Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Beans. Beans. Beans. 🔪

over 120mins

Ingredients for servings

  • 0.5 pound(s) dried pinto or black beans

  • water

  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote or oregano see note

  • 1 medium white onion(s), 1/2 minced & 1/2 left whole

  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • kosher salt

  • 6 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil, or butter see note


  • In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt.

  • Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.

  • In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering, or butter until foaming, over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes.

  • Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée.

  • Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and serve.


Epazote, a Mexican herb, can be found at Mexican grocers. To add other flavors to the refried beans, try sautéing a pinch of ground cumin or fresh chilis with the minced onion, or puréeing toasted dried chilis into the mixture.

Different cooking fats give different flavors to the beans; lard is one of the most traditional, and it adds a porky, funky depth to the beans that’s hard to beat; bacon ups the ante even more by layering in a smoky flavor; vegetable oil keeps things neutral so you can really enjoy the flavor of the beans and the aromatics; and butter is decadent and rich without being overpowering.

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