Well, the title of this post really sums this up. These truly are are the Best. Refried Beans. Ever.
They even have the endorsement of my native Texan husband, who stated out loud and swore a sacred oath that these were, in fact, the Best. Refried. Beans. Ever.
And that’s saying a lot!
Seriously, guys. You need to make these as soon as possible. They are bursting with flavor- smoky, spicy, simple, fresh, and decadent. (They are made with bacon and bacon grease, as per tradition. See recipe/notes below for a lighter/vegetarian version.) It was all I could do to take these photographs without sneaking bite after bite of the delicious concoction. (Um OK actually I did take multiple bites and I kept having to smooth it out and add more cilantro garnish on top to make it seem like I didn’t.)
We had these with simple tacos filled with smoky Mexican pulled chicken and topped with an onion/cilantro mixture in corn tortillas. I think next time I make the Best Refried Beans Ever, I’ll use them in the tacos themselves- one of my favorite taco combinations is refried beans, a fried egg, and onions/cilantro. And hot sauce. Can’t forget the hot sauce!
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE!
As if the delicious refried beans and chicken tacos weren’t enough, Zach made us some blood orange margaritas to have with our meal (recipe from The Housewife in Training Files, here!). There’s something about Mexican food and margaritas that just makes you think “summer.” And in the middle of a New England snowstorm, cooped up in our apartment, Zach and I were able to experience one of the best parts of a warmer climate and forget about the horrible weather for a little bit.
Really, if you ask me, Mexican food should be part of the winter survival guide that all northerners should incorporate at least biweekly during the months of January-March. It should be a requirement.
Back to the recipe. These refried beans are a one pot dish, they are CHEAP (as are almost all bean-based dishes), and they are ready in a mere 10-15 minutes. While they are best fresh and hot from the skillet, they can also be made ahead of time and reheated, or frozen for a later use. They are super easy to make, and like I said before, they are the BEST REFRIED BEANS EVER.
To make smooth refried beans: As you’ll see in the recipe below, I used a potato masher to make my beans. I like the texture somewhat lumpy, and I like that it’s a really simple process to mash them directly in the pot. If you like very smooth refried beans, however, you can puree the beans and broth in a food processor or blender before adding to the skillet.
For a vegetarian/lighter version: If using bacon and bacon grease sounds like a little too much for you, or if you are vegetarian, you can omit the bacon and use butter to saute the onions. You may want to throw a little smoked paprika or chipotle hot sauce in there to give it some of the smoky flavor it will be missing without the bacon.
The Best Refried Beans Ever
- In a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron one), fry the bacon until crispy on medium high heat. Remove the bacon and set aside. Chop into small pieces when cooled.
- Meanwhile, add to the bacon grease the onion; saute until soft and slightly browned.
- Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper; stir to coat the onions.
- Add the beans and chicken stock. Use a potato masher to mash the beans to desired texture, then stir to incorporate with the liquid.
- Continue heating until heated through. If there is too much liquid, continue heating until some of the liquid has evaporated, until you reach the desired consistency, stirring frequently.
- Stir in cilantro, chopped bacon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
- Like super creamy refried beans? Puree the beans and stock in a blender or food processor before adding to the skillet.
- Vegetarian? Use butter to saute the onion, omit the bacon, and use veggie stock or water.
- Make ahead Instructions: They can be made ahead of time and reheated, but they *may* dry out just a little bit as they sit in your fridge. Adding a little water or a squeeze of lime juice should help with that.