These Homemade "Refried" Beans are creamy and cheesy and so delicious! And they aren’t really fried twice, in fact, they aren't fried at all. I use canned pinto beans sauteed with chicken stock, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper. Then they're mashed and evaporated milk is stirred in. Finally, chunks of cheddar cheese are added and folded in... creating creamy cheesy ribbons throughout the beans.
This is such a tasty side dish, perfect for Taco Tuesday, or any night you're serving up Mexican food!
What are Refired Beans?
Refried beans are cooked and mashed beans. Usually, pinto beans are used for this traditional Mexican staple but other varieties of beans like black beans or red kidney beans are used in different parts of Mexico as well.
In Spanish, refried beans are called frijoles refritos. The translation of ‘frijoles refritos’ in English is refried beans. ‘refritos’ actually means "well fried" and not fried again. This can be confusing since it indicates the beans are fried twice.
So I've always wondered about the twice-fried thing so I'm glad I could clear that up for you and for me.
Let's talk about this refried bean recipe...
Homemade Refried Beans
I stumbled onto the recipe while we lived in Virginia several years ago.
I was getting my hair cut and highlighted. Christina my stylist was filling me in on important things that had happened since we were last together. Her son getting ready to go off to college, parties or events she had attended and of course the most important topic of all… the food she had been eating!
Let me just insert here she was from Arizona and her family is Mexican. Like making homemade tortillas for breakfast every morning Mexican. Can you even imagine?
She started talking about the dinner she had made the night before… my ears perked up… homemade refried beans in the crockpot. Ahh, wait, whaaa?
Just think about that for a minute... warm homemade tortillas being dipped into cheesy beany yumminess. Yes please, right now!
She went on to explain how her daughter liked to scoop out a bowl of beans and broth before they were mashed and eat them like soup. And yes - my mouth was watering back then and again now as I write this!
I had to ask her to pause the conversation and I got up to grab a pen and paper. Who cares about my highlights – I must have these beans in my life! (What can I say? I’m totally dedicated to my craft… of eating.)
I must tell you, to this very day, I have the yellow steno pad paper with my chicken scratch of a recipe all over it. I’m surprised it hasn’t been framed and hung over the fireplace. See exhibit A.
Over the years I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit. I shortened the cooking time by using canned pinto beans and cooking them on the stovetop.
(See the notes below in the recipe card for the slow cooker version of these refried beans.)
How to make Refried Beans on the Stovetop
This is what they look like after being cooked on the stovetop with chicken stock, onions, garlic, and, seasonings.
And then mash with a potato masher mixing in some evaporated milk. Keep mashing and add more milk if needed.
And finally, stir in chunks of cheddar cheese and fold it all together. You'll start to see cheese stretched into long yellow creamy ribbons throughout the beans.
I love how some of the cheese dissolves into the mixture while the rest of it just takes its time melting. Leaving behind warm gooey cheddar cheese gobs. So good!
So when it comes to the cooking method I look at it this way, less time waiting for beans to cook and more time stuffing my face. Are you pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down?
I change up the number of canned beans based on how many people I’m serving or how many days I want to eat them as leftovers. They will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.
Four cans of beans always seems like a good number. Enough to share with others and still have leftovers. Hallelujah!
Can you freeze Refried Beans?
And if you're wondering if you can freeze these refried beans the answer is - absolutely!
Just allow them to cool completely and place them into an air-tight storage container. You can even place a layer of plastic wrap under the lid just for extra protection.
Be sure to label the container and add the date you're freezing them. They will last in the freezer for 3-6 months.
And to thaw them, place them in the fridge overnight to use the next day.
I have to say these refried beans are one of the best Mexican recipes I make. They always turn out delicious and everyone asks for the recipe.
So, I decided to post it here on the blog so all of you could enjoy this yumminess.
And on a side note, I would just like to point out that this is not the first time my hair stylist has provided me with invaluable information.
Remember the “cooking with oil” post? I'm just pointing out that we all benefit from our stylists in countless ways: life-preserving health tips, crazy great recipes, AND of course they make us look fabulous!
These are all sound claims to bring up when your significant other is complaining about the fact that you’re basically making a car payment to your hair person every time you go.
So, just saying. We patrons have to stick together!
Because these Homemade Beans are so incredibly delicioso, you’ll never order refried beans at a Mexican restaurant again.
And don’t be surprised if your friends just so happen to start showing up at your house on Taco Tuesday. Or if the local Mariachi band asks if they can start holding practice at your house! Lol
More delicious Mexican Recipes:
- Crockpot Chicken Fajitas
- Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
- Low Carb Nachos - Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Slow Cooker Creamy Southwest Chicken Soup
- Queso Fundido
- Jalapeño Cilantro Mexican Corn Salad Recipe
Homemade "Refried" Beans
Homemade Refried Beans with onions, garlic, evaporated milk, and cheddar cheese... Ooey-gooey melty cheesy creamy perfection!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, (more to taste if desired)
- 4 x 14.5-ounce cans of pinto beans (Goya brand for GF)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup evaporated milk (Carnation Brand for GF)
- 8-ounce block of cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Drain and rinse 4 cans of pinto beans.
- Add some olive oil to a large sauce pot on medium-high heat, and sauté chopped onion for 6 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add in your beans, 2 cups of chicken stock and ½ teaspoon both salt and pepper. Put the lid on and let it come up to a boil, then turn it down to medium-low for about 30 minutes.
- Take off the lid and bring it back up to medium or medium-high to cook off some of the liquid, for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly so the beans don’t burn on the bottom.
- Turn off the heat, and let the beans cool about 5 minutes. Then mash the beans with a potato masher.
- Add half of the evaporated milk and continue mashing until the beans are creamy. Toss in the cheddar cheese, do not stir and let the beans rest for 5 minutes. Add in the rest of the evaporated milk and stir gently. Ideally leave some of the melted cheese in very small chunks or ribbons. Serve warm.
These Homemade Refried Beans can also be made from dried pinto beans in the slow cooker.
Here's how: Rinse dried beans and remove any that look questionable. Add all the same ingredients (swapping out dried beans for the canned beans), and set your crock pot on low for 7-8 hours. You will need to add extra chicken stock or even water. Make sure the liquid comes up over the beans by 1-2 inches. You will need to drain some of the liquid off before smashing them. When beans are tender smash, add your milk, and smash some more. Add the cheddar cheese chunks and stir. Taste and see if you need to add more salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Serving Size4-6 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 297Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 28mgSodium 805mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 8gSugar 5gProtein 15g
This nutrition card uses an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. This estimate is not a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice!
Can these be made ahead of time? Adding cheese after they have been reheated?
Hi Kimberly, these beans heat up nicely. You might need a little chicken stock or milk to loosen them up while reheating them. And I love your idea of waiting to add the cheese until after the fact.
How many pounds of dried pinto beans do you swap for the canned beans?
Hello Jayme, I would recommend using 3.5-4 pounds of dried pinto beans!
Oh my gosh I have to make these. They look so good. Would have never
thought about the evaporated milk but going to make as written!
Hi Deborah, I'm so excited for you to give this recipe a try, you won't be disappointed!
Curious about the evaporated milk? I would have never thought to use that?
Sarah, I know - right!? It's kind of like the secret ingredient. My hispanic girlfriend taught me that.
If there are chips involved, I am in!!! You always have the most tempting pictures:)
I know just what you mean, Gretchen! Thanks a bunch for the compliment on my photos!