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Better Than a Restaurant Instant Pot Refried Beans

11 Reviews

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.

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:

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a bowl of instant pot refried beans with cheese, salsa, and jalapenos on top

Instant Pot Refried Beans

4.1 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Soak Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Creamy and flavorful refried beans, and you only need an overnight soak and 30 minutes of cooking!



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


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


  • Dump the beans in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Allow to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Dump the beans into the instant pot.
  • Add the chicken broth and water (we use all chicken broth) and put the lid on with the valve on seal.
  • 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.
  • Serve with toppings if desired.


*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 Facts
Instant Pot Refried Beans
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 127 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 395mg17%
Potassium 391mg11%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 104IU2%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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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.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating


  • These beans are awesome and I refer to this recipe over and over. I think the recipe makes way too much though so I halve or third it. I also am vegetarian so I use a mixture of vegetable bouillon powders and water. Usually I have not planned ahead enough so I do a quick soak method first. Just put dry beans in pot, pressure cook 5 minutes, drain the water, then continue with the recipe as instructed as if you had soaked the beans! Found that trick on instantpotcooking.com “quick soak beans in the instant pot”.

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much for the feedback Lynn! And thank you for the tip on the quick soak! So glad you enjoy this recipe!

      • Reply
  • WOW!!! I just want you to know I cooked this recipe of beans today. They are fabulous. I am 73 and I have cooked a lot of beans, but wish I would have had this recipe. I cooked them exactly like you said. Soaked all night in water, drained, then added the chicken broth. 3 c. of beans and 3 cans of chicken broth. Added all seasonings, just before they were Done.

    • Reply
    • Yay! So glad to hear this Barbara! We are pretty obsessed with these ourselves!

      • Reply
  • I normally love all of your recipes but this one tasted pretty bland and the chicken broth made for a bad taste. Not sure why.

    • Reply
    • Thank you for the feedback Jessica!

      • Reply
  • what size bag of beans did you use? 16 oz or 32 oz

    • Reply
    • Hi Kim! You want the 1 pound bag so 16oz.

      • Reply
      • In the recipe you say “6 cups one bag” dry pinto beans. My 16 oz bag has less than 3 cups of beans in it, so I thought you must be using a 2 pound bag. If you are only using a 1 pound bag how is that 6 cups?

      • Hi Joanne! I’m so sorry for the confusion! It should be a 3 lb bag. You shouldn’t have any problem at all getting 6 cups out of that.

  • this looks delicious but i am not sure where the calories (over 300 for a 1/3 cup) come from…seems very high for the healthful looking recipe. am i reading it wrong?

    • Reply
    • Hey Lisa! The calories come mostly from the chicken broth. You could substitute half with water to cut calories like the note in the instructions says.

      • Reply
  • Do you have a use for the cooking liquid (aside from the two cups) seems like it could be a good base for soups??

    • Reply
    • It would make a great base for a soup! I haven’t tried anything with it yet, but that’s a great idea!

      • Reply
  • Well i finally have time to sit down and comment on these beans. Girl your beans are the Bomb! I was desperate for some type of beans to make for Memoria weekend, and surfing I found your beans, oh my goodness! I made a Large pot for 30 people, I think we were all craving this type of beans..Lol…. some of my guest had the baked beans, but your pot went in an hour. I’ll have to dble the recipe next time- you do Tex Mex. very well, we use to live in New Mexico, we couldn’t get enough of that food! and that famous green chili-wow. always have it ready in the freezer. thanks for sharing your great recipes with us-much appreciated

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much Dee! You made my day!

      • Reply
  • Hi there!  I love refried beans, but have to admit that until I saw your site and your recipe, I had never made them from scratch.  Now I can say I made them, I loved them and they were a hit by the whole family. As you pointed out, one needs to soak the dried beans overnight. I used your recipe and I made the refried beans in my slow cooker.  Delicious!  And so easy.  Thanks for the history of how refried beans got their name. That was a hoot!  

    • Reply
    • Thanks Nancy! So glad your family enjoyed them!

      • Reply
  • Very informative post. I have always wondered about the name and now I am clear 🙂 Pictures look very tempting!

    • Reply
    • Thank you!! You should definitely give them a try!

      • Reply
  • This sounds amazing but even low sodium chicken broth will still be too high in sodium given how much broth is being used. I wonder if I could just use water? 

    • Reply
    • You can do a combo of water and broth but I wouldn’t do straight water. You would lose loads of flavor, but you could try it. I hope you enjoy it!

      • Reply
      • IThank you — we will give it a try!

      • Enjoy!!

    • You could make your own broth and then just freeze the excess. I did that for years.

      • Reply
      • Yes! Love that idea!

  • I am considering buying an Instant Pot, thanks to finding your website & trying, a couple of your recipes, & getting my socks blown off. Consequently, I am a newbie at using an Instant Pot, and have a question: Is there a reason why this recipe calls for onion powder & garlic powder, as opposed to fresh? Or, to put it another way, is there a problem with using freshly minced onion & garlic in an Instant Pot? Thank you.

    • Reply
    • Hi Laura! We used the powders just to keep it as quick and simple as possible. And they taste awesome in this! There is definitely no problem with using fresh onion and garlic in the Instant Pot. If you saute them first in the Instant Pot, just make sure that you get the Instant Pot clean before cooking the beans so you don’t have any problems with the “burn” message on the Instant Pot.

      • Reply
  • Will this recipe work in a slow cooker? If yes, what would the times be? Thanks in advance. Can hardly wait to cook up this recipe!

    • Reply
    • Hey Dave! For this many pinto beans, go with 8-9 hrs on high! Enjoy!!

      • Reply

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