Refried beans

Refried beans

Refried beans are easy and better from scratch.


  • 1 lb dried pinto beans
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 0.5 tsp chipotle or ancho chili powder
  • about 3 drops of liquid smoke, optional
  • half a white onion, finely chopped
  • half a bell pepper, finely chopped, optional
  • a couple cloves of garlic (about 2 tbsp minced)
  • a couple tablespoons of oil for refrying them at the end (vegetable oil or rendered bacon fat)
  • salt to taste


  1. Put everything in a big pot, except oil and salt. Save those for the end.
  2. Bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for a few hours until the beans are done. Add water as needed to keep them covered by an inch or two of water. Enjoy the beans now if you’d like.
  4. When ready to refry, separate the beans from the bean broth with a strainer. Reserve both. Put about a quarter of the beans into another dish to mix in at the end.
  5. Put the oil in the bottom of a wide pot or skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the beans and enough broth to barely cover them. Mash the beans with the spatula against the side of the pot and prevent any from scorching onto the bottom of the pot. Keep stirring and smashing, adding bean broth as needed, until you get to the consistency you want.
  6. Stir in the reserved beans at the end. Serve.


  • The easy variations here is to mess with the type and amount of chili powder. Use hatch chilis instead for a nice southwest flavor. Ancho chilis are great and a bit more mild than the chipotle chilis. Use a quarter teaspoon instead for kids and those who really don’t like spicy foods.
  • No need to pre-soak the beans, but it can take most of a day to simmer.