Canned Refried Beans

Refried beans are so often misunderstood – unless you’ve had great ones! That’s another post, requiring planning and foresight to soak and cook the lovely pintos, but in the meantime, don’t be afraid to pick up can. Yep, a can. I said it, me, who hardly endorses any premade products. Get the right brand and use this top-secret method to doctor them up into creamy goodness.

Refried beans from a can; a touch of butter, a little milk and cheese.
Refried beans from a can; a touch of butter, a little milk and cheese.

I learned this from “K” as I’ll call her, a very dear friend who wasn’t afraid to step up to the stove during a short stay with me. She’d toss a bit of butter in the pan (optional – the butter, not the pan) add the refried beans and then a drizzle of milk, stirring now and then as it cooked up. A handful of cheese at the end, stirred in or melted on top and you’ll have the loveliest beans to serve as a side or in a quick burrito. All in about two minutes!

Chilaquiles Verde, here's the whole spread with refried beans and egg in the back corner
Chilaquiles Verde, here’s the whole spread with refried beans and egg in the back corner

This addition of milk, cream or crema drizzled into the final refrieds isn’t without precedence. In the “olden days” before the internet, I tended to collect cookbooks – it was never a decision to do so, I just couldn’t resist them! In one old south of the border book, I saw this method in a recipe for home-made frijoles refritos. I have known other friends who used a little bacon grease instead of the butter.

I don’t have many product preferences, but I do in refried beans – the La Preferida brand. I’ll buy them even when other brands are less expensive. I also stick with the original or the vegetarian (a bit healthier) and generally buy them without all the spices or peppers added. I just think refried beans are lovely as is and shouldn’t compete with the other flavors on the plate. Regardless, this method works with any flavor variations.

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

Canned Refried Beans, doctored

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/2 cup of milk, cream or a little Crema

Add butter to pan and heat over medium heat. Add in can of refried beans, including any liquid. Stir together. Add the dairy and continue to heat, stirring now and then, until desired thickness is reached, a minute or two.

from the kitchen of

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Beans: The lowly bean is one of the healthiest foods one can eat – eating beans regularly basically eliminates the issues so commonly known. Dried beans are so inexpensive to start with that they are seldom advertised as being on “sale,” but they often are after any Holiday in which Ham is considered an option for the main meal. Check for great pricing, too, in the ethnic aisles of the grocery store, as well as the pasta/bean aisle. Prices range, on sale, from $.79 to $1.00 a pound. Aldi had three-pound bags for $2.39, which is the lower number.

If you’re used to buying canned beans, unless a 15 ounce can is less than 26 cents with sales and coupons, they are more than the 79 cent per pound price of dried at Aldi. A fifteen ounce can is about 1 1/2 cups of beans, and a pound is roughly the equivalent of 3 cans.


Based on “Authentic” not low fat: Calories 163; Total Fat 7 g 11 %; Saturated Fat 4 g 18 %; Monounsaturated Fat 1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 10 mg 3 %; Sodium 425 mg 18 %; Potassium 47 mg 1 %;Total Carbohydrate 18 g 6 %; Dietary Fiber 7 g 28 %; Sugars 2 g; Protein 8 g 16 %; Vitamin A 3 %; Vitamin C 0 %; Calcium 32 %; Iron 105 %

22 thoughts on “Canned Refried Beans”

  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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!

    1. 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. 🙂

  3. 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!!

  4. 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 🙂

    1. 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 –

      1. 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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