Side dish Tex-Mex

Refried beans recipe: a life pursuit

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I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and it was filled with a heaping serving of refried beans. OK, the spoon may not have been exactly silver, but ever since I can remember, refried beans have been my favorite food. When my parents were young and still in college, we often ate at Pancho’s because kids got free rice and beans. And since I was too young to take umbrage at eating what was essentially poor-people food, I fell in love with the refried beans—the texture, the flavor, the way they filled my mouth and belly with a luscious, toothsome bite of beany goodness. I craved them all the time. Even today, while I enjoy the food that sits in between the rice and beans on your typical Tex-Mex plate, I still eat the beans first and regard everything else as secondary. I’ve even been known to order an extra plate of refried beans just to satisfy my desire.

Some of my favorite refried beans on the planet are served at Las Manitas in downtown Austin, TX. This café is known for its breakfasts, but I could care less about anything but the beans. I recommended the restaurant to my buddy Christine when she made a recent trip to Austin, emphasizing she must try the beans. And as she noted, they did not disappoint. I always suspected they make their dreamy beans by using bacon grease, and after a quick call to the restaurant my hunch was confirmed. The lovely woman I spoke with did not give me a recipe per se. But she did share with me her technique, which is very simple. Just fry up some bacon, remove the cooked meat, throw your beans in the pot and mash away. This is how I’ve long made mine, and I was pleased that I had been doing it correctly all along. And while many others may use lard for making their refried beans, which also makes them soft and smooth, I prefer to use bacon grease because it has that added smoky flavor.

refried beans | Homesick Texan

Robb Walsh has called refried beans the mashed potatoes of Tex-Mex and he’s correct. They are our comfort, our staple and our necessity. You can’t have a Tex-Mex meal without them. For me, they are the foundation of every great plate. This blog was even founded on that principle—my pursuit of good refried beans. I dare not say great, however, because that’s usually too much to ask. But even with my standards slightly lowered, I still rarely find delicious—let alone sublime— refried beans here in the Northeast.

I chalk that up to people trying to be healthy. While you can make a decent batch of refried beans fried in peanut oil, the only way you will achieve the finest refried beans is to fry them up in pig fat. And since so many people have an aversion to porcine products, this crucial step is usually omitted. But as I’ve so often discovered, spice and care is lacking as well, leaving you with a soupy, tasteless brown pile of mush. So I don’t want to put off the heart-healthy or vegetarians out there—you can fry them in peanut oil and add enough onions, garlic and spices to give them a good flavor. But if you want that memorable and authentic bite, it’s best to go with bacon grease or lard.

Besides refried beans being one of the first foods I put in my mouth, I had a recent revelation as to another reason why I am so enamored with them. Have a look at this picture:

This is a typical West Texas vista. Look closely at the ground. Does it bring to mind anything? Do you see it? To me, it has the color and texture of refried beans. So it’s little wonder I love refried beans so much—it reminds me of the rich soil my state rests upon. They are an edible embodiment of Texas, both our foundation and our heart—a staple and a necessity indeed!

So I’m off to Texas in a few days and while my time there may be short, I plan on indulging in a fair share of my favorite foods. And I’ll raise my fork to you, dear readers, for joining me as I muse on life, love and, of course, the pursuit of good refried beans.

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5 from 6 votes

Refried beans

Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 pound salt pork slit with a knife
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, whole
  • 4 slices uncooked bacon
  • 1/2 cup medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  1. Place the beans in a large pot with the salt and cover with 2 inches of water. You can either soak them overnight or do a quick soak by bringing to a boil and then turning off the heat and letting them sit for an hour.

  2. After soaking, add to the pot the half onion in the pot and the salt pork. Bring beans to a boil, cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

  3. The time it will take to cook the beans will depend on the freshness of the beans and the hardness of your water. If they’re not completely cooked after an hour, let them simmer a while longer until they’re done.
  4. Discard the salt pork and onion and then drain the beans, keeping 1/2 cup of the bean broth.
  5. Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-low heat, turning once, until crisp and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon and save for another use. 
  6. Leaving the bacon fat in the skillet, add the diced onion and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes or until softened, then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  7. Add the drained cooked beans into the skillet, adding 1/4 cup of the bean broth. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding more bean broth for desired moisture. Keep stirring the mashed beans in the bacon fat until the texture is a chunky paste. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

You can substitute 1/4 cup of lard for the bacon grease. Or you can use 1/4 cup of peanut oil. If you don’t want to cook a pot of beans, 2 (15-ounce) cans of cooked pintos can be used instead.

  1. yummy! Your post is giving me the idea to use the ham bone that is my freezer to make some beans.

  2. I hope your visit hits us on a sunny day, hon. right now West Texas is getting hammered with rain and high winds. Thankfully we missed that when we went to Dallas over the weekend, but it’s rather nasty outside my windows right now.

    I’m going to be giving that refried beans recipe a try next week as well. It looks wonderful!

  3. christine (myplateoryours)

    Yay for you! Bacon fat — of course. You are right that it is the warm and almost buttery mouth-feel that makes beans like those at Las Manitas so good. Fabulous!

  4. oooooh…. I bet refried black beans are gooooood. I’ve never been a fan of brown beans, of any sort. No refried or boston baked for me. But black beans, now we’re talkin’! I can’t imagine what the real difference is, other than color. But enough about me… Have a really good trip home! Take lots of wonderful pictures!

  5. If I want to do it veggie style, any other advice? I could go with peanut oil, possibly pump up the garlic or onion, but what other spices? I’ve also go liquid smoke… I could try a touch of that… hrm… Just curious what would make something better than what Rosarita can dump out of a can.

  6. class factotum

    Doesn’t everyone keep a jar of bacon grease in her fridge?

  7. I never noticed that the color of refried beans is the color of Texas soil! How cool is that?!

  8. Dropping in from the lurking planet to say, Ari, the best veggie sub for bacon’s smokiness that I’ve found so far is smoked paprika. It’s good stuff!

  9. You are SO RIGHT about the beans (and everything else too) DAMN it’s hard to stay on my diet! And I don’t know how you’re not 450 pounds…

  10. Hey Homesick Texan! I’m with on the whole refried bean thing. Love ’em. Enjoyed your post – you have a beautiful blog.


  11. How ignorant of me. All this time I assumed my all-consuming passion for refried beans was mine and mine alone. How relieved I am to find I’m wrong!

    Bob Bullock used to gripe about the state of our state’s beans, saying 99 out of every 100 Texas women couldn’t cook a bean to save their life. Guess Bob never met you, huh?

    Thanks for the recipe, and more importantly, the method. The weather’s a little stormy, but great here in Texas. Hope you enjoy the weather… and your trip!


  12. Anonymous

    For those of us who don’t have real butchers, only what the not-upscale, chain grocery store puts out for us, what is salt pork and what should I use if I can’t get it?

  13. Freya and Paul

    Have a wonderful time in Texas! We can’t wait to read about your foodie adventures!!

  14. anonymous,

    Salt pork is the same cut as bacon, just salt cured. It should be available in most grocery stores in the ethnic section of the meat aisle. I know it’s available in both Texas and California. (Try Albertsons, I know for a fact that Vons and Safeway sell the stuff, if you’ve got them in your area)

  15. Hi Lisa–I made your beans (with the canned variety, this being a work night and all) and homemade flour tortillas last evening for some pressure-cooker pork tacos. They beans were super porky and delicious and the tortillas were a huge hit!

    • Polly McDonald

      I am 12 years late to this party, but if you’ve never had the refried beans at El Chaparral in Helotes, Texas, you are missing out on one of life‘s greatest culinary achievements. I’ve never even been to this restaurant in Austin and yet, I can say with confidence El Chaparral has the best refried beans, not just in Texas—but anywhere. You must try them.

      • Lisa Fain

        Polly–I have a friend who also loves El Chaparral so next time I’m that way I’ll definitely going to visit. Thank you for the recommendation!

  16. Lisa Fain

    Peri–A ham bone is great for putting in a pot of beans.

    Jerry–I hope it’s sunny as well, but even if it’s not, warmer weather will be welcome.

    Christine–Yay for bacon fat! And thank you for inspiring me to give Las Manitas a call.

    Ann–Refried black beans are also amazing. Give it a try.

    Ari–Liquid smoke could work and Meegan below mentions smoked paprika, which Luisa, the Wednesday Chef, has also touted as a terrific veggie bacon substitute. And canned beans straight of the can just taste weird to me, though you can also doctor them up with spices.

    Class Factotum–I certainly do but I don’t think everyone does.

    Lydia–I think I’m a bit obsessed to come up with that comparison, but I also think it’s very cool!

    Brin–I’m so glad you’re not alone! Great Bob Bullock quote!

    Meegan–Thanks for the tip…I’ve been hearing wonderful things about the flavor of smoked paprika!

    Luna–Well, I may not be 450 pounds, but this blog has certainly made my jeans a bit tighter!

    Karina–Thank you!

    Anon–Jerry answers your question below, and he’s right, I’ve seen it in the meat section of chain stores here…if they have hambones, the usually have salt pork. But if you can’t find it, you can just omit it or throw a couple of slices of bacon in the pot.

    Freya and Paul–Thank you! Hopefully I’ll have Internet access!

    Jerry–Thanks for the explanation and tips on where to buy it.

    Sarah–Hurrah! I’m so pleased they were a hit!

  17. Hi Lisa! Wow, these look wonderful – I love, love, love refried beans… and I bet they would be fabulous in your delicious flour tortillas!

    Enjoy Texas!

  18. i love refried beans. i haven’t had anything tex-mex in a while. i need to make this recipe. thanks for posting it. i love how you can take something i generally dont think two seconds about and make me crave it and even overanalyze my feelings for it. i always just thought refried beans were something for taco dip out of the can… i’ll have to go sans meat on this one though — hope i can still get the true feel.

    i once had a close friend from TX tell me we could never marry, based on my veg status and the fact that i don’t eat BBQ. he claims it’s a religion there.

  19. Tex,

    No luck with the Czech embassy. I had a friend in NYC contact them and she said they weren’t much help. She spoke directly to the Trade Consul and she was given the impression this dude was into playing foreign diplomat “James Bond style” rather than help foster good relationships through the power of pastry. Oh well, you will get through this.

    BTW, thanks for being a gracious blog host. I think your readers appreciate the personal replies and proves you value our comments.

  20. Caroline

    Yeah! Thank you for the bean recipe… just what I have been looking for!

  21. I could not get this blog entry out of my brain since reading it. So in honor of the post, we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant here and instead of rice we had… refried beans. I just love them! I might have to try this recipe so I can have them more often!

  22. Thank you.

    I cannot tell you how long I’ve been wanting to read about refried beans and even more, have a truly authentic recipe for refried beans.

    I cannot wait to try this.

  23. Lisa Fain

    Gilly–They are indeed perfect in flour tortillas! With lots of salsa!

    Linda–BBQ is a religion in Texas, but believe it or not I have Texan friends who are vegetarians. Of course, BBQ tofu just doesn’t taste the same as brisket. But if you add enough spices, vegetarian refried beans can be just as tasty.

    Tommy–What a sweet thing to say! You’re very welcome, it’s my pleasure. That’s a shame, however about the Czech embassy. Oh well.

    Caroline–You’re welcome. Enjoy!

    Vickie–I often do that myself, order double refried beans instead of rice. They’re sooooo good!

    Ivonne–You’re welcome! We’ll make a Southern Belle out of you yet!

  24. wheresmymind

    *sigh* I wish my wife liked bacon

  25. Texas Chef

    You are soooo right !!! I only go to Tex-Mex restaurants for the rice and beans. I usually ask for extra beans and when I get my plate I start shifting beans to rice and mix then thoroughly and add a big spoon or two of the salsa that there for the chips. I can even eat canned refried beans 🙂 even tho they are made with “shortening” instead of the real thing LARD – good ole Mexican rendered lard is the beat. TEXAS CHEF

  26. Ooh, I’ve never had them homemade… I want to try now. But where do I find salt pork?

  27. As I am the proud owner of a giant , apparently bottomless sack of beauteous dried Dove Creek Pintos, I am all over this recipe. Garrett- they have salt pork at the supermarket- even here in Pittsburgh-check by the bacon.

  28. If you ever make it back down to Texas come out to the panhandle region. Leal’s is the best place to eat Mexican food. You are right refried beans are the best.

  29. …and i thought this was a well-known ingredient. in south san antonio, we use lard and bacon — lard for creaminess and the bacon fat for the subtle punch of flavor left on the palate. i’m in japan, so the only good refried beans i find are in my kitchen. thanks for the memories.

  30. Lisa Fain

    Wheresmymind–Oh that’s so sad your wife doesn’t like bacon. Sooooo sad!

    Texas Chef–Good ole Mexican-rendered lard is indeed the best!

    Garrett–As Lindy says, you can find it near the bacon or perhaps in the meat section.

    Lindy–Dove Creek Pintos? Very cool! I love the markings on them, they remind me of the Southwest.

    Moms64–My Amarillo friends are always singing Leal’s praises…I need to make a trip out there!

    B–You’re welcome! I love Japanese food, but sometimes you want a taste of home.

  31. Your mention of Las Manitas in Austin brought back wonderful memories. Great refried beans and more all served up with a side of refreshingly socially-aware politics.

    Sadly the restaurant may soon be gone and the site will be a tiny part of the new downtown Marriott Hotel. I don’t put links on other people’s blogs but if you do a search you can read all about it.

    You have such a great site. Thank you.

  32. Hurray for bacon fat! I’ve always noticed that the best tasting canned refried beans list lard as an ingredient.

    I’ve never tried making my own refried pinto beans, but I’ve made refried black beans from time to time. Some olive oil, the beans, a little garlic, salt, and cumin. Oh and some hot sauce on top to perk it up (preferably Cholula which isn’t too vinegary).

  33. cookiecrumb

    Aw, jeez, don’t take umbrage at eating poor peoples’ food. Some of it is the best.
    We can’t all be puttin’ — what, snails? that sounds poor — in our mouths.

  34. I fell in love with Tex-Mex while I lived in that wonderful state, but I could never get into refried beans…possibly because I do not like beans 😛

    Ironically, I have just returned from a week in Dallas, and although I ate chicken fried steak twice I didn’t get any of the Tex Mex I had been craving. Then, I come back to London, go to a friend’s party at a Tex Mex restaurant…and order a chile relleno stuffed with mushrooms, jalapeno and monterey jack, coated with cornmeal and smothered in a spicy asado sauce. It was deeeeelish. And I was 5000 miles away from “Texico”!

  35. P.S. I even managed to eat some mouthfuls of the rather nice black beans it came with…

  36. nikkipolani

    I’ve always hated refried beans and got double helpings of rice whenever possible in rice and bean combinations at restaurants. Then I had home-made refried beans – what a difference it made! So I tried your recipe this weekend with great success (and a lot more added water). Thank you. 🙂

  37. The County Clerk

    Don’t know if you saw this, or if you follow the garden blogs at all as I do. But here’s a post of some Texan wildflowers that an Austin gardener put up. The images really touched me.

    I supsect you’ll enjoy it too.

  38. Jerry Allison

    So sad that Las Manitas maybe forced out of downtown Austin. The horror!

  39. I like refried beans but I don’t share your love for them. Definitely an afterthought for me. However reading this will have me paying more attention to the beans next time I have them, and perhaps appreciating them a little more.

  40. Lisa Fain

    Kenyo–I keep hearing about the impending closing of Las Manitas. Very sad!

    Callie–Hurray indeed! Lard makes them so smooth. And your refried black beans sound terrific!

    Cookiecrumb–Ha! You are so right, and don’t worry, I don’t take umbrage–I’m an equal opportunity eater which means I’ll eat anything!

    Olivia–I can’t believe you didn’t eat Tex-Mex when you were in Dallas! But good to hear you found a decent chile relleno in London. What’s the name of the restaurant?

    Hank–Thanks for the link! Beautiful!

    Nikkipolani–Excellent news! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe.

    Jerry–I know! Seriously, the people in Austin need to fight this one–Las Manitas is an institution!

    Julie–Give them a try–it may be an acquired taste, but for me they’re as comforting as mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.

  41. A friend of mine in Houston just pointed me to your blog after listening me complain about the lack of good salsa in San Francisco; I just moved here a few months ago from Austin.

    I’m wondering — have you have the Mr. Natural refried beans? I’ve always wondered how they make them so good and manage to stay vegetarian.

  42. I just returned from the Bay Area and was looking forward to eating some fine Mexican food, as we don’t have a multitude of Mexican restaurants here in Toronto.

    I have to tell you that I walked away kind of disappointed and feeling as though Toronto’s Mexican food scene ain’t so bad afterall.

    You would think that you could get a decent side of refried beans in an area with a high Latino population but is wasn’t to be.

    Everywhere I went , I was served soupy flavorless renditions. Absolutely unappetizing. Is this type of refried bean a style favoured by Northern Californians?

    I was so stoked after reading this post, but really disappointed by the slurry they call refried beans.

    Thought you might like to know.

  43. Lisa Fain

    Ellen–I’ve never heard of Mr. Natural refried beans…I’ll keep an eye out for them!

    Tommy–It’s been a few years since I’ve been there and I can’t recall the beans. I wouldn’t be surprised if most places didn’t use lard or bacon grease, though, it being such a health-conscious place.

  44. I can understand the issue about not using animal fat for flavoring, but these beans were so over processed that you had a hard time finding any remnants of the skin.It was pulverized. Not a trace of fiber to be seen. Heck they didn’t even give me gas.

    Someone needs to start a campaign for real refried beans in the Bay Area.

  45. Lisa Fain

    Tommy–Hmmm, I’ll have to check that out next time I’m in the Bay Area.

  46. kenneth.friend

    Well I eat Tex-Mex almost every day and it drives my wife crazy. In my search for an easy refried bean recipe I stumbled upon a can, yes a can, of super, incredible real, refried beans from Mexico by
    La Costena. It’s $1.99 for a 20 oz. can and only at Albertsons and worth every penny. Very authentic!

  47. Lisa Fain

    Thanks, Kenneth. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that brand.

  48. Another Homesick Texan

    Wow. Its funny how antivegetarian New York is. Even Texans that come to New York are saying they couldn’t marry a vegetarian.

    So ironic, the best vegetarian food I’ve had was in Texas. We have excellent vegetarian restaurants. Stephen Pyles even wrote a vegetarian cookbook.

    Shouldn’t be hard to imagine, Texas has much more land for farming than New York. Vegetables are expensive up here.. not so in Texas.

  49. Anonymous

    I love refried beans also. In addition to the onion add one tbs of minced garlic, 1 tbs of cumin, 1 smoked ham hock and four beef bullion cubes. I agree the lard is the way to go.

  50. Jeanette

    It’s so great to hear from another expatriot Texan that misses the beans. Of all things…it’s the beans that we miss! My husband and I recently made a trip to South Texas and just went bean crazy. That first bite nearly brought tears to my eyes. My grandmother used to make the best refried beans and has since been diagnosed with Alzhiemers. I couldn’t figure out the missing ingredient that made them so great. Sure enough, it was salt pork. I just wanted to say thank you for bringing something so simple, yet so cherished back into my life.

  51. Anonymous

    As another fellow homesick Texan in France, I can SO relate. My family sends me envelopes of dried refried beans, just add water and reheat and they are out of this world. That saves on shipping costs or room in your suitcase for your return visits. I am so happy to know that I’m not the only one who finds true comfort in refried beans!!

  52. I always opt for charro beans instead of refried beans because most places just use canned refried beans

  53. Hey Homesick,
    As a native West Texan, I can only sing my sorrows for you not having the good food we all love so much, at your fingertips on a whim! I had brisket by some mom and pop catering company (-J Catering I think…) that was the best I’ve ever had in my life! The Amarillo area has many secrets;-J, David’s Steakhouse, and my mom’s biscuts are just some of them! Hope y’all get back sooner than later!

  54. reviving the thread… I attempted a variant of a recipe described above. The beans came out well, with few minor issues to sort out, but one big one – my refried beans came out gray. Any suggestions?

    I actually cooked them twice, once in a cast iron pan and once in a non-stick, with the same result each time.

  55. Colorado bean lover

    Ok, so I completely related to your complete adoration of refried beans! If you are ever in Colorado Springs, the best beans can be found at Senor Manuels! Totally my addiction! I have considered these little tasty morsels my absolute comfort food for 30 years at least! Can’t wait to try out this recipe!

  56. Candace Prosser

    Once again, you speak my language…first it was the real Texas Nachos post and now real refried beans…man there really is no place like home when your craving chile rellenos and refried beans…especially here in blue crab land.

  57. James (J) Womack, Esq.

    Some time ago, a lady mentioned that a friend told her that in Texas, BBQ is something of a religion. I hate to disagree with a lady (no real Texas good ol’ boy would do something that rude), but I must say I believe her friend was wrong. BBQ is not a religion here.

    It’s much more serious than that.

    I have not done much traveling to the Northeast, but I can tell you that I have never found really good chicken fried steak or Tex-Mex outside of Texas. And that includes most of the Southern states and virtually every state west of Texas.

  58. Vixen5895

    ok you made me very hungery and i am going to be making them tonight

  59. Anonymous

    Salt Pork!…….you really are “Country” (And that’s ok!) I wouldn’t think of cooking beans without pork meat, be it salt pork, hambone, hamhock, or bacon. Thanks for some great insight.

  60. I'm planning to make this tomorrow. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

  61. I'm a Texan now in Canada. I was shocked a few weeks ago to see cans of whole pinto beans in the "mexican" aisle, almost all tostitos products, in my store. I decided to grab a can and attempt to make refried beans. I looked up a few recipes for tips and just closed the laptop and tried it. Cooked some bacon cut up bite size with some chopped onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and even a dash of oregano (which one site recommended), and of course topped with cheese. Man, it was sooo good. Made me feel like I was at home. The bacon really is the key to the flavor and the beans were even better the second day. The texture was more solidified. I'm very proud of my attempt and look forward to making more refried beans while away from home. If I can just master making the rice correctly. One day. Love your blogs, don't stop. Maybe a cookbook is in order. 🙂

  62. DirtyShame

    At a very young age, in the 50s, I worked with the guys from Mexico…When they made their refried beans, they didn't cook the beans until tender done..When the beans were about 3/4 done, still a little hard, they would smash the beans..This is still my favorite way..I prefer to smash them…just use the bottom of a can..for the traditional way…the beans will have a little crunchy texture and stay in a tortilla when when folded..anything they could wrap in a tortilla was called a taco..

  63. Just came across your blog, quite well done!
    I too have been searching for the method to recreate what I consider to be the best beans in Texas, namely Joe T Garcias in Fort Worth. Bacon grease IS the way!
    Getting ready to try your bolillo recipe, although they are cheap and plentiful here in Houston, I was gifted a bread machine and am having fun with it.
    Diana Barrios also has a no soak bean recipe using onion garlic and bacon grease that works well.
    Mucho Gusto!

  64. Rachael and Jamieson

    I just read this aloud to my three daughters(ages 18,16 and 10). We laughed and laughed as you perfectly described my middle child. You have made us all feel better about her addiction to refried beans!

  65. army_wife07

    Thank you so much for your blog!! I absolutely love mexican and tex-mex food and I am always looking for new recipes to try and ways to duplicate what I have eaten in TX. I also want to say that Las Manitas definitely, without a doubt, has some of the best beans ever. I am going to be driving through there in June to see my mom and had already planned on stopping in. Thanks again for taking your time to do this, I know I am not the only one who appreciates it!

  66. Anonymous

    Wow, I kind of thought that my family was the only ones that made trips to Pancho's for their cheap Mexican fixes. Brings back memories.

    If you ever wander over towards Lousiana, not too far across the state line is El Giro, a hole in the wall place in Leesville that serves the best refried beans I think I've had. Creamy, porky (I think they might use bacon and lard), garlicky goodness under a blanket of melted cheese. They also make a very good (red) salsa. Beans, salsa, and some chips or tortillas are I really need for a meal there.

  67. What a great recipe! I tried one in a crockpot, and it was disastrous…stumbled upon your blog, tried this recipe and WOW! A-MAZING! This is now my go to recipe for homemade refried beans. I doubled the batch and will be freezing some for later use. Served these with homemade Chilaquilles for the hubs on Father's Day.

  68. My mom used to fix pinto's and they ended up like this. Had the onion, peppers but with the xtra lard or mashing.

  69. Sharon Moorhead

    This was a very delightful read. Thanks for making me smile. I live all the way over in Russia and I also, have to have my refried beans, having lived in Dallas for awhile and California, as well, where the little "hole in the wall" is the best place to eat!

  70. Justin in Sacramento

    This is the first blog I have ever subscribed to. And my first post to a blog. I couldn't help it. As I perused your pages I fell in love with your recipe collection as well as your photos. I tried the refried beans today and they are awesome. Thanks and looking forward to more…..

  71. RobynBeazley

    Hands down the most AMAZING refried beans I've EVER had!! My husband (the cook of our house – who happens to be from Texas) discovered your recipe & I fell in love. Nearly an oxymoron – when you reference love & beans in the same sentence. Thanks for sharing Lisa – I'm trying my hands at this recipe on my own tonight 😉 Congrats on your upcoming cookbook too – look forward to getting a copy.

  72. Anonymous

    Love your refried bean story and the recipe that goes with it. Just what these two homesick Americans living in Finland needed! My daughter loves Tex-Mex food. You can buy tiny cans of refried beans at the supermarket here in Finland, but they're expensive. I was looking for a really good homemade recipe when I found your site. Looking forward to reading more of your blog and trying more of your recipes. Take care, Maureen and Emerald, two homesick Americans living in Finland.

  73. I am going to try this place in Austin to see how the best beans I have ever had at El Chaparral in Helotes TX (A few mins away from San Antonio) match up.

  74. Anonymous

    My only suggestion would be that you should heat the water that you put in the beans after you rinse them. This will actually make the beans even silkier, smoother. Using cold water to cook them in after soaking them, can make the skins tougher and thus less smashable!

    This is a great recipe and I love making pinto beans, whether I refry them or not!! I do not use pork in my beans anymore, but I have been known to add adobo peppers to them! yummy and smoky.

  75. I live in Laredo Tx, and a friend of mine brought me some Tamales and Refried Beans the other day ( I LOVE REFRIED does my daughter..who's nickname happens to be bean 🙂 )
    Anyway. The tamales were good, but the Beans..OMG the BEANS! best Beans I have EVER put in my mouth!!!

  76. Anonymous

    Frijoles. Sigh…I'm a bean lover (all kinds of legumes) & very late to this discussion.

    As a child, I always skipped the rice & asked for a double of the frijoles con queso.

    Don't get me wrong…I love rice, just not with my favorite Mexican food. But then, I was born and raised in southern AZ. My mother's family is south TX and my dad's family is from Cochise County, AZ.

    When you're poor, there's nothin' better than a big pot of beans. Add some cornbread (the South…and Texas), or flour tortillas, and you have a filling meal.

    I married into a Mexican family and I also learned a few secret tips (1950-'60s) from family friends who owned a coupla famous Mexican restaurants in Tucson. Char (burn it just a bit; not too much as you want smoky not burnt flavor) your bacon before adding the beans and mashing them (with a fork) in the fry pan.

    When lard (the best, I'll admit) became "verboten" and hard to find, mexican cooks searched for a substitute to its creamy flavor & texture. Not as good as lard, but buy yourself a small can of evaporated Carnation milk. Add as needed (a little at a time), til you get the flavor or texture you're seeking.

    If you can't find salt pork where you're living, just substitute fatty bacon and adjust your seasoning (add salt to taste).

  77. Hubby got all excited when I was getting my beans ready to cook, he thought we were having beans, as in "cornbread and" LOL. I said no, refried beans for the enchaladas, rice and guac I'm making for dinner.
    My system doesn't get along well with pinto beans anymore, so I order Anasazi beans several times a year from Adobe Milling in Colorado. I order 10# bags and divide them up into vacuum bags, seal and store in the freezer. I love these, they cook up looking just like Pintos, but in half the time. They are a little sweeter than Pintos as well and a lot easier on my system.
    I have my beans cooking now to make the refried beans for dinner. I'll store them in the fridge until I'm ready.
    And YES I do have a jar of bacon drippings in my fridge 🙂
    Dear Homesick Texan..ME TOO!! I dream about the Texas Gulf Coast and dinner at the border. I just HAVE to get back to my "Homeland" soon!!
    From yet another "Homesick Texan"

  78. I know this is an ancient post, but was so happy to run across it. I'm a Texan coming up on my 5th year in NJ and miss Tex Mex food so much. I have always sworn to EVERYONE that Las Manitas had hands-down the best refried beans ever. I always figured they put sugar in the recipe because it tasted so good, but apparently it was the bacon. I'll have to try it now!

  79. Just read your feelings for the refried bean. I feel the same way about pinto beans and cornbread. And, yes, that muddy mess does remind me of mashed pinto beans. Er, I meant to say refried beans.

  80. Dwayne Selby

    THANKS for the recipe. All of the commercial canned refried beans have way too much cumin and chili powder. (except Allen's, which are hard to find). All of the companies make gotta be up north and don't know that great refried beans are simple. Don't get me started on TacoHell. I don't eat there because of their terrible beans.

    Again thanks for being a great guide out of the bean wilderness. I remember when the cans only contained "Beans, lard and salt".

  81. Anonymous

    Thank you for the info on Refried Beans! I've been doctoring the canned stuff for years here in SoCal, 'cause I couldn't find any like I remembered as a kid in the '50's. Finally found a hole in the wall restaurant up in the mountains that used real lard. What a difference! I'm partial to Pinto Beans, 'cause the other types taste like dirt to me (I think it goes back to not being able to get the taste off of my tongue when my brother & I made & ate mud pies in our back yard). Also, back then we got a lot of canned veggies, so I grew up detesting Peas, Limas & Butter beans. I've only recently been able to keep down & enjoy Pea Soup. The other thing is that, as I'm now an old curmudgeon, I look with a very jaundiced eye upon anything now being promoted as "healthy". After the "margarine is better than butter", coffee is bad for you, "eat Bran Muffins", & they took coconut oil out of movie popcorn. Now all of that "science" has been called into question & natural fats are back to being better for you in the latest "studies", I'm severely skeptical of all heath claims nowadays.
    Go with flavor, lard & bacon!
    Disclaimer: In moderation of course (Including moderation).


  82. I know this recipe was posted several years ago, but does anyone know if pork belly is an okay substitute for salt pork. The tiny market I went to this weekend didn't have salt pork and I bought the pork belly thinking I could just up the final seasoning on the beans to make up the difference. What do you think? Will this work okay?

  83. Lisa Fain

    Laura–I've never tried it with pork belly, but I bet it would be good.

  84. Anonymous

    I take my a pot beans and leave enough of the juice to puree with my stick blender. Grab my cast iron skillet and throw in at least 4 strips of bacon that I have cut real small. I get that browning and put in a at least 5 or 6 cloves of garlic and whole finely diced sweet yellow onion and cook till totally translucent. I have also been know to add Hatch green chiles or Serannos in as well.
    Add the bean puree and cook down till thick and creamy. Serve with fresh Tortillas and Salsa. Other additions… Longhorn Cheddar or Cream Cheese, a whole slice of crispy Bacon ….. you get the idea ..

    Freezer friendly and easy to reheat.

  85. Anonymous

    Julie for me, in my version the whole sweet yellow onion cooked till translucent in the bacon grease is what gives you that sweetness and creaminess.

  86. Hi Lisa! I live in TX and have full access to Ranch Style Beans. Do you think they would be good as "refried"?

  87. Lisa Fain

    Unknown–Ranch Style beans make wonderful refried beans!

  88. kirkd13

    Wow someone else who is crazy about refried beans! I thought there was something wrong with me. Mexican food is at the top of my list(real mexican food), but no matter what the dish is, I always start by eating the refried beans with a chip. Awesome! Thanks for the recipe!

  89. str8schuter

    Ironic that I'm in Texas using a recipe written in NY, (using my best East Texas 'twang') "New York City!?"

    Thanks for posting!

  90. Heather, ForkingSpoon

    Made this today for a get-together at my house, and it was so, so good. I can definitely see other cuts of cured pork (bacon, ham hock) working in place of the salt pork if that’s what you’ve got laying around. We’ve got leftovers and we’re definitely making some burritos to freeze for lunches tomorrow. I halved the recipe since we were only having six people and having two kinds of enchiladas, rice, corn and chips and dips, and now I wish I’d made the whole batch. Thanks so much for always posting such solid, well-tested recipes. The first recipe of yours I made was when I was literally a homesick Texan who had just figured out you couldn’t get Ranch Style-brand beans in Philadelphia (pre-Amazon Prime, too, so expensive to ship). I’ve literally never been disappointed.

    • Lisa Fain

      Heather–So glad y’all enjoyed the refried beans and honored you’ve been a loyal, longtime reader! Happy cooking!

  91. Hi Lisa!

    I’m a native Texan—expat living in KC. since 2011. The ‘cue us good, but the Mexican food? Blah. Salsa—- tomato sauce w/ bits of cilantro. Ew. There’s a Chuy’s here, which reminds me of home. Thanks SO MUCH for all the recipes. I also was born w/ an addiction to refried beans—my 1st standard for rating a restaurant then salsa.

    There’s a restaurant in Lubbock that has the best queso (white cheeses/ green chilies) & rellenos. It was called Taco Village, but family disputes closed it & changed name to Sylvia’—-may be another name now.

    I ate there about 3 times a wk. I’d walk in & my waitress, Sophie, would see me & w/in 5 mins. I’d have my usual. 😍 I don’t have your Queso book (don’t hate). Did you visit Lubbock? Or have a similar queso?

    I dub thee QUEEN OF TEX-MEX!!

    • Lisa Fain

      Hi Vel! It’s always great to meet a fellow refried bean aficionado! Lubbock is mentioned in the book and there are also several white cheese and green chile queso recipes. I haven’t been to Lubbock in a while, though, and plan to return after the pandemic as there seems to be lots happening now. Thanks for the high praise and happy cooking to you! Keep spreading the Tex-Mex gospel to your friend in KC!

  92. Loved finding your spot. I grew up in TN, at 17 I moved to San Antonio, TX with my military husband. Apparently San Antonio has it’s own version of Tex Mex, since I have found no place to compare. When I get remotely close I head to Mia Terra, and am in rapture! On 2 occasions I was sent for a week of training in SA and ate there every day.
    I now live in Connecticut, and people practically curl up in despair when I happily mention, lard and bacon grease. Although, they certainly came to life when I shared my lunch esp. the Tex Mex. Nothing compares to frijoles refritos as pure comfort food

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