Site icon Frugal Hausfrau

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.

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.

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

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


If you like this post on Canned Refried Beans you might also like:

Exit mobile version