Can You Freeze Homemade Refried Beans? [Plus Alternative Storage Techniques]

Refried beans, otherwise known as frijoles refritos, have been a staple item in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine for over 100 years. If you have bean thinking of making a big helping of savory side dish for your next Taco Tuesday, you may be wondering “can you freeze homemade refried beans”?  We review the answers!

While most people think about beans being stored in a can, homemade varieties can easily be kept in the freezer! In fact, while refried beans will only last three to four days in the fridge, when frozen they can safely last anywhere between three to six months! This is also the case for baked beans!

Simply place your beans in an airtight Tupperware container once they have completely cooled to room temperature. Next, ensure that you leave at least 3/4 of an inch of space for the beans to expand in the freezing process. Then, throw them in a skillet or in the microwave when ready to eat! 

Health Benefits Of Homemade Refried Beans

Refried beans many times get a bad rap. The word “fried” is in the name, which implies that they are unhealthy. This is surprisingly not the case! Refried beans are stereotypically made with pinto beans.

This gives them their trademark buttery texture. However, some recipes use black beans, pink beans or a combination of these three bean types. They are essentially mashed or pureed beans, cooked with an array of spices to give them their signature flavor.

Whichever variety you choose to make your homemade refried beans with, you are guaranteed to reap the rewards! They are all brimming with iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, manganese and thiamine.

Moreover, this simple side dish serves as an amazing protein source and they are filled with fiber. Moreover, when making them from scratch, they are sodium free, but you can also purchase low sodium canned varieties when you are short of time.

Refried Beans

Additionally, beans are low in fat and have no cholesterol! Best of all, they have been shown to lower blood pressure, control diabetes, aid in weight loss and even help to prevent cancer when included in a person’s regular diet. This is why it is so opportune to freeze your homemade refried beans to have on hand at any time!

How To Make And Freeze Homemade Refried Beans?

When most Americans think of frying, the image of a large vat of bubbling oil comes to mind. However, in the cased of refried beans, the “frying” is occurring in a skillet, with a small and healthy dash of olive oil. Additionally, they are actually only fried once.

That is because contrary to how English speakers translate the phrase, in Spanish, the translation literally means “well cooked beans”. Here is a look at how to make this popular dish and then how to save the leftovers!

Step #1: Soak The Beans Overnight

Raw legumes, like beans, contain substances called anti-nutrients. When consumed, these compounds impact a person’s ability to absorb the beneficial vitamins and minerals within their meal. Lectins are one of the main anti-nutrients in beans. Thankfully, “cooking, especially with wet high-heat methods like boiling or stewing, or soaking in water for several hours, can inactivate most lectins.”

This process will also remove all of the other anti-nutrients as well! Experts recommend soaking beans overnight for at least 12 hours prior to cooking to help remove the majority of this unwanted component of the bean.

different Beans

Thus, put three cups of beans a bowl. Then, pour water over them until there is a 2 inch window between the top of the beans and the surface of the water. Add three tablespoons of kosher salt and leave overnight.

Step #2: Cook The Beans

Next, drain and rinse the beans. This will help to remove any excess salt. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Add one tablespoon of kosher salt and then add the beans. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Make a point to stir the pot every 15 to 30 minutes. The total cook time should take approximately an hour and a half. When the beans have reached your desired consistency, drain and rinse them again.

If you would like to skip the first two steps, simply purchase two cans of your favorite low sodium beans. Drain and rinse them. With either method, this is where you will set them to the side until further instruction.

Step #3: Prepare The Other Ingredients

Take a white or yellow onion and cut it in half. Then finely chop the pieces. The goal is to add flavor, but not too much texture. Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet. Avocado oil is a fantastic substitute when EVOO is not available.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Butter lovers take note! It is best to wait to add this ingredient during the reheating process. Dairy products do not always freeze well and butter tends to lose that rich, creamy flavor when frozen. Therefore, use oil to start and then reheat your homemade refried beans with your favorite butter later.


Turn the heat on medium and sauté the onions until they are soft. This usually occurs when they become translucent in color. Next, add your favorite combination of spices to the mix. This can include salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, pepper, pepper flakes, or whatever you see fit.

Step #4: Add In The Beans

Now it is time to add in your cooked beans along with about half a cup of water! This can also be substituted with vegetable stock. Allow these to cook for approximately five minutes in order to soak up all the flavor!

Finally, mash the beans in the skillet using a fork or potato masher. You can choose to create a uniform texture or leave some of the beans whole or partially mashed. Whatever you prefer!

Then, re-cover the beans and allow them to cook on low heat for a few more minutes. Most importantly, make sure to stir them often. If the consistency is too thick, add in more water or vegetable stock.

Cooked Beans

Finally, take the refried beans off the stove and stir in any other last-minute ingredients for taste. Some people like to add a little zest with some lime juice, while others will just add a little more salt.

Step #5: Cool And Freeze Your Homemade Refried Beans

One of the most important steps in the process is to allow the beans to fully cool prior to storing them in the freezer. Therefore, remove them from the skillet and place them in a heat-safe container. Then, allow them to sit on the counter until they are cool. However, make sure that this is for less than two hours, otherwise, bacteria may start to grow. You can expedite the process by placing them in the fridge first.

Finally, transfer the beans into a freezer-safe Tupperware container, Pyrex dish or gallon size freezer bags. It is imperative that you leave about 3/4 of an inch of open space between the top of the beans and the lid. This is due to the fact that when foods freeze, they expand.

Thus, you need enough room for the food to freeze, without the worry of the container breaking. Label the container with the date of packaging and then store it in the freezer.

Alternative Storage Technique

For those individuals who live alone or are just not wanting to use a couple pounds of beans at once, consider putting the beans into either a silicone muffin tin or silicone ice cube trays. Then, place the trays in the freezer and allow them to set overnight.

Once frozen, pop out the individual servings and put them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible and again, label the bag with the previous day’s date. This method can help you to portion out exactly what you need for your upcoming meals, in turn, reducing food waste.

Step#6: Thawing And Reheating


Once you are ready to use your frozen homemade refried beans, things are quite simple! Just place the frozen chunk of beans in a skillet with some olive oil and cook on medium heat. As the beans melt, make sure to stir regularly. Additionally, it is important to note that the beans will likely have a thicker consistency this second time around. Thus, add a little water or vegetable stock to revive them to their original glory!

Final Notes

Nachos, burritos, tacos, casseroles, eggs, and dips — everything seems to be better with refried beans added to the recipe! Freezing is an easy way to have delicious food on hand in minutes. Moreover, for those who love to pre-make refried bean dip, you are also in luck! This mixture can be frozen in the exact same way as the beans!

Just keep in mind that due to the added ingredients, it will not last nearly as long. Expect a freezer shelf life of two to three months instead of three to six. You can also freeze Spanish rice and Mexican rice for a quick and easy meal later down the line! These products will also last for three months!

Finally, remember that once you have taken the time to thaw out your creation, make sure to eat it within three to four days. Discard what is leftover after this time frame. Previously frozen foods should never be refrozen.

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