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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

I remember having a conversation this summer with a wonderful neighbor about making refried beans from scratch. I was pretty curious - my whole life I think I've only had them from a can (except when having them at an authentic Mexican restaurants). Nonetheless, I've always loved dunking salty chips into that creamy, beany mixture. So I found a made-from-scratch refried bean recipe, and set out on the adventure.

First, the recipe was pretty vague on how long the beans would take to cook in the slow cooker. I made these last week when Ryan was out-of-town again for interviews, so the time factor wasn't really an issue. But man, with my slow cooker, these babies took a full 7 hours until they were at the right texture. Skeptically, I followed the directions, and prepared some Mexican rice as a little accompaniment along the way.

I drained and mixed up the beans. I tasted the beans. I hated the beans

they were pretty gross. 

Let's just skip the drama section of this story, and read the bottom line: I was downright cranky, and kind of bugged at waiting for so long, with nasty results on the table.

I grudgingly added the butter, salt, and some of the wonderfully flavorful broth (that the beans cooked in), with hope that maybe those ingredients would turn everything around.

holy smokes. 

It was heaven. It was my Mexican restaurant. It was creamy, buttery, never-again-eating-beans-from-a-can good. I couldn't stop eating it with a spoon.

I slapped the rice and beans in a crunchy quesadilla for the Manchild, and a soft burrito for myself on a warm tortilla.


Slow Cooker Refried Beans

3 C dry pinto beans, washed and rinsed 
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 T garlic salt
1/2 medium yellow onion (outer skin and ends removed, keep whole, not chopped)
1/2 C butter
optional: chopped cilantro

1. In your 5 qt slow cooker, fill bottom with dried pintos. Fill slow cooker nearly to the top with water.
2. Add bouillon cubes, garlic salt, and half onion.
3. Cook on high until beans are soft, stir occasionally. For me, took about 7 hours.
4. Strain beans, and save bean juice in separate bowl.
5. Add butter and a bit of bean juice.
6. Blend with stand mixer until beans are mixed to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Optional: mix in chopped cilantro.

*note: my beans only stayed fresh in the fridge for maybe 2 days. After that, they started smelling like death. Fo' reals.

Recipe makes about 4 C refried beans. 
source: chef-in-training 


  1. Did you know you can freeze them? I just scoop some big spoonfuls into a ziploc sandwich bag, smoosh it flat, get out as much air as possible, and freeze it! Just take them out the morning you want to use them, and you'll have fresh refried beans! I cook mine with chopped up onion, as we love onion. I pre-cook my beans a little, just put them in a pot of water, cover, bring to a boil, boil for five minutes, then shut off the heat and leave it for an hour. Then I put them in the crock pot. They're so good! So much better than canned!

    1. I actually didn't know you could freeze this - genius, woman! Thank you for the tips! Next time I'll definitely reserve some for freezing for sure.


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