Slow Cooker Refried Beans is an easy authentic refried bean recipe you can make right at home — never buy the canned stuff again with this delicious and easy recipe. 

I do have a bit of a confession, I don’t love refried beans, *gasp*! But after having made my own refried beans, I’m a goner. I’ll never buy the canned stuff ever again. We love serving these crockpot refried beans as a great side dish for Mexican food or with some Healthy Guacamole and Pico de Gallo in my delicious Layered Taco Dip

Overhead photo of Slow Cooker Refried Beans in a tan colored bowl with tortilla chips surrounding the beans.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy slow cooker refried beans. This homemade refried bean recipe is such an easy recipe! Gather the ingredients, throw them in your crock pot, and let the slow cooker do the work for you.
  • No need to pre-soak pinto beans. The beauty of this recipe is you do NOT have to pre-soak the pinto beans! 
  • Affordable to make at home. Dried beans, particularly these pinto beans, are high in protein and fiberand are very affordable; I think I paid $1.33 for a 24 oz bag of dried pinto beans. So it’s easy to make your own homemade refried beans! 
  • Delicious refried beans. It would be crazy not to mention the flavor of this refried beans recipe! These slow cooker refried beans have phenomenal flavor! It’s the perfect balance of spices without being too overpowering. 

Ingredient Notes

Slow Cooker Refried Beans ingredient on a white background: pinto beans, onion, water, butter, cumin, bouillon, garlic salt.
  • Dry Pinto Beans:Thoroughly rinse the pinto beans before placing them in the slow cooker. We want them to be nice and clean. 
  • Water: You’ll need to fill your slow cooker up 3/4 of the way full. We need lots of water to help cook the beans! Add more water to the crock pot as needed while it is cooking. 
  • Chicken Bouillon Cubes: I use a mortar and pestle to crush the cubes. 
  • Spices: I find using a combination of garlic salt, onion powder, and ground cumin give us the perfect amount of flavor without becoming overpowering. 
  • Sweet Onion: You’ll need 1/2 an onion. Remove the skin, but keep the onion half whole. 
  • Butter: The butter helps to add a buttery flavor and a nice texture. 
  • Reserved Bean Juice: Keep the bean juice in the slow cooker. We need it to add to the beans as we are mashing them to create that refried bean texture. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Add beans and water to the crock pot. Rinse 3 cups dried pinto beans and place them in a large slow cooker. Fill 3/4 full with water (about 8-10 cups of water).
  2. Add spices and cook. Place 1/2 a sweet onion (with the outer skin removed) into the crock pot. Add 5 crushed bullion cubes and 1 tablespoon garlic salt. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 9-10 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water during the cooking process if needed.
  3. Transfer soft beans to large bowl. Once the beans are soft, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked beans to a large bowl. Discard the onion, but keep the bean juice in the crock pot. 
Four images showing the making of crock pot refried beans: top left photo is pinto beans in black crock pot, top right photo is water and onion overtop pinto beans in crock pot, bottom left image is slotted spoon scooping up cooked pinto beans, bottom right photo is cooked pinto beans in glass bowl.
  1. Add remaining seasonings. To the bowl with the soft pinto beans, add 1/2 cup butter, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, and 1/2 cup of the bean juice. 
  2. Mash or blend. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash the beans until they are your desired consistency. Add more bean juice as needed (I used 1 1/2 cups bean juice). 
  3. Serve! Once you’ve mashed the beans and added the amount of reserved liquid to get your desired consistency, the refried beans are ready to be served! Serve as a chip dip or as a side to your favorite Mexican dinner! 
Left image is a hand blender mixing refried beans in glass bowl, right image is cooked refried beans in glass bowl.

Recipe Tips

Use a large crock pot for this easy refried beans recipe. I used my 6 quart slow cooker and it was perfect. If you want to use a smaller slow cooker, half the recipe.

Crushing bouillon cubes can be challenging, I know! Use a mortar and pestle to grind the cubes down to smaller pieces or a powder. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle place the bouillon cubes on a cutting board and carefully cut them into smaller pieces.

Stir the beans once or twice throughout cooking. If you notice the water level is getting fairly low, add more water to the slow cooker.

A major bonus to making refried beans from scratch is that you control the texture and consistency of the beans.

Add more bean juice to get the right consistency. If you prefer thick refried beans don’t add too much liquid; if you prefer a smooth and thinner refried beans recipe add more liquid.

Keep in mind refried beans will set and thicken as they sit so take that into account as you’re adding the reserved bean juice.

How to Use Refried Beans

  • As my pictures illustrate, you can use this slow cooker refried beans recipe as a bean dip with tortilla chips. YUM!
  • Refried beans are also perfect as a side dish to any Mexican style meal or in a layer dip.
  • I love making homemade bean burritos; add 1/4 cup of these homemade refried beans down the center of a tortilla and sprinkle a generous amount of cheese over the beans. Wrap up the burrito and place it on a hot skillet to crisp up the sides.
  • Or grab a spoon and eat them plain because quite frankly this is the best refried beans recipe I’ve ever had.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

These slow cooker refried beans will need to be made ahead of time since they take time to cook in the slow cooker. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Homemade refried beans will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

If you want to freeze homemade refried beans for later use, portion out the refried beans into smaller servings, storing in freezer bags, then freeze. This way you can pull out a small bag of frozen refried beans and thaw it for your meal, rather than having to thaw the full batch of beans.

Crock pot refried beans in a handmade ceramic bowl with tortilla chips surrounding the bowl.

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze refried beans? 

Yes. Place the beans in a freezer safe airtight container or a freezer safe ziplock bag and then freeze. Properly frozen refried beans will maintain best quality when frozen for 2 months. They can be frozen for much longer, but beyond that, they might lose their integrity.

Do I need to soak the beans before?

Nope! Go ahead and add the dry beans directly to the crock pot. No need to spend extra time to soak the beans. Because we cook the beans for a long time in the slow cooker, we don’t need to soak them. 

What makes refried beans refried?

Refried beans aren’t technically fried twice. The Spanish name, frijoles refritos, means well fried beans. So I’m guessing it just means they are really well cooked — which is how we can get that soft texture! 

Can I use chicken broth instead of water and bullion cubes?

I haven’t tried this, but it should work out OK. The bullion cubes may provide a bit more flavor than just chicken broth. 

A tortilla chip being dipped into a bowl filled with homemade refried beans.

More Mexican Dishes

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans in a bowl surrounded by tortilla chips.
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5 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

These slow cooker refried beans are so easy to make and incredibly delicious!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings


  • 3 cups dry pinto beans - rinsed
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 5 crushed chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 T garlic salt
  • 1/2 sweet onion - outer skin removed, don’t chop
  • 1/2 cup butter - softened
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin - (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved juice from the slow cooker


  • Place the rinsed pinto beans into the slow cooker. I used my large crock pot. If you have the option to use a large, or small crock pot, use the large.
  • Fill your slow cooker 3/4 full with water, about 8-10 cups of water (it might vary depending on your particular slow cooker).
  • Sprinkle the crushed bouillon and garlic salt over the water. 
  • Place the sweet onion into the slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 6-8 hours or on low for 9-10 hours.Stir occasionally. If you need to add more water during the cooking process, be sure to do that. 
  • Once the beans are soft, use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans to a large bowl.  Keep the bean juice. Discard the onion. 
  • Add 1/2 cup butter, onion powder, cumin (if using) and 1/2 cup of the reserved bean juice to the beans. 
  • Using a hand blender, or a potato masher, mash the beans until they reach your desired consistency. Add more bean juice to make them less thick if you’d like. I added about 1 1/2 cups of bean juice total. The beans will thicken and set with time so keep that in mind.


Thoroughly rinse the pinto beans before placing them in the slow cooker. We want them to be nice and clean. 
The amount of slow cooker juice you add the the refried beans will vary depending on how thick or creamy you want the beans to be. Just note that these will set slightly as they sit out. 


Calories: 138kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 12g (4%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 8g (12%)Saturated Fat: 4g (20%)Cholesterol: 20mg (7%)Sodium: 1056mg (44%)Potassium: 207mg (6%)Fiber: 4g (16%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 235IU (5%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 33mg (3%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
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