These easy refried pinto beans come together in no time and make for a delicious side dish to have with any of your favorite Tex-Mex and Mexican meals.

refried pinto beans

This homemade refried bean recipe is so much tastier than the canned version. It uses just the right amount of spices and fresh vegetables and herbs. You’re building flavor up to smooth into these creamy refried beans.

After making this quick and easy recipe from scratch-made refried beans you’ll never want to buy canned again! Ready in under 20 minutes, this Tex-Mex side dish will be your new go-to recipe. Plus, you can freeze any leftovers for later use. 


This creamy bean recipe uses canned beans for the simplest of ingredients. Plus some spices and a few fresh ingredients.

  • Canned beans – pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed.
  • Produce – onions, cilantro, garlic, and lime.
  • Seasonings – for those classic undertones of Mexican cuisine we use ground cumin and chili powder.
ingredients for refried beans

What I love about these ingredients is how they all work together but separately to build a more complex flavor profile for these homestyle refried beans.

The lime is zesty, the cilantro is earthy, and the spices kick it up a notch for that authentic Mexican taste. 

How to make refried pinto beans

Step 1: Heat a large skillet with oil and add the onions and spices. Cook until the onions are soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

onions and spices in a skillet

Step 2: Add beans and water, heating until just warmed through. 

beans in a skillet

Step 3: Add beans, cilantro, and lime juice to a food processor and blend until desired consistency.

pureed beans in a food processor

What can I use if I don’t have a food processor?

Can I use other beans?

This refried beans recipe can use black beans instead of pinto. They would go great with Cilantro Rice and Crockpot pork and beans.

Recipe Variations

Add even more flavor with different variations of this pinto refried beans recipe. It can easily be customized to fit your meal.

  • Make it Spicy: Add in something spicy such as canned green chopped chiles, chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper, hot pepper sauce, or cayenne pepper.
  • Make it Smoky: Add in chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, or chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
  • Make it Cheesy: Right before serving, top the beans with cotija cheese or shredded cheddar. For warm cheesy beans, combine the beans, 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and a few tablespoons of milk in a small saucepan and warm through on low heat.

Use dry beans instead of canned. If you have the time, prep dry beans according to their package. Once the beans are hydrated, follow the recipe for refried beans.

Use a different bean. Black beans are the common choice for substituting pinto beans. If you want another mild, creamy bean then cannellini beans would work well, too.

easy refried beans

What to eat with Refried Pinto Beans

Try one of these dishes to pair with your refried beans for a variety of easy weeknight family meals. 

  • Mexican White Rice – Cook up your favorite taco meat with this rice and refried beans for a build your own taco buffet-style dinner. The kids will love it and you’ll have plenty of options to choose from for a hearty meal.
  • Chopped Mexican Salad – Add protein and a side of refried beans to this Mexican salad. This combination would be perfect for meal prep.
  • Chicken Mexican Bowls – This dish is great on its own, but make it wholesome and hearty with a big spoonful of refried pinto beans to really round out this meal.
  • Ground Chicken Enchiladas – One of my favorite ways to add refried beans to my enchiladas is to spread the beans on the bottom of the baking pan. Then, simply layer the enchiladas, sauce, and cheese on top. Each spoonful will have beans and all the other yummy goodness.

More Ways to Use Refried Beans

  • Spread on a tostada for a quick snack.
  • Serve inside tacos, burritos, fajitas, or with bowls.
  • Make a dip! Use in a layered dip with sour cream, cheese, salsa, guacamole, your favorite taco meat (or without), and topped with black olives.
  • Enjoy it with tortilla chips as a bean dip.

How to store

Store refried beans in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container.

Now that you see how quickly these easy homemade refried pinto beans are and all the fresh, healthy ingredients, I promise you’ll never buy canned again.

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easy refried beans

Refried Pinto Beans

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Mexican


These easy refried pinto beans come together in no time and make for a delicious side dish to have with any of your favorite Tex-Mex and Mexican meals. 


Units Scale
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and black pepper


  1. In a non-stick skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until the onions are softened, about 2-4 minutes. 
  2. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  3. Add beans and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.
  4. Transfer the bean mixture into a food-processor. Add lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until desired consistency. Taste for salt and acidity. If the beans are dry, add a small splash of water. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.


  • Leftovers: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. 
  • This recipe was inspired by my 7-Layer Dip


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 194
  • Sugar: 0.9 g
  • Sodium: 13.8 mg
  • Fat: 7.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Protein: 8.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: dip, easy, beans