How to Make Refried Beans From Scratch

Trust me when I say that making your own refried beans is a game changer. The process is 100 percent worth the effort

Follow this step-by-step recipe to make refried beans at home

Some things are just better when they’re made from scratch—and making something with your own two hands provides such satisfaction. When you cook from scratch, you know exactly what ingredients go into your meals, and it offers you the flexibility to adjust your recipe for dietary or taste preferences.

You may have noticed a pattern in my recipes over the last few months. I made queso fresco for tacos, which inspired me to make my own refried beans, which inspired me to make my own tortillas. I wanted to give you all the options to create tacos from start to finish. And trust me when I say that making your own refried beans is a game changer—there will be no more cans for me. The process is 100 percent worth the effort


  • 2 cups dry pinto beans (you can also use black beans if you prefer them)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp lard, oil or bacon fat
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Fresh epazote (substitute with fresh oregano if you can’t find this Mexican herb)
  • 1/2 tsp each dried cumin and oregano (optional)


  1. To make your own queso fresco and tortillas, follow the links.
  2. Rinse the beans. Remove any unwanted pieces or debris, and place in a pot or bowl. Cover with water, cover and soak overnight. (You can also speed up the process by soaking the beans in boiling water for a while first, but I prefer to soak them overnight).
  3. After soaking, drain the beans then put them back into the pot. Fill the pot with water two inches above the beans.
  4. Peel and quarter the onion and add to the pot with the beans. Add in the fresh herbs (or a bundle of the dried ones), and a pinch or two of salt. (You can also add in cloves of garlic here.)
  5. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour, giving it an occasional stir. After an hour, check the beans to see if they are cooked, and if not, continue to cook them, checking frequently until they are very tender.
  6. Making sure to retain the bean water, drain the beans, removing the onion and herbs.
  7. In a large skillet or cast-iron pan (make sure there is lots of room), heat the lard/bacon fat or oil (oil to make it vegan) until simmering over medium-high heat.
  8. Add in the garlic, and cook for a minute, then add the spices and beans. If desired, you can also chop some of the onion and add it in here as well.
  9. Cook in the pan, stirring and smashing as you go (a potato masher would be helpful here, or you can use a fork).
  10. Add the bean water until you get the texture you desire. If you prefer a very smooth refried bean, you can also use an immersion blender once you’re done cooking.
  11. Taste the beans for seasoning, adding more salt, cumin and herbs as desired.
  12. Keep warm and serve on tortillas with your desired toppings. (I made a lime crema, and added some cilantro and the queso fresco.)