Homemade, Lard-Free Refried Beans

Make refried beans at home that tastes like from your favorite Mexican restaurant. This simple lard-free refried beans recipe is perfect to serve as a side dish, for dips, burritos, enchilladas and quesadillas.



I love beans and lentils in all forms. They are versatile, inexpensive, and an excellent source of lean protein, fiber, and many other nutrients. If you have not made refried beans at home, this is your reminder to do so. Refried beans comes from the Spanish word, “refritos” meaning “well fried” where cooked pinto beans are typically cooked in lard along with onions, serrano/jalapeno peppers, and salt. Instead of lard, I am using olive oil to cook refried beans so it is vegetarian and heart healthy.

You can cook dried pinto beans (or black beans) using a stock pot method, pressure cooker, or a slow cooker. If you are short on time, canned pinto or black beans can be used as well.




It is best to rinse and soak dried beans overnight as it cuts down the cooking time and cook beans evenly. Additionally, soaking beans removes phytic acids, which can cause digestive issues like gas and bloatedness. Phytic acids are also considered anti-nutrients, meaning it can prevent our body from absorbing minerals found in beans like phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.





 Refried beans can be made in a large batch and used throughout the week or frozen for later use. If the refried beans look dry, add little water while reheating them. Some ideas to enjoy refried beans:

  • Spread refried beans over tortilla or bread and top it with eggs and hot sauce

  • Make a dip

  • Use it on nachos

  • Filling for tacos, quesadillas, enchillada, burrito

  • As a side dish with rice and protein


I am sharing a recipe with 2 cups dry pinto beans but you can easily scale up or scale down the quantity and adjust seasoning to your liking. If using canned beans, you can follow the same cooking instructions except you will skip the soaking/cooking dried beans.

Homemade, Lard-Free Refried Beans


2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or if you are able to find Mexican herb – epazote)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, (1 halved, another one chopped)
fresh water or water used to cook beans, about 2 cups
salt, to taste
1 fresh jalapeno, pinch of cumin powder and 1 garlic clove, minced (optional, I personally like it)


  1. Rinse and soak beans overnight. Change the water and cook beans either using pressure cooker, slow cooker, or stove top method. Cooking time will vary according to you cooking method. Add one halved onion, oregano, and a pinch of salt to the pot with beans while cooking. I’d recommend adding small pinch of baking soda to cook/soften beans faster.

    1. Stove top method takes 1.5-2 hours but may vary based on the beans (how old or new) you have.

    2. Pressure cooker method takes 30-35 minutes; make sure to naturally release the pressure from the cooker completely before opening the pot.

    3. Slow cooker takes 6-8 hours to cook beans

  2. Once the beans are cooked, strain them and keep aside. Reserve the cooking water.

  3. Heat oil in a sautee pan and cook until translucent, 2-3 minutes. If using, minced garlic, and chopped japaleno, sautee them with onions. Add drained, cooked beans and add about 1/2 cup of reserved water from cooking beans. Reduce the heat to low and use a potato masher or back of the wooden spoon to mash beans into puree.

  4. Season with cumin powder (optional) and salt to taste. Add more water only if needed to get desired creamy consistency.

  5. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days or freeze it for later use.

Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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