Crock pot refried beans are so easy to make and freeze that you won’t need to use store-bought cans with questionable ingredients.
As a kid, I requested for tacos every year for my birthday meal. As soon as I was old enough, I made them myself.
Fast forward 20+ years and I now make Mexican style dishes just about every week for my family. Some things have changed since I was a kid. I now make my own homemade taco seasoning and homemade refried beans starting with dry beans
Sort and rinse dry beans
Hand sort 3 cups dry pinto beans and put in a large bowl. This is very important because it is possible to find small pebbles, dirt, and other foreign material since beans are agricultural products. I also take out any broken beans and scrawny, wrinkly beans.
Put the good beans in a large bowl and add enough water to just cover the beans. Swish the beans around with your hand to rinse and drain that water. Fill the bowl with water (about 8 cups) and let sit on a counter overnight. I like to let them soak from 12 to 24 hours.
By morning the beans will have expanded to about 2.5 times their original size making about 7.5 cups whole beans. Drain the water and rinse again.
Making Refried Beans
Pour soaked, drained pinto beans into a crock pot.
Add 4 cups water, chopped onion, minced garlic and seasonings and cook on high for 3-4 hours. I tried cooking on low for 8 hours and found I still needed to cook on high for an additional hour for the beans to soak up more liquid a smash nicely.
Side note: I love fresh garlic in recipes and use my garlic press often. Mine is similar to this one.
Use a potato masher to mash beans to desired consistency. Let cool and divide into containers for freezing. Makes approximately 8 cups of refried beans that I divide into 4 containers for 2-cup meal sized portions.
- 3 cups dried pinto beans sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 4 cups water (for cooking pre-soaked beans)
- About 3/4 cup chopped onion
- About 1 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp papricka
- 1 tbsp celery salt
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- Add soaked and drained beans to Crock Pot
- Add 4 cups water
- Add onion, garlic and seasonings
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours
- Mash beans to desired consistency using potato masher.
- Let cool and divide into containers for freezing. Makes approximately 8 cups of refried beans that I divide into 4 containers for 2-cup meal sized portions.
To cook your frozen refried beans, simply defrost ahead of time. I use my microwave defrost setting for a quick defrost. Melt two tables spoons butter in a pan and add your refried beans. Cook over medium heat until heated through. If the beans are too thick you can add milk or water while cooking. Enjoy with your favorite Mexican style dish.
Cooking beans for future recipes (not refried beans)
If you prefer to simply cook the beans for use in future recipes, like soups and casseroles, you can use the same process. Basically skip the onion, garlic and seasonings and don’t mash the beans at the end.
Pour soaked beans into a crock pot. Add 4 cups of water and cook on high for 3-4 hours. Let beans cool and divide into containers for freezing. Be sure to include the bean broth with the beans.
If you want to learn more about beans (probably even more than you could possibly want to know about beans), I recommend The Everything Beans Book by Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship. This book is packed with information plus 30 frugal recipes using beans. It’s available in paper back on Amazon or as an ebook at KitchenStewardship.com (as well as several more real-food ebooks by Katie Kimball).