Oil-free Refried Beans

Easy, nutritious and delicious!


You can buy very good oil-free (usually called “fat-free”) refried beans in the supermarket but be sure to read the label and make sure they do not contain added oil (many of the low fat and fat free labeled ones contain oil!). Whole Foods 365 brand, Trader Joe’s, and some more popular brands make them without oil. But homemade is SO easy, extremely budget-friendly, and taste so much better than the canned. They come out creamy and delicious. Once you make a batch you have them for tostadas, burritos, tacos, rice and bean plates, party dips (layered with our raw queso and chorizo is fabulous!) and even used for a soup base. They even freeze well! So these are perfect for batch cooking for the week.


3 -4 cups or 3 cans black or pinto beans, drain but SAVE the bean water!

1 onion, diced

3-5 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried epazote or oregano

1 tsp sea salt

Vegetable broth as needed for sauteeing, and adding if the beans get dry

Optional: 1 tsp chili powder blend


Heat a wide pan or pot to medium high heat. Add the onions, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Splash in broth if they start to stick. Cook a few minutes then add the garlic, and continue to cook stirring frequently.

When the onions are translucent and have softened a bit, add the seasoning and stir to coat the onions and garlic.

Cook another minute until fragrant then add the beans and stir well. Add some of the bean water, veggie broth or water, turn heat down to medium low and simmer 10 minutes or so, adding more liquid if it gets too dry.

Remove the bay leaves and using either an immersion blender or potato masher, blend or mash the beans to your liking (either completely smooth or leave some partially intact for a chunkier version). You can also transfer to a blender or food processor and blend but be careful when opening the lid (cover with a kitchen towel as you open) so you don’t get burned from the lid popping or steam.


Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion
Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion