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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Save on sodium with homemade refried beans

A maroon bowl with refried beans

Refried beans may not have the most appealing look, but their creamy delicious taste makes up for it. They are traditionally made from pinto beans, but black beans may be prepared this way as well.

Contrary to their name, refried beans are not fried twice. They are boiled, mashed and then either fried or baked. While you can easily purchase canned refried beans, making them yourself with a bag of dried pinto beans will give you more bang for your buck, albeit not as convenient. However, you can control the fat and sodium while adding your own flavorings, such as sautéed onion, garlic powder, chili powder and a pinch of cumin. Canned refried beans typically contain artery clogging lard. Use heart healthy olive oil in homemade refried beans to decrease saturated fats. One-half cup of canned refried beans contains almost 20% of one’s daily recommendation of sodium. Making your own allows you to control how much salt you add.

Refried beans are popular in Mexican meals and are often served as a side dish next to rice or in the main entrée. Use refried beans as a dip for vegetables, serve them with eggs, spread them on a tostada, or in an enchilada, quesadilla or taco. Refried beans are a good source of plant protein, fiber and several micronutrients important for the body. Store leftover refried beans in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat, add a few teaspoons of water and heat on the stovetop or microwave.


Refried beans

1 lb. bag or 2 cups dried pinto beans

10 cups water for soaking

6 cups water for cooking

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup liquid from cooked beans

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

Sort and rinse the beans under water. Put them in a large pot and cover them with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight to soak. Drain and rinse beans. In a large pot, add soaked beans and 6 cups water. Cook over medium heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until beans are tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup liquid. In a medium skillet, add olive oil and sauté onions. Stir in cooked beans, cooking liquid, garlic powder and salt. Using a potato masher, mash beans until desired consistency. Cook over medium heat until thick.

Note: if the beans are older, they will take longer to cook and soften.

Yield: 6 (½ cup) servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 260 calories, 3 grams fat, 220 milligrams sodium, 43 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 14 grams protein


This blog post originally appeared in the Pantagraph on March 17, 2021.