Simple Refried Beans

October 4, 2014

I have made refried beans from scratch before, and it’s only about 25 minutes of work (but spread over 24 hours). When compared to a canned refried beans, the difference is like night-and-day. This time I followed Chris Kimball advise, and abandoned my dried pinto beans in favor of canned whole beans. Overall, the dried beans require overnight soaking, but are only a few minutes more work. The ingredient list in today’s beans is shorter, and the bacon (in lieu of salt pork) is a more convenient ingredient; not requiring an extra trip to the supermarket. Still, I would recommend adding a few of spices to improve the simple flavor; it doesn’t add any extra effort. The simple recipe as written is 3-stars.

Easy refried beans

Easy refried beans


  1. When compared to this other recipe, I would recommend adding any of the following ingredients that you happened to have available:
    -Substitute 1/4-cup chicken stock for the 1/4 cup water.
    -1 minced jalapeno chile, seeded. (added with the onions)
    -1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (added with the garlic)
    -1/2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves (added at the end)
    -1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (added at the end)
    -A little crumbled queso fresco or grated jack or mozzarella cheese.
  2. I was a little worried about using a metal potato mashed in my non-stick skillet, but the beans are thick enough to the potato masher never touches the pan.
  3. I made these refried beans as part of my Mexican Feast.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $2.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2 slices bacon
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
15-oz can pinto beans (do not rinse)
1/4 cup water
Kosher salt

  1. Cook two slices of bacon in a 10″ non-stick skillet over medium-low burner for about 8 to 9 minutes; flipping bacon and rearranging as necessary so that it cooks evenly.
  2. Meanwhile finely chop your onion, and peel your garlic cloves.
  3. After the bacon has rendered it’s fat and has crisped, remove it to a paper towel to soak up any extra fat. Chris Kimball says to “reserve for another use”, but I crumbled it on top of the finished beans.
  4.  Turn up burner to medium, and saute the chopped onion in the bacon fat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until it lightly browns. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Empty the canned beans (including their liquid) and 1/4 cup of water into the skillet with the onions. Bring up to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, while mashing the beans with a potato masher until it becomes mostly smooth
  6. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

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