These Instant Pot Refried Beans have me rethinking an age-old question that confronts me every time I go out for Mexican food: “Would you like black or refried beans with that?”
Up until making this pressure cooker pinto bean recipe, I always answered black beans. In fact, I’ve probably ordered enough waves of black beans and rice to fuel all of our Taco Tuesdays (and Taco Thursdays) from now until next January.
We grew up eating Mexican food every Sunday after church (and Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas on Christmas), and back in those days, I was a refried bean girl. At some point, I transitioned over to black beans and sort of forgot about poor pinto.
Friends, I have been MISSING OUT!
Refried beans are delicious. <—Do I really need to tell you that? Am I the only one who has been in a black bean bubble? You also don’t need to go out to dinner to enjoy them. This Instant Pot Refried Beans recipe is a snap to make at home, AND they are much much healthier for you than any refried beans you’ll find in a restaurant.
After sharing these Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos, I thought it would be fun to revisit this staple recipe, in case you are in need of a stellar side to go with them. To show just how quick and easy these are, I’m adding a video below for you as well.
This Instant Pot recipe covers both how to make Instant Pot pinto beans and Instant Pot refried beans. We love both.
Whether you keep the beans whole or mash them for refried beans, they are freezer friendly. You can dress them up or down as much as you like.
As written, these refried beans are vegan, but if you prefer to make Instant Pot Refried Beans with bacon as many restaurants do, I have a suggestion for you there too.
This Instant Pot Refried Beans recipe was inspired by my Instant Pot Black Beans, which are so simple and tasty, they’ve convinced a number of you to ditch canned beans altogether. I won’t be surprised if these Instant Pot Refried Beans have similar results. They are just as easy and tasty!
(For Instant Pot inspiration, check out this 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes post. Now, let’s get to making those refried beans!)
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Refried Beans
Here are the critical pieces of information you need to know to make an (Instant) pot full of refried beans that taste like they came from a restaurant!
ONE: Choose the Right Beans
- First things first: If you’ve been wondering what kinds of beans are used to make refried beans, the answer is pinto.
- You can follow a similar mashing process outlined here with black or other beans, but pinto are traditional, so that’s what I used in the recipe.
TWO: Skip the Presoak
- Don’t presoak the beans! The beauty of making refried beans in the Instant Pot is that you don’t need to soak the beans in advance to speed up the cooking time. The pressure cooker takes care of it.
THREE: No Canned Beans, Please
- Don’t be tempted to make Instant Pot Refried Beans with canned beans. The superior flavor and texture of this recipe comes from starting with dry pinto beans.
- This Instant Pot Refried Beans recipe has stellar smacks thanks to the addition of onion, jalapeño, bay leaves, and classic Southwest spices like cumin and cayenne. Feel free to adjust to your desired level of spice.
- If you’d like Instant Pot Refried Beans bacon-style, you could sauté the veggies in rendered bacon fat instead. Then call me. I’m coming over with Skinny Margaritas.
- To keep the Instant Pot Refried Beans vegan, just follow the recipe as written. It’s still delicious without meat or dairy (and I’ll still come over with margs!).
Which Instant Pot to Buy (and What to Do if You Don’t Have One)
- For those of you who have not yet taken the plunge to purchase an Instant Pot, this is the model I own.
- You can also check out my recipe for Crock Pot Pinto Beans, which can either be enjoyed whole or turned into refried beans. They take much longer but are still absolutely scrumptious.
How to Store Instant Pot Refried Beans
This Instant Pot Refried Beans recipe yields a generous batch. I recommend portioning them into individual containers, then thawing them as needed.
- To refrigerate or freeze in containers: Let the beans cool completely. Place the beans in airtight containers of desired size. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- To freeze flat (great for saving space!): Let the beans cool completely, then portion them into ziptop freezer bags labeled with the date. Seal the bags, removing as much air as possible, and squish the beans so that the bag lays flat. Freeze flat for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: If the beans are frozen, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Warm the beans gently on the stove or in the microwave. The beans thicken as they cool, so if you’d like to thin them out, add a bit of water or vegetable broth.
- You can store the beans mashed (refried) or unmashed.
How to Use Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Mashed, these beans are great for adding to burritos or piling on avocado toast.
- Left whole, I love using them anytime I need canned pinto beans or in place of black beans in other Mexican recipes like these Vegetarian Enchiladas.
Instant Pot Refried Beans
- 1 pound dry pinto beans 2 cups
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 jalapeno cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock divided
- 3 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- For serving: queso fresco or shredded Monterey jack cheese diced tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado (optional)
- Place the pinto beans in a large colander. Thoroughly rinse them. Pick the beans over, removing any damaged or clearly misshapen beans and discarding them. Set the rinsed beans aside.
- Turn a 6-quart (or larger) Instant Pot to SAUTE. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and jalapeno. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and let cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add a few splashes of chicken stock and scrape along the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck-on bits of food (this will prevent a BURN warning). Add the remaining stock, water, bay leaves, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and the rinsed and drained beans. Lightly stir to combine.
- Seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH (manual) for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes of pressure cooking has finished, let the pressure release naturally for 25 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure. Carefully open the lid. The beans will be very liquidy.
- Discard the bay leaves. Reserve 2 cups of the bean cooking liquid in a bowl or measuring cup, then drain the remainder. Return to the beans to the pot. With an immersion blender (or by hand with a potato masher), puree the beans until they reach your desired consistency, adding some of the reserved liquid as needed. (You can also scoop the beans into a blender in batches and puree them that way—be sure to let the beans cool somewhat first so that they do not splatter). Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Sprinkle with any desired toppings, serve, and enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftover beans or freeze for up to 3 months.
- For easy portions: Let the beans cool COMPLETELY, then portion them into ziptop freezer bags labeled with the date. Seal the bags, removing as much air as possible, and squish the beans so that the bag lays flat. Freeze flat for simple storage. Let the beans thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently on the stove with a splash of water or stock as needed to thin them back out.
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