There is way more to refried beans that just mashed beans. These easy, delicious Instant Pot refried beans are restaurant-style but better. With rich flavor and creamy texture, they make the perfect side dish to Mexican rice, nachos, burritos, tacos or as a dip, plus the are naturally vegetarian, vegan, dairy free and gluten free.
We'll show you how to make instant pot refried beans. This classic, creamy Mexican staple the easy way--in the Instant Pot! There is NO bean soaking required, the beans cook in a fraction of the time of stove top cooking, plus it's a mostly hands-off process.
WHAT ARE REFRIED BEANS?
The term "refried beans" doesn't mean that the beans have been fried twice. It comes from the Spanish name "frijoles refitos" or beans well fried. This Mexican side dish is traditionally made with pinto beans that are soaked in water to soften them and then fried in a pot or skillet with fat and seasonings. For our recipe, we're using an Instant Pot, which cuts your cooking time drastically and leaves you free to do other things while your beans cook.
❤️ WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS SIMPLE REFRIED BEANS RECIPE
✔️ Cooks in only 75 minutes (versus 2-3 hours on stove top).
✔️ This easy refried beans recipe is rich and creamy. It has a much better texture than canned beans.
✔️ Pairs well with many Mexican dishes. Try with your burritos, tacos and nachos.
✔️ A healthy source of plant-based protein and fiber.
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for refried beans, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You may have all of the ingredients for refried beans in your refrigerator or pantry and not need to make a trip to the grocery store. See recipe card below for ingredient amounts.
- Pinto beans: We're using dry pinto beans that are rinsed and drained.
- Olive oil
- Vegetable stock: You can also use chicken stock.
- Seasoning: Cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
- Lard: This is optional and follows the traditional method of making refried beans
- Garnish: Chopped cilantro and crumbled quest blanco
This section shows how to cook refried beans in the Instant Pot, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
PREP: Rinse the beans and dice the onion and garlic. Measure oil, spices, water and broth.
🔴 TIP: You can increase or decrease any of the spices to your liking. For spicier beans, add more cayenne pepper.
COOK: In the Instant Pot on sauté function, sauté the onion in oil. Add the garlic and spices and sauté for a minute. Cancel sauté function. Add the cooking liquid and scrape the pot to unstick anything from the bottom. Add the beans. Stir. Lock the lid and seal the pot. Set to high pressure or manual setting for 40 minutes. Allow a 20 minute natural release. Release the remaining pressure. Drain beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
🔴 TIP: Sealing your Instant Pot. Make sure your sealing ring is in place before putting on the Instant Pot lid.
FINISH VEGETARIAN STYLE: Return the beans to the pot and add ½ cup of cooking liquid and mash with a potato masher or immersion blender.
FINISH TRADITIONAL STYLE: Turn the Instant Pot to sauté. Add lard. When hot, add beans and sauté for a minute. Add ½ cup of cooking liquid and mash with a potato masher. Turn off Instant Pot.
SERVE WHILE WARM: Top with crumbled queso blanco (white Mexican cheese) and cilantro. Or add sliced jalapeños, diced tomato and avocado.
Instant Pot – This recipe requires an Instant Pot, which is an electric pressure cooker. You could adapt this recipe to cook on the stove top.
Potato Masher - This will help pulverize the beans into a smoother consistency.
HOW TO MAKE REFRIED BEANS AHEAD
Follow the instructions in this recipe and store your beans in the fridge (if using within one week) or freezer (within a few months) until ready to use.
HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL STYLE REFRIED BEANS
The traditional method of making refried beans requires soaking your beans until slightly soft. After soaking, cover your beans (and all other ingredients) in 2 inches of water in a pot and cook on high heat until boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Then, drain the beans (but save the broth) and season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over high heat melt some lard, then add the beans and fry for several minutes, stirring. Mash them with a spoon adding back some of bean broth and continue mashing until your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
TIPS FOR THE BEST REFRIED BEANS
Follow these tips to make the best refried beans.
✔️ Sauté the onions until translucent. While sautéing, continually stir so they don’t burn.
✔️ Sauté the garlic and spices for just a moment, until fragrant. Don’t be afraid of adding spice!
✔️ When mashing your beans, add additional cooking liquid to thin out the beans. Remember that they will thicken a little bit after sitting.
✔️ Use the traditional beans instructions for restaurant style beans. These are so delicious!
Refrigerate: Once cooked, refried beans will last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge when stored in an air-tight container.
Reheating: To reheat refried beans, just add a little water and heat them up on the stovetop.
Freeze: Refried bean beans will keep frozen for several months. To freeze, first let them cool to room temperature. Then put them in heavy duty freezer bags or air-tight container.
Defrosting: Thaw them in the fridge or on the countertop. If they seem dry upon defrosting, just add a bit of water and oil when reheating.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH REFRIED BEANS
Serve refried beans with a healthy side dish, such as Instant Pot Mexican Rice, Cilantro Lime Rice, Mango Habanero Salsa, Pico de gallo, Restaurant Style Salsa, Carnitas Tacos, Chipotle Chicken Tacos or Fried Fish Tacos.
MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES
If you love cooking with your Instant Pot you'll enjoy our Instant Pot chicken thighs with lemon butter sauce, Instant Pot carnitas, and Instant Pot chicken tortilla soup.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For perfect results every time, here are answers to the most common questions about cooking (one of the keywords).
Traditionally, pinto beans make the best refried beans because of their buttery texture but if you don't have pinto beans you can substitute black beans. They don't blend quite as easily, though, so they might be a bit more chunky.
To make refried beans in the Instant Pot, we're cooking them for 40 minutes. Keep in mind it will take about 15 minutes for the pot to pressurize and then 20 minutes for the pressure to release naturally.
For 2 cups or 16 ounces of dry beans, we're using 6 cups of liquid--half water and half vegetable (or chicken) stock.
If your beans still feel hard, cook the beans on high pressure for another 5 to 10 minutes (depending on their hardness). They may just a little more time to finish cooking.
The best Instant Pot setting to use for cooking refried beans is the manual or high pressure mode.
- 16 ounce dry pinto beans - rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, medium - minced
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper - freshly ground
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
- 2 tablespoon lard - (optional for traditional refried beans)
- Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add oil. When the Instant Pot is hot, add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes until translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (optional). Stir to combine and coat the onions and garlic with the spices.
- Add some of the broth and scrape anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add remaining broth, water, beans. Stir until well combined. Turn off Instant Pot (on some models you do this by pushing Cancel).
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and lock. Set it to the sealing position. In manual or high pressure mode, set for 40 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to pressurize before the 40 minutes begin.
- Once done, allow the pressure to naturally release for 20 minutes. Then carefully release any additional steam by turning the release valve to the release position. Remove the lid.
- Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
- For vegetarian beans, return the beans to the pot. Add ½ cup of the cooking liquid and use a potato masher to mash the beans until they’re the consistency you want. If you want, you can use an immersion blender for pureéd beans. Add additional cooking liquid for thinner beans. Beans will thicken up after sitting.
- For traditional beans, turn Instant Pot to sauté setting. Add 2 tablespoons of lard or oil. When hot, return beans to pot. Sauté beans for a couple minutes. Stir in ½ cup of cooking liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher or pureé with an immersion blender. Add more liquid, if desired. Beans will thicken after sitting.
- Serve. Top with crumbled queso blanco (white Mexican cheese) and cilantro. Or add sliced jalapeños, diced tomato and avocado.
- Make sure your sealing ring is in place before putting on the Instant Pot lid.
- You can increase or decrease any of the spices to your liking. For spicier beans, add more cayenne pepper.