Refried beans are delicious, but often made with lard. This simple dairy-free, gluten-free, oil-free refried beans recipe is vegan, made in one pot and ready in just twenty minutes. You'll never buy canned refried beans again!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Vegan, dairy-free, 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 store-bought, 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 these homemade dairy free, gluten free refried beans, you'll need a can of pinto beans, fresh garlic cloves, onions, jalapeno, cumin powder, red chili powder, and salt.
Notes and Variations
- Using black beans, kidney beans or navy beans. You can totally use black beans, kidney beans or navy beans to make this recipe, but note that the cook time might slightly vary! Check out this post on the key differences between black beans and pinto beans.
- Using dry beans versus canned beans: I prefer canned beans since they make the job so much easier! But you can use dry beans as well, just make sure to soak them overnight and cook them before you use them here.
- Adjust seasoning: This is the simplest version of the recipe. Feel free to adjust red chili powder to your spice tolerance, or add other seasonings to your taste!
📖 How to make homemade refried beans
Heat a large skillet over medium-high 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. Or, add a few tablespoons of water, followed by diced onions and jalapeños. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes until soft.
Then, add garlic and cook until fragrant (but not burnt!) Add cumin powder, andred chili powder and stir to combine.
Then, dump a can of pinto beans along with half a cup of liquid (combination of brine and water works great!) Finally, add salt to taste and allow this to boil.
If you want to use dry pinto beans, soak them overnight (with at least an inch of water over them). Drain that water, add 10 cups of water for every pound of pinto beans, and cook on medium heat 2.5 hours.
Reduce heat, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, uncovered. Add more water as needed to get to the right consistency.
Once most water has evaporated, mash, remove from heat, add lime juice and mash once more.
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!)
Your pinto beans are ready! Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite Mexican mains!
👩🏽🍳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! You can read more on the differences between black beans and pinto beans too.
🍴 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.
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!
Note: This recipe was originally published on February 25, 2021 and updated on March 12, 2023 with more tips and new photos. Original notes and photos can be found below.
Sauté aromatics in a skillet or pot
Add the beans and cook them.
Mash them up!
P.S., if you're interested in more bean recipes, check out this Southern Navy Bean recipe, but make it vegetarian!