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How to Make Canned Refried Beans Taste Like Restaurant Style With 5 Easy Tips

To make your canned refried beans restaurant quality, all you need to do are five easy tips!

Just thin out the beans, make sure they’re creamy, add a little fat and spices, and garnish!

You will get the best results by combining these tips, but it’s all down to personal choice and preference in the end.

Canned refried beans might seem like a simple food product, but it brings a lot to the table.

How to Make Canned Refried Beans Taste Like Restaurant Style With 5 Easy Tips

All too often, people want to use it straight out of the can. However, while doing this is the easiest option, it doesn’t necessarily get the best results.

It’ll always be lacking something, and you probably don’t even know what! In times like that, you wish you could just go to a restaurant, right?

Well, you don’t have to. By following the five easy tips we’re going to outline in this article, you can turn your refried beans into a restaurant quality side dish. To learn how, just keep reading.

A Quick Answer

To get your refried beans restaurant quality, you need to:

  1. Thin the beans out
  2. Make the beans creamy
  3. Add fat
  4. Bloom the spices
  5. Garnish properly
  6. Thin the beans out
  7. Make the beans creamy
  8. Add fat
  9. Bloom the spices
  10. Garnish properly

You can either use the tips you like or suit you the best, or combine them all to get the best results.

Depending on your own preferences or needs, you might want to skip things like adding fat, or using substitutes for cream. 

However, by using all the mentioned tips, you will get the most delicious and creamy results. 

Tips for Making Canned Refried Beans Taste Restaurant Quality

If you want to get the perfect, creamy, restaurant style refried beans in the comfort of your home, just follow the tips set out below.

Depending on what you like, and your dietary needs, some tips are a lot more important than others. 

Anyone who  has used refried beans straight out of the can will know how thick they are.

Sometimes, they can just lack flavor, too. Let’s take a look at five easy but game-changing things you can do to get your perfect restaurant-esque and creamy refried beans. 

Thin the Beans Out

The first, and by far the most important, thing you need to do is thin your beans out.

Those refried beans will just plop out the can, no questions asked. They will stay super thick even if they are heated up.

Since no one wants to have clumpy, solid, refried beans, it’s up to you to thin them out!

You can thin your beans out by adding any kind of liquid or even a semi-liquid to them.

Adding something as simple as some water will do the trick. However, water isn’t the best option if you are looking forward to something super flavorful.

Instead, you can try using a broth or stock of sorts (beef or chicken goes great), or even a dairy product.

Things like half-and-half, milk, buttermilk, cream, or even sour cream work wonders for refried beans.

Any of these options will give the beans a way better texture, and make them easier to work with.

The option you go with might be affected by your diet, so always look before you leap!

How to do this: for every 30 oz can of refried beans, you will need to add a minimum of 1 cup of your liquid of choice.

For those wondering, a 30 oz can is just a medium can.

Once the liquid of choice has been added, the beans will need to be heated up and everything must be stirred together. Just keep adding liquid until you get your desired consistency. 

Always start with less liquid, since you can simply add a little more if needed. Take it easy and try not to overdo it.

Get everything mixed well, and you will have done the most important step in creating refried beans that are palatable.  

Make Sure The Beans Are Creamy

Make Sure the Beans are Creamy

You might have already done this if you decided to use something like heavy cream to your beans.

This step goes hand-in-hand with thinning them out, but it’s directed at making the dish super creamy. 

If you definitely want to have creamy refried beans and aren’t too worried about the cream, this is your best option.

While things like water, broth, or even milk and half-and-half will get your beans thinned out, they won’t do much for creaminess.

Sure, they’ll help a little, but if you want to go all the way? Heavy cream is your best friend. 

How to do this: simply follow the same instructions set out in the above step for thinning out your beans! You can add a cup of heavy cream per every 30 oz can of refried beans to get the ultimate creaminess. 

Alternatively, you can go with half a cup of heavy cream, and use another liquid to help thin the beans out.

A great option for this would be something like chicken broth, as you will get some incredible flavor from it.

Using the half option is great if you still want your refried beans to be deliciously creamy, but don’t want to commit to adding so many carbs to the beans.

It’s a good option for meeting in the middle, and getting the best of both worlds. 

NOTE: While you might be tempted to use things like cream cheese, be aware that it will impact the flavor of the dish. Not only that, but cream cheese is super thick, so you will need to end up adding another liquid in the dish anyway. For ease, just stick to heavy cream.

Improve the Mouthfeel with Fat

If you’ve visited a Mexican restaurant with quality refried beans, you will remember the texture.

Not only was it creamy, but the mouthfeel was out of this world. All of that was thanks to the fat!

The vast majority of refried beans will include either lard, bacon grease, butter, or a type of oil.

These ingredients just make the texture perfect. 

Depending on what you usually have in the house, you might prefer one or another option.

Most people have vegetable or olive oil sitting in the cupboard, making it a popular option.

However, if you are planning to cook bacon in your oven, those bacon drippings are a delicious choice to go with. It would just be thrown away otherwise, right?

How to do this: no, you won’t be adding the oil or bacon fat straight to the refried beans.

Well, you could if you wanted, but there’s something better you can do with these ingredients.

We will take a look at what you should ideally do with this stuff in the next section below (hint – bloom spices!). 

Bloom Spices in the Fat

You will never go to an authentic Mexican restaurant that has bland food.

On the contrary, they probably have spices that will knock your socks off!

Of course, the level of spice you go with will depend on your (and everyone else’s) tolerance and preferences. You want your refried beans to be tasty and interesting, but not overpowering, right?

If you want to get some extra kick and flavor to your beans, be sure to bloom your spices!

You can do this by frying your spices up in your fat of choice, as we mentioned above.

Whether you want to use bacon grease, vegetable oil, or lard, you can bloom your spices in it.

Doing this will enhance the flavor of the spices and release all the delicious spice oils. This also makes the dish super aromatic.

The spices you want to bloom will definitely depend on how spicy you really want your refried beans.

Generally, spices like garlic and onion powder, cumin, cayenne, pepper, and chili powder are good options.

However, if you’re familiar with some traditional Mexican flavors and seasonings, you might want to experiment with them a little, too. 

If you really want to knock your guests’ socks off, chop up some jalapeño and garlic cloves, too.

Fry those up in the fat, too, and your dish will feel even more authentic. 

How to do this: pick your fat of choice (bacon grease is especially delicious) and place it in a pan.

Melt it under a medium heat, then add all your preferred spices and ingredients.

Allow the spices to bloom on a low-medium heat for a couple of minutes so that they become super aromatic. 

NOTE: if you would like to avoid using a lot of fat in your refried beans, you can skip out on the fat altogether. This will have an impact on the flavor, however, so add some extra spices to make up for it. As long as you add enough spices to make up for it, you probably won’t even notice that the fat is missing.

Garnish the Refried Beans

Garnish the Refried Beans

You will never come across a bowl of boring beans at a Mexican restaurant.

No, you will see beautiful jalapeños, cilantro, salsa, cheese, and anything else you can imagine there, too.

While these garnishes are not really necessary, they just add a little something and make the whole dish feel a little more authentic. 

If you aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, why not try this? You would be amazed by how a few simple things like chopped avocado, tomatoes, or jalapeños can transform a dish.

These small additions make everything even more appetizing, but it also shows that you put a little effort in. Who doesn’t appreciate some effort?

If you want to start off easy, go with things like cheese, avocado, and cilantro (if it doesn’t taste like soap to you).

When you want to level up a little, add some chilis to the mix, or even sliced radish.

How to do this: grate your cheese and chop up some cilantro, and position it on the bowl of refried beans!

You can add some chopped avocado and jalapeños, too, if you want some extra color. 

For the Best Results

As we mentioned earlier, if you really want to get that restaurant style refried rice, the best thing to do is to follow every step outlined above.

Sure, you can skip adding the fat, or even adding cream, but you won’t get the same results. 

However, if you want to get the creamiest, tastiest, refried beans you could ask for, don’t skip any tips.

If you would like to make this for yourself, make sure you do everything in the correct order. Not sure what that is? We’ll go through what you need to know right here.

  1. Add your fat of choice to a skillet to melt
  2. Add your seasonings of choice to the skillet to bloom
  3. Add jalapeños and garlic cloves to the skillet to fry up
  4. Add your 30 oz can of refried beans to the skillet
  5. Add either your simple thinning liquid (water, milk, broth), or add heavy cream to thin it while also making it creamy. Alternatively, you can add half water and half heavy cream to get a more balanced and slightly healthier option.
  6. Add the lid to the skillet and allow the mixture to simmer for around 5 minutes 
  7. After 5 minutes, mix everything together 
  8. Add more liquid to thin the beans out if needed
  9. After adding necessary ingredients, allow the beans to cook for another 5 minutes 
  10. Add beans to a serving bowl
  11. Add garnishes
  12. Serve

This is the super simplified version of what you will need to do to get the perfect restaurant style refried beans.

If you want to find out the more in-depth method, check out the recipe card at the end of this post. 

Prep time: 5

Cooking time: 15

Total time needed: 20

Calories per serving: 112

If You’re Using a Microwave

If you don’t need a whole medium can of refried beans, you can use a microwave to get your perfect beans in a smaller quantity.

You can still add your spices and creams, but you skip out the fat.

All you need to do is as follows:

  1. Add your beans to a microwave safe bowl
  2. Add about ½ a cup of either half-and-half or heavy cream to the beans and stir
  3. Microwave the mixture for a minute and a half
  4. Remove the mixture from the microwave and add your chosen spices and stir in
  5. Microwave the mixture for a minute and a half
  6. Stir everything together. The beans must be hot, and the cream must get mixed in easily
  7. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl
  8. Garnish with your preferred ingredients
  9. Serve

Serving Refried Beans

There are plenty of great ways to serve refried beans, even if you’re completely new to them.

Go to any Mexican restaurant, and you will see just how creative they can get with these beans!

Let’s take a look at a couple of serving options for refried beans. These are great if you recently made enough refried beans to serve an army.

  • Incorporate the beans into a 7-layer dip
  • Use your refried beans in a delicious Taco Bell bean burrito. 
  • Make a Mexican pizza by layering the refried beans on a tortilla
  • Use your refried beans as a side dish with your favorite burritos
  • Serve your refried beans with your favorite breakfast tacos

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Refried Beans?

Cooked and mashed beans, typically seasoned with traditional Mexican flavors. 

Why Are Refried Beans Called Refried Beans?

The name for this dish comes from the Spanish “Frijoles Refritos”, which translates to “well fried”.

This does not mean that the beans are fried twice, however. 

What Are Refried Beans Made Of?

Pinto beans are usually the primary ingredient in refried beans, though ingredients can vary depending on where the dish is made.

Other ingredients in refried means might include onion and garlic powder, fresh garlic, fresh jalapeños, chili powder, oregano, cumin, heavy cream, and various fats.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

Yes, but only when there isn’t a lot of salt or saturated fat incorporated in the dish.

This dish has a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to health. However, if a lot of cream or fat is added to the dish, it becomes significantly less healthy,

What Cuisine Do Refried Beans Come From?

Mexican cuisine. They are a relatively new invention, but do come from northern Mexico.

What Is The Difference Between Regular Beans And Refried Beans?

Refried beans are beans that are cooked then pan fried. Regular beans typically are not pan fried like this, though this may depend on the recipe. 

Are Refried Beans And Bean Dip The Same Thing?

Bean dip is specifically a dipping sauce, but it uses refried beans as the main ingredient.

Refried beans can be incorporated into a number of dip-type dishes, including 7-layer dip.

How to Make Canned Refried Beans Taste Like Restaurant Style With 5 Easy Tips

How To Make Canned Refried Beans Taste Like Restaurant Style

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Recreate this true restaurant style taste with your canned refried beans. Simply add some water, cream and bloomed spices to the dish for the authentic Mexican flavor.


  • Canned beans
  • Water
  • Cream
  • Spices


  • Pan


  1. Thin the beans out: Add water or broth to the beans to make them less thick.
  2. Make the beans creamy: Add cream, half-and-half or milk to the beans.
  3. Add fat for more flavor: Fat always carries flavor, so add something like butter, bacon grease or even lard to your canned beans.
  4. Bloom your spices for the true Mexican flavor: Make sure to bloom any spices that you add to your beans by drying them in the fat of your choice. This will add an extra kick to your beans.
Jess Smith

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