Not Fried Refried Beans

The first time I made these “refried” beans, I followed the recipe in The Super Foods Rx Diet by Wendy Bazilian and Steven Pratt to a T (a book I ADORE and, honestly, only let me down this one time).

Per the recipe, I soaked the beans in the crockpot the night before, cooked them on low for 10 hours the next day, added the (too short) list of ingredients, mashed the beans with a hand mixer (disastrously frustrating), then took a taste test. Oh. My. God. They were awful. I wanted those 10 hours back, or at least the one I’d spent making that batch of disaster. I hated them so much I actually ranted in my kitchen and wrote across the top (in pencil): “Never make these again! They’re bland and they suck!”

A few weeks went by. I was haunted by those beans, convinced I could make them better. But at that time I was not a recipe strayer, at least not with new recipes. I didn’t trust my instincts because…well…I didn’t think I had cooking instincts. Recipe straying takes confidence, and while I was a good cook within my own tried-and-true recipe arena, I didn’t think I knew enough about cooking to have an opinion.

However, after a few weeks, I really REALLY wanted refried beans and the ones in the can had way too much sodium, thus the reason I attempted to make my own in the first place. I went back to the book, erased what I wrote and instead, challenged myself: “A bit bland. Needs more oomph.”

I bought a couple pounds of dried beans, thought outside the box, and after several experimental batches, came up with this, my modified recipe. 

Lynn’s Not Fried Refried Beans

Yields 2 cups
¼ C equals 50 cal., 0 gms fat, 3.5 gms fiber

8 oz dried pinto beans
2-3 T minced onions (if you like a good strong onion flavor) OR ½ C diced onions OR ½ t onion powder (the diced or the powder will give you a more mild onion flavor)
½ T chili powder
½ t garlic powder
¼ t salt
¼ t cumin
¼ t ground chipotle pepper (optional)
A few shakes of red pepper flakes (optional)

If you remember to soak the beans the night before, do that. But if you’re like me and decide at 3 in the afternoon that you want refried beans for dinner, put them in a pot covered with cold water, bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, turn them off and let them sit for an hour.


Put the beans back in the pot. If you’re using minced/dried onions or diced onions, throw them in there, too. Refill pot with fresh water. Simmer for 90 minutes or until the beans are very tender. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. (If you forget to do this, no worries. Regular water will work.)

Put the beans in a food processor fitted with the blade. As I mentioned, I used a hand mixer with less than stellar results. But then, I get frustrated easily, so if you’re patient, you will probably have a better experience. You can also mash all this up with a potato masher or fork.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the beans. Process (or mix or mash) for about 30 seconds. Add a ¼ to ½ cup of bean water (or regular water) and process for another minute or so. Check consistency. Mix things around a little with a spatula and process again for another minute or two, adding water if you want them creamier. Check the taste and add whatever you think they need: more salt, chili pepper, whatever. Process again if you need to. Remember, these are YOUR beans and get to make them however you want.

That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

I think everyone needs something to call our signature food. Something we’re known for. Something people request we bring to a party. My ex-husband made killer spaghetti, and my now husband makes a garlicy scallops dish that, although I’m a vegetarian, would request for my last meal.

My mom makes chocolate chip cookies to die for. Daughter Carlene makes amazing banana bread. Daughter Cassie can do things with lentils that would knock your socks off. They kinda sorta follow a recipe, but they know what ingredients work best for the results they’re looking for, so to duplicate what they do is futile.

How about you? What recipe are you known for?

9 thoughts on “Not Fried Refried Beans

  1. I've captured your recipe to my computer file–thank you! I use refried beans as a base for a wonderful soup I make a lot in the winter. Equal parts fat free refried beans, rinsed & drained black beans, frozen corn, salsa, and low sodium chicken broth. The ingredients are easy to have on hand and the recipe pulls together in minutes. I often serve this meal after picking up house guests at the airport.

  2. My super duper awesome (and 300 calories a pop) chocolate vegan cupcakes with a strawberry on top.
    My fave reaction: “These are VEGAN!? They are the best cupcakes I've ever had.”
    Oh Yeah.

  3. I'm known for a lot of things, but I thought of you yesterday when I roasted zucchini. I caramelized some shallots and minced garlic (added at the very end). I tossed the zucchini with the shallots and garlic and topped it with parmesan cheese and let it bake 15 more minutes. Oh, it was good. It was really good!

  4. I love to use beans and this is a great recipe, thanks! My son and I make an awesome spaghetti squash, spaghetti dinner together. It was one of our staple dishes last winter. And it appears to be one again this year. Can't get over how many beautiful squashes we have growing in the garden!

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