CrockPot Refried Beans Recipe

Super easy way to make refried beans at home in the crockpot slow cooker. No added fat, oil or butter needed (unless you want that!)

Day 236.

We eat a lot of refried beans in our house. The kids love them in simple bean and cheese burritos, and Adam I like them covered in salsa for an afternoon snack.

We also have also have a 25-pound sack of pinto beans that lives in our garage. I think we've probably moved with the beans twice.

I bought the bag at a restaurant supply store when I taught preschool and was planning on starting a preschool or homeschool co-op in our home. Kids really like playing with beans---it's a great sensory activity and it's soothing to pour the beans back and forth between measuring cups and feel them falling through fingertips.

Anyhow, we were out of refried beans the other day, so I decided to make my own. Don't worry, I didn't use the beans the kids had been playing with. The rest of the bag was tightly sealed.

The Ingredients.

2 cups of dried pinto beans that have been picked through to get all the broken and funky-looking pieces taken out

1 1/2 yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
1 1/2 red onions, peeled and cut in half
10 whole garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander

The Directions.

You will need to soak the beans overnight. Not only will this soften them better, but it will help release the gas.

Rinse the beans well in a colander, and dump into the crockpot

Put them back in the crockpot with enough clean water to cover the beans with about an inch of water.

Stir in the cumin and coriander.

Peel and cut the onions in half, and put them in the crockpot. (you are letting the onion flavor permeate into the beans, that's all we're doing, here).

Peel all of the garlic, but toss them in whole.

Cover the crock and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are tender.

I cooked ours for exactly 9 hours. The were soft, and some of the beans had split.

How to make Refried Beans in the CrockPot -- uses dried pinto beans -- this is the original recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking.

Fish out the onion and the garlic cloves. If you want to keep some of the garlic in for flavor, you may. 

It's your choice. 

 If the beans are soft and you still have a bit of liquid left, carefully drain it, saving a little to help with the smooshing and for added flavor.

Using a potato smasher, or hand mixer, mash the beans.

Now you have two options. 

You can just start using the beans (the way I did, because I'm pretty darn lazy), or you can scoop hunks of smooshed beans out of the crock and fry them on the stove top with a bit of butter or olive oil (or lard, or bacon fat). 

Your choice.

No salt was added, so you'll need to season to taste.

The Verdict.

These were surprisingly easy and tasty. 

The kids have been eating them for lunch. The next day they were a bit dried out, but a touch of warm water fixed that. 

I needed to add quite a bit of salt to make them taste like the canned variety. 

I have 4 baggies of ready-to-go beans in the freezer, which is great for after-school snacks.

not-too-spicy bean dip
chicken nachos
smoky refried bean soup

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at August 23, 2008

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What they say about this article

  1. Anonymous8/23/2008

    I'm starting to get nervous that you are going to stop once we hit 2009! Please don't! You come up with so many creative, usable recipes. Thanks for all your work!

  2. That's how we make our bean. Our house is never without beans!! My mom always told to salt the beans before cooking them because they never get the right taste if you salt them after they're cooked. I've never tested the theory but it's nice to know in case I forget. Thanks for all the recipes!!

  3. Anonymous8/23/2008

    I know this is off-topic, but... Do you homeschool? I saw you mention a co-op and was curious. We do and I love my crockpot too...thought maybe the two went well together?!?! LOL Anyway, love the blog and agree with the last comment...please keep going!

    Becky (MI)

  4. I really love your posts. I gave my crockpot to my son, because it was too large. I'm buying a new one in the next month or so, and I'm going to try out some of your recipes.

    And I'm with anonymous, I hope you don't stop in 2009!

  5. I really enjoy your blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I enjoy it so much that I nominated you for a Brillante award on my blog. Enjoy!

  6. I do mine a lot like this. I add some of the liquid from cooking the beans to them when I mash them. I also like to do mine in the blender which gets them really mashed up. I place cooked beans in blender and add liguid and blend. But either way, with a potato masher or blender, I find adding in some of the bean liquid keeps it from drying out. When you add the liquid you are also adding some of that flavor.

  7. I do mine a lot like this. I add some of the liquid from cooking the beans to them when I mash them. I also like to do mine in the blender which gets them really mashed up. I place cooked beans in blender and add liguid and blend. But either way, with a potato masher or blender, I find adding in some of the bean liquid keeps it from drying out. When you add the liquid you are also adding some of that flavor.

  8. Great idea! I used to make baked beans in my crockpot. They were, well, potent despite the soaking and rinsing, so I stopped making them from scratch. My mom now makes my recipe! She offers Beano when they're served.

  9. Anonymous8/23/2008

    I agree with Dana. Pleeeeeeeeeeeease don't stop. I have done two of your recipes today. One that I'm freezing for later (the sloppy joes - made THREE meals) and now I'm trying the Blue Cheese Steak Rolls for dinner tonight. I'm a newbie to your site, but a very quick convert. You totally rock! Don't stop!!!

  10. I'm so excited to try this! I've been getting lots of free dried beans but just don't know how to cook/use them. My son loves refried beans so we'll give this a whirl...thanks!

  11. Anonymous8/23/2008

    I was actually just thinking of this as well. Will this blog be available as an forever??? I totally plan my weeks meals around this website. I live alone and you should see my freezer, nothing but plastic bags full of crockpot-ed food.

  12. I wish I had seen this before I attempted crock pot refried beans last week! I soaked them overnight, and then cooked them on low all day the next day, but they never really got to a great consistency. Hmph. Maybe I didn't have enough water.

    I am completely addicted to your blog and using your recipes 2-3x a week. Thank you!!

  13. Anonymous8/23/2008

    I like to do refried beans with a can of rotel, onions, garlic, and some pre-cooked bacon. When it's finished, I use an immersion blender to "mash" them.

  14. can either 'release the gas' before you cook 'em or after you eat em'...

  15. Have I tooooold you laaaately that I loooove yooou? See, I haven't commented in ages, so I sang you a love song. I agree with everyone else who's crying at the thought of your 365 days coming to an end, but I mostly want to thank you for making me a more adventurous crockpotter. Thank you, thank you.

  16. This is a great idea for a blog. The crockpot is a great friend,particularly for the busy or working mom.

  17. We're HUGE refried bean eaters in our family. My 2 and 4 year old have eaten them as long as I can remember. We'll have full meals of just beans with some tortilla chips for dipping and they love it. I don't think I've really bought canned refried beans thanks to a similar method in a couple years.

  18. Anonymous8/24/2008

    Im going to do this-I usually make my beans on the stove (a gas stove) and this will help save on gas costs. One thing I wanted to share that we often do is to use some of the cooking water to thin out the beans as we mash. It's already flavored and keeps the nice taste in there :) And, I don't 'refry' them, so it save some on the fat calories ;)Thanks for your blog adventure! It's great and I agree with the other posters-hope this doesn't end in 2009!!

  19. Anonymous8/24/2008

    Stephanie, LOVE your blog! I wanted to pass on a tip that will eliminate soaking time when making the beans, which also happens to be the way I've been making them in the CP for years. First step of course, is to rinse the beans before putting them in the pot. Any dirt or debris may darken them. Then, instead of soaking them overnight, just add boiling water (also about 1-2 inches above the beans). Depending on how much you cook, you may or may not have to add a little more after a few hours. I usually cook mine for 8 hours and they're perfectly soft. Additional note: I like to keep my beans simple. After adding them to the pot, I generously season them with salt. When they're done, I'll add a little bit of cheese to each serving.

  20. Anonymous8/24/2008

    "fry them on the stove top with a bit of butter or olive oil (or lard (ick))." No, no, no, no. Bacon fat is the only acceptable form of fat to use in refried beans. ;-)

  21. yup gotta try em, thanks so much, gonna soak some beans tonight :D Carm

  22. Anonymous8/24/2008

    To perk up the flavor a bit I usually add a can of diced green chiles (the low fat version) or about 4-6 ounces of chorizo. Tastes really good!

  23. I cannot tell you how hungry that picture of your beans makes me! I can't wait to try this. I have tried to make refried beans several times unsuccessfully in various methods. I'm definitely going to try this. I have found that soaking the beans overnight makes them taste better than any of the "quick soak" methods, and it releases more of the gas. The more often you change the soak water the more of the gas-causing stuff you get rid of. Also, the more beans you eat the more your body gets used to them.

  24. I'm always looking for ways to use dry beans, and wondered if it would be easy to make my own refried beans. Thanks for the recipe! Can't wait to try it.

  25. Anonymous9/07/2008

    Hi, Love your blog and recipes. This is just a suggestion of something I've been doing. I use my crock-pot in the garage in the summer/spring and in the kitchen in the winter/fall. Helps a little bit with elec. bill.

  26. I made these tonight, They are wonderful!!! I didn't have any garlic though so I used garlic salt, Didn't need to ad any salt after they where done!
    They turned out perfectly and I have never made beans before ever! Thank you sooo much!
    (oh and my 1 year old was eating them with a spoon she loved them so much!)

  27. what size of pot was used for this recipe? I only have a 6qt. one and was curious if I could use it. I know I'll have more then enough left over to freeze.



  28. Hi Deanne, I just asked Adam, and he said he remember washing a black one---which means it was a 6 quart!
    and yup, you'll have plenty to freeze. :-)


  29. Anonymous9/22/2008

    yes, off to make beans, thanks.

  30. Anonymous9/24/2008

    I'm getting ready to make the beans today, they soaked last night. Question about the onion and garlic, because you fish them out in the end, could I just use onion and garlic powder? thanks.


  31. Hi DeAnne,
    yes! I don't see why not! Maybe 1tsp of each?
    they will need salt to taste after being smashed.

  32. Anonymous9/24/2008

    Yeah, I didn't want to have to go to the store.
    I'll report back.


  33. I wrote a full report of my experience on my blog at

    I used 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon and salt and all the other spiced suggested and it tasted so good!

    Next time I will use 4 cups of beans to make all the work go a little further.

    Thanks for the confidence!

  34. Thank you! It's funny, I recently found your blog and have it bookmarked. When I did a google search for refried bean recipes...the first good one to come up was yours. Cool. What a great blog. At the end of the year you should have a book of recipes to publish!
    I'm making the beans tomorrow morning.

  35. I, personally, hate the smell of beans cooking. But, we eat lots of refried beans.

    My solution: I make tons of them about 5 times a year. I get 3 crock-pots going and get the stinky bean smell over with all at once. Then, I package in meal sized containers.

    I've done this for 20 years. Sometimes, I don't finish them (mash and "Mexican" them up). Occasionally, I just cook them until tender, drain and freeze in zipper bags. Then, they are ready to add to chili or other recipes that call for canned beans (we rarely use black beans and sub these instead).

    Cooking beans this way is really a time and money saver.

  36. Anonymous1/18/2009

    My family (all 8 of us) has recently been put on a gluten-free (and dairy / egg free) diet. Your blog is such a blessing as we adjust to this lifestyle change. :)

    We're not supposed to have garlic either (whaaa), so I was wondering if this recipe would still taste yummy minus the garlic? Or is there something else I could add to flavor it a bit more?

  37. I cook with refried beans all the time, I decided to try these yesterday. They were so delicious! I now have 5 containers of refried beans in my freezer. These taste so much healthier and more delicious than the canned variety. Thanks, Steph!

  38. I'm going to try this - with black beans instead. I'm hoping for it to result like Amy's black refried beans, which are the best (we've tried store brands and they cannot compare). Any idea of how much salt to add at the end?

    Also, I crockpotted dried black beans for the first time recently by cooking them for 19-20 hours without any pre-soaking. Next time, I'd start checking them around the 16 hour mark, but they were very easy!

  39. I just discovered your website and am having so much fun reading it!
    Your sense of humor& writing style has me thinking you're an old friend.
    I have a very good friend from Mexico who taught me how to cook beans in the crockpot and thought I'd share. She says if you don't have time, you don't have to soak the beans.......she puts the pintos in the pot and cover with water and then some. Liberally salt the water and put in chopped onions or throw in some dried, minced onion. Set it to high and let the pot do its magic. Keep an eye on the water level, if it starts to dry out, add more water. Beans are done when close to bursting. Mash with fork or masher. And if you want a true authentic taste, fry some bacon, then re-fry the beans in the bacon grease. Not exactly healthy, but boy is it good!

  40. What do people have against lard? Lard has more good fats than butter, but no one says "ick" with butter. Werid. Anyway, this is a great recipe. Thanks!

  41. The fresher the beans are the shorter the cooking time and the better the cooked beans will be! So, if you get beans use them up within a year then get new ones when the new crop comes on.

  42. I know this recipe was put up awhile ago but, I wanted to add, you don't have to soak to release the gas. Cook on high for 1 hour drain "gasey water" and refill with fresh water and then add your onion and such. Continue to cook the rest of the time. So yummy!

  43. Anonymous3/21/2010

    just wanted to say that using FRESH beans WILL make a difference in the taste. I buy the smaller of the huge bags of beans at Costco and they stay pretty fresh because i cook beans every week. But any bigger and they will lose their flavor.....

    I have used this recipe and its great! I cook on high for 5 hrs...... add some of the bean juice back in and use an immersion blender. also, adding salt will toughen I dont add salt till they are done, or in the last hour of cooking. Most recipes will say the same.

  44. Anonymous8/25/2010

    I have recently used this recipe, and substituted chicken broth for the water. It is not over salty and has a good flavor.

  45. Anonymous11/02/2010

    My husband is Mexican so I had to learn quick how to cook "authentically". Although the crockpot isn't really, I find it works just as good. I don't soak! I just clean them good and put them in the crockpot with lots of water and salt and set it over night. The TRUE way is to go when refrying is with lard (although I at times use bacon fat). I too said yuck at first but have since calmed down and learned to embrace lard as seriously the tastiest way to cook Mexican food. By the way, I put the beans into the hot oil with plenty of the cooked 'bean water', let it cook for a minute or so then mash. I keep the leftover bean water in a separate dish in case they get a bit dry in the fridge. And there you have it! :) The secret to true refried beans (minus hours on the stove).

  46. Quick heads-up to the misinformed: Beans don't contain gas. You soak them to remove the sugars they contain, which when broken down in your intestinal tract cause gas.

  47. This is pretty much how I cook my husband's weekly beans for his burritos - he's a mature medical student and living away from home five days a week. Usually I add a piece of bacon or ham, plus some chicken broth. I may or may not use onion and garlic - I wiz everything with a hand blender to mash in the crock pot. Lately I've done an Instant Pot version as well -both methods work but slow cooker has a bit more flavor.

  48. Anonymous2/27/2023

    Dear Steph,
    When I lived in Salinas 15 years ago, a Mexican friend of mine told me about this herb. He said his wife and family have used this for years to prevent gas from any bean dish. I have used it ever since he told me about it and it really does work. Celebrate the gas shortage. ;)
    This is available on
    Epazote Herb - Dried Chenopodium ambrosioides C/S 100% from Nature (8 oz)
    Epazote, commonly called Mexican tea, is a member of the amaranth family of plants that is native to Mexico and Central and South Americas. The herb is used as seasoning in chili, quesadillas and other Latin American foods (especially those that contain beans) to help prevent flatulence. Epazote, also called Jesuit's tea and wormseed, is a flowering plant found in Mexico, South America and Central America. The dried leaf is a common seasoning in Latin American cuisine, where it lends pungent flavor to soups, stews, chilis and frijoles de la olla, a popular and simple dish of cooked beans that is often the precursor to refried beans. Epazote is also added to herbal teas and tisanes.