Scratch Refried Beans

by on September 20, 2011 » Add the first comment.
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Americas Test Kitchen did some extensive testing and determined that there is just no competing with the commercial canned beans that are available today. We trust them, so you can feel confident that you can use canned beans and this recipe will work well, although by pure definition they are not.   If you want to REALLY start from scratch, start at the next section… otherwise, jump to the INGREDIENTS header.


  1. Wash 1 C each of dried pinto beans, black beans, white beans, kidney beans
    Do this just before you go to bed.
  2. Soak the beans for 8-12 hours in lots of cold UNSALTED water with 2 TBL white vinegar added
    Adding salt at this point will toughen the skins of the beans.
  3. Drain the beans one last time, and put the hydrated beans into 3 C water and 1 C chicken broth
  4. Add 2 strips of bacon
  5. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1-2 hours
  6. If necessary, add more chicken broth – beans should stay covered
  7. Beans are done when they are tender, not crunchy
  8. Add 1 tsp each ground paprika, oregano,
  9. Add 1/2 tsp each ground garlic, cumin, ground chipotle chili, ground cayenne pepper
  10. Add 1/2 C canola or safflower oil
  11. Crush using a potato masher
  12. Drizzle small amounts of oil as needed for consistency
  13. Beans can now be put into jars, leaving 1 inch headroom in the jar
  14. Top off jar with chicken broth, leaving 1/2 inch headroom in the jar
  15. Refrigerate for up to one week, or use a pressure canner for a longer shelf life.

INGREDIENTS for Finishing and Serving your Beans

  • 2 cans whole pinto beans or 3-4 C homemade beans – See recipe above for Dry Bean Processing
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1/2 onion – chopped small
  • 1-2 arbol chilies – dried, but still flexible – not brittle
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1 jalapeno – minced – optional
  • 2 TBL EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Liquid – water is OK, reserved liquid, stock or broth is better


  1. Chop bacon and render in hot pan, then a bit of EVOO and diced onions
  2. Add jalapeno and garlic, if using – avoid breathing in fumes
  3. Add pinto beans and all other ingredients
  4. Once heated through, smash beans with fork or potato masher – Personal preference applies – smooth or with chunks remaining
  5. Add liquid for consistency


  • It is traditional to use pinto beans, but using half black beans adds a wonderful dimension
  • Render out all fat from two pieces of bacon
  • Add 1/4 C grated manchego cheese just before serving



Find more like this: Appetizers and Sides, World Cuisine

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