Instant Pot Refried Beans are a staple in my house. I can have rustic, chunky beans, cooked from dried, in about an hour from my pressure cooker.
Refried beans are a staple in my house. Back when my oldest was a toddler, he went through a phase where he would only eat "smushy beans", so I've practiced this recipe a lot.
Canned beans are OK - they're good, and consistent - but if you want great refried beans, you have to cook your own. Homemade beans have an extra depth of flavor, and the cooking liquid is almost better than the beans. It's a shame that cooking dried beans takes so long.
That's where the Instant Pot comes in. A cup of dried beans, three cups of water, and 40 minutes of pressure cooking. Homemade refried beans, from scratch, in about an hour. And most of that cooking time involves staring at the pressure cooker.
For weeknight beans, I try to get the pressure cooking going early. I don't want to be staring at the pressure cooker, willing it to finish, when everyone is sitting around the table. As soon as I get home, I throw everything in my Instant Pot, set the cooking time, and then go about the rest of my evening routine. When the Pot beeps at me, I quick release the pressure and remove the lid, leaving the cooked beans and their liquid in "keep warm" mode. That way, the beans are waiting on me, not the other way around.
Or, when I'm really thinking ahead, I save a half recipe of my Instant Pot Pinto Beans, and then I can skip straight to the Sauté the aromatics and Fry the beans steps.
- Dried Pinto beans
- Fine sea salt
- Baking soda
- Bay leaf
- Vegetable oil
See recipe card for quantities.
You can substitute dry black beans for the pinto beans. Cut the pressure cooking time for the beans back to 35 minutes. (See a full recipe here: Instant Pot Refried Black Beans.)
If you want cowboy-style refried beans, substitute bacon fat or lard for the vegetable oil. And if you happen to have some leftover bacon with the bacon fat, crumble it up and sprinkle it on the beans right before serving.
If you can't take the heat, skip the Jalapeño pepper. If you want it hotter, replace the jalapeño with a serrano pepper, or add a second jalapeño
If you want to use canned beans instead of dried beans, skip the "pressure cook the beans" step and use 2 (15- to 16-ounce) cans of pinto beans, drained, with 2 cups of water.
Potato masher. You can use a wooden spoon in a pinch, but it's not a great tool for smashing - not enough surface area to smash with.
12-inch frypan (Mashing and simmering the beans is easier in a wide pan, but you can use your Instant Pot if you don't want to dirty another pan.)
How to Make Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Sort and rinse the dry pinto beans. Get rid of any stuff in the bag that's not a bean, and toss any broken beans.
- Put the dry pinto beans, 3 cups of water, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, 2 cloves of garlic, and a bay leaf in an Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker).
- Lock the lid, and pressure cook at high pressure for 40 minutes. Then, quick release the pressure. (discard the garlic and bay leaf.)
- In a large fry pan, sauté a diced onion, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, and a minced jalapeno.
- Add the beans and their cooking liquid to the fry pan. Simmer and smash until the beans are thick and ready to serve. Enjoy!
This recipe halves easily. You can double the beans in a 6-quart Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, but it might overflow a 12-inch frypan, so I switch to my 3-quart sauté pan or dutch oven for the sauté and mash step.
🤨 Soaking pinto beans?
I get the “to soak, or not to soak?” question all the the time. I don’t soak my pinto beans in this basic recipe. They don’t need an overnight soak, and cook to tenderness with 40 minutes at high pressure.
That doesn’t mean you can’t soak the beans. They turn out fine, though the bean broth isn’t quite as full bodied. Soaked beans cook much quicker, 18 minutes at high pressure. I use that when I’m cooking the beans with other ingredients, where the shorter cooking time keeps me from overcooking the whole dish just to get the beans tender.
💡Tips and Tricks
- I use both an Instant Pot (to pressure cook the beans) and a frypan (to sauté everything) in the instructions. You can make this recipe entirely in your Instant Pot by cleaning the pot liner out and switching to sauté mode when it comes to the Sauté step. I find it easier to work with a frypan, especially for simmering down the beans.
- See my Instant Pot Pinto Beans recipe for more bean cooking details.
- For an extra touch of flavor, sprinkle crumbled queso fresco (or substitute shredded pecorino romano) on top of the beans right before serving.
- These are rustic, chunky refried beans. If you want smooth beans, use a food processor. After step 1 is complete, pour the beans and their liquid into a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
- No pressure cooker? No problem. Cook the beans in a large sauce pot with a lid. Instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover with the lid ajar so some steam can escape. Cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are completely cooked. You may have to add water during the cooking time to keep the beans submerged. Once the beans are cooked, continue with Step 2.
- No dried beans? No problem. Canned beans will work just fine. Replace step 1 with two 15- to 16-ounce cans of drained pinto beans, and add two cups of water to help the beans simmer in the pan.
- Use make-ahead beans: Why cook a cup of beans when you can cook a pound? I freeze leftover beans in 2-cup containers, covering them with their liquid. Then this recipe is a quick weeknight side dish. I pull two 2-cup containers of beans out of the freezer, and thaw it in the microwave while I sauté the onions in step 2.
What to Serve with this Recipe
Refried beans are a classic side dish, used on both sides of the Southwestern border in Tex-Mex and Norteno Mexican cooking. Serve them with Tacos, Enchiladas, Fajitas - or any other Tex-Mex dish. Or, use them as an appetizer with tortilla chips.
Adapted From: Lorna Sass, Pressure PerfectPrint
Instant Pot Refried Beans are a staple in my house. I can have rustic, chunky beans, cooked from dried in about an hour from my pressure cooker.
- 8 ounces (1 heaping cup) dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic (whole, with skins still on)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 cups of cooked pinto beans and their cooking liquid (from above)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pressure cook the beans for 40 minutes with Quick Release: Put the beans, whole garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon of salt, baking soda, bay leaf, and water in an Instant Pot or other the pressure cooker. Stir, and then lock the pressure cooker lid, Cook on high pressure for 40 minutes in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker ("Manual" or "Pressure Cook" mode), or for 35 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker. Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves. Save the beans and the cooking liquid.
- Sauté the aromatics: Heat the vegetable oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion, smashed garlic cloves, jalapeño, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté until the onions are browned around the edges, about five minutes. (If the beans aren't done, turn the heat off and move the pan to a cool burner. When the beans are done, put the pan back over medium-high heat and continue with step 3.)
- Fry the beans: Add the beans and all of their cooking liquid to the fry pan. Be careful - the hot oil may splatter when the wet beans are added. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the beans. Start mashing the beans, stirring as you go to get the onions evenly distributed. Keep cooking the beans, mashing and stirring occasionally, until the beans thicken, about eight minutes. Serve and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keywords: Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans, Instant Pot Refried Pinto Beans
To make the beans ahead, pressure cook them, and refrigerate them in 2-cup containers for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. To make the recipe, thaw out the beans and continue with the "Sauté" step.
This recipe freezes well, in 2-cup containers, for up to 6 months.
🤝 Related Posts
Instant Pot Pinto Beans (No Soak)
Pressure Cooker Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta Fagioli)
Pressure Cooker Mexican Black Bean and Noodle Soup (Frijoles y Fideos)
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes.
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