Better Than a Restaurant Instant Pot Refried Beans

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


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


I often use the quality of the refried beans to judge a good Mexican restaurant…the refried beans and the chips and salsa. Anyone else with me? They just have to be good! These Better Than a Restaurant Instant Pot Refried Beans, amazing!

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 Better than a Restaurant 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!

Steps to Making Refried Beans in the Instant Pot

  • 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!


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


  • 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.

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!

  • 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!


A photo of a dark blue bowl full of 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.


  • 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!

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!


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


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!

Can Refried Beans Be Made in a Slow Cooker?

Yes! This 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 Refried Beans be Frozen?

Yes, these 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.


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


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!


What to Eat with Refried Beans

Every wondering what sides to make or found a side you love but now need a Mexican main dish?! Here's what to eat with Refried Beans!

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Shredded Beef Enchiladas

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Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

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Smothered Honey Lime Chicken Burritos

You just want to grab a hot, fresh rotisserie chicken from the store but then what do you make with rotisserie chicken? The BEST Smothered Honey Lime Chicken Burritos of course!

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Our Favorite Steak Fajitas Marinade

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Authentic Carne Asada Tacos

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Poblano Braised Beef Tacos

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Grilled Avocado Tacos

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Elote Grilled Mexican Corn Salad

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Watermelon Salad with Mint

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Instant Pot RECIPES

More delicious SIDE DISHES you’re sure to love:

a bowl of instant pot refried beans with cheese, salsa, and jalapenos on top
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Better Than a Restaurant Instant Pot Refried Beans

Creamy and flavorful refried beans and you only need an overnight soak and 30 minutes of cooking!
Prep Time8 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time8 hrs 30 mins
Course: 200+ Easy Side Dish Recipes Every Mom Needs
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, cinco de mayo, mexican, pinto beans, sides, vegetarian
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 363kcal


Refried Beans

  • 6 Cups 1 Bag 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 half 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.


Serving: 1/3 cup | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 1330mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 4g
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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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Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

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16 comments on “Better Than a Restaurant Instant Pot Refried Beans”

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

  2. 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

  3. 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!  

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

  5. 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? 

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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!