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Frijoles Refritos – Vegetarian Refried Beans

Beans are a staple of many cuisines and these healthy, protein-packed legumes have an especially esteemed place in Mexican cooking. Beans of various sorts are paired with their favorite partner, rice, and served along with a variety of Mexican dishes, sometimes getting a shot at the starring role. Refried beans are one of the most popular Mexican side dishes ever.

For vegetarians, beans are an even more important ingredient – and while refried beans are a favorite of many people, the majority of canned brands contain lard and are unsuitable for vegetarians. However, no canned refried beans are as good as those made from scratch. When you make your own refried beans, you know that they are not only delicious, but meat-free as well. Onion and epazote are used for flavor in this frijoles refritos recipe but if you want to learn how to make refried beans with your own special touch, why not experiment with some other popular Mexican flavors?

It is a basic recipe, but like bread and many other basics, there is a lot of room to work with different ingredients. Here is a simple recipe for refried beans, which has an authentically Mexican taste, minus the lard!

The key to a successful vegetarian chili is plenty of flavors and textures to keep it interesting. You do not have any meat in there so either use something ‘meaty’ like plenty of beans or some kind of meat replacement like TVP or tofu, or else include other things like bell peppers and celery. This results in a chili which is colorful, appealing and really tasty.

Even if you are a carnivore it is still worth making this recipe, because a vegetarian chili makes a nice change from the typical beef ones, plus you can make the vegetables the stars of the dish and enjoy the appeal of fresh produce. Serve this with rice or even ladle it over a baked potato if you want something different.

Vegetarian Refried Beans
Summary: Vegetarian chili recipes vary but this one is especially good. It boasts not only beans and a touch of spice, but also celery, red wine, bell pepper, and more.
Cuisine: Mexican
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup dry beans (this recipe assumes you’re using pinto beans, but black beans, red beans and pink beans are all excellent here – just read the cooking instructions; black beans especially take much longer to cook)
  • 2 qt water
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 sprig fresh epazote, minced (dried is also fine, use about 1 tsp)
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Rinse and pick through the beans.
  2. Though it is rare, you may occasionally come across a small pebble in dried beans – so rinse or eat at your own risk!
  3. Pour your beans in a large pot, add water, and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer and covering. Simmer for 2 hours, checking every 20-30 minutes to stir and adding more water as needed.
  4. After the first 2 hours, add onion, vegetable oil, and epazote to the pot.
  5. Salt causes beans to cook much more slowly, so do not add this until they are nearly done or you will be waiting another few hours for your refried beans!
  6. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until done, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
  7. Once you can easily mash the beans against the side of the pan using a spoon, they are done.
  8. Drain off as much of the excess cooking water as possible and using a potato masher, mash your beans to a semi-puree.
  9. The exact texture is up to you.
  10. Some prefer it smoother; you can use a food processor if so.
  11. This recipe is very flexible – you can add spices, tomatoes, and peppers to taste.
  12. Serve hot in tacos, burritos, tortas, or just with rice!

Photo Description:

You can see in the picture that the frijoles refritos look really tasty. The red onion and green bell pepper are used to give color to the refried beans, to add flavor as well as act like a garnish, but it is up to you whether you want to stick to the recipe and use a white onion or try some new color ideas. Vegetarian refried beans are those made without lard and you can serve this nutritious side dish with any Mexican meal. This recipe for refried beans is simple to prepare and you will find these far superior to anything, which comes, out of a can.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, I'm Christine, and I'm pleased to welcome you to I have endeavored to gather as many delicious South of the border recipes here for you, including Mexican-inspired as well as traditional Mexican, and also some Tex-Mex and Mexican fusion dishes. Food is very important to our family's lives and Mexican food is certainly a favorite around here.

We have everything from appetizers and snacks to soups, drinks, entrées, and much more. You will find everything from mild dishes to super-spicy ones, simple recipes based on fresh ingredients up to more complex ones suitable for a dinner party.

Home cooks just starting out with Mexican cooking tend to be surprised how much of the emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs and spices. Forget the typical ideas about Mexican food being all beans, cheese and beef (that applies a little more to Tex-Mex), take inspiration from authentic Mexican dishes based on fresh ingredients, and inject all your passion into cooking South of the border food, for perfect results every time.

Thanks for visiting,