Refried Beans


The beans in this recipe are the pretty mottled pink Pinto beans. The "refried" bit refers to the frying of the boiled beans. Traditionally, you would fry the beans and onions in lard. I think a tastier result comes from using butter instead. Serve with a nice chili or as a dip for tortilla chips or as one of the fillings in a burrito (a folded pocket made from a soft tortilla).


  • 8oz dried Pinto beans, soaked in water for 8 hours then drained and washed in clean water
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 mild red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Put the Pinto beans in a large pan and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring the water to the boil, boil vigourously for 5 minutes then turn the heat down, loosely cover and simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Add more boiling water if the pan gets too dry. Do NOT add salt at this stage.
  3. While the beans are cooking heat a large frying pan and add the butter. With the heat on high fry the onions for 5 minutes stirring all the time.
  4. Add the garlic, stir round, turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes or until the onions have started to soften.
  5. When the beans are cooked drain off the cooking liquid into a jug (there shouldn't be much left by now) and reserve.
  6. Add the drained beans to the pan containing the butter, onions and garlic, stirring round to coat them with butter.
  7. Keep the heat on low and alternately mashing the beans with a potato masher and stirring them round in the pan with a spoon.
  8. Add some cooking liquid at the end of the mashing and frying if the mixture seems too dry.
  9. Add salt and black pepper
  10. The finished dish should have a fairly coarse texture not a smooth purée.
  11. Serve warm.
  12. Alternatively you can make this in advance and either store in a fridge for 2 days or freeze. Re-heat in a pan with some melted butter in it or microwave with some knobs of butter on top. Stir and serve warm.


© copyright David Smith 1996-2002

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