Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans

76 Reviews / 4.6 Average
This has to be the easiest way to cook refried beans! Cooking them in the slow cooker means you skip half the work as you normally would on the stovetop. Best part about this recipe is that you can freeze the leftovers for later. I've adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com.
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Slow Cooker Refried Beans from 100 Days of Real Food

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I think I might be a little late getting on this bandwagon, but refried beans with melted cheese on a warm homemade whole-wheat tortilla is the bomb! Oh and don’t forget to top it with a little sour cream.

I seriously cannot believe I am just figuring out how good this combination is. The reason why though is because I didn’t think I liked refried beans. That’s what happens when you only try them out of a can. But much like the difference between store-bought and homegrown tomatoes … homemade refried beans are light-years beyond the canned stuff! And with this super easy recipe below there is no excuse not to make them yourself.

If you don’t already have one, you can buy the same slow cooker we have for a reasonable price and use it for this and other slow cooker recipes.

I am even going to pull out a bullet point list to tell you all the reasons why I like this recipe so much:

  • Beans, in general, are super cheap and a good source of protein.
  • You don’t have to soak these dried beans overnight (which I often forget to do).
  • They are sooo easy to make you could even do it with one hand tied behind your back, :)
  • You can freeze the leftovers for another day.
  • And for me, since I don’t normally love beans for textural reasons, this mashed up version is the perfect way to make them extra good.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

I’m all about finding healthier ways to make comfort foods and this recipe for refried beans is no exception. On their own, beans are a healthy plant-based source of protein. They’re also high in fiber and other nutrients.

It’s all about how you prepare them. This recipe for refried beans in the slow cooker uses waaaay less salt and no added fats (although I should point out that healthy fats are fine by me!) making it a much healthier option compared to refried beans from a can.

How to Make Refried Beans in a Crockpot

Cooking refried beans in a Crockpot saves so much work compared to doing it on the stove. The trick is cooking the beans on high, not low. They take about 8-10 hours to cook on high and can be left overnight or all day while you’re out.

If you’re going to be cooking for more than 10 hours set your slow cooker to low instead to avoid burning.

Do You Need to Soak Pinto Beans Before Cooking Them?

Not in this recipe. The pinto beans cook perfectly fine without soaking so you can completely skip that step. I told you these refried beans were easy!

If you have pre-soaked or canned pinto beans, you will need to adjust this recipe a bit. First, make sure you thoroughly drain your soaked or canned beans. Second, you will need to reduce cooking time. Finally, if there’s too much moisture in your beans this recipe may turn out runny. If that happens, finish cooking with the lid off to help water evaporate.

Can I Use Black Beans Instead of Pinto for Refried Beans?

Yes, you can definitely use black beans in this recipe instead but since black beans have a mild flavor, you might want to swap 4 cups of the water with chicken broth to improve the taste.

How to Mash Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Once your beans are fully cooked in the slow cooker, you’ll need to mash them to get that refried bean consistency. A regular potato masher should work fine, especially if your beans have been cooked thoroughly.

If you find mashing by hand difficult (especially with black beans) you can pulse with a handheld blender.

How to Store and Freeze

Once cooled, refried beans can be stored in an air airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. This recipe also freezes well, too! When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw frozen refried beans in the fridge and then heat in the microwave or thaw from frozen on the stove at a low temperature (you may need to add some water).

Ways to Serve Refried Beans from the Crockpot

Refried Bean Dip: Enjoy these homemade refried beans on their own with organic corn chips or add it to your favorite refried bean dip recipe.

On Tortillas: On their own or with some cheese or other taco ingredients for a delicious, easy meal idea.

As a Side Dish: Refried beans are great served with steak or chicken!

Mixed With Rice: This is a delicious side dish for any Mexican-inspired meal your family enjoys.

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538 thoughts on “Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans”

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    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. I’ve made this with canned beans (4 cans, drained) but I can not give you a specific recipe. I cooked it for a shorter time and did not need to add much water. Sorry that I cannot be more specific but I often ad-lib when adapting recipes. :)

  1. Great recipe. I’ve made these many times. At the end, I use a stick blender and blend half of it and I add some bacon fat and crumble some bacon over the top and stir it in.

  2. 5 stars
    Love these beans!!!, Unfortunately, I just decided this afternoon to make them today. Can you cook them on high for a shorter amount of time, or does It not work the same with beans?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi. Slow and low works best for dried beans. I’ve used canned beans in a pinch for time and it worked well. I used much less water, obviously since the beans no longer absorb it.

  3. 5 stars
    I used 1/2 water & 1/2 unsalted lowfat chicken broth & switched a comparable amount of green chilies for the jalapenos. I also pulsed the whole thing in my food processor. Couldn’t imagine throwing those onions out! Yum!

    1. This is the best way to do beans. If the beans are fresh from a recent harvest they will cook in about 30 minutes where I live (high altitude), about 45 minutes for last years harvest (what is usually in stores). Start with 25 minutes then release pressure and check, if needed add 10-20 minutes. No pre-soaking is required, just pre-rinse.

  4. 5 stars
    I need to make this recipe as a side dish for a Mexican themed meal this weekend, but I need to do it for a crowd. Have you ever tried doubling the recipe and if so, how does that alter the cooking time? Thank you!!

  5. This is pretty close to my recipe — I add a few TBsp tomato paste and a TBSP of mild/medium chili powder. I also add more jalapeno, but that’s a personal taste for sure.
    Glad to see so many people making their own refried beans and other bean dishes. 2016 is the Year of the Pulses as declared by the United Nations… just a few more months to celebrate :-)
    Thanks for the recipe.

  6. So funny to read this recipe. I have never measured my ingredients, but have been making my beans with these ingredients for years! I make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for tostadas for another meal. You can use the same recipe with black beans also and add colored peppers.

  7. I have been making our ‘smashed’ beans this way for a few years. I make a huge batch, though – 2-3lbs of dry beans every other month. They freeze really well in smaller portions and are super easy to reheat.

    Regarding the cooking water (or bean broth), I save it and use it to make a large batch of enchilada sauce (which also freezes well!)

    Thanks for sharing all your ideas with us! You have made our transition to real food easier over the last few years!

      1. I drain the cooking liquid off of the beans into a separate bowl and set it aside to use when I make crock pot enchilada sauce. I basically substitute this bean broth for the chicken broth most recipes call for.

        As I mentioned above, I usually cook 2-3 lbs of beans at a time and freeze them in family size portions. I do the same with enchilada sauce.

        I stir the following ingredients together in my crock pot:
        8 C bean broth
        4 C crushed tomatoes
        1/4 C olive oil
        4 T chili powder
        3 T ground cumin
        1 T dried oregano
        2 t salt
        Cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours.
        Combine 4 T cornstarch with 4 T cold water until smooth.
        Pour into sauce and cook on High for 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.
        Once it is cooled, I divide it into Four (3 C) portions.

  8. 5 stars
    These are now a staple in our home- I make these beans almost weekly…My husband can’t get enough of them in his breakfast burritos. I can’t believe how easy and healthy they are! I just use an immersion blender at the end and blend up the onion (why lose that yummy flavor?) with all the beans.

    1. 5 stars
      That’s a great idea of blending up the onions. Seems like a waste to toss them when they can be blended and mixed. in. I will give this one a try. Thanks

  9. Do the refried beans freeze well? I think my family could use this recipe for two meals. Or, another option would be to make half a batch. Has anyone ever tried that? If so, is 8 hours on high still the correct time and setting? Thanks!

    1. Yes, the refried beans freeze well! I make them and then freeze in 1 cup ziploc plastic bowls, then pull them out as needed for meals. If you forget to thaw them, just simmer on low to reheat.

  10. 5 stars
    I made these today but substituted kidney beans. They. Were. So. Good. Definitely adding this to our regular rotation!

    1. 5 stars
      I have done it w/half black beans & half pintos. But never with all black beans. And I use an immersion blender to mash portions. I do leave some whole beans too. I add a little mozzarella cheese too. Sometimes I add a jar of salsa for additional texture & flavor. But once I add cheese & salsa I don’t call it refried beans; it’s bean dip for us.

  11. I made the recipe and although delicious I was put off by the color a bit. Not sure what I did wrong but mine turned out more gray then brown? Maybe I didn’t cook them long enough?

  12. I cut this recipe in half for my little 1.5 qt slow cooker. It was a perfect fit for the small pot. I don’t care for cumin, so I used a tiny pinch and I think I used less Jalapeño . It was fantastic and perfect for two – three people in the little,pot. This is a definite keeper.

  13. 5 stars
    Made these today and they were delicious! Tossed everything in before work and they were ready when I got home. This recipe is amazing… So quick and easy to make! Thanks!

  14. Being Mexican , It is hard to buy Pinto beans for start.I have found them and this recipe sounds good, I don’t care for the canned, I do everything from scratch.

    1. Jess, If you haven’t tried this recipe yet you must ASAP! I could never get my beans to be quite as good as my grandmas. I tried this recipe because they can cook when I’m paying ZERO attention and now this is the only way I make beans. Plus unlike grandmas, no bacon and no Manteca necessary.

  15. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazingly simple — the beans turn out terrific! I doubled the recipe, and on other occasions doubled the Jalapeno peppers and used a *lot* more Cumin (although I’d recommend making it per the recipe the first time and adjust from there for your tastes). I would NOT suggest making them overnight because you’ll wake up at 3 a.m., smell them, and have a hard time getting back to sleep! (yeah, I like them that much) I used a GE slow cooker and had no problems with the beans getting dry — even after 10 hours. Just make sure your lid is closed properly. Like other posts, I also used an immersion blender. Lesson learned: Remove ALL the liquid, start blending, and add back some reserved liquid as needed (the first round was a little wet — my fault!).

    If you buy the pinto beans in bulk you will save a lot of money. This recipe is so easy to make, healthy, and inexpensive. Thank you so much for the recipe! With the money you save you can pick up a tortilla press and make your own corn tortillas. Adventure in cooking! Love it.

  16. Hello! Any tips for making these ahead of time and freezing them for school lunches? What do you freeze them in? How do you defrost?


    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. I freeze mine in 4 or 8 oz jelly jars, so I can pull them out in single or small serving sizes. No need to defrost the whole recipe if you only need a couple servings for a packed lunch.

  17. 5 stars
    I made these tonight in my pressure cooker and they turned out great! Thank you for this! Much better than canned beans:)

  18. 4 stars
    If you like refried beans (or are on the fence about them) you will like this recipe. These were incredibly easy and delicious. I didn’t have an onion or a jalapeno, but I did have onion powder/minced. I threw in some chili powder and crushed red pepper too. I will never buy canned refried beans again. I hope they freeze well: I used an entire bag of beans and just upped the water/spices. I have a fair amount of leftovers, which is not a bad problem to have.

  19. Thanks for this easy & delicious recipe! The beans taste so fresh & much less sodium then the canned variety! I might add more jalapeños next time to give it more flavor, but probably only when making these for adults only:)