With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, a lot of you are busy planning menus for your various fiestas.  For me, Mexican entrees are no trouble to come up with.  Most involve some combination of tortillas, peppers, onions, possibly chicken or another protein, wonderful spices, and certainly cheese.  With that combination, it’s really hard to go wrong.  Personally I always find side dishes more challenging – how to best complement your entree and keep the meal well rounded yet doable is not an easy task.  Mexican rice and refried beans are the classic side dish staple served with practically every restaurant dinner combo out there.

In the past I mostly ignored the beans and rice entirely, pushing them to the side, until a fabulous Mexican restaurant in my hometown changed all that.  We love their entrees as well as their rice and beans…and their amazing queso dip…and the two dollar margaritas on Tuesdays don’t hurt either!  Anyway, I started liking refried beans – a lot.  But as you all know by now what I don’t like is opening cans to prepare our food.  Thankfully Elly provided an awesome base recipe that I have since made countless times and tweaked to our liking.  Homemade refried beans are very simple to make, requiring less than 20 minutes of your time.  As a bonus, they reheat very well so if you are entertaining and want to focus on your guests rather than food prep, just make them in advance and reheat when you are ready to serve.  If you like them chunkier, you can mash them up with a fork or potato masher.  For a smoother texture (my preference), a food processor works wonders.


  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½ cups cooked pinto beans)
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie broth, divided
  • ¼ cup salsa (optional)
  • Shredded cheese and sliced scallions, for garnish


  • 01

    Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the bacon until crisp, being careful not to burn.  Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan.

  • 02

    Add the onion to the pan with the bacon grease and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cumin, cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the beans to the pan.  Pour in about 2/3 cup of the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a light simmer.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the beans are soft enough to mash easily.

  • 03

    Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the salsa if using, and mash the bean mixture as desired.  (You can add the cooked bacon back in or leave it out…it’s up to you.)  For a chunkier texture, use a fork or potato masher.  For a smoother texture, pulse the mixture in a food processor.  Add up to 1/3 cup more broth for a lighter texture if needed (I always end up using at least 1 cup total of broth).  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Top with shredded cheese and sliced scallions.  Serve.


  • bree

    I find it interesting that you knock cans in your intro (which I agree) but then post a recipe with a canned size of beans in stead of just the part in parenthesis. Very irregular.

  • annieseats

    “(or 1½ cups cooked pinto beans)”, which is what I do. I also give the option of a can, since I know logically that is what most people will use.

  • Yum! We love refried beans, but I always seem to forget about them. I’ve never added bacon before – we usually go with a veggie rendition, but bacon makes everything better!!

  • Elizabeth from Indy

    I love this! I agree with you that Mexican sides are the hardest part of the meal to come up with. And I’ve always thought about making my own refried beans, but never took the time to figure out how to do it. Thanks, Annie!

  • I use a can of beans, so this recipe is perfect for me! And it sounds so yummy. Great idea!

  • I love good refried beans especially homemade ones! I love that yours has bacon and broth in it. I actually made a huge batch of it several months ago and that batch kind of scarred me, so I haven’t made one since. Long story short: I didn’t know refried beans don’t keep well in the fridge loosely covered by saran wrap. 3 days into it being in the fridge, the fridge smelled of dead caucus. We couldn’t figure it out and kept sniffing everything. Then, on the 5th day, I realized it might be the refried beans. Took off the saran wrap and omg, I think I almost vom’d. It was horrible!!

  • annieseats

    Oh dude, that’s awful. I hate when that happens!

  • Wendi

    Thank you so much Annie for posting the black beans and these refried beans. It’s like you know what we have been eating a lot of lately :) We are trying to reduce the amount of meats we are eating and we are loving these substitutions!! Have a wonderful day!

  • Angela

    Thank you for posting…I make mashed pinto beans (as my husband calls it) and I love them but my husband said they aren’t “refried” so I was going to venture out for a recipe and bam, there’s your post when I opened today. Anyway, this is only a few more ingredients and steps than mine and I think they will have the flavor my family would like. We also have been switching to a lot of DIY things so this is fitting into our goals nicely. Always enjoy your posts Annie!!

  • Machel

    Now all I need is a really good Mexican Rice recipe and I will be set! Any chance of something like that coming up on your blog Annie? :-)

  • I’m so glad you like the beans! I really do need to start making them from dried more frequently. Every time I do, I realize how easy it is, but I just haven’t gotten the push to do it 100% of the time yet.

  • Aquinn321

    Thanks for this recipe! I actually never thought to make my own before!

  • seeing as how i’m a mexican food OBSESSED person – i am very excited to try this!!

  • Sara

    “Thanks for posting this great looking recipe!” would be another comment option, if you weren’t feeling like a nitpicky pain in the neck.

  • annieseats

    Haha! I love you.

  • annieseats

    I have one posted already. You can find it via the search bar :)

  • Machel

    Thanks Annie! I will do a search now…

  • This recipe looks awesome! Does the bacon give off a smokey flavor? I’m not a huge fan of “smokiness.” Do you think using pancetta instead would give the same effects as bacon without the smokey flavor? Thanks!

  • Bugneenie

    I have been making homemade refried beans for years using dried beans. You can make a huge batch in the slow cooker and they freeze wonderful well. I keep an assortment in my freezer most of the time. by using oil instead of bacon you can also make them veggie style. My friend keeps bacon grease in a jar in the frig and uses that for the times she does not have bacon.

  • Since we eat Mexican food AT LEAST once a week, I am in heaven with all the Mexican recipes all over the blogosphere this week! Love this simple refried beans recipe.

  • Dana Isenberger

    Just last night after reading the bean post I thought, well what do you do about refried beans?? your post today is the best answer!! Thank you. :)

  • My fiance’s sister LOVES bean and cheese burritos. She is in South Africa studying abroad right now, and tells us the FIRST thing she wants when she gets home is a bean and cheese burrito. I think I am going to make some of this for her, because i know it’s going to be about 10x better than the beans at her favorite mexican joint! I’ll tell her she’s got you to thank :D

  • Sabine

    Genius! I love refried beans. Living in central Europe, it’s really hard (impossible even, I looked everywhere) to get the ready-made kind, I’m beyond thrilled that you posted the recipe! Thank you so much! :D

  • Kristin M.

    My favorite homemade refried beans are refried BLACK beans. ;-) I’m sure I’d have to twist your arm to make those.

  • annieseats

    I wouldn’t call it a smoky flavor, really just a bacon flavor. But you can certainly experiment with changes to suit your preferences.

  • Vicki Bensinger

    I love refried beans. I spread them on the bottom of my salads, then blend and even spread them on tortillas add ingredients and roll up. But I’ve never had them with bacon in them at least not that I was aware of. These sound wonderful!

    Vicki Bensinger

  • I have refried beans often, but have never blogged about them, because I kind of just throw them together without any measurements and I always think that they are not gonna photograph well, but you have proven me wrong. Beautiful abd I bet soooo good. I’ll make sure I make notes next time and share my version.

  • AmyR.

    I have been asking around for a good refried bean recipe, but can’t find anyone who has made one they really liked. I hated the idea of just trying a random one I came across on the internet – but anything on your blog…well I consider that as being “a keeper.” Your recipes have always been a hit at my house! Thank you!!

  • I’ve never made refried beans from scratch–so you are totally tempting me to push it to a whole new level!

  • annieseats

    Aw, thanks for the vote of confidence :) I appreciate it.

  • annieseats

    Actually, this was my third attempt at photographing them. Challenging, indeed!

  • sweetsugarbelle

    Evan can eat these every single day and be happy! They are a staple around here!!!

  • Ella

    Don’t eat pork. Could I make this with butter as the fat instead of bacon grease, or would oil work better?

  • annieseats

    You’ll have to experiment and find a sub that works for you. Good luck!

  • We made these yesterday for Cinco de Mayo using dried beans, they were AMAZING! We did skip the bacon (we don’t eat pork), and just used some butter. Absolutely wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  • Ella

    Thanks for the report! I will give it a whirl with butter — it looks so amazing!

  • Elizabeth from Indy

    As a follow-up, I made these tonight using black beans (that I had in the freezer thanks to your dried bean tutorial). They were delicious! My husband thinks that the bacon really made them special (I sprinkled the bacon on top when I served them).

  • annieseats

    I can’t believe I haven’t tried with black beans. I’ll definitely have to do that soon!

  • Sara FTW.

  • Cindy Rickes

    I used the refried beans for taco shells instead of meat. The beans were really yummy. Thank you for your terrific site. Your recipes are delicious and reliable and you do such a great job with details and helpful hints. By the way, I have a planter out on my deck with cilantro that is doing so well this summer. So I added a tablespoon or two of chopped cilantro and thought it added fresh flavor.

  • Amanda Brewer

    I made this tonight for the first time. My spouse asked if was an “Annie’s Eats thing.” After hearing that it was she said “That lady can do no wrong.”

  • Annie

    Aw, that is so awesome :) Makes my day!