Refried Beans {Instant Pot or Crockpot}

September 27, 2018

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These Refried Beans are a staple recipe! They have a perfectly creamy texture and a delicious crave-able flavor. They’ll likely remind you of the refried beans you get at your favorite Mexican restaurants.

And since they’re made in Instant Pot or Crockpot they couldn’t be easier (plus there’s no tending to them as they cook).

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Refried beans are a very common side dish in Mexican cuisine. They’re usually made with pinto beans and the process usually consists of simmering pre-soaked beans until cooked through, then most of the excess liquid is drained and beans are mashed to a creamy consistency.

Then from there beans are fried in oil or lard with onion, garlic and spices. Here we simplify that process quite a bit they’ll taste equally as good.

With these two methods (Crockpot or Instant Pot) there’s no pre-soaking required. There’s no tending to beans, monitoring liquid level and stirring while cooking.

And there’s no frying after mashing, the bacon fat (or butter) is just stirred right in.

Refried Beans

What Ingredients do I Need for Refried Beans?

  • 2 tsp bacon drippings or olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 (32 oz) carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 3/4 cups (1.5 lbs) pinto beans, rinsed well and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings*
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use medium), then more for serving if desired

Ingredients for Refried Beans

How to Make Refried Beans in the Instant Pot

  • Select “saute” mode on the instant pot. Once the front label reads “hot” add olive oil and onion and saute 3 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Select “cancel” to turn saute setting off.
  • Pour in chicken broth and water and season with salt and pepper (for now I go with 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper then I add quite more at the end when mashing).
  • Cover instant pot, make sure valve is set to “sealing” position. Select “manual” mode and adjust time to 50 minutes.
  • Once time is up let pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes then open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
  • Set a large bowl in the sink then set a colander over it. Carefully pour beans into colander (be careful of steam!).
  • Return drained beans to the bowl of the instant pot add in bacon drippings, cumin and chili powder.
  • Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash beans to desired texture, while adding in reserved broth about 1/4 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.
  • Stir in cheddar, let melt through and serve warm topped with more cheddar if desired.

Refried Beans Refried Beans Refried Beans

How to Make Refried Beans in the Crockpot

  • First you’ll start by sautéing the onion and garlic in a skillet then add that to a large (6 or 7 quart) slow cooker.
  • Rinse the beans and drain then add the beans to the slow cooker. Pour in the water and broth, season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook on high heat for 8 – 9 hours.
  • Set a large bowl in the sink then set a colander over it. Carefully pour beans into colander (be careful of steam!).
  • Return drained beans to the bowl of the slow cooker. Add in bacon drippings, cumin and chili powder.
  • Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash beans to desired texture, while adding in reserved broth about 1/4 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.
  • Stir in cheddar, let melt through and serve warm topped with more cheddar if desired.

Refried Beans Refried Beans Refried Beans

What is the Best Kind of Fat to Use Here?

I’ve made refried beans with butter, olive oil, lard and bacon fat.

Which is the winner? I’d say bacon fat. But it’s not something you might always have on hand so butter is a good choice too.

For a healthier alternative you can use olive oil but skip the lard. It’s pretty flavorless.

How do You Get Bacon Drippings?

Almost every single time I cook bacon I save the rendered fat for cooking. You can use it to saute breakfast potatoes or cabbage, it makes a delicious salad dressing, it adds richness and flavor to pasta dishes, and it’s perfect for these refried beans.

To get the rendered fat I usually bake bacon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil in a 400 degree oven until cooked through then I transfer the bacon to paper towels and I let the bacon drippings cool a bit.

Once slightly cool I transfer the fat to an airtight container and store in the fridge for a week. For longer shelf life strain through cheesecloth to get rid of the browned bits.

Refried Beans

Not Just a Side Dish

This is my favorite refried beans recipe. It’s the one I turn to again and again because my whole family loves them!

And not only do we eat them as a side dish but I love adding them to things like nachos or burritos.

For burritos I fill large flour tortillas (this kind here) with beans and cheese then wrap and freeze.

We then reheat them in the microwave for a few minutes (one a time, wrapped in a damp paper towel) or I let them thaw then fry (in about 1/2-inch of oil a few minutes per side) for a bean and cheese chimichanga. So good!

More Mexican Recipes You Might Like

 

Refried Beans
5 from 4 votes

Refried Beans

These are my favorite refried beans! I love to make them in the Instant Pot because it's fast but they work great in the Crockpot too. This is one of those recipes everyone in the family will request again and again.
Servings: 14
Prep10 minutes
Cook50 minutes
Pressure time25 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil or bacon drippings (for sauteing)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 (32 oz) carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 3/4 cups (1.5 lbs) pinto beans, rinsed well and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings* or butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use medium), then more for serving if desired

Instructions

Instant Pot Method

  • Select saute mode on the instant pot. Once the front label reads "hot" add olive oil and onion and saute 3 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Select "cancel" to turn saute setting off.
  • Pour in chicken broth, water and pinto beans. Season with salt and pepper (for now I go with 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper then I add quite more at the end when mashing).
  • Cover instant pot, make sure valve is set to "sealing" position. Select "manual" mode and adjust time to 50 minutes.
  • Once time is up let pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes then open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
  • Set a large bowl in the sink then set a colander over it. Carefully pour beans into colander (be careful of steam!). Reserve broth.
  • Return drained beans to the bowl of the instant pot add in bacon drippings, cumin and chili powder.
  • Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash beans to desired texture, while adding in reserved broth about 1/4 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.
  • Stir in cheddar and let melt through then serve warm with more cheddar on top if desired.

Slow Cooker Method (9 Hours Total Time)

  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Transfer mixture to a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker.
  • Rinse the beans and drain then add the beans to the slow cooker. Pour in the water and broth (if your slow cooker generally looses a lot of moisture while cooking I might add an extra 1 cup water).
  • Cover and cook on high heat for 8 - 9 hours until softened through.
  • Set a large bowl in the sink then set a colander over it. Carefully pour beans into colander (be careful of steam!) Reserve broth.
  • Return drained beans to the bowl of the slow cooker. Add in bacon drippings, cumin and chili powder.
  • Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash beans to desired texture, while adding in reserved broth about 1/4 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.
  • Stir in cheddar, let melt through and serve warm topped with more cheddar if desired. 

Notes

*I get these from cooking a 1 lb. package of bacon in the oven on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Scrape excess fat into a glass container and refrigerate up to one week.
Nutrition Facts
Refried Beans
Amount Per Serving
Calories 255 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 256mg11%
Potassium 767mg22%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 110IU2%
Vitamin C 4.4mg5%
Calcium 126mg13%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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28 Comments

  • Vicky

    Hi Jaclyn
    We had these beans tonight for the first time with your grilled chicken street tacos which we have had before and love and I would like to make bean burritos with the leftovers. Do you cook your tortilla land tortillas first and then fill with beans and cheese or fill them uncooked

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Cook those raw Tortilla Land tortillas first then fill. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe Vicky!

  • Mia Martin

    I love these beans! Just curious how much salt and pepper you add at the end. And also how much of the reserved bean juice do you usually use? Thank you.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry I haven’t ever measured exactly how much of any. I just keep adding a ladleful of the reserved liquid until the consistency is where I like it. Plus as they rest they always need more. Then as far as salt and pepper it is pretty generous. I’ll try to remember to measure next time to give you a better idea. I’m glad you love them :)!

  • Sheri Vanino

    This recipe is fabulous. Made homemade tortillas to go with it. Whole family loved it.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Glad to know your family loved them Sheri! I too love these with homemade tortillas, the best!

  • Sheri

    If you happened to have soaked your beans overnight….do you think it would be the same amount of cooking time? Thanks

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Unfortunately without testing I couldn’t say by how much time but yes the time should be reduced a bit if using presoaked.

      • Sheri Vanino

        So it came out great but was just a little runny. Probably due to the pre-soak mistake. Next time I will do without the pre-soak because it was YUMMIE.

  • Amy Kaufman

    Hi Jaclyn! Do you know if I can use canned pinto beans instead and what the time conversion would be? I just happen to have quite a few on hand. Thanks as always! Amy

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      With canned it would be a different method and ratios since the beans are already cooked, I’d recommend trying something like this.

      • Amy Kaufman

        I was looking at that recipe online, but I always turn to yours first when possible. Thanks for the tip!

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          I love to hear that Amy, I hope you continue to trust and enjoy my recipes!

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