Crockpot Refried Beans

January 8, 2013 • Alaska from Scratch, Recipes, Side Dishes

Weather: 21 degrees, blue skies
What I’m listening to: Nothing Is Wasted, Jason Gray

I am a big fan of restaurant refried beans – the authentic, house-made variety. The kind that are steaming hot, creamy, and spread out on your plate, chasing after that rice. I am not a fan of canned refried beans – the thick globs of brown mush that taste more like a can than a bean. I’d rather have no beans than canned beans. Living in California definitely turned me into a bean snob. I admit it.


Every time I’m in a Mexican food restaurant, I order beans with my tacos or enchiladas. But when I used to make tacos or enchiladas at home, I would have to skip the beans. I missed them. Terribly. Finally, I learned how to make homemade beans. I’ve never looked back. They are so easy to throw in the slow-cooker (you don’t even have to soak the beans in advance) and they taste fantastic. This recipe is very forgiving – I’ve tweaked it all sorts of ways over the years. You can make spicy beans, cheesy beans, thicker beans for bean dip, thinner beans for a side dish or burritos. I’ve tried it with chicken bouillon or chicken broth. Cumin, no cumin. I’ve used fresh garlic and garlic powder. I’ve tried it with butter, lard (which is traditional), and I’ve made it several times without any fat at all, just using the juices from the pot to thin out the beans. I’ve mashed them with a potato masher, I’ve poured them into my Vitamix blender, and with this batch, I used my hand immersion blender. Use this as your base recipe and then, feel free to play around with it until you’ve achieved your ideal refried beans.

Crockpot Refried Beans

Adapted from [Allrecipes|] and [Chef In Training|]

Yields: 10 servings

  • 3c dry pinto beans (black beans also work, if you prefer)
  • 9c water
  • 5 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 2t salt
  • half of a yellow onion, peeled, but left whole
  • 1/4c butter, melted
  • 1c milk
  • Enough reserved juices from the pot to achieve desired consistency

Place dry beans in the bottom of slow-cooker. Pour water over top. Add the bouillon cubes, garlic powder, and salt. Place the onion half right on top of the beans. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are very soft and fall apart when mashed (if you undercook your beans, they will be grainy and difficult to mash).

Remove the onion and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Return the beans to the pot, add the melted butter and the milk. Blend with a hand immersion blender until creamy and smooth, adding reserved juices from the pot until desired consistency is achieved (more milk can also be added if you like them creamy). Note: the beans firm up as they cool, so make them looser than you think you need to. Serve promptly. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.