First make a batch of my homemade pinto beans: 4 cups dried pinto beans 4 slices thick cut bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons black pepper Rinse the beans under cool water. If you see any little strange looking bits in there, pick them out and discard. Put the beans in a Dutch oven (or similarly large pot) and fill with water until 2 inches above the beans. Throw the bacon in the pot, and bring everything to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about two hours until nice and thick. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Next, if you want to spice up your refried beans, add any of the optional ingredients listed above. Now, spoon the cooked beans into a mixing bowl. Allow a little of the cooking liquid in there, too. If you like your refried beans a bit soupy, add a little more liquid. Then, with a potato masher, simply mash away! Next throw in some fat like shortening, lard, bacon grease or even a few tablespoons of butter. You can certainly omit this step if you’re trying to cut down on fat but it really contributes to the smooth consistency, and in the case of the bacon grease and butter, the flavor of the refried beans. Now continue mashing until the mixture reaches desired consistency. You can leave them quite lumpy or make them super smooth – it all depends on how much you mash. Then, go ahead and season them to taste. Even if the cooked beans were seasoned, the mashed version might need a little more salt. If you prefer to actually fry the refried beans, you can do the mashing in a large skillet over medium-low heat but you don’t have to.