Creamy, vegan, and oil-free refried beans. This homemade version is made with easy-to-find simple ingredients and is so much better than the canned stuff.
These low-fat vegan refried beans are easy to make and ready in less than 30 minutes. They’re WFPB (Whole Food Plant-Based), oil-free, and naturally gluten-free! I use canned beans to make the recipe quick and easy.
Since the pinto beans are already cooked, we’re simmering them with vegetable broth, onions, and a bay leaf to build more flavor. This creates a delicious vegan version of refried beans without using oil or lard. The beans work great in a variety of Mexican-inspired dishes for a plant-based diet.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Please see the recipe card below for the exact measurements and instructions.
Pinto beans - Use 2 cans of pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed or 3 cups of cooked pinto beans as the main ingredient to make these plant-based refried beans. The beans are cooked in vegetable broth with spices to create a flavorful Mexican-inspired dish.
The pinto beans can be substituted with black beans to make refried black beans.
Onion and garlic cloves - A ½ cup of diced onions and 3 cloves of garlic are used to build a base flavor for our refried beans recipe. Use a yellow or white onion and finely dice it so there are no large chunks of them in the dish. If you don't have them on hand, try onion powder (¾ teaspoon) and garlic powder (½ teaspoon).
Vegetable broth - I use homemade salt-free vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor. If you use a low-sodium store-bought vegetable broth, you may want to adjust the salt. In all recipes, always adjust the salt to your preferences.
Jalapeños - To make the refried bean recipe not so spicy, remove the seeds and white ribs from the jalapeño.
Spices - We add a bay leaf, ground cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano to build more depth of flavor. After the beans have simmered in the vegetable broth, remove the bay leaf before blending the pinto beans.
- There should be liquid left over after simmering the beans that will get mashed into the mixture to get a creamy texture, the beans will get too dry without it.
- For oil-free cooking keep water or broth by your side when you add the garlic and spices, they’ll stick. Use it to deglaze the pan if needed to prevent your spices from burning.
- The amount of liquid that you’ll need depends on the pan you’re using (by how much liquid evaporates during the cooking process) and your desired consistency. Start with 1 cup and add more if needed.
- I like my beans on the creamy side. If you prefer thick refried beans, start with ¾ cup of vegetable broth. You can always add more if you need it to get the perfect consistency.
- I mash about ¾ of the beans, keeping some whole for texture. Or mash all of the beans in this vegan version for a smoother texture.
- A food processor or immersion blender can be used to create a creamy cohesive texture for these low-fat refried beans. The beans may be too thick for a regular blender.
For oil-free cooking: In a medium preheated non-stick saucepan, add the onion and jalapeño. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5-8 minutes. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, add ¼ cup of water to the saucepan with the onions. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth to the onions if they are sticking to prevent burning.
Flavor: Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano and stir to coat the onions. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Deglaze: Add the cup of (vegetable broth) and deglaze the pan. Scrape off the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. A wooden spoon works well for this.
Beans: The canned beans are already cooked. Add the drained and rinsed beans, bay leaf, and salt. Stir to combine.
Cook: Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook the oil-free refried beans uncovered for about 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend. Stir occasionally. Make sure to simmer instead of boiling, boiling will use more liquid, and the beans are already cooked.
Mash: Remove the bay leaf. There should be some liquid left, mash some of the beans into the liquid with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender (stick blender), keeping some whole for texture. If the beans get dry after mashing add more vegetable broth or water to reach your desired consistency. If the beans are too thin cook them with the lid off, frequently stirring until they thicken.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve with your favorite toppings.
The oil-free beans work great for meal prep. Store cooled leftover refried beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. If they dry out add a little splash of water to rehydrate them before you warm them up in the microwave or on the stovetop. Stir in more water or vegetable broth to reach your desired consistency.
To freeze refried beans, portion off cooled leftovers into freezer-safe containers and freeze for 2-3 months. Once thawed, if the beans are dry add a splash of water, then heat up in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add more water or vegetable broth to rehydrate and reach your desired consistency.
This Mexican-inspired dish can be used as a side dish or add them to a variety of dishes.
- Eat the beans as they are or with some rice
- Try adding hot sauce, vegan sour cream, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Serve them as a dip with tortilla chips
- Mix in salsa and make it into a bean dip
- Use them in burritos
- Try them in burrito bowls with rice, fresh or cooked veggies, and vegan chipotle sauce
- Add them to tacos
- Use them as a filling for taquitos or flautas
- Make tostadas with them
- Make enchiladas with refried beans
- Try them in quesadillas
- Make vegan nachos with refried beans, vegan cheese, pico de gallo, and vegan guacamole
- Vegan nacho cheese dip
- Vegan guacamole
- Vegan pico de gallo
- Cashew lime crema
- Refried bean taquitos
- Vegan nachos
I hope you enjoy this recipe for creamy homemade refried beans! If you enjoy it, feel free to rate it and leave a comment.Print
Simple, creamy, vegan, and oil-free refried beans. This homemade version is made with easy-to-find ingredients and is so much better than the canned stuff.
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 jalapeno, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (blend not cayenne pepper)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup salt-free vegetable broth (plus more if the beans get too dry)
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Fresh cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
- For oil-free cooking: In a medium preheated non-stick saucepan, add the onion and jalapeño. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5-8 minutes. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, add ¼ cup of water to the saucepan with the onions and jalapeños. Add a splash of water if the onions start to stick to prevent burning.
- Flavor: Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano and stir to coat the onions and jalapeño. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Deglaze: Add the cup of vegetable broth and deglaze the pan. Scrape off the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. A wooden spoon works well for this.
- Beans: Add the pinto beans, bay leaf, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Cook: Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend.
- Mash: Remove the bay leaf. There should be some liquid left, mash some of the beans into the liquid with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender, keeping some whole for texture. If the beans get dry after mashing, add more vegetable broth or water to reach your desired consistency. If the beans are too thin simmer them with the lid off, stirring frequently until they thicken.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve with your favorite toppings.
I use salt-free vegetable broth, if yours is not you may need to decrease the salt.
I like my beans on the creamy side. If you prefer thick refried beans, start with ¾ cup of vegetable broth. You can always add more if you need it.
If the liquid is not simmering, then it will take longer for the liquid to cook out. Alternatively, if you boil you may lose too much liquid.
Two cans of pinto beans can be replaced with 3 cups of cooked pinto beans.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main Course, Side Dish
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican inspired
Keywords: vegan refried beans, oil-free refried beans, homemade refried beans