Vegan Refried Beans – Sharon Palmer, The Plant Powered Dietitian

Vegan Refried Beans – Sharon Palmer, The Plant Powered Dietitian

Homemade refried beans (frijoles) just can’t be beat! Plus, you can make up this healthy Vegan Refried Beans recipe quite simply with ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now: dried beans, vegetable broth, spices, garlic, onion, and EVOO. Just soak the beans overnight, cook with seasonings, and mash with sautéed onions and garlic to make the best ever homemade refried beans. Yum! One advantage of making your own vegan refried beans is that you can maximize the health qualities: make them 100% plant-based (no lard, please!), lower in fat and salt, and higher in flavor and health. You can even try different types of beans. While pinto beans are a classic for making refried beans, try black beans or heirloom beans, which are unusual varieties passed down through the generations. I used an heirloom Rojo Bean for this batch, but the sky is the limit! Learn how to make refried beans from scratch with this favorite recipe, which also happens to be gluten-free, as the star of your plate, or as an addition for tacos, burritos, salads, and more. You can make Instant Pot refried beans with this recipe, too.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

Yes, they certainly can be! Refried beans are based on the simple goodness of pulses, which include dried beans, peas, and lentils. These protein-packed, high-fiber plant foods are linked with multiple health benefits. In fact, it’s a good idea to include pulses in your plant-powered diet at least a few times per week.

What Are Refried Beans?

Refried beans are a simple, traditional way of cooking beans in Mexican cuisine, in which the beans are cooked until soft and heated with fat and seasonings. Including a healthy fat, such as olive oil, and keeping the salt to a minimum ensure this dish is a healthful contribution to your diet. The refried beans calories in my recipe are very moderate, and the refried beans nutrition is off the charts in protein, healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats! While I love Mexican food traditions, I am not a true expert. So I invite you to check out the work of my colleague Nancy Lopez, who has beautiful plant-based recipes she shares on her blog.

Just soak beans overnight, then cook with seasonings until tender. Sauté onions and garlic with EVOO, then add beans with bean broth and mash to achieve your desired texture.
Serve these amazing refried beans right out of the skillet!





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Learn how to make refried beans from scratch with this healthy, easy, classic recipe for Vegan Refried Beans.


  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Place dried beans in a pot and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain and discard water and place in a large pot.
  2. Add 6 cups fresh water, vegetable bullion broth cube, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
  3. Cover with a lid and cook until very tender (about 1 ½ – 2 hours), stirring occasionally. May replace liquid lost to evaporation. Should not be overly dry, should have a nice broth of liquid when done cooking. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
  4. When beans are almost done cooking, heat olive oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet.
  5. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 10-12 minutes over medium heat, until translucent and soft, stirring frequently.
  6. When beans are done cooking, remove bay leaf, and spoon beans from the pot into the hot skillet with a slotted spoon to drain off liquid into the pot of beans, reserving bean cooking liquid in the pot. Continue to spoon them into the skillet with the onions and garlic until they are all transferred. Use a masher to mash the beans while they are cooking over medium-low heat. Ladle bean liquid, one ladle at a time, while mashing the beans until you achieve your desired mashed texture and moisture level. Beans should be soft, with some chunks of whole beans, with a moist, stiff texture. Note: Beans will continue to dry while you serve them, so you may want to make them a bit moister than you desire.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro (optional) and serve immediately with tortillas, as a side-dish, or with tacos, burritos, and salads.
  8. Makes 8 servings (3/4 cup each)


Instant Pot Instructions: To use an Instant Pot, omit step 1, and follow Steps 2-3 in Instant Pot, pressing “beans/chili setting”. Remove from Instant Pot, and follow steps 4-8.

Slow Cooker Instructions: To use a Slow Cooker, follow step 1, and follow Steps 2-3 with a slow cooker, heating on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours. Remove from Slow Cooker, and follow steps 4-8.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Mexican, American

Keywords: vegan refried beans, best refried beans, easy vegetarian refried beans

For other vegan bean recipes, check out:

BEST Vegetarian Baked Beans
Provencal Bean Salad
Curried White Bean Oat Veggie Burgers
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers with Black Beans and Quinoa
Jackfruit Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos

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