These Instant Pot Refried Beans start with dried pinto beans that are done in a flash thanks to the pressure cooker. This recipe is easy, inexpensive, and has a flavor you can't beat.
We're pretty big fans of all things beans here on HNL. I've shared recipes for refried beans and refried black beans in the past, but what if you want to use dried beans to make your refried beans? And what if you wanted to make them FAST? Well, in that case, these Instant Pot refried beans are for you!
While you can use dried beans to make refried beans the traditional way, it tacks on a lot of extra time. Pressure cooking the beans streamlines the process. Here’s why you’ll love these Instant Pot refried beans:
- So easy to make. No soaking the beans in advance, no waiting two hours for them to cook on the stovetop. Who has time for that?! Not me!
- Healthier and tastier than canned beans. Canned refried beans are often loaded with preservatives and sodium. With homemade refried beans, you’re in control of the ingredients (no lard for us veg heads!) As a nutritionist, I love that they're packed with plant-based protein and lots of dietary fiber.
- Perfect for meal prep. This recipe makes 12 servings so you can have a batch of refried beans ready in the fridge for future meals. They also freeze well, so you can store them for even longer!
You only need a few basics to pull together this easy Instant Pot refried beans recipe! You'll find specific quantities in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here's a quick overview of what we're going to be using:
For the Instant Pot Pinto Beans:
- Dried pinto beans --> Nope, you don't need to soak them before cooking! Check them over for stones and rinse them well.
- Yellow onion --> Peeled and halved; this will infuse the beans with flavor as they cook.
- Bay leaves --> Bay leaves also add flavor to the beans.
- Salt --> Essential, since dried beans don’t have the added sodium of canned.
- Water --> If you’d like, you can use low-sodium vegetable stock or broth instead. If you use vegetable broth, don’t add the extra salt until after the beans are cooked, then season to taste.
For the Instant Pot Refried Beans:
- Olive oil --> Or another oil you like to cook with.
- Yellow onion --> A white onion will work, too; they have a bit more bite to them.
- Garlic --> Finely minced or pushed through a garlic press.
- Jalapeño pepper --> De-seeded and finely minced. Don't touch your eyes!
- Smoked paprika --> The secret to adding smoky flavor without bacon fat.
- Dried oregano --> Preferably Mexican oregano.
- Ground chili powder --> For that signature Tex-Mex flavor.
- Salt --> To taste.
- Lemon juice --> Optional, for brightening things up. Lime juice works too!
How to Make Instant Pot Refried Beans
You'll find detailed instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. For now here's a step-by-step overview, complete with photos!
Combine the dried pinto beans, onion, bay leaves, salt, and water in your Instant Pot.
Put the lid on and ensure the vent is set to “sealing.” Then, set the timer for 45 minutes on high pressure. When the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes and then quick-release the remaining pressure.
Tip! If your beans are not as soft as you'd like, just pop the lid back on (add a bit of extra water if needed) and cook them for another 5 minutes.
Reserve 1 ½ - 2 cups of the liquid from the beans - we'll be using this later - then drain the beans and set them aside for now.
Wipe the Instant Pot to dry the insert, then switch to "sauté" at the "normal" level.
Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot and heat until it starts to shimmer. Stir in the diced onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and translucent.
Add the garlic and jalapeño. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently to ensure the garlic doesn't brown.
Stir in the smoked paprika, oregano, chili powder, and salt, followed by the cooked pinto beans. Pour in 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pinto beans, and stir to combine.
Press cancel to turn off the heat. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash or purée the beans right in the Instant Pot.
Stir in the lemon juice, then season to taste.
Tips for Perfect Instant Pot Refried Beans
Adjust the consistency
If the beans are too thick, add the extra bean broth a bit at a time until they have reached your desired consistency. Keep in mind that they’ll thicken as they cool.
Add the lemon juice
Although it’s optional, it will add some brightness and enhance the overall flavor of the finished Instant Pot refried beans. It’s that little something-something that makes a big difference!
Make it your own
There’s a lot of room for customizing this recipe! Swap the pintos for black beans, add a pinch of cayenne for a kick, and make the beans as chunky or as smooth as you like.
How to Use Refried Beans
Serve refried beans alongside your favorite Mexican dishes, or use them to make:
- Tacos – These Bean and Cheese tacos are a crispy take on the traditional taco recipe with refried beans as the filling.
- Burritos – These Cheesy Bean and Rice Burritos are easy and delicious!
- Nachos – Swap the black beans in Air Fryer Nachos with creamy refried beans. You can also make nachos on a sheet pan in the oven—or in the microwave if you’re in a time crunch!
- Quesadillas – Add some extra protein to quesadillas by slathering them with Instant Pot refried beans before adding the cheese.
- Enchiladas – Refried beans make an excellent filling for homemade vegetarian enchiladas.
- Layered Taco Dip: Is it even a party if you don't have a 7-layer dip? Our Layered Taco Dip recipe is lightened up and loaded with veggies, HNL style.
- Bean dip – For the easiest bean dip ever, stir some salsa and ground cumin into the refried beans. For hot bean dip appetizer, transfer this into a baking dish and top it with shredded cheese before baking it to melty perfection. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.
Storing + Reheating Instant Pot Refried Beans
Refrigerate Instant Pot refried beans in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for 3 months. I like to freeze them in commonly used portions, like ½ cup or 1 cup, so I can just grab exactly what I need from the freezer.
When it's time to eat, simply heat them on the stovetop with a little water or broth to loosen them up, or in the microwave until warmed through.
Instant Pot Refried Beans
For the Instant Pot Pinto Beans:
- 1 pound dried pinto beans checked over for stones and rinsed well
- 1 small yellow onion peeled and halved
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups water
For the Instant Pot Refried Beans:
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper de-seeded and finely minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano preferably Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons lemon juice optional
First, cook the beans in your Instant Pot:
- Combine the pinto beans, halved onion, bay leaves, salt, and water in your Instant Pot.1 pound dried pinto beans, 1 small yellow onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 6 cups water
- Put the lid on and ensure the vent is set to “sealing”
- Set for 45 minutes on high pressure. When the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes and then quick-release the remaining pressure.
- Reserve 1 ½ - 2 cups of the bean broth, and then drain the beans and set aside.
Now make the Instant Pot Refried Beans:
- Wipe out the insert for your Instant Pot, then switch to "sauté" at the "normal" level.
- Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot until it starts to shimmer.3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Add the diced onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent - about 3-5 minutes.1 medium yellow onion
- Add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently to ensure the garlic doesn't brown.2 cloves garlic, 1 small jalapeno pepper
- Now add the smoked paprika, oregano, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon ground chilli powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- Add the cooked pinto beans, and stir to combine with the spices.
- Add 1 cup of bean broth, and stir to combine well.
- Press cancel to turn off the heat, and use a hand blender or potato masher to purée the beans right in the instant pot.
- Add lemon juice (optional, but recommended) and give the beans a taste. Add extra salt if needed.1 - 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, Salt
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- If the beans are too thick, add extra bean broth a bit at a time until they have reached the desired consistency. Keep in mind that the refried beans will thicken as they cool.