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Slow Cooker Refried Beans (Vegan + Easy)

The BEST Slow Cooker Refried Beans are healthy, easy, and absolutely delicious. Use these homemade vegan frijoles for any of your favorite Mexican inspired dishes!

top down view of refried beans in a white serving bowl with chopped cilantro sprinkled overtop.

Are you ready for the best slow-cooked vegan refried beans you may ever eat? These no-fuss refried beans are oil-free, low-fat, and 100% full of flavor.

I promise you won’t miss the oil, butter, or lard that many recipes call for. Healthy and easy to make these slow-cooked beans are thick, creamy, and well worth the 8-hour wait!

You Don’t Need To Soak The Beans First!

Hooray for one less step! Contrary to what many say about the need to soak the beans before cooking, you actually don’t need to soak unless you are super sensitive – which most people are not. In fact, soaking the beans first means you’ll lose some of the flavors. I always like to direct readers to this great article from the LA Times about the myth of soaking beans.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

side by side photos of the process of making slow cooker vegan refried beans.

Ingredient Notes

In this recipe, we’ll be slow cooking pinto beans, onion, garlic, and spices until thick and creamy. Here is everything you’ll need:

  • Pinto beans – This refried bean recipe is from scratch so you’ll need a one-pound package of dried pinto beans, about 2 cups. Dried pinto beans are pretty accessible so you should be able to find them almost anywhere. I picked mine up from Target. If you rather make refried black beans, simply sub the pinto beans for black beans.
  • Onion and garlic – Both add an all-around wonderful flavor. Substitute fresh using 3 teaspoons of onion powder or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Vegetable stock – Vegetable broth will add another layer of flavor. Plus, you’ll reserve some of the cooking liquids to add back to the beans when pureeing to thin as needed. I like to use water with 1 – 2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon Veggie Base.
  • Spices and peppers – I like to add cumin and chili powder (chipotle powder is my favorite). These would also be delicious with an added teaspoon of oregano. For even more flavor add jalapeno for extra spice, or use a hatch or anaheim chili for a milder flavor. For this recipe, I used jalapeno.
  • Salt and pepper – Add up to 1 teaspoon each of mineral salt and pepper. Mineral salt is different than table or sea salt and includes essential minerals and trace elements. I find it more flavorful and that I don’t need as much. It’s the salt that I use most and highly recommend using it for yourself.
side by side photos showing the process of draining and pureeing slow cooker vegan refried beans.

How To Make Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Making homemade refried beans in a slow cooker only requires a few simple steps:

  • Start by rinsing the beans. Add the beans to a colander and rinse them under cool running water. Remove any unsightly, odd-shaped beans.
  • Add ingredients to the slow cooker. Place the beans in the bowl of the slow cooker, and add the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, jalapeno, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and liquids.
  • Slow cook the beans. Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 8 – 10 hours.
  • Drain the beans. Let the beans cool for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaves and drain the liquids, reserving up to 2 cups.
  • Mash or Puree the beans. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash or puree the beans to desired consistency. Add as much of the reserved liquids you need to thin. Alternately, you may like the beans left un-mashed for a ranchero or charro style.
  • Taste for flavor. Taste for flavor, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

And that’s it – now all you have to do is enjoy!

Need More Ways To Cook Vegan Refried Beans?

  • If you have an Instant Pot, be sure to see how to make Instant Pot Refried Beans which cook faster and will be ready in about 1 hour.
  • And If you prefer to use canned beans, this stovetop Quick + Easy Refried Beans is perfect for you and ready in 20 minutes.
up close side angle view of freshly made refried beans in a slow cooker.

How to Store Leftovers

This recipe makes a large batch so you’ll most likely have leftovers. I like to portion them into individual serving containers, then thaw as needed.

  • Fridge: Keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 – 5 days in a covered container.
  • Freezer: To keep longer, store refried beans in the freezer for up 2 – 3 months. To freeze, let the beans cool completely and divide the beans into serving sizes, stored in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.
  • For space-saving: Freeze the beans flat using freezer bags. Simply, let the beans cool completely, then portion them into ziplock freezer bags and label them with the date. When sealing the bags, remove as much air as possible, and squish the beans so that the bag lays flat.
  • To reheat: Let frozen beans thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Warm the beans gently on the stove or in the microwave. The beans thicken as they cool, so if you’d like to thin them out, add a bit of water or vegetable broth.
top down view of vegan refried beans made in a slow cooker.

Serving Suggestions

top down view of easy refried bean tacos on a white plate with things surrounding.

If you try this vegan refried beans recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

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SLOW COOKER REFRIED BEANS (VEGAN + EASY)

The BEST Slow Cooker Refried Beans are easy and absolutely delicious. Use these homemade vegan frijoles for any of your favorite Mexican inspired dishes!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Cook Time: 8 – 10 hours
  • Total Time: 8 – 10 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Slow Cooker, Puree
  • Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed and odd beans removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 23 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or chipotle powder)
  • 1 jalapeno, optional
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 cups vegetable broth or water (or combo)*

Instructions

Start by rinsing the beans. Add the beans to a colander and rinse them under cool running water. Remove any unsightly, odd shaped beans.

Add ingredients to the slow cooker. Place the beans in the bowl of the slow cooker, add the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, jalapeno, bay leaves, salt, pepper and liquids.

Slow cook the beans. Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 8 – 10 hours.

Drain the beans. Let the beans cool a few minutes and drain the liquids, reserving up to 2 cups. Remove the bay leaves.

Mash or Puree the beans. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash or puree the beans to desired consistency. Add as much of the reserved liquids you need to thin. Alternately, you may like the beans left un-mashed for a ranchero or charro style beans.

Taste for flavor. Taste for flavor, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 – 5 days in a covered container. To keep longer, freeze the beans in freezer safe containers for 2 – 3 months. Let frozen beans thaw in the fridge overnight. Re-heat on the stove over medium low, stirring frequently.

Notes

*For the liquids, I used 9 cups of water with 1 heaping teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base with great results.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: I use this Slow Cooker, but the Instant Pot also has a slow cooker function. For pureeing, I love using my immersion blender. It’s easy to clean, small and fits well in a utensil drawer (affiliate links). For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my kitchen essentials.

Keywords: slow cooker refried beans, easy slow cooker recipe, homemade refried beans

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5 Comments

  1. Do you remove the bay leafs before blending?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yes, remove the bay leaves before blending. I’ll fix that, thank you for pointing it out, Tammy!

  2. Toni Myers says:

    So delicious and chock full of flavor! The only negative comment I would like to share is the recipe says to drain the cooked beans. No!!! Save this beautiful broth! Do not pour it down the drain! I can think of several ways to use it, one being, simply drinking it. Enjoy!

  3. Great recipe! I have made these refried beans twice now. Although my husband doesn’t love the smell that fills our house while cooking, he loves eating these beans. Thanks!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Awe, too funny! So glad the flavor makes up for the smell. lol Thanks for sharing, Madeline!

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