Refried Beans are incredibly easy to make and so much better than what you can heat up from a can! This homemade recipe yields the creamiest, thickest, and most flavorful refried beans. Don’t forget to top them off with some cojita cheese and fresh cilantro for the full Mexican restaurant flair!

A blue bowl is filled with refried beans.

Refried Beans

Refried beans are always my go-to side dish at a Mexican restaurant. They’re just one of those dishes that’s hard to mess up! With that being said, though, not all refried beans are created equally… and these might just be the very best I’ve ever tasted. They have that authentic Mexican restaurant taste to them that far surpasses anything you could heat up from a store-bought can!

So, what goes into them that makes them so good? With ingredients listed like bacon fat, chili powder, onions and more, you just know you’re in for a real treat.

The flavor of these beans is absolutely incredible, but I think my favorite aspect of them might just be the creamy, thick consistency. It’s so satisfying to serve these beans on the side of your Mexican-inspired entree.

Topping off your refried beans is pretty important. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a good Mexican restaurant and had refried beans that didn’t have a little cojita cheese and/or cilantro on top!

Some freshly chopped white onions are also incredible when served on top with a squeeze of lime juice. The rich, savory qualities of the beans are perfectly enhanced by those fresh ingredients!

The ingredients for refried beans are placed on a white surface.

How to Make Refried Beans

Making your own homemade refried beans is easier than you may think. Take a sneak peak at what you’ll need to do here and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for more detailed instructions!

  1. Cook the onions. In a pot or saucepan, warm the olive oil until simmering. Stir in the onions and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and softened.
  2. Cook the garlic, seasonings, and add the beans. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin to the pot. Stir constantly while you cook for just about 30 seconds. Add the beans to the pot (make sure they’re drained). Give everything a good stir, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Mash the beans. Lower the heat to low and take off the lid. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash up about half of the beans. Continue to cook the beans for 3 more minutes. Keep the lid off the pot and stir constantly.
  4. Finish it off and enjoy! Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the fresh cilantro and lime juice. Do a quick taste test to determine if you need more salt and/or lime juice.

We love them in these easy breakfast tacos!

A cracker is being dipped into a bowl filled with refried beans.

Tips for the Very Best Refried Beans

  • Are your beans dry? No problem! If your refried beans seem a little dry, simply add a very small splash of water and stir to combine.
  • Use fresh lime juice. This is so important. If you truly want the best flavor, you’ll need to use freshly squeezed lime juice – nothing bottled or from concentrate.
  • Don’t mash all the beans. I mean, you can, but your consistency will be a bit weird. Refried beans aren’t supposed to be totally smooth. I’ve found that for the best consistency, I mash half (sometimes a little more) of the beans. That way, there are still some chunks of pinto beans in there to give the dish some hearty structure.


Once the beans have cooled to room temperature, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Feel free to reheat in the microwave.

Cilantro, cheese and jalapenos garnish a bowl of refried beans.

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Cilantro, cheese and jalapenos garnish a bowl of refried beans.

Get the Recipe: Refried Beans Recipe

Homemade Refried Beans are a treat to eat and so easy to make! Season with your favorite Mexican herbs and spices for a flavor packed side dish that's ready in minutes.
5 from 3 votes


  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat, or olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 30 ounces pinto beans, rinsed and drained (reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid from the canned beans), rinsed and drained (reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid from the canned beans)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, about ½ medium lime, to taste
  • Optional, jalapeno, cojita cheese, cheddar cheese


  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 potato masher


  • Heat the bacon fat or olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onions to the pan and cook until beginning to soften.
  • Add the salt and garlic, cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the chili powder, cumin and beans.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the drained beans and 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid. Stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and remove the lid.
  • Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash up about half of the beans, until a chunky consistency is achieved. Continue cooking the beans, uncovered, for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Remove from the heat. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
  • If the beans seem dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir to combine.
  • Serve warm or room temperature.
Calories: 190kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 82mg, Potassium: 490mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 47IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 2mg