How to Freeze Refried Beans

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Things You'll Need

  • 4 cups whole pinto beans, cooked

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • Salt to taste

  • Quart-size freezer bags or pint-size freezer containers with lids

  • Heavy skillet, preferably cast iron

  • Potato masher

Ever wonder what to do with all those refried beans left over from your Tex-Mex feast? If you can't plan enough meals to get rid of them before they go bad, try freezing them. Freezing refried beans is easy and not only maintains quality and consistency, but also ensures availability the next time your family craves burritos. Most of us purchase refried beans, otherwise known as frijoles, in cans. And although canned refried beans freeze well, making your own frijoles is fast and far superior to store-bought beans.


Step 1

Preheat skillet on medium-high heat. Add butter to hot pan and melt until brown.

Step 2

If necessary, drain liquid from pinto beans and rinse. Pour beans into hot butter and bring to simmer.

Step 3

Smash beans with potato masher until desired consistency is formed. Add small amounts of water, as needed, to form a smooth texture. Continue to cook until beans return to a simmer and desired consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste. Serve hot. Top with grated cheese as a side dish or use as a filling for burritos.


Step 4

Let beans cool completely before freezing. Beans will thicken as they cool. Divide into quart-sized freezer bags or freezer-safe containers, allowing about a half-inch space from the top for expansion.

Step 5

Label and date beans; place in freezer for future use.


For fast, easy refried beans, use canned whole pinto beans.
However, if choosing to use dried pinto beans, follow this cooking method: Sort through beans by removing small rocks and debris, then wash them. Place dried beans into heavy stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring beans to a boil, turn off heat and let covered stockpot sit for one hour. When time is up, add enough water to cover beans by 2 to 3 inches. Bring pot to a boil, simmer for another hour or two, stirring often and adding water as needed. Beans are done when soft. Do not stop cooking process if beans are still hard; they will not soften during the refried process. Drain beans before refrying.

If you cook more beans than needed, freeze the whole beans to use another time. Follow the same freezing instructions as for refried beans.


Refried beans are considered a hazardous food and easily promote food-borne illness if not heated or served properly. Always serve beans at a temperature of 140 degrees F or above to avoid illness.


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