If you want tender, seasoned, mouth-watering slow cooker refried beans, stick around. This recipe is budget-friendly and full of healthy fiber, nutrients and protein, 

I am so excited to share this recipe with you – you can get creative with the flavoring and make them exactly how you like your refried beans. 

My favorite way to make refried beans is in the slow cooker. The beans can cook while you are busy with chores and errands, and when you get home, you can have the meal ready in no time.

Refried Beans served with fresh tortillas, salsa, and guacamole

Why you’ll love these slow cooker refried beans

  • Tasty and authentic: These slow cooker refried beans are packed with rich, authentic Mexican flavors that make them taste just like the ones you’d find in your favorite Mexican restaurant or home.
  • Time-saving: Using a slow cooker makes the cooking process incredibly easy and hands-off. You can set it and forget it, allowing you to focus on other tasks while your beans cook to perfection.
  • Budget-friendly: Dried organic pinto beans are a cheap ingredient, and this recipe allows you to turn them into a delicious and budget-friendly dish that’s perfect for feeding a crowd or meal prepping.
  • Customize the heat: You have control over the spiciness. 
  • There are tons of ways to use them: These refried beans can be used in a variety of ways – from a delicious side dish to the star ingredient in burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or as a topping for nachos
  • Healthy: Making refried beans from scratch allows you to control the ingredients, ensuring a healthier dish without unnecessary additives or preservatives. You can also adjust the seasoning and fat content to meet your dietary preferences.
  • Kids love them: Even picky eaters enjoy the mild and comforting taste of homemade refried beans. 
  • Meal prep friendly: Prepare a big batch and freeze or refrigerate portions for future use. You’ll save time and effort, trust me!

Ingredients and substitution notes

  • Dried organic pinto beans: When using dried pinto beans, it’s important to sort through them carefully to remove any stones or debris. Rinse the beans under cold water before cooking to remove any dirt. Soaking the beans overnight in water is recommended to reduce cooking time and aid in digestion.
  • Onion: Red, white, yellow – the choice is yours. 
  • Garlic: You can adjust the amount of garlic according to your taste.
  • Jalapeño: This adds a bit of heat and a lovely peppery flavor to the refried beans. Remove the seeds and membrane if you want milder beans to control the spiciness.
  • Ground cumin: This is a key seasoning for refried beans, providing a warm, earthy, and slightly nutty flavor. 
  • Bay leaf: For a subtle herbal note to the beans. 

Recipe variations and add-ins

  • Lime juice: A squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving can brighten up the dish and add a refreshing citrusy element to your refried beans.
  • Smoked paprika: Enhance the smoky flavor by adding a pinch of smoked paprika. This spice can deepen the earthy notes of your beans and add a touch of complexity.
  • Salsa or Pico de Gallo: Top your beans with a generous scoop of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo for an extra burst of flavor and a refreshing crunch.
  • Green chilies: If you prefer a milder heat, add chopped green chilies or mild Anaheim peppers for a subtle kick.
  • Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes can be stirred into your beans for a fresh and slightly tangy taste. They also contribute moisture and color to the dish.

Top tips

  • Season as you go: Season the beans throughout the cooking process. Add salt in moderation initially and adjust the seasoning as needed to avoid over-salting.
  • Use homemade stock: For added flavor, cook the beans in homemade vegetable stock rather than water. It will infuse the beans with a richer taste.
  • Mash to your desired texture: Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash the beans to your preferred consistency. For smoother refried beans, mash more thoroughly, and for chunkier beans, leave some intact.

Make ahead of instructions and storage

To make ahead and store slow cooker refried beans, prepare the recipe as directed, allowing the beans to cook until soft and flavorful. Once done, let them cool to room temperature, then transfer the refried beans to airtight containers. 

Seal the containers and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for longer-term storage. 

When reheating, thaw if frozen and warm on the stovetop, adding a bit of water or vegetable stock to adjust the consistency as needed. Enjoy the convenience of having delicious homemade refried beans readily available for your meals.

Serving suggestions 

Slow cooker refried beans offer a versatile base for various delightful dishes. 

Serve them as a side dish alongside classic Mexican fare, such as tacos, tortillas, corn tortillas, enchiladas, or burritos. Elevate your breakfast game by spreading them on toast and topping them with avocado and salsa for a hearty morning treat. 

Incorporate these flavorful beans into vegan bowls with rice, avocado, and roasted vegetables for a wholesome meal. For a Tex-Mex twist, layer them in casseroles or use them as a dip with tortilla chips at gatherings. 

These beans are also fantastic as a topping for loaded baked potatoes or as a filling for quesadillas. My favorite way to serve them is with a side of my salsa recipe and this vegan cheese sauce.

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Easy Refried Beans in a Slow Cooker

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  • Author: Chef Ani


If you want tender, seasoned, mouth-watering slow cooker refried beans, stick around. This recipe is budget-friendly and full of healthy fiber, nutrients and protein,


  • 1 pound of dried organic pinto beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 34 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, chopped (discard the seeds if you prefer less heat)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 23 teaspoon salt


  1. Several hours before: Sort, rinse, and soak the beans. Cover with plenty of fresh water (9 cups +). Let soak for 8 hours or so.
  2. Drain water, rinse beans. Place beans in a slow cooker, cover with water (2 in. above beans)
  3. Flavor the water with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, bay leaf (remove after cooking), red pepper flakes.
Note: If you are making refried beans, add salt after cooking as this will make the beans easier to mash, but if you want the beans intact add salt to the water before cooking.
  4. Cook beans in a slow cooker for 5-7 hours or so, until beans are tender.
  5. Drain water off beans, keep some in case you need to moisten the beans later.
  6. Mash with a potato masher until smooth, stir with a wooden spoon, add salt to taste.
Note: You may choose to add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to increase flavor and consistency, but this is entirely optional. You can add cooking water from the beans instead as needed.

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