I've been trying for awhile now to make a bean-like paste for burritos/nachos/etc. akin to Refried Beans I so enjoyed while living in North America. What I've got so far isn't half bad, but I'd really like to improve on this, if possible.

Here's how I do it now:

  1. Empty beans into strainer; wash with cold water.
  2. Put beans into pan slightly under water and bring to boil.
  3. Lightly simmer until beans come out of their shells.
  4. Turn heat down to min; Drain off 3/4 of the water.
  5. Mash mash mash away.
  6. Add spices and mix; let water burn evaporate until consistency is to my liking.

NOTE: I only recently added steps 2-4 in an attempt at mashing the shells better. It has not helped. If I remove those steps, the entire process takes maybe 10 minutes (= happy stomachs :)

No matter how much or long I cook and/or mash the beans (while adding water), the skin never quite "liquidizes" so there are these annoying strainy-blobs that everyone complains about.

I usually use Red and White Kidney Beans or some kind of baked beans in tomato sauce, simply because I don't have to cook them at all i.e. I can eat them out of the can and they taste good :) Perhaps that logic is bad and I should be using other beans (assuming I can find them here) ?

  • Given that you mention that you used to live in the states and then mentioned baked beans, are you now in the UK? You can get refried beans in tins, no where near as good as making yourself, but you state you eat beans out of the can anyway. ;-) Discovery and Old El Paso brands are available in most supermarkets.
    – Orbling
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 0:32
  • Nope I'm in Austria and sadly every supermarket has different kinds of beans, none of which are refried or even in a "spreadable" form.
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 15:02
  • 4
    I wound not suggest kidney beans, as in my experience the skins are much thicker than in other varieties. I use pinto or black beans. Also, beans from a can tend to work better than dry beans, since they already come with liquid. Commented May 26, 2012 at 13:31
  • Nthing pinto beans, if you can get them! Different flavor and texture from kidney beans.
    – goblinbox
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 18:14

4 Answers 4


This isn't the "quick" nor the healthy answer, but I personally do a twice-cooked system. I leave the juice from the can in the mix, and boil it down, which takes 15 minutes or so. Retaining the flavor of the canned fluid is essential, in my opinion.

Then I "fry" the dry-ish mixture which is beginning to separate in maybe 1 tbsp preheated lard per can of beans, stirring a lot at first. Lastly, very slightly simmer this on low heat for 1 hour or so, stirring occasionally. Flavor is awesome. Any kinds of beans can be prepared in this way, and it is similar (varying on oil and legume variety) to other paste concoctions created elsewhere.. such as in the middle east.

Note that this method negates the need for lots of "mashing". So, if you're more looking for less effort, than necessarily for "quick".. this could be your answer :)

  • Now I need to go see where I can find lard (whatever it's called) here and report back.
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 15:06
  • 2
    Hooray for lard! Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 16:03
  • 1
    fyi, I usually keep a little jar of leftover grease from making carnitas or something, rather than buying lard. I usually end up with enough on hand to make some occasional scrambled eggs, mexican rice, or refried beans.
    – zanlok
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 16:33
  • 1
    @glenneroo - try getting "Speck mit kein Fleisch" or Gänseschmalz (or Schweinschmalz if you don't have a problem with pork). The Schmalz comes in a resealable container, about 100-200ml. I have seen MANY types of all of these here in Germany, usually in the section with the slices of cheese, ham, etc, or sometimes with the rollmops and other fish. I'm hoping Austria has something similar. Good luck!
    – KimbaF
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 15:01
  • Thanks Kimba! I went shopping and found 10 different kinds of non-vegetarian versions (although none of the ones you mentioned, that's Autria I guess ;) but deep in the darkest corner of the butter section I found a small white container with very inconspicuous text "Butterschmalz"! Going to try ASAP! ;)
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 18:12

I normally use a can of black beans, just because I prefer the taste better but I'm sure kidney beans would work just as well. I then drain off a large majority of the liquid that they are packaged with. I do save a small amount of the liquid for later. I then add the beans into a food processor and leave them in there until they have a smooth consistency. Sometimes I have to stop it and take a rubber spatula to the sides if some beans didn't get incorporated. During its time in the food processor I add the leftover liquid to help get it smooth. After it is done I just empty it into a bowl and add some cheese since I use it as a bean dip. I just heat it up in the microwave, but I am sure it would work as a filler of burritos and the like. Hopefully this makes sense. =)

  • I maybe should have mentioned this earlier but I don't have any machinery available except a really cheap plastic blender :(
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 13, 2010 at 23:41

Honestly, you are using the wrong type of bean. Kidney beans have very tough skins and don't break down into a paste, even when cooked for a long time. This makes them ideal for things like chili, but not so great for refried beans.

The traditional bean for refried beans is the pinto bean. These beans cook faster than kidney beans, and they will break down into a paste.

I soak half a pound of dried pinto beans overnight. The next day I rinse them and cook in 4 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water. You want to boil the beans for about 10 minutes, and then cook on low until the liquid is absorbed and the beans are very soft. You should be able to easily turn them into a paste with a spoon. Total cooking time will take about 3-4 hours.

After this, brown some onions + spices (I use coriander, cumin, garlic, turmeric and pepper) in bacon grease or other pork based animal fat. I deglaze with whiskey (from Tennessee of course), then I fry the bean paste in the spice/fat mixture.


Blender - cheap plastic one, if it works, will work fine. Canned kidney beans, liquid drained and reserved. Sprinkling of spices of your choice.

Blender the beans; no need to worry about the skins. They disappear into the mix. If the mixture becomes too thick, add the reserved liquid until desired consistencey is achieved.

Heat on stovetop or microwave.

Voila. No need to purchase specialized, expensive "refried" beans ever again.

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