Refried Beans

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Refried BeansRefried beans can be more than just a side dish. Try them as a bed for fried eggs (page 524) or thinned with a little Salsa Roja (page 662) for a hearty enchilada or tamale sauce. Puréed, they make an excellent base for a bean dip (page 462).
For more assertive seasoning, try adding a couple sprigs of epazote (fresh or dried), a bay leaf or 2, and some garlic to the pot as the beans simmer.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 20 Minutes


  • ¼ cup good-quality vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more if desired
  • 3 cups cooked pinto, red, or black beans, drained but still moist
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, plus more if desired
How to Make It
  1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the beans and mash with a large fork or potato masher. Continue to cook, mashing and stirring, until the beans are more or less broken up (some remaining chunks are fine).
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the cayenne and more cumin if you like. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.
  4. CREAMIER REFRIED BEANS For a more velvety texture, use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
  5. 8 Flavorings for Refried Beans Minced fresh chile, like jalapeño or Thai; add with the cumin
  6. Ground ancho or chipotle chile powder; add instead of the cayenne
  7. Minced fresh ginger or garlic; add with the cumin
  8. Chopped Quickest Pickled Vegetables (page 89); stir in at the end
  9. Chopped seeded tomatoes; stir in after mashing the beans and let cook for a minute or 2
  10. Chopped fresh cilantro; stir in at the end
  11. Chopped black olives; stir in at the end
  12. Grated cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Chihuahua cheese, or crumbled queso
  13. fresco; sprinkle over the beans before serving

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