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Vegan Refried Beans

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Making Vegan Refried Beans from Scratch is worth the effort as these are WAY better than canned beans, and they are also Freezer Friendly!

So I’ve made Vegan Refried Beans from scratch before, but recently I posted a video that caused a little commotion. You see, I was recreating a meal my mom used to make me, and like her, I used canned refried beans.

Lots of folks chimed in about how scratch made beans are better. Which is obvious, but they also can take a while to make. Then somebody said I could just make them ahead of time and freeze them for when I needed a quick and easy meal.

It’s such a simple and obvious solution, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it myself! But hey, better late than never.

But I’m glad I did, because everyone was right of course! These beans are in a completely different league than canned beans. They are honestly restaurant quality, and in my experience, better in most cases!

why you’ll dig vegan refried beans!

So naturally, these refried beans are great on their own. I’ve been swiping a cold spoonful straight from the fridge so they pass the “Goblin Test” as they should!

But of course refried beans are also great in a bevy of ways. I had to make some Bean, Cheese and Soyrizo Tacos with ’em! These were dynamite!

I’ve also used them on my Vegan Huevos Rancheros!

You can use them on NACHOS!

Vegan Grande Nachos


Are Refried Beans Vegan?

Traditionally refried beans are made with lard, so they are not vegan. However, we are simply swapping that out for some vegetable shortening (Crisco).

You can totally bypass it all together if you want a lower fat version too. They are still delicious, just not as rich!

should i salt beans before or after cooking?

There’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet in regards to when you should salt your beans. Some folks say salting the cooking water will result in tough beans that take longer to cook.

Others say salting the cooking water will be fine and season the beans all the way through. Serious Eats has an interesting experiment you should check out.

I’ve found that salting them in the cooking water is great if you are using an Instant Pot or something similar. The beans were super soft and seasoned throughout. They were honestly pretty tasty right out of the Instant Pot.

Ingredients for Vegan reFried Beans

One of the best things about this recipe, is you can truly customize it how you see fit! I made two versions, so I’ll tell you about them.

  • Beans – I like using dried pinto beans. Black beans are also common but I haven’t experimented with them. However they should work too.
  • Salt – There does seem to be some debate about when to salt beans, but I’ve found that salting the cooking water seasons them all the way through. I call for 1 Tbsp in the recipe, but you can use half of that and add in more later.
  • Garlic – I also like to cook the beans with some garlic cloves for some more flavor. We can also mash the garlic into the beans!
  • Oil – Lastly for the cooking water I like to add some oil for more flavor.
  • Vegetable Shortening – This will replace the usual lard. It adds a nice fatty richness to the beans. However, I also made some without the shortening and they were still fantastic. So feel free to leave it out if you wish.
  • Peppers & Onions – I recommend sauteing some peppers and onions before you mash in your beans. I made a version without these as well, and it was still good!
  • Seasonings – After that, you can season how you like. I added in a little cumin, oregano and chipotles in adobo.

How do i make vegan refried beans?

These are super simple to make! We are just gonna add them to an Instant Pot along with some water. You can do this on the stovetop too, it will just take a bit longer.

Also I don’t soak my beans when using the Instant Pot, it doesn’t seem necessary!

Next we’ll add some salt, garlic and oil. All three of these will vastly improve the taste of the beans. In fact, they are pretty good right out of the Instant Pot!

After the beans have been cooked, drain them but reserve the cooking water. Then we’ll saute some onions and jalapeños in some vegetable shortening.

Once the veggies are softened and have a little color on them, we’ll add in the beans.

Mash the beans to your desired consistency. You can even use an Immersion Blender to get them super smooth.

You can add some of the reserved bean water to thin out the beans if they are too thick. This will also make them creamier! Season the beans to taste and you’re done!


This recipe will make about a 8 servings. Store in the fridge and eat within 3-5 days. Or you can freeze them for up to 3 months. I recommend doing so in smaller containers if you just want 1 – 2 servings at a time. You can also thaw overnight in the fridge.

tips for making vegan refried beans

  • Use Salt, Garlic and Oil for more flavor during cooking.
  • Reserve the cooking water and use some as needed.
  • Mash the beans to your preferred consistency.
  • Use an Immersion Blender to blend the beans super smooth.

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Yield: 6 - 8 Servings

Vegan Refried Beans

Vegan Refried Beans


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbsp salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 medium onion (small dice)
  • 1 jalapeño (small dice)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle in adobo (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Clean the beans and check for any small pebbles and discard them.
  2. Add the beans along with 6 cups of water to an Instant Pot. Add in the garlic cloves, and oil. I like using a full Tbsp of salt for these, but if that seems like a lot to you, half it and then season to taste later.
  3. Cook on the Bean / Chili setting for 45 minutes. Let it natural release for 25 minutes.
  4. Heat up a pan to medium heat and then add the vegetable shortening. Once it's melted, add in the onion and jalapeño. Cook them for about 10 minutes or until softened, stirring every now and again.
  5. Strain the beans from the Instant Pot and reserve the cooking liquid. Add the beans to the pan and stir to combine.
  6. Mash the beans with a potato masher. You can blend with an immersion blender to get them super smooth if you want as well.
  7. Add in the seasonings, and then add in some of the reserved cooking liquid as you see fit. This will thin out the beans, but also make them creamier!
  8. Taste for final seasoning and enjoy!

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