Mexican Beans/Refried Beans/Frijoles Refritos

Also known as Refried Beans or Frijoles Refritos. Although beans have a relatively long shelf life, the older they are the longer you’ll have to cook them to get them to soften. Fresh beans are best. If you have some that have been sitting around for a year, don’t even bother with them, throw them out.


  • 2 ½ cups of dry pinto beans (or white Rajma) (about 1 lb or 450gm)
  • 3 quarts (2.8 litres) of water
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp roasted cumin powder
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup chopped onion (optional)


Soak the beans overnight. Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt or bad beans. Throwing out the water used for soaking and washing them is important – to prevent gas.

Cook the beans in water.

Pressure Cooker Method:  Put beans into a 4 quart (approximately 4 litre) pressure cooker. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes – until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open.

Regular Method: Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water – about 3 quarts (2.8 litres) for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open. Strain the beans from the cooking water and wash. (Again to prevent gas).

Add the onions, garlic to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes till the tomatoes are cooked. Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dry. Add salt to taste, and the beans are ready to serve.

Serves 8-10