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Homemade vs Canned Refried Beans

I have been wondering what people's thoughts are related to canned vs homemade refried beans. I don't live in the US, so I have been figuring out various ways to make my own Tex-Mex food. While I can get canned refried beans where I am, I have also made my own - but I'm not sure if my own are every really worth the extra time compared to just doctoring up the canned variety.

Other thoughts?

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  1. There's a third alternative. I buy canned black beans at Trader Joe's, pour off (and save) some of the liquid, heat 'em up and then smash them. Add back in liquid to get the right consistency.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sharuf

      I use mashed black beans, too -- I can't stand refried beans- to me, they taste like eating lard.

      1. re: Sharuf

        Another +1 for smashed blacked beans. Been doing that for years. Makes great filling for home made burritos. I season mine up with Adobo, cumin, coriander. Usually use Progresso black beans since they're in all the grocery stores here.

        1. re: njmarshall55

          I use homemade but have also used canned. Smash and dry them out to form a paste. I never use much fat if at all.

          If using homemade they are already seasoned. If canned they will need all of the above.
          Fresh cilantro at the end

      2. I used to use refried beans more than I do now. I also used to make my own with Sharuf's method (sometimes black beans, or kidney, or pinto). I felt the effort was not worth it...lot easier to just pick up a can of re-fried.
        However, pre-made is made with lard - this may be important to some from a diet point of view.

        2 Replies
        1. re: porker

          I prefer them with lard, which is why I used to get canned ones, as I seldom have lard handy. However, there are lardless ones available, and Mrs. O has gone veggie on us, so now those are the ones I'm buying. I do know how to make them, but to me it's a lot like making a pot of chili just for chili dogs, when good canned chili works better. Refried beans around here are more often a component of some dish than a dish all their own: bean burritos, bean dip, whatever. The canned ones, sometimes with a little spicing up, are perfect for this kind of thing.

          1. re: Will Owen

            I make mine with bacon fat, not sure how authentic that is but I'll have to say it's a flavor you'll never find in canned!

        2. We use canned refried beans a lot for quick tacos/burritos. But when we're having a full Mexican meal my husband makes the beans and they are much, much better. Does anybody know if they freeze well?

          2 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            They freeze just fine. They usually need a little thinning when they are reheated.

            1. re: escondido123

              To make beans for a group, I use the slow cooker. A pound of beans and seven cups of water works for me. If you use black beans, no need to add pork or lard (they are good plain and simple on their own.)

            2. My homemade beans are better (to me - I like the irregular texture more of the homemade and the mix of creaminess and toothiness that I get), not to mention much, much cheaper - I can make a whole giant pot of beans for about 25 cents - we're up to about 30 cents if I want to get fancy and add jalapeno peppers. Stores well, but they usually don't last too long once I have made them. I haven't made them with lard but if I did it would be even cheaper than with oil!
              I feel a little guilty when I forget to plan ahead and have to spring for the small $2 can of refried beans (they're always expensive when I have to buy them in a pinch, for some reason).

              1. For most purposes, Rosarita vegetarian refried beans work great for me. While I am not vegetarian, I find that I like the taste of this product better than their versions that contain lard.

                2 Replies
                1. re: laskiblue

                  I like the vegetarian too. I have never had success making my own- sure they cook and we eat them, but I cannot get the taste and consistency I prefer, down withmy homemade.

                  1. re: laskiblue

                    I like the veg. version too - I just add a hit of lime and a few diced jalapenos. Much better than the lard version.

                  2. It depends on time, and what I have on hand. I like my own refried beans, but will also use vegetarian refried beans (canned), with added butter and seasonings.

                    1. I make my beans in a crock pot (pinto or black). I make a sofrito in my cast iron pan (garlic, serrano or jalapenos, lots of olive oil), add the beans and mash them with a potato masher. For a richer taste, I add munster cheese since I do not eat (or like the taste) of lard.

                      1. Trader Joe's no-fat refried beans are excellent.

                        1. It makes a noticeable difference, so if you're eating them as a dip or if you're feeling particularly particular about them I recommend making them from scratch. I have one trick that I think is essential, that I will hereby give away on the grounds that, from the sound of it, no one will ever actually do this.

                          1. Cook dry pinto beans (I do it no-soak, 90m style)
                          2. Fry adding more and more lard until you reach the right consistency
                          3. Add stock, ground chili, salt, pepper (they will be too thin now but when they cool it will be better)
                          4. Mash together
                          5. Add Mexican canned refried beans (e.g., La Costena) to approximately 1/6–1/5 of total volume

                          The last step gives them the funky restaurant flavor that seems otherwise unachievable, the rest gives them depth and flavor that the canned beans don't have on their own. Oh, and 6: Fart.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: zbs

                            I much prefer black beans to pinto, and La Costena brand is the best. I have made beans from scratch many times but since I found La Costena that is the route I go.

                            1. re: laliz

                              Canned beans taste of tin to me, so I usually make very large batches of beans and freeze. Defrost them when I need them with rice, purée them to add to various things or for retried beans. I usually leave them just firm enough so they can be thrown in a salad when defrosted if needed.

                              1. re: laliz

                                tostadas with Ducal are pretty good too when you don't have time to cook them;
                                I have to say i do like the BB better than pinto also, especially when it comes to tostadas

                            2. I make my own, using black beans and cooking them with epazote and onion, then finishing them with more onion, bacon fat, and olive oil, salt to taste. An immersion blender does a nice job, but I usually stop before they're too smooth. Two pounds at a time, stock the freezer. They take a while, but there's not all that much work altogether, and they're rock-bottom cheap when homemade. In any event, my wife and I like the result. We use them mostly as a component, particularly for nachos. But I eat them as a side with tamales, too.

                              We used to do an annual "cold weather relief break" in the Yucatan area, and got used to the black bean version there; I now like refried black beans better than the more typical pinto bean version.

                              1. I really like homemade - I use Lynne Rosetto Casper's fancied-up recipe from How To Eat Supper - or find it here: http://winebreadcheese.blogspot.com/2...

                                However we eat plenty of the vegetarian canned ones too, maybe doctored up with a bit of salsa or hot sauce - can't beat it for a healthy convenience food.

                                1. Whenever we eat out at a Mexican restaurant it always amazes me how much better our homemade refried beans taste than those seved in the restaurants. I wonder if some of them might be using dehydrated/instant beans? I would never eat canned, refried beans, but I might make refried beans using canned beans, although I have not done so. When I make refried beans I usually cook 2 pounds of beans and make a huge batch and freeze them in ziplock type bags. I cook the beans and then saute onions and garlic, add the beans, some homemade stock, homemade salsa, seasonings such as chili powder, coriander, and cumin, and then mash the beans by using an immersion blender but leaving it somewhat chunky.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    Most run of the mill Mexican restaurants and delis use big (#10) cans of refried beans already made. Some brands better than others, of course.

                                  2. Homemade refried beans (with lard) are true comfort food. I don't make them often, but they are so delicious. Canned? Does nothing for me.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Wyvern

                                      i have been soaking pinto beans overnite then adding twice as much water as amount of beans i started with. that is barely enough water for cooking in crock pot on high for 4 hours,looks runny after mashing at first but firms up, different beans may need varying amounts of water so i would keep an eye on your first batch. nothing else added as my 4 year old nephew likes it plain. i gave him some water with lemon in it once and now when i give him a drink he asks suspiciously does this have lemon in it? actually beans are pretty good plain or add cumin, onions, garlic, pickled jalapenos.

                                    2. I am married to a man, from Mesa Arizona, who would rather eat bean burritos from a specific dive in a strip mall than anything else. After we married, I spent a bunch of time trying to perfect my beans - in the Pinto/northern Mexico style. I eventually and happily concluded that the simplest preparation was best:

                                      Dry beans, do not soak, cook with a hunk of good salt pork (I use Nieman Ranch), covered and on low heat, for 4-ish hours. When done, add some salt and cook uncovered until the liquid is not too much, and purée with an immersion blender. I then sauté some yellow onion in lard/veg oil/bacon fat (whatever is on hand), and then fry re beans in the fat. So good.

                                      Not as good, but fine in a pinch, Goya traditional style in a can.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bltsbaby

                                        I visit my father in Mesa every winter. Can you tell me the name of the 'specific dive in a strip mall' in Mesa? Mesa seems to have a vast number of restaurants to feed all of the snowbirds, but many of them are not all that great.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          I think it is called Casa Reynosa - may actually be in Tempe? The beans are really, really good.