Easy Refried Beans

I adapted this refried beans recipe from Cooking with the Right Side of the Brain, one one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks, now out of print. Unlike the original, this one uses canned beans to save time and also includes shallots for a milder onion flavour and smoked paprika to add depth.

Easy Refried Beans

Quick, easy, and versatile, you can use these refried beans to fill a taco, quesadilla, or burrito, as a dip, or even on a pizza.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Beans
Servings: 4 servings


  • Blender or food processor for smoother texture.


  • 1 540-mL can of beans, pinto or kidney, drained & rinsed
  • 1/3 cup stock, vegetable or chicken, or water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced, or less, to taste See Notes, below.
  • 1 small red sweet pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, or to taste See Notes, below.
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce See Notes, below.
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce, or to taste, optional See Notes, below.


  • Combine beans and stock in a blender or food processor. Pulse until desired texture is reached. If you do not have a blender, you can mash the beans with a potato masher.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for about 2 minutes. Turn heat down if shallots start to brown.
  • Add the sweet pepper and saute for about 2-3 minutes until softened.
  • Add the mashed beans and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.


  • I am fairly sensitive to onions so chose not to use them in this recipe. You can substitute regular cooking onions if you prefer.
  • If you prefer a smokier taste and more heat, you can use dried chipotle powder or an equivalent amount of chopped chipotle in adobo sauce. The adobo version is sold in cans and they freeze for future use. Just freeze them individually on a pan, then store them in a freezer bag. 
  • Start with 1 tbsp of tamari, especially if you are using stock with the beans. The tamari can be quite salty, so starting with less ensures you don't oversalt the dish. I do find that this dish needs a good amount of salt to bring out the flavours, but it;s always best to start with less salt.  
  • Hot sauce is optional, and the amount is to to taste. As with the tamari, I start small. You can use any variety you prefer. I like Cholula Chili Garlic. 

Refried Beans

How to Serve Refried Beans

  • Refried beans make a delicious filling for tacos or burritos. Just add it to your preferred taco shell and fill with other toppings, as suggested in the recipe.
  • Or, serve warm sprinkled with feta or cotija cheese, a bit of chopped fresh cilantro, and lime wedges. Add tortilla chips or crackers on the side for dipping.
  • If you’ve used a blender to make these beans, they should be smooth enough to use on my bean pizza. Top with some avocado or guacamole, tomato, and feta cheese for a different take on pizza.

Making a Bean Quesadilla

  1. Refried beans are fantastic in a quesadilla, which take only a few minutes to prepare.
  2. Spread refried beans on half of a flour or corn tortilla. Add a bit of grated cheese and fold the tortilla closed.
  3. Heat some oil in a frying pan set over medium heat. Place the filled tortilla in the pan and fry until lightly golden. Flip, and cook until the other side is golden. It should only take a couple of minutes per side.
  4. Place the quesadilla on a plate and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or whatever sides you prefer.

Beans image by Thecoolphotos| Dreamstime.com

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