Vegan Refried Beans


“Hey there, sexy bowl ‘o refried beans.” said no one ever.

Lemme tell ya, taking pictures of a bowl full of refried beans is h-a-r-d. Unless they’re hidden inside a burrito or playing wingman to fluffy, red Mexican rice, nobody looks at them first. Let’s face it. Refried beans look downright homely. Even though smashed beans are ugly, there is something inherently homey and likeable about them. This recipe is so, so versatile. Serve on the side, in a burrito, quesadilla, whatever.

When I was a little girl growing up in Orange County, CA, I used to BEG my Nana (grandma) for bowlfuls of refried beans. And, yes. Bowlfuls as in plural. I don’t know if I had a high tolerance for this “magical fruit” or if some gaseous childhood trauma is socked away deep inside my subconscious, but I never suffered in that way. You know what I mean.

There is some debate on whether or not beans need pre-soaking. Supposedly, if you don’t soak, some people suffer from a wild case of – um – musical derriere. The method here involves the use of a pressure cooker and I’ve never “needed” to pre-soak my beans, if you get what I’m hinting at. The upside of using a pressure cooker is that the beans cook in about an hour! Yay!

I know many people do not own a pressure cooker. I understand. Who needs another appliance clogging up counter space. (Baby donut maker, I’m looking your way) But, I really recommend one. We use ours all the time, and not just for beans. We’ve cooked chicken breasts and pork chops, all done in under 30 minutes. If you are cooking the beans in the conventional way, just use a large pot to sauté the onions, garlic, etc. Add water and beans and simmer several hours until tender.

Back to the recipe. I love refried beans. I hate lard. This is where the glorious gal pictured below comes in – I pair this Mesquite Olive Oil from Texas Olive Ranch with cumin, ancho, and chipotle pepper. You don’t have to use animal products to get that smoky flavor that goes so well with refried beans. You’ll also be doing your arteries a favor.


Purchase via Texas Olive Ranch


1 lb. dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed thoroughly

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. Mesquite olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp. ground ancho chile powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder

1 bay leaf

6 cups water

salt and pepper to taste (Add these AFTER beans are cooked as salt inhibits the cooking of dried beans)


1. Using your pressure cooker, heat the oil on the “brown” setting. Add onions and garlic, sautéing until translucent. Add cumin, ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, and oregano and stir for one minute to toast the spices.

2. Once spices are toasted, add 6 cups of water, bay leaf, and rinsed pinto beans.

3. Cook on high pressure setting for 25 minutes.

4. Then, cook on low pressure for 35 minutes.

5. CAREFULLY release steam from the pressure cooker. Once steam has escaped completely, remove lid. Test one bean to ensure they are cooked through.

6. You may need to remove one cup cooking liquid prior to mashing beans to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. (For one pound of beans, I add about 1 T.)

These beans also freeze well!


You do not need to invest a ton of money into a pressure cooker.

I purchased this one from Kohl’s for $25 and it also had a $10 rebate!

You may not find one with a rebate, but even at $25 we’ve used it

enough times to justify the cabinet space.

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