Restaurant-Quality Canned Refried Beans

Learn how to make canned refried beans taste better….just like the ones at your favorite Mexican restaurant! Ready in less than 10-minutes with simple ingredients and just a few simple seasonings, you can restaurant-quality refried beans in no time!

Traditional refried beans are pinto beans that have been cooked in seasonings for hours, then mashed. (Some restaurants use black beans for their refried beans.) If you don’t have time to make these Mexican beans the traditional way, get a can of refried beans and dress them up with some sassy flavor!

Why you’ll love this recipe!

If you’re making a South of the Border, Cinco de Mayo, Tex-Mex or Mexican dinner, and you need a side of refried beans, you can easily dress-up canned refried beans to taste just as good as “restaurant quality refried beans” with just a few seasonings.

  • Quick and easy – in less than 10-minutes you can have restaurant quality beans from a can!
  • Affordable – canned beans are pretty inexpensive; for less than $1 you can easily make 3 1/2-cup servings, if not 4!
  • Healthy -legumes are good for you, have tons of soluble fiber, low-fat, low-cholesterol!
  • Versatile – serve them as a side dish, or use in tacos, on tostadas or as a dip with Tex Mex Chile con Queso

Beware that some canned refried beans – doesn’t matter the brand – it could be Rosarita’s™ or Old El Paso’s™ refried beans, or Goya’s beans – some of them contain lard. In case you don’t know, lard is the white fat of a pig and it is the fattiest portion of the animal.

Granted, it gives a deep rich flavor, but it’s not healthy at all. “Plain” refried beans with no lard will be say “vegetarian” or “no fat” on the front of the can. 

Here’s how to make canned refried beans taste better with a few just seasonings and no lard.

Here’s what you’ll need

“Vegetarian” or “no fat” canned refried pintos are typically not nearly as flavorful as the one’s in the restaurant, but here’s how to make canned beans taste better with only a few simple ingredients.

  • Canned refried beans (this recipe uses refried pintos; you can use refried black beans, too)
  • Small can of diced chile peppers
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground chile powder
  • Marinated jalapenos

How to make it

The process is relatively simple, but it’s important to know you don’t need to add any additional oil to the skillet; the canned beans already have oil in them.  Keep the heat relatively low, as they do burn easily!

  • Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat; add beans and any liquid
  • Allow to cook and soften for about 3-minutes
  • Add ground cumin, chile powder, green chiles and jalapeno juice
  • Combine well and serve
Beans in a skillet with green chiles.

What does refried mean?

It means the “frijoles,”are cooked and seasoned, then pureed into a smooth consistency. You’ll find refried pinto beans on most Mexican restaurant menus, often as a staple side dish and typically with Mexican rice.

Are they vegetarian?

Not all canned refried beans are vegetarian. For example, on the ingredient label of a can of Old El Paso “Traditional,” you’ll see ingredients listed as “partially hydrogenated lard”–this is animal fat which serves as a flavorant and binding agent and is NOT vegetarian.

Conversely, vegetarian is usually indicated on the front label and the ingredient list will list soybean oil or some other oil as the binding agent.

What’s the difference between Borracho and Charro beans?

Basically, Borracho and Charro beans are both cooked pintos that include are not pureed, but stewed tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion and other spices and seasonings.  The primary difference is Borracho (which means“drunk “) usually contain beer in the cooking broth.

Serving suggestions

Serve these restaurant quality refried beans as a side with authentic Mexican rice, or on a crisp corn tostado chip, warm flour tortilla or a warm corn tortilla. They make a great and healthy snack!

They also make a quick and easy homemade burrito or taco-just spread some on a warm flour or corn tortilla, garnish with salsa, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, jalapenos or Cotija cheese!

Tostada on white plate.

Storage and reheating

Store leftover refried beans in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat in a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat; if the mixture needs a little liquid, add water.

Combine well and serve! If you re-heat in a microwave, use the “reheat dinner” setting and cover the bowl with a paper towel as they tend to splatter and dry out.

Refried beans in a black bowl garnished with white cheese, cilantro and green chiles.

I usually make these quick and easy refried beans as a quick snack or as a side dish to Adobo Chicken and Mexican Rice. Another good side dish to pair with your canned refried beans is a little sweet corn tomalito – an easy corn dish that goes great with refried beans.

♥ If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!

Refried beans in black bowl garnished with white cheese, cilantro and green chiles

Restaurant Quality Refried Beans

Restaurant Quality Canned Refried Beans are easy to make at home with the same texture and flavor of those at your favorite Mexican restaurant! Seasoned with chile powder, and ground cumin, this recipe never fails!
5 from 7 votes
Print Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3 cups
Author: Anecia Hero


  • 1 28 ounce can of refried beans , vegetarian or no fat
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chiles , undrained
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon juice from marinated jalapenos


  • Heat non-stick skillet on medium low
  • Add beans with their liquid; use a spatula to mash and stir them
    1 28 ounce can of refried beans
  • Add remaining ingredients; combine well and heat thoroughly
    1 4 ounce can diced green chiles, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, ½ tablespoon chile powder, 1 tablespoon juice from marinated jalapenos
  • Garnish with cilantro, jalapenos, cheese or avocado (optional) and serve


  • Reheat in a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat; if they’re too thick, add water. 
  • If you reheat beans in a microwave, use the “reheat dinner” setting and cover the bowl with a paper towel as the beans tend to splatter and dry out.

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 11kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 25mgPotassium: 62mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 421IUCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
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5 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    very simple additions to greatly improve canned beans.
    so many options with canned refried beans to simplify dinner especially if everything else made from scratch. i have prepped the #10 canned beans for years and either used dutch oven in the field or microwave and finish in the salamander or broiler.

    finish with cotija, or mix in cheddar jack, or Monterey jack or colby/cheddar. i usually have pickled carrots, onions, jalapeno and just used the brining juice from that.

    your simple recipe breaks it down, smoked paprika, green chile or prepped hatch green chili and that’s basically it.

    nice job


  2. 5 stars
    This is so good! Love it! I always get lots of compliments and people think it’s from scratch.

  3. I’ve never attempted to make refried beans from scratch, but this recipe may just change that. I’m always looking for meatless dinner ideas, and this recipe would be great served with some warm tortillas and a nice salad. Thanks for sharing!