This is legit. Forget any other refried beans recipe you’ve tried or eaten at a restaurant, these are my favorite! These Instant Pot Refried Beans truly are better than what you get at a restaurant!

A photo of a dark blue bowl full of refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa.

Restaurant-Style Refried Beans (in the Instant Pot!)

I often use the quality of the refried beans to judge a good Mexican restaurant. Well, the refried beans and the chips and salsa. Anyone else with me? They just have to be good!

If they bring out some wannabe, nice try chips and salsa, I’m not going to be anxious to dig into my food and the refried beans usually end up being meh. These Instant Pot Refried Beans have ruined me forever. All refried beans will be meh compared to these!

It all comes together super easy and takes less than hour to cook. Booyah!

Why Are They Called Refried Beans?

Why on earth are they called refried beans when there is no frying involved?! Not to mention there’s no “refrying” done either. This confusion all stems from a bad translation from Spanish. In Spanish, refried beans are called “frijoles refritos”.

Translated literally, they are called beans refried. However, the prefix “re-” in Spanish doesn’t always mean “again” or “twice”. In this case, the “re-” means “very well”. So refried beans should really be called “very well cooked beans”.  Haha…just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!

Traditional refried beans are soaked and then cooked once usually with onions. Then they are mashed and lard is added, and they are cooked again until they are pretty dry. See…twice cooked or very well cooked! Thanks to the Instant Pot, they only are cooked once here and you can leave your fat pants in the drawer because we aren’t using any lard. Woot!

A photo of a dark blue bowl full of instant pot refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa.

What’s Needed for Instant Pot Refried Beans?

Making refried beans from scratch is simpler than you’d think! Here’s what you’ll need to make pressure cooker refried beans:

  • Dry pinto beans
  • Chicken broth
  • Spices (cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt)
  • Toppings of choice (we used Cotija cheese, cilantro, lime juice, etc.)
A photo of a dark blue bowl full of homemade refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa. There is a cup of salsa sitting next to the bowl.

How to Make Instant Pot Refried Beans

Soak the Beans: Let’s be clear from the get go, the dry pinto beans have to be soaked in water for at least 8 hours before doing anything in the Instant Pot. It takes some planning ahead, so don’t save everything for the last minute thinking the Instant Pot is going to save your hiney! Soak those beans!

Cook in the Instant Pot: From there, it can’t get any easier. Add your beans and chicken broth (and/or water) to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes with a 10 minute natural release and then a quick release. Drain all of the liquid from the beans saving 2 cups of the liquid.

Smash the Beans and Season: Add one of the cups back into the beans and all the seasonings (cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and salt) and smash them with a potato masher. Use as much of the second cup of the liquid as you need to get the consistency you want in the beans.

You can skip the cumin and chili powder if you’re looking for a more plain refried beans but we love it. Or try adding more kick with jalapeno, cayenne etc!

Add all the Toppings: Then you can top the beans with whatever you want…cotija cheese, jalapenos, salsa, tomatoes, lime wedges, cilantro, hot sauce, etc. That’s it! You have the best refried beans ever!

Tip: If you haven’t seen our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet yet, check it out! We turn to it all time when making the Instant Pot basics!

A photo of a dark blue bowl full of restaurant style refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa.

FAQ

Can Refried Beans Be Made in a Slow Cooker?

Yes! This pressure cooker refried beans recipe can be made in the slow cooker. Follow the recipe instruction and then put everything in a slow cooker for 8-9 hours on high.

Can You Freeze Refried Beans?

Yes, these homemade refried beans freeze beautifully. Let them cool to room temperature and then store them in an airtight container. They will last in the freezer for 3-4 months. When you are ready to eat them, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat them in the microwave or on the stove top.

How Long Do Refried Beans Last?

These homemade refried beans will last 3-4 days in the fridge and make great leftovers. They heat up very well. If they get dry at all from reheating, just add a little water or olive oil to thin them out.

Are Refried Beans Gluten Free?

Yes, pinto beans are naturally gluten free as is chicken broth and all the seasonings. If you swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth, these can be made vegetarian too. These are packed with protein and quite healthy!

Tips for the Best Refried Beans

  • Note that this Instant Pot refried beans recipes calls for dried beans, NOT canned beans.
  • You can substitute some of the broth with water if you want to cut calories or sodium. Just make sure the total amount of liquid is 12 cups. Note that you will lose some flavor the more water you use.
  • You can easily halve or even quarter this recipe. It’s 1 cup of beans to 2 cups of water and reserve only 1/2 cup of the liquid for mashing.
A photo of a dark blue bowl full of refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa.

More Mexican Recipes:

More Easy SIDE DISHES You’re Sure to Love:

Instant Pot Refried Beans

4.22 from 14 votes
Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Soak Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes

Description

Creamy and flavorful refried beans, and you only need an overnight soak and 30 minutes of cooking!

Ingredients 

Refried Beans

  • 6 Cups Dry Pinto Beans,
  • 12 Cups Chicken Broth , (*see note)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Salt

Toppings:

  • Cotija Cheese
  • Jalapenos, sliced
  • Salsa or tomatoes
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Sliced Limes

Instructions

  • Dump the beans in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
    6 Cups Dry Pinto Beans
  • Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Dump the beans into the instant pot.
  • Add the chicken broth and water (see note below, we use all chicken broth) and put the lid on with the valve on seal.
    12 Cups Chicken Broth
  • Turn the instant pot on to high pressure for 30 minutes.
  • Allow a natural release for 10 minutes and then quick release.
  • Drain all of the liquid off of the beans, reserving 2 cups of the liquid.
  • Add 1 cup of the liquid back in the pot along with all seasonings and using a potato masher, smash the beans. Add more liquid as needed from the second reserved cup.
    2 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons Onion Powder, 2 teaspoons Chili Powder, 2 teaspoons Salt
  • Serve with toppings if desired.
    Cotija Cheese, Jalapenos, Salsa or tomatoes, Cilantro, Sliced Limes

Equipment

Notes

*You can substitute some broth with water if you want to cut calories or sodium, just make sure the total amount of liquid is 12 cups. You will lose some flavor the more water you use.
You can easily halve or even quarter this recipe. It’s 1 cup of beans to 2 cups of water and reserve only 1/2 cup of the liquid for mashing.
Refried beans will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 127kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 8gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 395mgPotassium: 391mgFiber: 8gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 2mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Side Dish Recipes Every Mom Needs
Cuisine: Mexican

Recommended Products

Instant Pot
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A photo of a dark blue bowl full of refried beans topped with fresh sliced jalapeno, diced purple onion, cotija cheese, and salsa.