Chef John's Refried Beans


I don't think I would ever sit down to eat just a bowl of refried beans, but they make everything they're served on, with, or in, infinitely better. Just as long as you use lard to make them.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs
Additional Time:
10 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs 10 mins
8 servings



  • 1 pound dry pinto beans, soaked overnight

  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

  • ½ teaspoon dried epazote

  • 9 cups cold water

Refried Beans:

  • ½ cup lard

  • 1 ½ cups diced onions

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons minced serrano chili pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper


  1. Drain soaked beans and transfer them to a stock pot. Add garlic, epazote, and cold water. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until beans are soft, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Drain the beans and reserve all the liquid.

  2. Melt lard in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt; cook until onions start to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in serrano pepper and chipotle powder; cook 1 minute. Transfer drained beans into skillet. Mash about half the beans with a potato masher or back of a spoon. Ladle some bean cooking liquid to skillet. Continue to mash and stir beans as you gradually add more liquid. Mash until the beans have reached your preferred consistency and texture. Taste and add more salt, if desired.

    close up view of Refried Beans in a bowl, garnished with cheese and fresh herbs
    Chef John

Chef's Note:

You can substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 1/2 teaspoon epazote.

If you want the beans loose enough to spoon over tortilla chips for nachos, you'll probably need to add all the cooking liquid. But that's up to you.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

317 Calories
14g Fat
38g Carbs
12g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 317
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 491mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 12g 44%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 79mg 6%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 628mg 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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