What to us is a store-bought staple is a home-cooked classic in Mexico. The term refried beans suggests that to make this dish, beans must be fried twice. However, this moniker is actually a mistranslation of the Spanish phrase, frijoles refritos, which means well-fried beans. When made at home – using just a handful of simple ingredients – this standard side dish is given a boost of flavor not found in the canned variety. Serve your beans at breakfast alongside huevos rancheros, as a side dish to a main course or on any number of antojitos, such as tostadas, sopes or huaraches.
Homemade Refried Beans
Although refried beans are typically made with pinto beans, you can also use black, red or pink beans. Different beans may require different cooking times. A potato masher works best for creating a smooth paste while leaving some beans intact to give texture to the dish.
Yield | 2½ cups |
- ½ lb dry pinto beans
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp chopped white onion
- 6 Tbsp lard, divided
- 1 sprig epazote*
- fine sea salt
| Preparation | Rinse beans and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Add ¼ cup onion, 1 Tbsp lard and epazote. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the beans are soft, with the skin just beginning to break open, and the broth is soupy, about 2 to 3 hours. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid, discarding the epazote sprig.
Heat the remaining lard in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion and cook until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the beans to the pan, 1 cup at a time, mashing them into a paste before adding the next cupful. Add cooking broth as needed throughout the process to thin the beans and keep them from sticking to the pan. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately. If making ahead, cover the surface of the beans with plastic wrap to prevent crust from forming.
* Epazote is available at most Mexican markets.