Homemade Refried Beans From A Can

If you're looking to add some amazing flavor to your homemade refried beans but don't have a lot of time, I’ll share with you a few shortcuts you can take that will still allow you to create a delicious and satisfying dish.

Here are a few ideas to make a quick and easy way to make a Mexican Side Dish

1. Use beans from a can

Instead of starting from scratch with dried beans, you can use canned beans as a base. Look for a high-quality brand that has good flavor and spices already added.

2. Add spices and seasonings

To give the beans more flavor, try adding spices and seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and diced onions to the beans as they cook. You can also add a little bit of diced bacon or chorizo for added richness.

3. Use broth instead of water

To give the beans a richer, more savory flavor, try using broth (either chicken, beef, or vegetable) instead of water to thin them out. In this recipe, I didn’t even add the broth. I stopped before smashing the beans. So in fact, this recipe is half-smashed refried beans from a can.

By taking a few shortcuts and adding some extra flavor, you can easily create homemade refried beans from a can that taste amazing.


What makes refried beans refried?

Refried beans, a favorite Mexican food, are made by frying cooked beans in fat, usually lard or bacon grease, and then mashing them into a paste. The word "refried" means "well-fried," and it refers to the fact that the beans are fried a second time after they have been cooked and mashed. This gives the beans a smooth, creamy consistency and a rich, savory flavor.

Traditionally, refried beans are made with pinto beans, which are soaked, cooked, and mashed before being fried. However, other types of beans, such as black beans or kidney beans, can also be used to make refried beans.

To make these beans healthy, be sure to check out how I didn’t add any lard to the recipe and used two types of beans, black beans and chili beans, which are a flavored pinto bean.

Are refried beans healthy?

Refried beans can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet, especially if you make this recipe that doesn’t use any lard or higher fat pork protein. Beans are high in protein and fiber, both of which are important for maintaining a healthy diet. Protein helps to build and repair tissues, while fiber aids in digestion and helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

They can also be lower in fat, as you will see in this recipe. While traditional refried beans are made with lard, it is possible to make refried beans that are lower in fat by using a healthier fat such as olive oil.

The benefits of beans are numerous. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They contain magnesium, which may lower blood pressure, and iron, which supports the immune system and blood production.

Overall, refried beans can be a nutritious and tasty addition to a healthy diet when consumed in moderation and paired with a variety of other nutrient-dense foods.

Can black beans be used to make homemade refried beans?

A traditional Mexican side dish calls for pinto beans. In this recipe, black beans can be used to make homemade refried beans that are delicious and flavorful. That’s why I used them in this recipe and paired them with chili beans.

Chili beans and black beans are such a great flavor combination, they just seem to complement each other perfectly!

Black beans are small, smooth beans with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. They have a soft, creamy texture when cooked and are often used in Mexican and Latin American dishes.

On the other hand, chili beans are typically made with pinto beans and are flavored with a spicy chili sauce. The combination of the savory beans and the bold, spicy sauce creates a taste sensation that is hard to resist.

But why do these two types of beans taste so good together?

It's all about balance. The richness of the black beans helps to mellow out the spiciness of the chili sauce, while the bold flavors of the chili beans bring out the nutty, earthy flavors of the black beans.

Black beans and chili beans taste good together because they balance each other out, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that is hard to resist. Whether you're eating them as a side dish or using them as a filling for tacos or burritos, these two beans are a match made in heaven!

Most refried beans are mashed

To make refried beans from a can, you will need a can or two of beans, a fry pan, and a spatula. Here's a simple recipe you can follow:

  1. Open the can of beans and pour the contents into the pan.
  2. Place the pan over medium heat and stir the beans occasionally as they heat up.
  3. When the beans are hot, use the spatula to mash them as they cook. You can mash them until they are smooth or leave some texture, depending on your preference.
  4. If the beans are too thick, you can add a little water or broth to thin them out.
  5. Once the beans are hot and the desired consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Serve the refried beans immediately, or keep them warm in the saucepan until you are ready to serve them.

You can also add seasonings or spices to the beans as they cook, such as cumin, chili powder, or diced onions.

I’m partial to half-mashed, which preserves more texture in the beans. I leave the fully smashed beans for when I go to a restaurant.

What do refried beans go well with?

There are so many great ways to use refried beans; here are a few foods that pair well with them:

  • Tacos: Refried beans taste so good as a filling for tacos, either on their own or along with other ingredients such as diced onions, cheese, and salsa.
  • Burritos: Refried beans are a classic ingredient in burritos, where they can be combined with other fillings such as rice, cheese, salsa, and diced veggies.
  • Enchiladas: Refried beans can be used as a filling for enchiladas and are often paired with a spicy sauce and cheese.
  • Quesadillas: Refried beans can be used as a filling for quesadillas, along with cheese and other ingredients such as diced onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
  • Mexican rice: Refried beans can be served alongside Mexican rice as a side dish.
  • Nachos: Refried beans can be used as a topping for nachos, along with cheese, salsa, and diced veggies.
  • Salads: Refried beans can be used as a protein-rich topping for salads, along with diced veggies, cheese, and a dressing of your choice.

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A great Mexican side dish, refried beans from a can.
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5 from 5 votes

Half-Smashed Refried Beans (from a can)

Skip the takeout and make your own delicious and quick refried beans with this simple recipe for homemade refried beans from a can.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 153
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican

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  • 1 medium red onion sliced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans semi-drained
  • 1 15 oz can chili beans semi-drained
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper


  • Slice the red onion.
  • In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste if you prefer.
  • Add the semi-drained beans, kosher salt, chili powder and black pepper. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as necessary. Add salt to taste.
  • I like the chunky texture of the beans half smashed. They tend to smash while cooking and stirring. If you want them smore smashed, you can crush them with your spoon on the side of the skillet. Or for even smoother, use a potato masher.
  • Serve immediately.



Semi-draining the beans allows the beans to not become overly dry, especially if you want to fully smash the beans.
Play around with the spices. You may want to kick up the heat by adding some cayenne pepper, or a few drops of lime juice. Maybe even some garlic or garlic powder.
What I do know for sure… this recipe is easy, fast, and tastes very authentic without a lot of fuss.

Hand Size Portions

Nutrition Facts
Half-Smashed Refried Beans (from a can)
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Palm: 0
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Handful: 1
Thumb: .25

Hand Portions

Some handy advice:  You can use your hands to practice calorie control without weighing and measuring.

Using hand position size is an alternative way to decide how much to eat visually. It gives you a way to quickly estimate what's on your plate, using the size of your hand as an alternative to counting macros (which generally has you weighing and reading nutrition labels to count protein, carbohydrates, and fat).

To learn more, read How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.

Michelle Johnson Jerome is an expert on busting through perfectionism. She is passionate about helping others live life with purpose and joy. By drawing on her extensive experience as a nutrition coach, personal trainer, and yoga instructor she helps develop a realistic approach to goal setting that allows you to make progress and stop obsessing over mistakes.

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