Learn how to use your slow cooker or Instant Pot to make homemade and flavorful refried beans just like those found at your favorite Mexican restaurant!
If you know me, it’s no secret I LOVE beans! When I am eating in a low-carb phase, beans are one of the things I miss the most. I could never go low-carb for the rest of my life because I would miss beans too much. They are one of those foods that feels so good when I eat them, and they are so satisfying. Although, I know it’s not that way for everyone… haha.
I remember the first time I had REALLY good refried beans at a local Mexican restaurant. The experience was other worldly! Prior to this experience, I only had beans out of a can, or bland homemade beans from a restaurant.
This Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot) Refried Beans recipe mimics those epic and flavorful beans I had at that local Mexican restaurant. I am so happy I found this recipe from Erin at Well Plated because now I don’t have to go to this restaurant just for the beans anymore!
To prove my point, when I was preparing the beans, my husband asked me what I was making. When I told him I was making refried beans, he said, “No, you’re not! You have onions and jalapenos cut up.” I replied, “Exactly! They will be flavorful beans!” If you have never tried really good refried beans, you need to try this recipe!
What if fried beans are just as good and we’re wasting time?-Steve Klise, Staff Photographer – America’s Test Kitchen
This recipe can be made using both the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. Both cooking methods work really well and are very easy. Additionally, neither cooking method requires soaking the beans before cooking!
Using Slow Cooker
When using the slow cooker, the pinto beans will need to be cooked on High for 8 to 10 hours. For the best flavor, the aromatics (onions, jalapenos, and spices) will need to be sauteed in a separate pan before being added to the slow cooker.
You will want to start checking if the beans are done at 8 hours. If the beans can be easily mashed with a fork, they are done. If the beans are not done cooking at 8 hours, continue checking the beans every 30 minutes until they are done.
I recommend using a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker for this recipe.
Using Instant Pot
One of the benefits of using the Instant Pot is you only have to dirty one pot! The vegetables and spices can be Sauteed directly in the Instant Pot using the Saute button preset.
Additionally, using the Instant Pot, the cooking time is around an hour and half, start to finish.
I recommend using a 6 quart, or larger, Instant Pot since the 3 quart sized Instant Pot may be too small for the amount of liquid used.
Slow Cooker Refried Bean Meal Prep
For this recipe, I am using pinto beans to make the refried beans. Buying dried beans, in bulk, is usually more economical than buying canned refried beans. It is such a time and money saver to have homemade refried beans in your freezer.
Once prepared refried beans are cooled, portion 2 cups of refried beans into labeled plastic baggies. Remove any air from the bag, and freeze the baggies flat.
When ready to use frozen refried beans, microwave the baggie for about a minute and a half. Then, you can continue using it in whatever recipe you are making.
Prepared refried beans should last up to a week in the fridge, and they can be frozen for up to three to six months.
Uses for Slow Cooker Refried Beans
These refried beans are so flavorful, you could dig in and eat them with a spoon (which I may or may not have done). But if you are looking for other ideas, here are some suggestions:
- Nachos topping
- Filling in tacos or burritos (like in these Copycat Crisp Bean Burritos)
- As a side dish with Spanish rice
If you make this recipe, send me a picture on Instagram, or leave me a comment below! If you love this recipe be sure to leave a rating, and be sure to save this link or image for later on Pinterest or your other favorite social media site!
Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot) Refried Beans
- 1 lbs Pinto Beans Dry
- 2 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small Yellow Onion
- 1 medium Jalapeno
- 1 tbsp Garlic About 3 cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning Or Oregano
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper Optional
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 cups Water
- 4 cups Chicken Broth Low-Sodium
- Chop onions into a fine dice.
- Slice jalapeno in half, and remove seeds and ribs. Chop jalapeno flesh into a fine dice.
- Using a colander in the sink, rinse pinto beans thoroughly with cold water. Pick out and discard any stony or broken beans.
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Spray slow cooker with cooking spray, or line with a slow cooker liner.
- In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until oil starts to shimmer. Saute onions and jalapeno for 5 minutes until onions start to soften.
- Add garlic, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper to saute pan, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until garlic and spices are bloomed and fragrant.
- Add onion and jalapeno mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add rinsed beans, bay leaves, chicken stock, and water to slow cooker.
- Cook on HIGH for 8-10 hours. Check beans at 8 hours to see if beans can be mashed easily with a fork. Continue checking every 30 minutes until beans are done.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Add olive oil to Instant Pot, and using the Saute function, saute onions and jalapeno for 5 minutes until onions start to soften.
- Add garlic, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper to instant pot, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until garlic and spices are bloomed and fragrant.
- Add water to the Instant Pot, and scrape any stuck on food from the bottom of the Instant Pot to prevent the burn notice.
- Add rinsed beans, bay leaves, and chicken stock Instant Pot.
- Close the instant pot with the lid, and turn the steam valve to “Sealing”.
- On the Instant Pot, click “Cancel” (or equivalent) to stop “Saute”. Click the “Manual” button on High Pressure. Set the timer for 45 minutes* and allow the Instant Pot to come to pressure (about 10-15 minutes).
- Allow the pressure release naturally for 25 minutes. Turn the steam valve to “Venting” to release any remaining pressure manually.
- Place a heat proof bowl below a colander in the sink, and drain the beans. Reserve at least 1 cup (up to 2 cups) of liquid. (If there is less than 1 cup of liquid, add water to equal 1 cup.) Discard the bay leaves.
- Return beans and 1-2 cups of liquid to the slow cooker or Instant Pot and mash with a potato masher. -OR-Add beans and liquid to a blender, and blend until desired consistency reached.
–Recipe adapted from Well Plated.