Abandon the Can for Tasty Refried Beans From the Crock-Pot
This delicious version of refried beans prepared entirely in a Crock-Pot is a far superior alternative to canned refried beans for several reasons: The seasonings and texture can be customized according to your family's preferences; the ingredients are all inexpensive yet nutritious; and the easy, hands-off slow-cooking technique maximizes flavor while eliminating the time-consuming (and extra-pan-dirtying) step of frying the cooked beans. So, technically, they're not "refried," but these hearty, flavorful, soft-textured beans will still find their way into your burritos, on top of nachos, layered into Mexican casseroles, onto tostadas, in dips and into many more spots in your food lineup.
Total Time: 4 to 10 hours | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 8 to 12
- 1 pound dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
- 7 cups water or chicken stock
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 sprig fresh epazote or oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- (Optional) Soak the dried beans in cold water overnight, then drain.
- Add to the Crock-Pot the beans and all other ingredients except salt.
- Cook the beans on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours if pre-soaked. If not soaked, cook the beans on high for 8 to 10 hours. Taste the beans close to the end of the suggested cooking time and adjust the total time as necessary. They should be very soft.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf and sprig of epazote or oregano, if used.
- If there is excess liquid in the Crock-Pot, use a ladle or large spoon to transfer most of it to a measuring cup or other container.
- Add the salt, stir, then use a potato masher or stick blender to break down the cooked beans. You can make them chunky or smooth according to your preference, but aim for a soft, spreadable texture. If too thick, add back some of the reserved cooking liquid a little at a time.
- Serve the beans, or switch the Crock-Pot to the warm setting and keep them warm until you're ready to eat.
Adapted From: The Pioneer Woman
Optional additions to these refried beans include black pepper, chili powder, a fresh, minced jalapeno or mild green chilies from a can. You might also wish to cook the beans with diced bacon or a ham hock, or enrich them after they're cooked with a tablespoon or two of bacon fat or butter.
Whether you're serving the refried beans as a condiment or dip, top them with some grated or crumbled cheese and sliced green onion.
These refried beans freeze well and are handy to have on hand for quick cheese and bean burritos. Double the recipe and stock your freezer with individual portions of beans.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.