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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Recipe Rating

  1. This is a good base; I add a full TBS of homemade Mexican seasoning (not just a pinch of cumin), and a can (yeah yeah) of mild green chilis. They are SO good. I’m actually making a batch tonight!

  2. 5 stars
    We love these beans! I’ve tweaked the ingredients a little to our taste preference (basically more of all of the ingredients except the water and beans), and make bean burritos to freeze. We eat them regularly and top with vegetables, meat, or eat plain with hot sauce. Definitely a staple in our meal rotation!

  3. Krystle Willmore

    5 stars
    The flavor of the beans were great! My kids loved them too. My only problem that I ran into was once they were done in the crockpot there was literally no water leftover to even take out. In fact I had to add new water so it wouldn’t taste so dry. Did I do something wrong?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Hard to say what happened there but the amount of moisture will vary. Some pots cook a bit faster than others.

  4. 3 stars
    I feel like this is the exact recipe on the NuPak bag but you added words of elaboration to directions.
    It’s a great recipe but it’s weird you don’t mention its the one off the bag.

    1. I have honestly never heard of NuPak (I buy my dried beans in bulk), but I am not surprised there are other similar bean recipes out there … it’s a staple food made from a few simple ingredients!

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this quite a few times. I live in Denver and things dry out quickly so I usually add 8 cups of water. Today I didn’t have a jalapeño on hand so I added a chipotle pepper in adobo. Worth a shot!

  6. Elizabeth Deegan

    I want to make these for a dinner party this weekend as a side dish. How many would you say one recipe feeds?

  7. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I have m
    ade them many times. I recently got an Instant Pot. Have you ever tried making them in one? If so, do you have instructions?

    1. 5 stars
      I make these in my instant pot often. Put everything in, make sure the lid is set to sealing, and select beans/chili. (High pressure, 22 minutes.) I still soak mine overnight before cooking this way.

  8. 5 stars
    I was having trouble getting the texture right w a hand held potato masher, but once I used my hand held electric mixture, the beans became smooth and creamy! Didn’t have to drain off any liquid either.

  9. 5 stars
    wow, this turned out great, even with a snag! I looked into the crock this morning and it was very watery, so I drained what I could, but still had the consistency of a watery soup. a number of things I did could have caused this, including having a slow cooker that can’t do 8 hours on high, so I might have got the times wrong.

    Long story, it was watery, but i ended up adding some corn starch and it was perfect! great flavor :)