Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

Refried beans are so often misunderstood – unless you’ve had great ones, preferably made homemade from dried pintos, OG style. Face it, though, we don’t all have the time to make a from scratch version, heck sometimes we don’t have much more time than it takes to heat up a can of refried beans as a quick side for just about anything Mexican or Southwestern. Here’s my “top-secret method” to take any old can of refried beans and doctor it up into creamy goodness: Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style. And it takes just minutes.


This really is more than a method than a recipe, just a simple little trick or two to fix up those canned beans, smooth them out and add a little richness. It was my friend, Katie, who stayed with me for a while and wasn’t afraid to step up to the stove, that first showed me how she fixed up her refried beans. Thanks, Katie! I think you’re gonna love these as much as I do; it’s simple but transformative! And everyone will notice the difference.

About Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style:

She’d toss a bit of butter in a pan, then just dump in the canned beans, and once hot and bubbly, stir in a bit of milk, a little if she wanted them thicker, a bit more for smoother and creamy. That reminded me of an old South of the Border cookbook that had you start with a bit of lard and then add a little crema to their homemade frijoles refritos, and it reminded me, too, of a time way back when, when I’d start out with bacon drippings.

A handful of cheese tossed in at the end & stirred in or else melted on top (or both) and you’ll have the loveliest beans to serve as a side or in a quick burrito. All in about two minutes! No one will ever guess these are canned refried beans.

I have kind of a personal opinion (if you are a follower, you know I have my opinions, lol! If you’re not, I’d love it if you’d follow me, see the right-hand panel for email, facebook, pinterest or twitter) and I think that refried beans are lovely as is without any additional spice; kind of a plain foil for the rest of the food on the plate.

That doesn’t mean you can’t spice up your refries however you’d like. Add a few drops or more of your favorite hot sauce, diced peppers or maybe even a pinto bean spice mix. I happen to have one on my site (isn’t that handy?) my Homemade Mexican Pinto Bean Spice. Start out with 1/2 a teaspoon or so and add more if you’d like. Just be sure to heat it through well so it will lose any “raw” chili flavor.

Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

It only takes a minute or two to transform a canned bean into something wonderful

Making Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style:

I’m not really brand loyal to most products (hey, I’m frugal!) and unless there’s a huge difference in price, I’ll choose the La Preferida brand. No one is paying me to say that! They’re just the best ones I’ve ever tried and beat out every other brand as far as being close to homemade. I also like that they are a family-owned business and not owned by Conagra like Rosarita is.

I also stick with the original or the vegetarian (if I’m feeling a bit healthier) and generally buy them without all the spices or peppers added…just plain ol’ refried beans. This method works with any refried bean, though, any flavor, although the fat and dairy will mellow out the spicy ones a bit. Not that they’re so spicy to begin with; they’re really pretty mild.

As far as the fat, use a little butter, bacon fat or lard, whatever suits your style and for the dairy, milk, cream, crema, sour cream and so on all work. Add anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of dairy, depending on how thick or how creamy you’d like your beans and then just heat through, stirring often, until all is warm. Some brands of refried beans are thicker or thinner to start with, so use your judgment.

Saving Money on Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style:

In my area, a bag of dried beans is always the cheapest option, but even canned refried beans are not going to break the bank. In my area, a can of refried beans is just about the same price as a can of regular old cooked beans. A commenter, below, (thanks C@A) clued me in that the pricing might vary in different places; if plain old canned beans are less expensive than refried, follow her instructions in the comments to mash up your beans.

Just like any pantry “staple”, check for beans on sale, use coupons if you like to, and check the pricing in your grocery aisle that carries items like rice and beans as well as the “ethnic” aisle if your store has one. Stock up when you find really great prices.

Beans really are a great source of protein, especially when combined with either corn or rice and they’re a bargain protein as well. They’re a great source of fiber and iron and help stabilize blood sugar. It’s worth mentioning that the issues so often associated with any beans have a simple solution – just eat more of them! In most cases, your body will get used to them and regulate itself.

Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

How to doctor up canned refried beans


Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

It sounds too simple to be true, but try it and you’ll be a convert.

  • Author: FrugalHausfrau
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk, cream or a little Crema (or sour cream)
  • cheese to taste, optional


Add butter, lard or bacon drippings to pan and heat over medium heat. Add in can of refried beans, including any liquid. Stir together.

When warmed through, add the dairy and continue to heat, stirring now and then, until desired thickness is reached, a minute or two.


  • Calories: 163
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 433mg
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 10mg

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Canned Refried Beans - Make them taste like a Restaurant's. Check out this easy method. #Canned Refried Beans #CannedRefriedBeansRestaurantStyle #RestaurantStyleRefriedBeans

61 thoughts on “Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi sheryl it’s the fifteen to sixteen ounce can. I do apologize for being late to reply… I somehow missed your comments until this morning. Mollie

  1. Laura

    What a wonderful recipe! I don’t like the canned refried beans, but this is delicious! I used butter and sour cream in mine. I also added just a tiny bit of cumin. Amazing as a dip or a side dish!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Lauren thanks much it is amazing isn’t it how much just a little tweak or two does! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. 🙂

  2. Doug Clark

    GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!
    I love making Mexican meals and I HATE canned refried beans for it ruins the recipe. Black beans can’t be substituted for they are a whole different consistency.
    Your idea is similar to adding or substituting different ingredients to a cake mix like milk and melted butter.

  3. Jacklyn S. Justus

    I tried adding milk, whipping cream, and sour cream to a can of refried beans (not all at the same time! 😁) and to me sour cream is the best. I use about 1 1/2 tablespoons (or four teaspoons), two tablespoons of butter, and shredded cheddar cheese on top. It tastes amazing!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Jacklyn, thanks for stopping by and sharing! It’s just amazing what just a touch will do! I like sour cream, too, and usually I have it on hand for a topping for whatever will go with the refried beans, anyway. 🙂


  4. kv

    i’m so glad I found this, they are exactly like my favorite restaurant, I never could figure out how they made them creamy. Thank you so much!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi KV, It’s my pleasure! I’m sure it’s lard at the restaurants but this really makes a difference for us home cooks! Thanks for stopping by and I’m so glad you liked the method!


  5. Shari Herr

    Best refried beans we’ve had! I was out of milk so added sour cream and they were so good. Thank you for such a great idea for making canned refried beans taste so good.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Shari. It really does help doesn’t it thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment I appreciate it. 🙂

  6. Pludie Buckley

    `Do you have a recipe for making refried beans from homemade pinto beans? I make a big kettle of pinto beans about twice a month and I refrig the left overs. I would love to make my own refried beans.

  7. Marda Lang

    These are fabulous. Made them with the butter and milk. I will never serve the refried beans without doing this from now on. Worked great for Tostada’s!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Marda, sorry to reply so late! I thought I had replied using my cell phone, but it didn’t seem to come through. I wasn’t meaning to be rude! Glad you enjoyed the refried beans!


  8. Schubie

    When I first moved to Tucson some new friends invited me over for dinner. I never cared for beans much but they made me a plate. WOW those beans where great. I asked what’s the secret. The old man said something in spanish translated: “rendered t-bone trimmings”

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Those must have been amazing! It just goes to show that there are no end to creative twists AND how much our elders still have to show us! Thanks for commenting Schubie!

  9. Cassie

    I really don’t care for “restaurant style” retried beans because they are runny. I make canned retried beans with a generous handful of sharp cheddar cheese and about a half can (from a 4 oz can) of green chiles. I stir it together and top with more cheddar cheese. Heat through and serve. Yummy.

  10. Pingback: Hayatınızı renklendirmek için 50 kolay ve otantik Meksika yemeği tarifleri - Tr Blog

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Terrie, it’s fun hearing everyone’s fun little favorite twists and tricks!! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


  11. Linda Wingerter

    I like the addition of the butter with the milk. I add cheese and a 1/2 – 1 tsp of any Mexican seasoning packet I have on hand, taco, burrito, enchilada (they are probably all the same mix of spices).

  12. Joyce

    I’ve been putting cheese in my refried beans–and in Great Northern Bean soup (also adding sauteed, almost caramelized, onions to it–SO GOOD!)–for decades, but never thought to put butter and milk in them. I just had refried beans tonight as part of my dinner, but I do have them often, so will definitely try your version. Sure sounds awfully good, and here I thought I had “cornered the market,” so to speak, for making them good with just cheese 🙂

    • FrugalHausfrau

      It’s so fun to share ideas, isn’t it!! I never would have thought to put it in bean soup!! Great one, Joyce!

  13. Scott Owens

    Want a great bean dip recipe? Do as you describe, add 1/2 pint of homemade salsa or salsa of your choice and then add the cheese. Cannot be beat. Scott Owens.

  14. Pingback: 8 Best Canned Refried Beans-How to Make it Taste Better - Yum Of China

  15. c@M

    You’re spending too much money on beans that are already “refried”. Get yourself a can of Pinto or Black beans. In my part of the world, a can of Goya brand costs $0.69 USD. Grab some of your reserved bacon fat (you are saving your bacon fat to use later, right?) and toss a healthy teaspoon into a heavy pan. Heat the bacon fat until it melts and add the entire contents of the can of beans. Using a potato masher, smash up the beans. Add a large pinch of salt and mix the beans around. Stir occasionally over medium heat until beans thicken. So, for about $0.80 you’ve got some delicious and healthy beans. (Just don’t go too crazy with the bacon fat… or substitute vegetable shortening.) Then you can add stuff until your heart is content… I like some shredded cheddar cheese and a bit of sour cream. Yum.

    • Nicole Pfund

      I have also done this.. juat cauae i had no refried beans. Aa far as the bacon grease ive found alot of people look at me crazy for my refrigerated jar of bacon grease. Ita a southern thing i guess and im from oregon so people dont unferstand. I was raised by my grandmother from Mississippi so i got all the good cooking hand me downs

    • Lancia Hoover

      Why do some people feel the need to comment on a recipe with their own recipe and/or make negative comments? If the recipe doesn’t appeal to you, just keep scrolling. There are literally tens of thousands of recipes out there. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find one you can’t complain about.

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Hi Lancia, thanks! I do love to get a little lively discussion going and it’s fun to learn, too, from what others do, but admittedly sometimes the comments can get pretty brutal I’ve seen some pretty negative things, especially on the Pinterest pin for this simple little recipe! Thanks for your dose of common sense! 🙂

  16. Because... I'm cheap

    Thank you for this! I’ve rediscovered a love for refried beans. I like cooking up some bacon and onions first, then mixing in the beans. So frugal, yet so good!

    • I imagine that’s true! I have remade white beans, left over, with the addition of a little garlic, lemon, rosemary and cream, all mashed together and served as a side. 🙂

  17. I love canned re-fried beans. I especially like the black bean version which I think is a little healthier. Check out my easy Mexican Black Bean Dip. Great use of those little beans. Happy Fiesta Friday!!

  18. This weekend I am doing a tostada bar dinner for a few friends. I just got my cans of refried beans. Thank you for the lovely tips. Will follow your recipe 🙂

    • Morning! Me, too, but yep, I usually have the emergency can or two in the cupboard. When I broke my foot last year, I was darned lucky to have them and lived off microwave bean burritos and the apples on my table for about three days. Actually, I don’t even think I heated them. I couldn’t put any weight on the foot at all so it was all but impossible to do anything at first –

      • I just came home with a couple of cans of pinto beans which I’m going to have to turn into refried beans … bacon fat? Milk? Seasonings ie cumin? All they had was black bean refried beans but I wasn’t in the mood for that.

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