So, I wanted to share a simple vegan refried beans recipe! This is a one pot recipe that takes twenty minutes to make, and has TONS of flavor, so you'll never buy canned refried beans again.
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free: This recipe caters to a range of dietary restrictions without compromising on flavors. I actually don't use any oil, so it's healthier too!
- Super convenient: This is a one-pot recipe with minimal clean-up, and did I mention it comes together in literally 20 minutes?
- Way tastier than storebought, canned refried beans: The combination of spices makes this way more delicious and buttery when compared to canned refried beans!
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make homemade vegan refried beans, you'll need a can of pinto beans, couple of cloves of garlic, half an onion, a jalapeno, cumin powder, red chili powder, and salt.
Notes and Variations
- Using black beans or kidney beans. You can totally use black beans or kidney beans to make this recipe, but just note that the cook time might slightly vary!
- Using dry beans versus canned beans: I personally prefer the canned beans since they make the job so much easier! However, if you want to use dry pinto beans, soak them overnight (with at least an inch of water over them). Drain water, add 10 cups of water for every pound of pinto beans, and cook on medium heat 2.5 hours.
- Adjusting seasoning: This is the simplest version of the recipe. Feel free to adjust the red chili powder to your spice tolerance, or add other seasonings to your taste!
📖 How to make homemade refried beans
Sauté the aromatics in a skillet or pot
Heat a skillet on medium heat. I prefer using an enameled cast iron skillet when I'm not using oil. If you're not oil free, you can add a tablespoon of oil. Else, add a tablespoon or two of water, followed by the diced onions and jalapenos. Make sure to chop up the aromatics as small as possible!
Sauté them for about 4 to 5 minutes until they're soft. Then, add the minced garlic - cook all of them for 30 seconds until fragrant (but not burnt!) Then, add the cumin and red chili powder and sauté them together.
Add the beans and cook them
Next, open a can of pinto beans and save the water from the can! Add the beans to the skillet with the aromatics. Then, add half a cup of liquid (combination of the can liquid, water, and/or or broth!) and salt. Bring this a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes (uncovered). Keep checking, and add additional water as needed so the beans don't dry out!
Mash them up!
Once most of the water evaporates, you're ready to start mashing them up to the right consistency. I love using a masher, but you can use the back of a spatula or a large fork! You can also use an immersion blender (but I like the chunkier consistency!)
Remove the beans from the heat, squeeze some fresh lime juice and give it a good mix and mash again to desired consistency. Optional, but you can top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice, and your refried beans are ready!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
Canned refried beans as well as those at most restaurants tend to contain lard - so they're not vegan or vegetarian!
They're cooked twice! Typically, the beans are cooked once via boiling (which we've avoided here since we used canned beans) and then fried again on a skillet.
I like using pinto beans since they provide the most traditional flavor but you can use kidney beans or black beans as well!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
These vegan refried beans will last a couple of days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. To reheat, add a bit more water and heat stovetop. Do not use if they smell bad (or if they've developed mold on them!)
To freeze this recipe, first let it cool down to room temperature. Then, I suggest portioning them into individual sized airtight containers (or freezer bags). This way, I've seen them last for a couple of months in the freezer! To reheat, first thaw or defrost them, either at room temperature or in the fridge overnight, and then heat stovetop with a bit of water.
Psst, my favorite way to serve these refried beans is in my awesome fried avocado tacos with a creamy poblano sauce! Check that out.
Don't forget to check out other Mexican inspired recipes / taco recipes to pair with these delicious refried beans as well:
Easy Vegan Refried Beans (One Pot, Gluten Free, Oil Free!)
- 1 can pinto beans, 14.5 oz, save the liquid!
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ onion, diced finely
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced finely
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add 1-2 tablespoons of water followed by the diced onions and jalapenos. Sauté this for about 4-5 minutes until they're soft. Then, add three garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant (but not burnt!) Add a teaspoon of cumin powder, and half a teaspoon of red chili powder and stir to combine.
- Open a 14.5oz can of pinto beans and add to the skillet along with half a cup of liquid. I typically use a combination of the can liquid, and rest water. Add salt and allow this to boil. Reduce heat to low, and let this simmer for 8-10 minutes (uncovered). Add more water as needed to get to the right consistency.
- Once most of the water has evaporated, mash them using a potato masher or the back of a spatula. Remove them from heat, add lime juice and mash them up once more. Your pinto beans are ready! Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite Mexican mains!
- You can also use black beans or kidney beans instead of pinto beans in this recipe
- If you're not oil-free or you're worried the veggies will stick to the skillet, add a tablespoon of oil or vegan butter for extra creaminess!