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How do I cook refried beans from a can?

Refried beans are a staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. They are made by cooking pinto beans, mashing them into a paste, and then frying them in oil. While making refried beans from dried beans can take many hours, opening a can makes whipping up a batch fast and easy. Here is a step-by-step guide to cooking refried beans from a can.

What You Need

Cooking refried beans from a can is simple. You just need a few basic ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

That’s it! The only required ingredients are the canned refried beans and oil. However, adding some diced onion, garlic, and cilantro can take your beans from bland to bold. Now let’s get cooking.


Follow these simple steps for delicious refried beans in minutes:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic and continue sautéing for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Pour in the can of refried beans. Use a spatula to scrape out all of the beans.
  5. With a potato masher or fork, mash the beans to your desired consistency. Do you want them smooth or a bit chunky?
  6. Let the beans simmer for 2-3 minutes, mashing occasionally, until heated through.
  7. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve warm as a side dish or use as a filling for tacos, burritos, nachos, and more.

That’s all it takes! In just 10 minutes you can have a pan of tasty refried beans using just a can and a few basic ingredients.


Here are some tips for making stellar canned refried beans:

  • Look for low sodium or no salt added canned beans. This gives you better control over the saltiness.
  • For creamier beans, mash some against the side of the pan as they cook.
  • Add spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder, or chipotle powder.
  • Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, etc.
  • For smoother beans, blend in a food processor after cooking.
  • Add 1/4 cup bean liquid from the can for a creamier texture.

What Kind of Beans Should I Use?

While you can find canned refried beans made from black, pinto, or other bean varieties, traditional refried beans use pinto beans. Their pale pink color and mild flavor make them perfect for refrying. Pinto beans also mash up easily into the classic smooth, spreadable texture.

Uses for Canned Refried Beans

Canned refried beans are handy to have in your pantry. Here are some ways to use them:

  • Spread on tostadas, nachos, or tortilla chips
  • Fill burritos or tacos
  • Top a baked potato
  • Use as a dip with tortilla chips or veggies
  • Make bean and cheese quesadillas
  • Fill an omelet or scrambled eggs
  • Layer into baked nachos or enchiladas
  • Spoon over rice or grains like quinoa

The possibilities are endless! Refried beans add protein, fiber, and flavor to both Mexican cuisine and everyday meals.

Nutrition Information

Refried beans are packed with nutrition. Here is the nutrition information for a 1/2 cup serving of canned refried beans:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 110
Protein 7g
Carbohydrates 16g
Fiber 7g
Sugar 1g
Fat 2.5g
Sodium 380mg

As you can see, refried beans deliver a good amount of plant-based protein and fiber. They make a nutritious addition to any diet!


Canned refried beans make whipping up tasty Mexican food a breeze. Simply heat them up with onions, garlic, and spices for an easy and healthy plant-based protein. Use refried beans as a burrito filling, dip, nacho topper, and more. With their versatility and nutrition, canned refried beans deserve a spot in every pantry!