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These Instant Pot Refried Beans are 100% fat free, yet just as flavorful and creamy as the beans at your local Mexican restaurant. This cheap and simple side dish will teach you how to cook perfect refried beans using dry beans (no soaking!) in 1 hour. 

Bowl of refried beans topped with sliced jalapeño and cheese.

Beans have been one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. And when I learned how to make homemade Instant Pot Beans, my life changed forever. Dramatic, yes, but when you can cut the amount of time it takes to cook dried beans by 60% or more, and experience perfect results every single time dramatic statements feel appropriate! 

Once I perfected my Instant Pot Chickpeas and Instant Pot Black Beans, the next priority was mastering Instant Pot Refried Beans. They're the perfect addition to bean burritosrefried bean tacos, and slathering on toasted Torta buns.

Now, these beans aren't exactly authentic because authentic beans are typically cooked with lard or bacon fat for additional flavor and creaminess. Lard isn't an ingredient I typically stock as a pantry staple (check out my favorite pantry staples here!), and unless you cook a lot of Mexican food, I'm guessing it's not one you have on hand either. 

Instead, these Instant Pot refried beans are entirely fat-free and naturally vegan and gluten-free. But don't worry – the flavor still blows any can of store-bought beans out of the water. So much so, I've since created an Instant Pot Refried Black Beans variation that's been really popular! 

Why You Need to Stop Buying Canned Refried Beans

  • They lack flavor. Store-bought refried beans are pretty bland and have a really weird, gritty yet gelatinous texture. Once you have really good homemade refried beans, it's pretty impossible to go back to that store-bought flavor. 
  • They're expensive. I've made the argument a number of times that if you really want to be saving money on food, cooking beans and legumes from scratch is one of the easiest ways to start. In fact, this is even more true with refried beans. A can of store-bought refried beans costs anywhere from $2-$5 each. This recipe makes about 4 cans worth of beans for just $3.45. Score! 
  • Filled with unfavorable ingredients. I'm not much of an ingredient police, but it's hard for me to pay more for something that's worse for me. I understand paying a premium for health products, but paying a premium for products filled with lard, vegetable oils, preservatives, and low quality beans? No thanks! 

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients to make insant pot refried beans measured and labeled on dark backdrop.
  • Pinto beans: These instant pot beans are made using dry pinto beans (no soaking). Soaked beans or canned beans will unfortunately not work. If you only have black beans on hand, make my Instant Pot Refried Black Beans.
  • Cooking liquid: I regularly cook these beans in water because it's easy and free, but if you have vegetable broth, chicken broth or chicken stock on hand, feel free to use it for extra flavorful beans! 
  • Fresh onion: Use a yellow onion, sweet onion or two shallots. All are great. 
  • Jalapeño: Optional, but adds a nice kick without overpowering the flavor of the beans. 
  • Tamari: Adds a deep, umami flavor and necessary saltiness to the beans. Soy sauce is a great alternative. 
  • Maple syrup: Adds a bit of sweetness that balances the savory flavors. 
  • Spices: You'll need paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and sea salt. If you'd like smokier refried beans, use a smoked paprika for a subtle smoky flavor. Additionally, if you prefer a more garlicky flavor, use 2 minced garlic cloves. 

How to Make Instant Pot Refried Beans

4 image collage showing step by step process of how to make refried beans in the Instant Pot.
  1. Sauté the onion and optional jalapeño. Turn on the sauté function and let the inner pot become warm. Once warm, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or a splash of water (for 100% fat-free version!). Add the diced onion and jalapeño, if using, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using water, add additional water as needed to prevent sticking. 
  2. Add tamari, maple syrup, and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 60-90 seconds to toast the spices. 
  3. Add beans and cooking liquid. Add the dry beans and 4 cups of water or broth. Stir really well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. This will ensure the pressure cooking cycle does not trigger a burn warning. 
  4. Pressure cook for 40 minutes. Secure the Instant Pot lid, ensure the pressure release valve is set to “SEAL” and pressure cook under manual high pressure for 40 minutes. 
  5. Natural release for 10 minutes. Quick release the remaining pressure and remove the lid. There should be some liquid remaining – this is good! 
  6. Blend as desired. Using an immersion blender, potato masher, food processor, or regular blender, blend or mash the beans to your desired consistency. I like pretty creamy refried beans, but make my refried black beans a bit chunkier. The beans will be pretty thin at first, but as they cool, they will continue to thicken up considerably. 
  7. Serve. Enjoy immediately while warm, or let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Immersion blender in Instant Pot blending the beans into a smooth consistency.
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Fat Free Instant Pot Refried Beans Recipe

5 from 6 votes

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cost: $3.45 per recipe / $0.29 per serving
These Instant Pot Refried Beans are 100% fat free, yet just as flavorful and creamy as the beans at your local Mexican restaurant.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 tablespoon water or broth for sautéing
  • 1 yellow onion diced ($1.20)
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño diced and deseeded (adjust to spice preference) ($0.33)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari substitute soy sauce ($0.26)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup ($0.26)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika ($0.24)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder ($0.12)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder ($0.12)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin ($0.12)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt adjust to taste ($0.03)
  • 1 pound dry pinto beans ($0.72)
  • 4 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke ($0.05)

Instructions

  • Sauté the onion and optional jalapeño. Turn on the sauté function and let the inner pot become warm. Once warm, add 1 tablespoon of water or broth (can use olive oil if not making fat-free). Add the diced onion and jalapeño, if using, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using water, add additional water as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Add tamari, maple syrup, and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 60-90 seconds to toast the spices.
  • Add beans and cooking liquid. Add the dry beans and 4 cups of water or broth. Stir really well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. This will ensure the pressure cooking cycle does not trigger a burn warning.
  • Pressure cook for 40 minutes. Secure the Instant Pot lid, ensure the pressure release valve is set to "SEAL" and pressure cook under manual high pressure for 40 minutes.
  • Natural release for 10 minutes. Quick release the remaining pressure and remove the lid. There should be some liquid remaining – this is good!
  • Blend as desired. Using an immersion blender, potato masher, food processor, or regular blender, blend or mash the beans to your desired consistency. I like pretty creamy refried beans, but make my refried black beans a bit chunkier. The beans will be pretty thin at first, but as they cool, they will continue to thicken up considerably.
  • Stir in liquid smoke. ​This adds a nice, subtle smoky flavor.
  • Serve. Enjoy immediately while warm, or let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Onion: Can use yellow onion, sweet onion, or 2 shallots, diced.
  • Cooking liquid: Can use water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth/stock.
  • Tamari: Can substitute soy sauce. 

Notes

  • Storage instructions: Leftover beans will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze using 1 cup or 2 cup Souper cubes, then transfer the individual cubes into a large freezer bag. 
  • These refried beans will be runny at first, but they firm up quite a bit after cooling and refrigeration. 
  • This recipe is written for dry pinto beans. Canned beans and/or soaked beans will not work. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 207mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Did You Love This Recipe?

Rate the recipe here and make sure to leave a comment below!

5 from 6 votes

Slow Cooker Variation 

Using an electric pressure cooker is my first choice because I can have ready-to-eat beans in about 1 hour, but if you've yet to invest in an Instant Pot, try this slow cooker version. 

  1. Add all ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker bowl. Stir to combine. 
  2. Add 1 additional cup of water or broth (Slow cookers release steam whereas Instant Pots do not!).
  3. Cook on high for 6-10 hours, or until the beans are soft and tender. 
  4. Blend to your desired consistency. 

How to Freeze Leftover Beans

Freezing homemade beans is one of my favorite ways to meal prep and is a top freezer essential in our house. It's so convenient to know I always have homemade refried beans on hand I can defrost for a quick and easy dinner in 5 minutes. 

Unlike Instant Pot chickpeas that I prefer to freeze in wide mouth jars, I almost exclusively freeze refried beans using Souper Cubes and then transfer the frozen cubes to freezer bags.

You'll love this!

Souper Cubes

My favorite way to freeze individual portions and meals. Use code HOMECOOKEDROOTS10 for 10% off.

This allows me to freeze them in perfect 1 cup or 2 cup portions and reduce food waste. When ready to eat, I pop them out and microwave them until soft and creamy again. 

Frozen beans will keep for up to 3 months without compromising the texture or flavor, but are good indefinitely. 

Serving bowl of refried beans on wood cutting board topped with sliced jalapeño and cheese.
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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These were a huge hit in my house. We ended up making some plant based bean, potato, and cashew cheese taco bell knockoff burritos. I’m making them again today to satisfy that taco bell itch again. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    1. Ahhh, so glad to hear! That sounds phenomenal. I’ll have to try your copycat burritos!

  2. Cindy Testa says:

    5 stars
    I have made these twice and they taste awesome. The second time I used less Jalapeños (for my hubby) and less liquid smoke (for me)! I made extra to freeze! Highly recommend trying these!

  3. 5 stars
    These beans are delicious! After changing to a plant-based diet I can’t tolerate my favorite vegan refried beans because the oil bothers my stomach. These are the perfect replacement for my old favorite. Here is a direct quote after my family tried these beans, “Yum, these are good, REALLY GOOD!”. This recipe is a keeper!

  4. Juanita Cabrera says:

    If you soak your beans for 1 hour (after bringing cold water w/beans to a boil and cooking for 2 minutes), cook in Instant Pot for 10 minutes! With ingredients from recipe and a natural release. My favorite way of cooking beans.

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