Guest post from Jill of The Prairie Homestead
If there is one food worth learning to make from scratch, it’s refried beans.
Homemade refried beans are:
1. Healthier –– Canned, store bought beans are usually full of hydrogenated oils and preservatives.
2. Frugal — I can get a 25-lb. bag of pinto beans from Azure Standard for around $25. That means I’m only paying about 75 cents for the beans I need to make this recipe. (This recipe makes at least as much as 2-3 cans from the store.)
3. Better tasting — To be perfectly honest, I despised refried beans for the longest time. It wasn’t until I learned how to make them myself that I discovered that I actually love them! Homemade refried beans have a much better texture and are full of flavor.
With reasons like that, you have to give these beans a try, at least once. 😉
Homemade Refried Beans
(Feel free to cut this recipe in half- it makes quite a lot. However, they also freeze well.)
- 4 cups cooked pinto beans (You may used canned whole beans if you like. I prefer to use dry beans and cook them myself. Directions follow below.)
- 3 T. healthy fat for sauteing (Butter, coconut oil, beef tallow, or lard would all work here. Avoid olive oil as it isn’t stable at high temperatures.)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2 1/2 t. cumin
- 2 t. paprika
- 2 t. sea salt
- 1/2 t. chili powder (more or less- the intensity of chili powders seems to vary)
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- Milk, as needed (water or bean broth can be used if your family is dairy-free. However, I prefer the richness that the milk adds.)
To prepare dry beans, place the beans in a large bowl, cover with an ample amount of water and allow to soak overnight. (Keep in mind that 1 cup of dry beans equals approximately 3 cups of cooked beans).
The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Cover them generously with fresh water and simmer for several hours or until tender. A slow cooker works wonderfully for this as well! I like to make up a big batch of beans and freeze the leftovers in 2 cup portions.
In a large pot or saucepan, saute the onions in the fat until they are soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add the beans. If your beans are without liquid, you may need to add extra water or milk at this point. (I prefer to leave a little of the bean broth in with the beans when I freeze them.)
Stir in the cumin, paprika, salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Bring to a slow simmer and allow it all to cook on low heat for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If the mixture is dry, you may need to thin it with a splash of milk or water at this point. However, if you started out with extra liquid in your cooked beans, you may not need to add anything.
Once the beans have cooked down for a while and the flavors have had time to incorporate, mash them with a potato masher, fork, or my personal favorite: an immersion blender. I prefer slightly chunky beans, versus a super-smooth “puree” consistency.
Serve with tacos, burritos, or alongside chips as a dip. One of our favorite ways to eat refried beans is to make simple bean quesadillas with homemade tortillas, cheddar cheese, and dipped in sour cream.
Making refried beans from scratch transforms a rather boring side-dish to a flavor packed feature that just might end up being the main event on your menu. It’s worth giving them a try!
Jill writes from the homestead she shares with her husband, daughter, and ever-changing assortment of animals. When she’s not in the kitchen preparing traditional foods, you’ll find her outside riding horses, growing vegetables, milking her cow, and killing rattlesnakes. She blogs at The Prairie Homestead, where she enjoys encouraging readers to return to their roots, no matter where they may live.