Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Slow cooker refried beans adapted by Our Best Bites from The Homesick TexanSo we have quite a few bean recipes on Our Best Bites–I mean, we’re not the beaniest blog out there, but I’ve come a long way from the newlywed looking at beans in the bean aisle, thinking I should buy them because they were dirt cheap but wondering what in the heck I would ever do with them. But one thing we haven’t had (until now) is refried beans, or even any pinto beans at all. And part of it is because this recipe is one of my FAVORITE recipes in my collection (and it’s not even mine, it’s from probably my favorite blogger cookbook, The Homesick Texan) and I felt like if I shared it, it would suddenly be less special to me or something.

One of the things that I find so amazing about this recipe is that it is SO simple and so cheap–I mean, the ingredients list is pretty sparse and things you likely already have in your refrigerator and pantry. And yet these are the most delicious refried beans I have ever eaten. This is just something everyone needs to learn to make so when payday is 3 days away or when you haven’t been to the grocery store in 2 weeks or when we’re in the throes of a zombie apocalypse, at least you’ll have something incredibly yummy to eat.

You’ll need 1 pound of dry pinto beans (rinsed and sorted for stones and shriveled beans), onions, garlic, a seeded jalapeno (which is notably missing from my pictures…my jalapeno was moldy and I had a kid with pink eye and another one cutting a canine, so I decided to forgo the jalapeno in order to not to subject the world to their delightfulness), vinegar or liquid from a jar of jalapenos or banana peppers, bacon drippings (or lard…or vegetable oil if you’re a vegetarian/vegan/not cool with saturated fat…but really, I mean bacon drippings), and salt to taste.

refried beans ingredients

Place the rinsed beans in a medium saucepan. Fill the pan with water so there’s 1″ of water covering the beans. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the beans.

Place the beans the pot of a slow cooker and fill the pot with water so there’s about 2″ of water covering the beans. Add the jalapeno, 1 onion, peeled and cut in half, and 4-6 cloves of smashed, peeled garlic.

pinto beans in pot

Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours (high elevations may take longer, so plan accordingly).

When the beans are tender, reserve 1/3-1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add the vinegar or liquid from the jarred peppers to the reserved liquid. Drain the beans, discarding the rest of the liquid. Place the beans (and cooked vegetables) in the jar of your blender. Add 1/3 cup of liquid and blend until the desired consistency is reached (I like mine pretty smooth), adding more liquid if necessary.

Mince the remaining 1/2 onion and 2-4 cloves of garlic. Heat the bacon drippings in a large cast iron skillet (if you have one) over medium heat. When the drippings are hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add the bean puree and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the drippings and beans are incorporated and are light, fluffy, and hot. Salt to taste. Serve alongside Mexican food, wrapped in tortillas with cheese, or by themselves. Makes 8 1/2-cup servings.

Our Best Bites version of Homesick Texan's Refried Beans. Best. Ever.



  1. I was JUST thinking that I need to find a good refried beans recipe, instead of buying the cans at $1 each (crazy!). We’re having super nachos tonight…but shoot! my good ‘ol southern girls’ supply of bacon drippings in the fridge is out.

    (BTW the blog post formatting is wacky today- different font sizes, sentences pasted inside other sentences.)

    1. Okay, the weirdest thing is that I noticed it in the post, but when I went in to edit it, everything looked normal! I don’t think WordPress understands that it shouldn’t mess with me right now, haha.

  2. Weird. You guys always seem to post either what I just ate, or what I’m planning on eating. Like, within a week of it being / having been on my menu. It’s uncanny. Anyway, I just made these two nights ago, pretty much the exact same recipe. They really are delicious! And they freeze really well. I always wonder what I’m going to do with so many beans, but I just freeze the leftovers in ziplock baggies and you can pop em out any time you need something fast. Just as fast as (and much tastier than) the canned variety.

  3. Oh, Kate. I love how honest you are and how kind-hearted. I do that kind of thing, too, where I start to feel a kinship with something and don’t want to share it. But I’m glad you changed your mind and decided to do it anyway, because this looks delicious (and I have a bag of pintos in my cabinet and very little money in the bank). I hope they taste even better to you now that you’ve taught us how to make them, too :).

  4. Ok I am confused! haha
    You said “reserve 1/3-1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add the vinegar or liquid from the jarred peppers” so I will actually have 1/3-1/2 cup of liquid PLUS 2 TBSP of the vineger now mixed in a cup. From THAT mixture I remove 1/3 cup and add back to the beans that have been drianed?? Or am I adding the 1/3 cup liquid PLUS 2TBSP of the vinegar?

  5. I started following Homesick Texan’s blog a while back because you mentioned her in a post. This looks delicious!

  6. I’m sorry–I’m a little dense, too. Are we supposed to add the vinegar/pepper liquid to the reserved liquid that we’ve taken from the beans, or do we add it to the pot of beans that still have the majority of the liquid in them? These look really yummy. You guys never seem to run out of great recipes and fun ideas!

  7. I have a couple of questions too — I definitely plan to make this!
    1. I assume you don’t chop the jalapeno, just halve and seed it and put in?
    2. Do you discard the onion, jalapeno and garlic cloves after cooking? Or do they stay in and get blended up with everything else?
    3. Is there an advantage to using a blender rather than a food processor for blending?

    1. 1. Nope, don’t worry about chopping it.
      2. Just blend it in with everything else.
      3. You could totally use a food processor–the only concern is that you’re blending up 6 cups of beans and they’ll be semi-liquid when you’re done, so you don’t want them to leak out of the bottom hole, you know?

      1. Thanks!! I will have to see if my food processor is big enough — it’s way easier to get all the goodness out of it than my blender! But I appreciate the warning!! 🙂

  8. Sounds yummy! My sister makes a nearly identical recipe, but instead of adding the bacon grease or oil, she adds one package of low fat or non fat cream cheese and a little more salt or Suzy Q Santa Maria seasoning. The cream cheese gives you a wonderful creamyness like refried beans, but has less fat. I can’t even tell the difference, they are so good!

  9. In Canada a can of refried beans is almost $2!!!!!!!!!! So I have wanted to try making them for awhile.
    Can I freeze the leftover refried beans for another time?

      1. I always reserve some of the cooking liquid to top my frozen containers with so when you reheat you have just the right amount of extra liquid to keep the creaminess

  10. Thank you for sharing! I’m so excited to try! My husband loves refried beans, but I’ve never been able to get them to turn out right. This will be the best Father’s Day ever (if I can get it right!).

  11. I have made refried beans with bacon drippings and it is delish! BUT….it is just as delish and minus the high fat content if you just add chicken boullion.

  12. I was seriously online yesterday looking for slow-cooker refried beans! Tomorrow we’re having beans and rice for dinner. I wanted a recipe that blends up the vegetables so my ultra-picky kids will eat them. Check! (Which means I will have to leave out the final step of adding extra onion and garlic. I know they’d be better with, but I’m hoping they’ll work without.) Thank you for reading my mind!

  13. Wish I had seen this 4-6 hours ago 🙂 Burritos are on the menu for tonight. Home made refried beans would be so much better than the can sitting in my pantry. But now I have an excuse to do burritos again sooner than normal. So excited to make this!

  14. This sounds soooo good (how can it NOT be with BACON?) and easy! Win-Win!

    Not everyone at my house likes refried beans, so this would make quite a bit for us. I’m thinking these might freeze well….but does anyone know for sure? I’d hate to try and find out it’s not a good idea…I hate to waste good food 🙂

    1. Yes, these definitely freeze well. Another commenter mentioned freezing a small amount of the cooking liquid with the beans (you could just put it in a ziploc bag and freeze it with the beans) so if they dry out a little during freezing and reheating, you can make them fluffy and moist again.

  15. You’re a week too late for this recipe! I so needed this last week so I had to go else where to find it. I like the idea of using bacon drippings. I wasn’t about to buy a tub of lard for one recipe so I ended up using butter and they turned out soooo yummy! Much better than the can!

    1. An immersion blender works awesome! I always use just my immersion blender and the beans turn out great (and my family likes them fairly smooth).

  16. Quick question. In one of the paragraphs you say to put the beans and vegetables in the blender and the next paragraph you mention another half onion and more garlic. Are these the same ones you cook with the beans or more onion and garlic to mince?


  17. Is that vegetable oil in your picture or do you have a magic trick for making bacon drippings not look all bacon-fatty?

  18. Kate, do you know why these are called refried beans? They’re supposed to be fried! Girl, let me tell you how to make pinto beans. Take that 1 lb. of beans and make sure you pick out all the debris, put them in a big pot and cover with water to 3 or 4 inches over the beans. You’ll probably need to add water frequently, so watch them. They take a lot of salt! Add a couple of big spoonfuls of Crisco. Probably 1/2 a cup or more, and just let them simmer for 4 to 6 hours. You have to watch them and stir them frequently, nothing will mess up your house worse than the smell of burned beans! DO NOT REMOVE ANY OF THE WATER! At least not yet. That stuff will thicken up and taste heavenly! Once the beans are cooked and creamy, at this point is make dumplings, it’s a southern thing. Most people have never heard of it. It’s just 1 cup of water, 1/2 a tsp of salt, and just enough water to make a ball. Roll it out like a pie crust, cut it in 2″ wide strips, and add them to the pot. Let them simmer for about 20 minutes. Just plate it up, top it with raw diced onions, and salsa. Pace is good. Now, to make refries, ladle out a couple of cups full, try not to get too much liquid, and mash them up. An immersion blender works well here. In a cast iron skillet, add a couple of tablespoons full of shortening, let it get hot, and add the mashed beans. Turn with a spatula till they get kinda crispy. Now does anyone have a good recipe for Spanish rice?

  19. Hi, I’m an Australian, what do I do with Refried Beans? Love that fact that if could potentially could be a filling and cheap family meal. Please help 🙂

    1. Put the refrained beans in a tortilla with a little cheese and you have a burrito. My kids will eat that a few times a week and love it!

    2. Beans are a great side dish, or as stated as a burrito. I love to make a taco-rito with them. You make a regular hard shelled taco of your choosing, and take a soft tortilla, coat with a thin layer of beans, and a light sprinkle of cheese, and a little hot sauce, then seat that taco right in the center. It is my absolute favorite!

  20. Just wondering. How much salt did you guys use? We made this tonight and my husband is very anti salt and didn’t want any in….and it just was ‘off’. Next time I’ll put salt in.

  21. This looks wonderful and I am so giving it a try. I am a Spanish girl that doesn’t know how to make refried beans! As a side note, I always thought it would be so much fun to open up a coffee shop and call it “beaners cafe”. Maybe my sense of humor wouldn’t go over too well but I think it is so funny and great for coffee beans…ok, totally digressed. Just wondering how you all store bacon fat. Any good ideas?
    Thanks for sharing one close to the heart, I am thankful.

  22. Thanks for posting, I’ve been looking for a good bean recipe! Do you know if this recipe works well with black beans too? Thanks!

  23. I’m Mexican, but can’t cook Mexican food to save my life (thankfully my mom always saved me) BUT not once had i ever thought about putting them in the blender to mash up!! Omg that would be SOOO much easier than trying to do it by hand (which I’ve discovered i’m not very good at) Gah! Thanks for that tip!

  24. Thank you so much for this recipe, it is great! I made some recently, and my roommate, who dosen’t like beans much, loved them! This time I’m adding some cooked bacon to the slow cooker. I use Trader Joe’s bacon end and pieces. It’s uncured, thick with lots of fat, and $2.99 a pound!

  25. Does the jalapeño add a lot of heat? Making these tonight and wondering if I should leave out the jalapeño since I have a 5 and 2 year old.

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