Pressure cooker, Side dish
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Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans

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 pressure cooker comes in. A cup of dried beans, three cups of water, and 45 minutes of cooking time (30 minutes under pressure, plus 15 minutes for the pressure to come down naturally and the beans to finish cooking). Homemade refried beans, from scratch, in about an hour. And most of that cooking time involves staring at the pressure cooker.
*No pressure cooker? No worries. See the notes section for stove top instructions. Or if you really want to cheat, see the notes section for canned bean instructions.

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 the electric pressure cooker, set the cooking time, and then go about the rest of my evening routine. The electric PC shuts itself off when the beans are done. The beans can sit in their liquid for a while once they’re cooked. That way, the beans are waiting on me, not the other way around.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans

Adapted From: Lorna Sass, Pressure Perfect


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Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x


Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans – rustic, chunky beans from the pressure cooker.




  • 1 cup pinto beans (7 ounces), sorted and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic (whole, with skins still on)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Pressure cook the beans: Put the beans, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf, and water in the pressure cooker. Stir, and then lock the pressure cooker lid, Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes in an electric pressure cooker, or 30 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker. Turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves. (Save the beans and the cooking liquid).
  2. Sauté the aromatics: While the pressure is coming down on the beans: 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 1/2 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.)
  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. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Serve.


For more bean cooking details, see my Pressure Cooker Beans Basic Technique.

  • Category: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex


  • 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.
  • If you want to speed up the pressure cooking, soak the beans overnight in 1 quart of water with 1/2 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Drain the beans, use the recipe recipe as written (including the 3 cups of water in the pressure cooker), but cut the time under pressure to 15 minutes.
  • 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 a 16 ounce can of pinto beans and its liquid.
  • 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 a container of beans out of the freezer, and thaw it in the microwave while I sauté the onions in step 2.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans in Tex-Mex Broth
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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  1. Elizabeth Nielson says

    Excellent! I have a made a lot of different recipes for pressure cooker refried beans, and this one is my favorite. Beautiful flavor.

    (I do leave some of the liquid out, though, at the end. I may have put in too much water for a 16 oz bag of beans)

    • Elizabeth Nielson says

      I liked this so much, I made it again a few days later! Turns out, I did, in fact, add too much liquid the first time. This time I paid better attention (lol) and added the recommended amount of liquid. It was perfect. This is the best refried bean recipe hands down, and like I said, I’ve made a lot! Thank you for this deliciousness.

  2. karen says

    mike! you are a bean-cooking-savant! i have tried (too) many recipes with terrible results include some from big fat ‘pros’
    america’s test kitchen was an epic fail on one end to a close-but-no-cigar version from martha stewart slow cooker book . . .

    YOURS is PERFECT! originally from So. Cal., i’m pretty darn snooty about really good refried beans . . .
    THESE are DELISH and all i had were the cheap pintos from the market

    btw when you’re ready to write the ‘Bean Primer’ cookbook i’m ready to buy
    – we eat very little meat at our house so perfecting beans, especially in my stovetop pressure cooker, is a BIG deal –
    ‘almost gave myself a belly ache from eating sooooo much of the yummy results

  3. Margaret says

    I’ve made this recipe dozens of times. It’s so easy! I’m sitting on the couch right now as it cooks. They are runnier the first night, but the leftovers are thicker. It’s easy to set aside some of the liquid and add some back later if desired. I can’t believe I ate canned beans for so many years! I made this recipe for a Mexican potluck and received many compliments. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, it’s a small enough amount of beans to fit in the 3 quart pot. (Don’t go over the half-full line with beans in a pressure cooker.)

  4. Diana says

    Hello, if I make 3 cups of beans, would i use 9 cups of liquid? Thanks

  5. Red says

    Amazing refried beans! In fact, the best ever!! I get asked for the recipe regularly, I tell them to come here to your website to get it! I have found the water to beans ratio works better if I don’t soak the beans, which works great for those last minute recipes! And of course, for us non-spicy/heat people, I put in 1/4-1/2 of a jalopeno. Awesome job Mike!

  6. Barbara Waldorf says

    This part of the directions is confusing me: Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes in an electric pressure cooker, or 30 minutes in an electric pressure cooker.

    Can you please clarify?

  7. Nice recipe. I kept the beans in the pressure cooker for 35 minutes with a natural release… they were a bit underdone. Next time I’ll go for 45. The only thing I changed is adding Epazote in a tea ball (removed prior to frying.) to me, if you don’t have epazote, the beans are missing some flavor.

  8. sommer says

    OK, these are delicious!!! Just made them for lunch and, you’re right, the depth of flavor is astounding when compared to canned! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  9. I’ve made all sorts of refried beans over the years, and this definitely is a good, no frills recipe for them! One question, though – if I soak the beans in advance, is there a reason why I still should use 3 cups of water? The beans don’t need that much water to cook, and less water would certainly cut down on the amount of time it takes to cook down the liquid. Is there some other benefit to that specific quantity of water that I am missing?

    • I find that the beans do need that much water to cook, even when soaked, or I wind up with floaters that aren’t cooked all the way through.

  10. I’ve been doing alot more cooking from scratch lately. I’ve gotten to the point that (except for tomatoes) canned ANYTHING just doesn’t taste right. I absolutely LOVED these refried beans. So so easy and SO tasty. I served them alongside some viejo ropa and rice. I was wondering if the full 1/4c of vegetable oil is necessary or could I cut back a little? At any rate, I will never EVER buy canned refried beans again.

    • Yes, you can cut back on the oil…but the results are less “fried” and more “simmered until thick”. That’s not necessarily bad, but it is a different style of beans. Give it a try and see if you like it with less oil.

  11. I’m planning on making this today, I’m looking forward to it based on comments. I just am not understanding why it says the prep time is 8 hours when there’s no pre-soak needed. Can you explain what I might be missing?

  12. Mike says

    Made a half recipe of this (without presoaking the beans) today to put on tacos. Oh my, I never knew beans could taste like that. My wife was blown away by the flavor in these beans.

    Thank you so much for opening our eyes to the amount of flavor fresh beans can have. I will never buy canned refried beans (or canned beans in general) again!

  13. Mike says

    A bit confused how you presoak but still use the same amount of water to cook the beans since all of the water is transferred to the aromatics. Do you reduce the amount of cooking liquid transferred over to the aromatics?

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