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Simple Refried Beans


This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen. To quickly make refried beans, we fry a couple of slices of bacon and use the fat to give the beans meaty depth. Onions and garlic provide savory notes, while the rich canning liquid from pinto beans helps to create a silky texture and a rich flavor. We mash the beans with a potato masher for a partly smooth, partly chunky texture.

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Rate this recipe 4.6/5 (19 Votes)


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, with juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Kosher salt to taste


Servings 4
Preparation time 15mins
Cooking time 30mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Heat bacon in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 7 to 10 minutes, flipping bacon halfway through. Remove bacon and reserve for another use.

Increase heat to medium, add onion to fat in skillet, and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add beans and their liquid and water and bring to simmer. Cook, mashing beans with potato masher, until mixture is mostly smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.

Season with salt to taste, and serve.


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