refried beans

My older daughter has a strong aversion to dried beans.

It’s the weirdest thing because beans are a staple in this family. I keep the pantry stocked with black, red, navy, and pinto beans, as well as green and red lentils—none of which she likes (but eats nonetheless, since it’s what’s for supper).

I’m hoping she out grows her dislike someday, but I’m not too optimistic. Even after three years of living in Bean Central (otherwise known as Central America), my husband still isn’t that fond of the magical fruit. My daughter gets her bean-hate from him.

This is where refried beans comes into the picture. She much prefers beans when they’re not in their beany form (it must be a texture thing, not a tastebud thing). I made a big pot of refried beans the other night for supper, and she was gratifyingly grateful.

The rest of the family liked them, too. We topped the puddle of beans with sour cream and cheese and salsa and then scooped the whole mess into our mouths via soft flour tortillas.

There are many ways to make refried beans, and I’ve experimented with a variety recipes. However, it’s my own creation that I keep coming back to. Probably because it involves bacon grease.

Bacon grease is a precious commodity in my kitchen. I love to use it in place of butter when frying eggs or sauteing the veggies for a potato soup.

Please tell me you reserve your bacon grease, yes? Yes? Oh, good! We of the bacon grease saving mentality are kindred spirits.

Refried Beans

1 pound pinto beans, cooked until very soft
1/4 cup bacon grease
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
lots of salt

Saute the onion in the bacon grease until tender. Add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes. Add the beans and some of their broth (reserve the remaining juice in case you need to thin the beans further) and heat through. Using an immersion or stand blender, blend until smooth. Season with salt, and don’t be skimpy about it, either.

Note: these freeze well.

This same time, years previous: thrift store shoppingsour cherry crostatas, how to freeze spinach, strawberry margarita cake, and Swiss chard rolls


  • Unknown

    You may not try it but I love browned flour gravy, browned of course, in bacon grease. Make a roux, add milk, and some of the bacon bits stuck to the pan make it even better!

    And my refried beans are made with onions, pintos and bacon grease!

    P.S. I only make the gravy about 4-5 times a year.

  • Kathy ~ Artful Accents

    Absolutely, I save my bacon grease! Never know when you're going to need it to fry some eggs or flavor some fried rice or green beans. I've never used it for refried beans though, I will have to try this.

  • Melodie Davis

    Yay for bacon grease. And also yay for other perfectly healthy and willing-to-try-new-food daughters who have a gene or something in them that makes them almost gag at beans. My 26 year old. Another woman at work was talking about peas yesterday–she is all into simple living, gardening, vegetables etc. but can't stand peas. I felt better about my husband not liking them either, 'cept he has to have them in vegetable soup. Go figure.

  • Amy

    My daughter is a bean hater, too…. weird, considering they were raised in a completely Mexican family. She'll eat lengua, tripe, etc…but not beans. pfft….more for me!

    I always use bacon when I'm cooking dry beans, and chorizo when I'm making refried…

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Cabbagetown Cafe (a restaurant in Ithaca, NY) had a recipe for these in their cookbook (years ago). Similar to yours, of course, but with the addition of 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon each of oregano, basil, and dill(!), and 1/4 teaspoon or less of cayenne pepper. It's been a family staple for years and works well with black beans, also. I saute the cumin and cayenne with the onions – takes the edge off.

    By the way, there is not much that cannot be rendered acceptable to an unhappy child if one adds sour cream, cheese, and salsa!

  • Margo

    Noticed my bacon grease was getting low this morning when I fried up the taco beans for taco salad. *sad* Must fry more bacon.

    I used to mash up beans with my pototo masher, but your photo reminded me that duh, I did buy a stick blender finally. Maybe we will have pureed beans for our taco salads tonight.

  • the domestic fringe

    We love beans. I'm going to try this recipe, because I'm always buying cans of refried beans. I don't save bacon grease, but every single person in my family does. My mom always had a coffee mug of it when I was growing up. She didn't drink it of course, but you know what I mean. 😉

  • Peggy

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you!! Just for the record you are making a pretty authentic refried bean!!! When I was in language school two of our instructors were from Mexico… okay let me clarify ALL of our instructors were born & raised in Latin American countries speaking spanish…. English was definitely their 2nd language! But two out of the four on our team (the other a Honduran & and one Cuban… who came over for college in the 50's and just never went back.) were from Mexico. Both insisted if you were going to make authentic refried beans you had to use bacon grease!! no bacon grease, no refried beans. Juan made his JUST like yours but he didn't measure…. now I'm hungry!! (oh and my family doesn't care for beans either but i've finally decided i'm making them on a regular basis again… the older two fell in love w/ beans & rice in jamaica last year so its a start!!)

    Have a great day! Stay cool!! (for the record i LOVE bacon grease…. the best molasses cookie i've ever eaten used bacon grease!!)

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