April 30, 2013

Homemade Refried Beans

6 X 500ml jars of refried beans about to go in freezer

As the drawbacks of industrial meat production become clear, many people are eating meatless meals more often. Mexican food is a natural for straight forward vegetarian dishes. Refried beans are one of my favorites, and can form the basis of many dishes including burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.

Best of all, refried beans are amazingly easy to make. But it took us a while to discover that fact.

When we first started eating vegetarian meals more often we bought all our beans canned as it is a convenient way to start when changing your eating habits. However, after a while we decided it was a pretty expensive way to go considering bulk dry beans are so cheap.

We gave up buying 398ml cans of refried beans ($2.50 - $3.50 each) and started buying bulk dry pinto beans (30 cents/100 gm). 

Now I make 4 cups (1 kg x 30cents/100 gm = $3.00) of dry beans at a time, and get about 2 - 3 liters of refried beans. I put them in 500ml jars, then put the jars in the freezer.

For the price of one can of the store bought variety, I can make up to 3 litres (about 7 cans) of homemade refried beans. Plus I can make them exactly the way I like them, and I have control over the salt content.

I also like not consuming all the tin can packaging. I really just want the beans and not the cans, even though they would get recycled. My canning jars are reusable.

Homemade Refried Bean Recipe


4 cups dry pinto beans, picked over and rinsed

4 tablespoons olive oil

Seasonings to taste: cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt

optional: a few squirts of Bragg Seasoning, a couple of chopped chipotle peppers


  1. Place the beans in a large saucepan, and cover with an inch of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. (Beans can be soaked over night first to cut cooking time - change water before cooking.)
  2. Turn down to simmer and cook till the beans are tender and the skins split when you blow on them (approx. 1.5 - 2 hours). Add water as required.
  3. Stir in seasonings during last 1/2 hour of cooking. 
  4. Once the beans have cooked drain them of the liquid. Many people throw this out, but I keep it - there's nutrients in there! It also makes an excellent vegetarian gravy. I freeze bean cooking liquid in canning jars too.
  5. Return some of the liquid to beans and mash with a potato masher; use additional liquid as needed to achieve desired consistency. Add olive oil.
  6. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom of saucepan. 
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  8. Beans can be frozen in canning jars for easy use later. They will only keep for a few days in the fridge.
Enjoy your homemade meatless meals while you save money AND cut down on the consumption of resources. 


  1. Anonymous5/01/2013

    Great! Never thought of making my own, now I'll have to give it a try.

    1. Hey Miss Marla, Let us know how it goes.

      Los frijoles son deliciosos!

  2. namakemono5/03/2013

    Sounds good! I didn`t know that jars can go in the freezer. (and of course this is only going to work if you have a decent sized freezer - not a pokey little Japanese one like we have. Freezing as storage isn`t part of the culture here - traditionally, drying foods is more common)

    1. The jars are good to go in the freezer and I use this method for other foods such as soup, baked beans, and jam. Because we don't eat processed or prepared products our frozen stores are our 'convenience foods'.

      When freezing make sure to leave some space at the top or the jar lids will pop off.

      I like the idea of dried foods - no electricity required. Last fall we made fruit leather out of black berries that we picked in our neighbourhood. 100% dried berries that we rolled up and keep in a jar in the cupboard.

  3. Just found your recipe and I will definitely be trying this out! Want to do a vegan Mexican theme evening soon so this is great. Never thought about freezing in glass. Thanks!

  4. I was looking for a recipe to can refried beans but learned that it's not safe, so I'm happy to learn that you can freeze in canning jars! I like the savings, but my primary motivation for canning is to not buy food in cans which are lined with BPA. I also don't like to freeze foods in plastic. Even the ones that are BPA free probably have some horrible chemical in them. Thanks!

  5. Anonymous3/30/2018

    How long can you keep them in the freezer?

    1. We have kept our frozen refried beans in our freezer for up to several weeks. We try to use them up before a couple of months have passed.


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