I was sort of shocked the first time I opened a can of refried beans, as they just looked….what can I say?…like a can of dog food. They really have no eye-appeal at all. Good thing they have nutritional value or none of us would be making or eating them! After they’re all mashed up in the frying pan, they can be a bit dry, so I add either some of the bean liquid or some milk to get them to that “these-look-like-dog-food” stage.

You can buy refried beans…unless you live where they aren’t available, as I do. I generally start with rehydrating dry beans, though of course using canned beans saves some time. I’m going to make up just two cups for my batch of refried beans…since there’s only two of us eating now. With a family you probably want to make a larger batch but the method is the same.

I begin by sauteing a diced onion and one clove of garlic, minced. To that I add the re-hydrated (or canned) beans. I’ve used various beans through the years, depending what’s available. In these photos I used the borlotti beans; often I’ll use black beans, kidney beans or pinto beans. Remember? I’m not from Mexico so they all work for me. Then, I use a potato masher to just begin smashing and mashing the beans. I guess this is a good thing to make if you’re frustrated as you can sort of take it out on the beans, instead of your dear husband or kids. You may find it easier to just add 1/2 C. of beans at a time, rather than dumping them all in at once. Since I’m making a small batch here, I added one cup at a time…mashing as I go. That’s it. Easy, isn’t it? That’s why I never buy them anymore.


Yield: About 2 cups



  • 2 C. canned or rehydrated beans (barlotti beans, kidney beans, black beans)
  • 2 T. bacon drippings, margarine or oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Milk or bean liquid



  1. If using dry beans, soak them overnight or by quick method.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer slowly until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Drain beans, reserving liquid.
  4. In a heavy frying pan, heat the bacon drippings, margarine or oil.
  5. Add the garlic and onion; cook until tender.
  6. Add beans and mash them with a potato masher. Add a little of the reserved liquid or some milk and continue cooking and mashing until beans are thickened to the consistency you want.


If you enjoyed this recipe you might want to purchase the PDF version of Debbie’s cookbook Around Our Table, a great way to keep your recipes handy no matter where you are in the world.  For more information, go to http://ciaofromdebbie.com/cookbooks/


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