Bring the Fiesta Home! – Shelf Cooking

There’s No Cheaper Way Than This To Store Dried Foods For Long Term.
There’s No Cheaper Way Than This To Store Dried Foods For Long Term.

This homemade refried beans recipe is so good, it’ll have you humming mariachi tunes. Fix them as a delicious Mexican side dish, use them in burritos, or mix with ground meat to make it stretch! This dirt-cheap staple is a MUST for any shelf cooking kitchen.

refried beans in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

Drop that can of refried beans… seriously, DROP it! This homemade refried beans recipe is SO much better, cheaper, and yields way more. All you need is a handful of ingredients you probably already have and 20 quick minutes and you’ll be feeling like you’re in a Mexican restaurant in no time!

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Not only are beans one of the cheapest, most nutrient dense staples you can buy… paired with rice, they make a complete protein for a perfect meatless meal. Don’t have exactly what this refried beans recipe call for? That’s ok! We’ll show you how to use what you DO have to make the most delectable refried beans you’ve ever tasted!


Picture this… you reach into your pantry to make these yummy homemade refried beans only to find out you don’t have any pinto beans! Don’t panic!! Calmly grab black beans, kidney beans, or really ANY kind of beans you have and continue on your merry way! Crisis averted.

While this recipe calls for canned beans, you can easily make your own from dried. In fact, we suggest it! Not only will you have enough beans for this recipe, you will have extra to freeze for later use. Shelf cooking WIN!

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That’s not the only swap this recipe allows. Substitute any kind of broth or stock in place of the vegetable stock. (Try this easy chicken broth substitution!) In fact… you can even use water in a pinch!


pinto beans in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

If you want to make your refried beans from dried beans, you will want to plan ahead as this will take extra time. There are two ways to cook dried beans—the old-fashioned way on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot!

Start by sorting the beans to remove any foreign objects, like little rocks. (You definitely don’t want to bite into that!) If you are cooking your beans on the stovetop, continue with the direction on the back of the bag for best results. This method involves soaking and cooking the beans. It takes hours, so make sure you plan for this. Once the beans are finished and tender, use 3.5 cups of cooked beans and proceed with the recipe below!


If you want to skip the wait and still have delicious, made from scratch refried beans, pull out that magical Instant Pot. This method cooks the dried beans SO QUICK. Plus… you don’t have to soak them beforehand! Here’s how you do it.

Put 1 pound of dried pinto beans in your Instant Pot with 8 cups of water. Set to high pressure for 25 minutes. When the time is finished, let the pressure naturally release for 20 minutes before doing a quick release. Use 3.5 cups of your cooked beans in place of the canned and continue with the refried beans recipe below!

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If you are using a different type of bean to make your refried beans, the time may vary. Here is a list of beans and their cook time for the Instant Pot.

  • Pinto Beans – 25 Minutes
  • Black Beans – 30 Minutes
  • Kidney Beans – 35 Minutes
  • Chickpeas – 40 Minutes
  • Navy Beans – 30 Minutes
  • Great Northern Beans – 35 Minutes

All of these times are intended for the High Pressure Instant Pot setting. Let all types of beans naturally release for 20 minutes for best results. No matter which type you’re using, you’ll get mouth-watering results!


nachos on a plate, from Shelf Cooking

Refried beans are traditionally a Mexican dish and pair well with just about any Hispanic or Latin food you can think of. Make them as a side dish for enchiladas, steak quesadillas or throw them in the mix of your copycat Cafe Rio bowl. See? So versatile!

Not only do these beans pair well with other dishes, they can even stand on their own two feet and be the star of the dish themselves. Simply serve over a bed of rice for a surprisingly tasty meal that literally costs pennies! Add in a few sautéed bell peppers and a little cilantro and BAM… a ridiculously cheap rice bowl that will satisfy any hunger.


Refried beans will keep in the fridge for about 3-5 days and make great leftovers for a quick lunch or snack. Spread on a few tortilla chips and top with cheese for some EASY microwave nachos. Yum!

The beans will thicken as they sit in the fridge, so add a little water or broth to thin them out a bit when you reheat. The BEST way to reheat refried beans is in a skillet, stirring on low until warm, but you can also heat them in the microwave in a pinch. If you do use the microwave, heat in intervals and stir frequently so they get warm throughout.

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These refried beans freeze SO well! Freeze them in quart-sized freezer bags in portion sizes you will use. Make sure you get all the air out to prevent freezer burn. (Check out more ways to prevent freezer burn here!) Beans last about 6 months in the freezer and are great for whipping out to have a last-minute burrito bowl or easy side dish!


Ready for the easiest recipe on the planet???

refried beans in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

Homemade Refried Beans



  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil or butter in a pan and saute the onion and garlic until fragrant and onions are clear.
  • Add in beans, seasonings, and vegetable stock and heat until warm.
  • Once warm, remove from heat. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash your beans. If you like them super smooth, use a blender.
  • Add in the remaining tablespoon of oil or butter and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice.
  • Garnish with cilantro and ENJOY!


These delicious homemade refried beans are so yummy and SO easy on the wallet, too. Full of healthy nutrients, this is a meal even your kids will love and one you can feel good about serving them! What is your favorite way to enjoy refried beans? Tell us in the comments below!

refried beans with cheese in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

Check out these other delicious recipes, too!

  • Pair these homemade refried beans with some delicious tacos using this homemade taco seasoning recipe!
  • Try this smoked salmon bagel for a healthy and EASY lunch in a pinch!
  • Make this easy fruit salad with cool whip for a delicious healthy-ish dessert!


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