Re-fried Beans Done Right (Frijoles Refritos)

When you think about Mexican food, re-fried beans always come to mind.  They are one of the classic sides to most main dishes, especially in restaurants.  If you follow my method, you will make better beans than you will often find in restaurants and will never look at the canned type again.  Re-fried beans aren’t just a side either.  They are an important part of many dishes and if you have them on hand, you can make a variety of quick dinner options.  They are used for tacos, tostadas, sopas, and many more.

The secret that makes these beans different than others is that frying peppers in the oil first infuses the oil with flavor which comes out in the beans.  Don’t worry, the final dish will not be spicy at all.

  • about 8 cups frijoles de la oya (whole beans) with up to 2 cups of the juice – see recipe here
  • 6 fresh jalapenos
  • corn oil, enough so that the jalapenos sit about half in and half out of the oil (You can also use canola or other vegetable oil with a relatively high smoke point, olive oil doesn’t work as well.)
  1. Wash the jalapenos and pop off the stem.  Dry the peppers on a paper towel.
  2. Make several slits in the jalapenos with a paring knife on each side of the pepper.
  3. Add the oil to a medium sauce pan and heat on medium high.
  4. Add the jalapenos to the oil.  Turn them frequently so that they get fried all the way around.
  5. Once the peppers are blistered all over, but not burned, take them out of the oil and place on a separate plate.  Salt the peppers.  Many people like to eat the peppers as an accompaniment to the beans.
  6. Remove the oil from the heat and let cool for about a minute.  Spoon in frijoles de la oya with enough of its juice so that the beans can move around in the pot, but are not too soupy.
  7. Do NOT stir.  Simmer the beans on medium for twenty minutes or until a skin forms on the top of the pot and then begins to break up.  Longer is often better.
  8. With a potato masher, mash the beans until smooth.  A stick blender can be used, but there is a danger of making the beans too smooth.  If it gets too smooth, it can turn gluey.  There should be some texture, but no chunks.

Re-fried beans can be served as is as a side dish or as part of a simple main course of bean and cheese tacos.  This versatile dish adds authentic Mexican flavor to your cooking.

Beans on the Boil
Notice the film that has formed on the top of the pot. A good indication that the beans are ready to smash is when this is gone.