Slow Cooker Refried Beans

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Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans |

With the new year just beginning, we're spending this month looking at ways to make simple changes in the home that are frugal and support a sustainable lifestyle. Today's post is a frugal recipe that can be used in myriad ways and can be frozen in smaller portions to make meal planning easy.

Beans are an important pantry staple – they store well for long periods of time, they're usually fairly inexpensive, and they're easy to prepare given a bit of forethought. They're a great way to feed and nourish a family frugally!

When combined with a whole grain, such as brown rice (which is even better sprouted!), beans provide a significant dose of protein, folate, fiber, Vitamin B1, and several minerals, most notably phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. What I find most interesting about the nutritional profile of beans, however, is the high levels of needed molybdenum, an elemental metal, which prevents tooth decay and certain cancers!

This recipe was passed on to me by a friend a couple of years ago, and since then we've made it regularly, tweaking it a bit each time until we've gotten it to just how we like it in our family. Feel free to continue tweaking to make it just right for your family.

Refried Beans in a Crock Pot


3 cups dry pinto beans or black beans
6 cups water
3 onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper


Toss everything in a slow cooker and cook on high for 8-9 hours. After 7 hours, check to make sure the beans aren't sticking to the sides. If so, add a bit of water and mix it in thoroughly.

When the beans are completely soft, puree the mix with an immersion blender, high-speed blender (such as a Blendtec or VitaMix), or food processor. Our family likes thick, creamy beans, so I find a regular blender doesn't work well for this process as you have to add too much water to get the mixture to blend properly. If your family likes refried beans a bit on the pourable side, a standard blender should work just fine.

Mexican Traditional Refried Beans

If you would like your refried beans a bit more autentico, increase the water to 8-9 cups so that you end up with a much soupier finished product, then re-fry them in a few tablespoons of lard (no substitutes!) and serve immediately.

This post has been included at The Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.
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  1. LOVE this recipe! Great idea about using a crockpot.

    I personally don’t think they can be called refried beans without the fat. If you don’t have a decent source for pastured lard, we have found that expeller-pressed coconut oil works great.

    1. I totally agree! They are extra yummy once they’re scooped out of the crockpot and fried in lard.

      Total side tangent: It reminds me of visiting friends in El Salvador whose business was selling pork at the outdoor market. They butchered a pig every morning and then sold all the pieces throughout the day. What especially struck me was that they sold the lard in little plastic sandwich baggies and the women in the village would come and buy fresh lard each morning to use for their refried beans and pupusas all day long. That’s in juxtaposition to the fact that I render lard a gallon at a time so I only have to do it once every few months. 🙂

      Thanks for the tip on the coconut oil – I’ll definitely have to try that next time.

  2. Hi, Using coconut oil might be healthier but it has a strong coconut flavour. I’ve never made home made refried beans so I’m not a expert, I was just looking for a easy, healthy recipe. I don’t have a emersion blender, I have a hand mixer and cuisinart,( and standing mixer) what do you think would make the creamiest? Thank you.

    1. Mmm… I love creamy refried beans too! 🙂

      I’m not sure which Cuisinart you mean – if it’s a blender (the regular kind, not immersible), that would be creamiest, but if it’s a food processor, that would work really well too. Just work in batches.

      Either of the mixers could work too, but you’d have to tweak the recipe a bit, as I purposely leave all the ingredients very chunky when I put them in the crock pot (like the onions), knowing they’ll be pureed later, so if you want to use a mixer, I’d recommend chopping all the add-ins fairly finely when you’re prepping your ingredients.

      I hope that helps!

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  5. What a great idea to slow cook refried beans!
    But I’m wondering, shouldn’t the beans be soaked beforehand to minimize phytic acid and thus maximize nutritional benefits? Or is it not needed in this recipe?

    1. Rachel, that’s a superb question. And the answer is – the long, slow cook time does that for you, which is one of the benefits of doing it in a slow cooker rather than on the stove-top.

      If you PREFER to rinse them after soaking, which isn’t required but is preferred by some, then just set them to soak the night before using the usual protocol of covering them with water and adding 2-3 tablespoons of an acid (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, whey, etc), then rinse them in the morning and plop them in the pot. You might want to check the cook time an hour or two earlier, as they’ll likely cook a bit faster, as well.

      I hope that helps! Enjoy!

  6. If I were to make a large amount and then want to divide it up into smaller portions to use at convenient times, would you suggest canning them or freezing them, or what?
    Thank you kindly…

    1. That’s a great idea! And freezing would definitely be the way to go, as canning refried beans is very finicky business, safety-wise, and can easily go wrong. Freezing, on the other hand, is very simple and allows you make the portions as big or as small as you’d like.

      Happy cooking!

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