Traditional Refried Beans | Healthy Home Economist


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Refried beans recipe using traditional preparation methods and healthy fat for a delicious and easily digested dish with maximum nutrition.

healthy refried beans in white serving bowl

Although I love refried beans, I avoid them in restaurants because they give me a mild case of indigestion.

My hunch is that this occurs for three reasons:

  • The beans are not properly prepared. Soaking beans before cooking is crucial to symptom-free enjoyment. This step is typically overlooked especially in restaurants to save time, but is very important. This careful preparation practice eliminates the majority of antinutrients responsible for gas and bloating!
  • The bean cooking water is typically used to make the refried beans. Since the beans are probably not soaked, this water would be akin to toxic aquafaba loaded with antinutrients.
  • An unhealthy seed oil like canola is likely used rather than pastured lard or bacon drippings. Worse, the seed oil is likely GMO too.

If you enjoy refried beans and would like to serve them as a side dish for Mexican night at home without indigestion later, give this traditionally-inspired recipe below a try!

Preparation and Serving Suggestions

This dish is most enjoyable with a shredded mozzarella cheese topping.

I recommend always taking a minute or two to make homemade shredded cheese.

This effort is worth it as commercial shredded cheese is processed with aluminum salts even if organic.

Note that the mozzarella cheese brand recommended in the recipe does NOT use GMO starter (I confirmed with the company directly).

I do not recommend canned beans to save time making this dish. The toxins used in the canning process are best avoided!

If you need to make this dish more quickly, I suggest using sprouted pinto beans that you can cook immediately with no overnight soak necessary. This brand is excellent.

The downside is that sprouted pinto beans are more expensive that unsprouted dried versions that you soak before cooking.

soaked refried beans with grated cheese topping

Healthy Refried Beans

Healthy recipe for refried beans using traditional preparation methods and healthy fat for optimal digestive and nutrient absorption.

Total Time 9 hours 10 minutes


  1. In a medium pot, cover pinto beans with filtered water. Stir in a pinch of baking soda, affix the lid, and soak for 8 hours or overnight.

  2. Drain pinto beans and add fresh filtered water to cover. Add bay leaves.

  3. Bring beans to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about an hour or until very soft. Add more water as needed during simmering to keep the beans covered.

  4. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off all the bean cooking water into a bowl. Measure the amount of the cooking water with a glass measuring cup. It should be about 1-2 cups of liquid. After measuring, discard the bean cooking water.

  5. Add warmed chicken stock in the same amount measured in the previous step to the pot of drained and cooked beans and mash it together with a potato masher or sturdy wooden spoon. Alternatively, blend it up in a food processor.

  6. In a large skillet, heat the lard or bacon drippings over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook for 3-5 minutes while stirring frequently.

  7. Add the minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, cayenne, and optional jalapeno. Cook for one minute.

  8. Add the beans and chicken stock mixture to the skillet, sprinkle in the oregano, and continue to stir and cook on medium-high heat. A thick paste will form after 5-10 minutes as the liquid is boiled off. If needed, add water in small amounts (1 tablespoon at a time) to keep the mixture from getting too dry.

  9. Remove the refried beans from the heat and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle on the grated cheese and serve immediately.

  10. When cool, refrigerate leftovers in a glass bowl with a tight-fitting lid for up to four days.

Nutrition Facts

Healthy Refried Beans

Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)

Calories 191
Calories from Fat 63

% Daily Value*

Fat 7g11%

Saturated Fat 3g15%

Monounsaturated Fat 4g

Potassium 400mg11%

Carbohydrates 24g8%

Fiber 7g28%

Protein 8g16%

Vitamin C 5mg6%

Calcium 48mg5%

Iron 2.1mg12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

traditional refried beans with cheese in serving bowl


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