How To Thicken Refried Beans? (7 Ways)

How To Thicken Refried Beans
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How To Thicken Refried Beans

Refried beans are a Mexican and Latin American dish that is made by cooking beans (usually pinto because they’re creamy) until soft, then mashing and frying them in a skillet with spices and fat.

The name “refried” is a little misleading. The beans are not fried twice but get their name from the Spanish frijoles refritos. In Spanish refritos means “well-fried”.

Refried beans make a great side dish with steak, a dip with crackers, or to fill burritos.

They are very easy to make at home but some people struggle to get the right texture. The beans should be fairly thick and creamy, something like hummus. We have added some tips on how to thicken refried beans. Let’s get at it!

How To Thicken Refried Beans?

1. Drain them well

Soak pinto beans
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If you cook the beans yourself, you will need to soak them first. You will then cook them in a large amount of water for several hours until they are very soft. (You can also use your pressure cooker to speed up the process).

At this point, drain them using a colander or sieve. This step is important because you want to get rid of as much cooking water as possible.

Pinto beans in colander
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If you use canned beans, be sure to tip the can out into a colander to allow the beans to drain properly before frying them.

Set aside a little of the canning liquid or cooking liquid for later. Not too much!

2. Fry and add a little liquid

Once the beans have been cooked and drained, set them aside and prepare your frying pan or skillet. Heat some oil or fat in it and add your chopped onion and spices.

Once softened, add the beans and mash them as they fry with a potato masher. Add small amounts of the reserved liquid to keep everything moist. It is at this point that things can go wrong because some people add too much liquid.

Refried beans pan
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To avoid this, never just pour it in. Add it gradually spoon by spoon with a small ladle or tablespoon.

3. Mash them more

If you slip and end up with beans that have too much liquid in them, try allowing the water to evaporate as you stir to prevent sticking. If this doesn’t work, mash them a little more to release the starch and help to soak up the liquid.

4. Make a starch slurry

While this is one of the most convenient ways of thickening the refried beans, it’s not our favorite as it can change the taste and texture.

Mix a little cornstarch in a tablespoon or so of cold water until you have a smooth slurry. Stir this into the beans as they cook.

5. Add butter and flour

This is our personal favorite way of thickening refried beans that have too much liquid in them. You need to take equal parts of soft butter and flour and mix them together.

Once it has a smooth texture, add it in small blobs to the refried beans and keep whisking the beans. This mixture will not only thicken the refried beans but will also optimize the smooth and buttery texture.

Butter and flour
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6. Add cheese

This is another good way of thickening and adding flavor and richness. Mix through some crumbled cojita cheese or half a cup of shredded cheddar.

Shredded cheddar
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7. Add more beans

If you have some canned beans available, add them to the mixture and mash them in. You will need to add more spices as well because the flavor will now be diluted.

Do try making your own refried beans at home. They’re healthy, delicious, and so versatile. Plus, they can be ready in under half an hour if you use canned beans.

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