Slow Cooker Refried Beans


It probably goes without saying that refried beans were a large part of my diet growing up, what with all the Tex-Mex I indulged in. But what might surprise you is that I don’t have many memories of eating them at home. It was usually restaurant and Taco Bell fare.

After moving to New York and discovering the scarcity of Tex-Mex restaurants, I learned to make the cuisine at home. But the refried beans portion of the meal usually came from a can, I’m sorry to say.


I did attempt them from scratch once, a few years ago, but it qualifies as a Bona Fide Kitchen Disaster, as hours of soaking and boiling the beans left them still crunchy and inedible, and marked probably the first (and hopefully last) time I ever ate enchiladas without a side of refried beans. That little incident drove me right back to the canned stuff.


Fortunately, I have since discovered the magical awesomeness of cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. So now I will never need the canned stuff again! Okay, I probably shouldn’t make such a bold statement – we all get in a pinch sometimes. But I’m so happy to have this method available, because these refried beans are the real deal, y’all!


Your family and/or guests will swear you had them flown in from the best restaurant in Mexico. Or maybe San Antonio. They are so amazing and do not remotely compare to the canned stuff. And speaking of guests, I served these at a dinner party last weekend which is why I have no pictures of the prep or raw ingredients. My apologies. But they are too good not to share.

If you enjoy Mexican and/or Tex-Mex food, I highly urge you to try these. It’s very easy, and the recipe makes a ton, so you can eat off them all week. Black beans can be subbed in for pinto beans if you prefer.


Source: slightly adapted from The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider

1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
7 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp chile de arbol powder or crushed chile flakes
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbs lard or canola oil
¼ cup finely diced white onion
1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine the beans, water, chile de arbol, salt, and black pepper in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are very tender. When the beans are done, shut off the heat.
In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Remove skillet from the heat. Add 1 cup of the beans and their liquid to the skillet. Mash to a smooth paste with a potato masher. Return the skillet to the heat and continue to add the remaining beans, 1 cup at a time, mashing them until smooth after each addition and adding liquid as needed. When all the beans are mashed, add any remaining cooking liquid necessary to thin to the proper consistency. The beans should be thick but not stiff. Serve hot, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, Monterey jack cheese, scallions, raw minced white onions, cilantro, or plain, whatever you want.

13 responses to “Slow Cooker Refried Beans

  1. Beans are used in many cultures as a source of protein and fiber in the healthy diet. With the addition of a whole grain, such as rice or corn, you have a complete amino acid and a very nutritious meal. As Alton Brown would say, whether carnivore or vegan, beans are good eats.

    Growing up my family would have meatless Fridays. Generally that would mean a vegetable dinner centered around beans with cornbread, sliced tomatoes, pickled peppers and all sorts of other vegetable goodness. It wasn’t until after I had finished school and was out on my on that I found re-fried beans and tex-mex cooking. Admittedly, I must have led a sheltered life. However, once discovered they have become a regular part of my diet in one form or another. Sometimes I do the cross culture thing and have a whole grain pita or tortilla with refried beans, chopped salad, peppers, and a bit of feta cheese. It makes a great hearty sandwich that’s filling but not heavy. Have you tried bean pie? White beans such as navy or great northern are cooked, mashed and used in the filling much the same way one would use sweet potato in a pie. If you haven’t tried it, you simply must.

    I was born, raised and live in Georgia with my 2 rescued cats. We are enjoying your blog, keep up the good work!

    • Texan New Yorker

      Thank you so much for the kind words Patricia! I love reading your comments.

      Believe it or not I have never tried bean pie. I did some Google searching on it and it looks delicious. So I’ll definitely have to try it sometime. Is it a seasonal pie or did you have it year-round?

  2. Julie,
    I’ve got black beans in my slow cooker right now. With water (but without any other seasonings because I really don’t know which direction I want to head with them yet).
    I soaked mine overnight first, so now I’m curious if they will be done earlier . . .
    I’ll let you know.

    • Texan New Yorker

      Yum! I love black beans, I’m actually making a Mexican black bean taco recipe this week that calls for dried beans in the slow cooker. How did yours turn out? I’ll be very curious to know if they were done sooner than 8 hours. Did you cook them on low or high? I saw a recipe for slow cooker beans once that said to cook them on HIGH for 8 hours. That seemed like too much, but maybe it was a typo. ??


  3. The Texan New Yorker. O_o I thought those were contradicting terms.

    • Texan New Yorker

      Hmm, I guess they could be. But that’s the name of my blog because I grew up in Texas and now live in New York – though I think I’m more New Yorker than Texan at this point. Though I still love Texas food. 🙂

      Glad to have you here!

  4. Julie,
    Bean Pies are eaten year round, but I understand that they are frequently served as part of the Ramadan feast by followers of the Nation of Islam. Several years ago a former coworker was aware of a bakery/fresh market near our office that was owned by an Islamic family and they sold the pies. One day we walked up there at lunch time and bought several whole pies to take back to the office. Ten minutes after we arrived back with the pies, there wasn’t so much as a crumb left! After much trial and error, I’ve learned to make them myself. The spices used, and overall flavor is similar, but different, to a sweet potato pie. It’s one of those things that you just wouldn’t believe how good they can be until you’ve tried it.

    • Texan New Yorker

      Okay, thanks for the clarification! In my quick research I did find that some sites said it was a Muslim treat while others said it was an American South dessert, which I suppose aren’t mutually exclusive. 🙂 I used to dislike sweet potato pie as a kid, but I love it now and don’t know what I was thinking; so I’m sure I would love a bean pie. I’ll have to do more research and come up with one!

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