How to Substitute for Refried Beans

Refried beans, a popular dish in Southern Hemisphere countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Portugal, makes a hearty addition to meals. The traditional process of making refried beans involves blending sautéed onion, lard and pinto beans. Cooking the beans until soft and then mashing them together with the other ingredients. It is possible to change a refried bean recipe to accommodate different types of beans or to lower the amount of fat in the recipe.

Things You'll Need

  • Pinto beans or other type of beans

  • Chicken stock

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Vegetable oil or lard

  • Pot with lid

  • Spoon

Step 1

Use different beans. Pinto beans have a beige color with dark brown streaks when dry, but turn into a pinkish brown when cooked. Substitute different beans for a change of pace. Chili beans, rattlesnake beans, red kidney bean and cranberry beans make good substitutes for a refried bean dish.

Step 2

Change the recipe. The traditional bean recipe has a high amount of fat content. Consider changing the recipe around. Instead of using lard, try vegetable oil. Or avoid the added fat altogether and stir in low-fat chicken stock.

In his cookbook "Mexico One Plate at a Time," Rich Bayless crosses tradition with healthy eating by incorporating vegetable oil, pinto beans, sautéed onion and garlic. Mash all ingredients together for a smooth consistency.

Step 3

Use a new recipe. Scratch the refried bean recipe and opt for a completely new bean dish to substitute for this traditional Mexican dish. Bake pinto beans with a touch of brown sugar or molasses to bring out some hearty Southern-style cooking. Mix several different types of beans together, and add chicken stock and chili pepper to stay within the Mexican cooking style.

To divert completely away from a beans-only side dish, make a stir fry with bell peppers, beans, onions and tomatoes. This dish will be lower in fat than traditional refried beans, and provide various nutrients and vitamins from different vegetables.


Take care when cooking mashed beans over a hot stove. The steam from cooking beans can build up and puff out, causing refried beans to explode out of the pot. Hot food can cause burns.

References & Resources