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Vegan Refried Beans – Full of Beans Style

We have been making vegan refried beans, Full of Beans-style since, well the beginning. At least, since since we got married and before we became vegan, even. So it’s been a while!

Vegan Refried Beans Go With Everything

OK, maybe not everything, but refried beans are not only delicious but they can be used in so many ways: in our Crispy Burritos, as a dip, on chips, on tostadas (like in the photo at the top of this post), in a pita with greens and dressing – almost anything you can think of. Vegan refried beans are that hearty, tasty player that adds high-quality protein and healthy fiber to all sort of dishes.

Vegan refried beans on tortilla chips with vegan shreds, guacamole, and non-dairy sour cream. Yum!

The Back Story to Our Vegan Refried Beans

These Vegan Refried Beans began with a date. This was the first real dinner date that I asked Georgia out on. So of course I was going to try someplace that would really impress her and show her how infatuated I was with her. That meant I picked The Raven.  This was a place that we would nowadays call a bougie restaurant. Of course, being a teenager I just figured we could walk in on a Friday night. Not so fast – the place was popular so it was completely full, and I had no reservation. Briefly, it appeared the date was falling apart. 

But Georgia saved my ass, and the date, by pointing across the square and suggesting a funky place called the Taco Emporium. We walked in, sat down, and enjoyed delicious, inexpensive, Mexican food on paper plates that we have been trying to re-create ever since. It rapidly became one of our favorite places and we had many meals there while we were falling in love. Sadly, one night the owners of the Taco Emporium disappeared. Apparently they had fallen behind on their taxes, or something, and they split. We loved all their food, of course, including their refried beans.

The Healthy Alternative

Now, traditional refried beans are absolutely not vegan! They often have lard, or bacon fat, sometimes cheese, in them. But, for us, even from the beginning, as non-vegan, we weren’t interested in that. Also we took our typical approach and put our own spin on it.

Ingredients for vegan refried beans: black beans & kidney beans, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder
The simple ingredients for refried beans

We started making these vegan refried beans just about when we got married (pre-vegan). It was always pretty much the same ingredients as we are sharing with you today. Over time it had tweaks and changes but it was always one of those things we made by feel and taste. but, a short time ago we realize that this was the OG vegan recipe from us and it wasn’t even actually a recipe that we could share with anybody!  Challenge accepted. I got busy on figuring out exactly what made the best vegan refried beans, Full of Beans-style, so that we could share it with all of you and spread the vegan refried beans love. :-)

Vegan Refried Beans Full of Beans-style

If you have had refried beans in a restaurant, or bought them at a store, you’ll know that they are usually very creamy and smooth. Well, we like a little more texture than that and don’t care for the extra step of blending.

vegan refried beans in a glass dish
Smooth, but with texture – that’s how we like to make refried beans!

So our vegan refried beans have a little more character to them. (However, if you like smooth and creamy, go right ahead and blend away!) We try to use beans that we have cooked ourselves, in our Instant Pot, so we have a lot of control over how tender the beans are. Soft beans work best in this recipe, since we mash them by hand. Canned beans (always try to get organic!) work fine, they just may take a little extra mashing and a little more time cooking. OK, on to the recipe!


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Vegan Refried Beans – Full of Beans Style

  • Author: Greg @
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10 - 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minute
  • Yield: About 3 cups 1x
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Units Scale
  • 1 tsp oil (grapeseed, peanut, avocado or other high-heat oil)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.5 cups kidney beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1.5 cups black beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup water (added as needed)
  • optional: 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • optional: diced jalapeno (to taste)


  1. Heat a skillet on medium high heat
  2. add the oil
  3. once the oil is warmed, add the onion and cook until translucent
  4. add the garlic and cook for a minute or two
  5. add the spices and combine all ingredients
  6. immediately add the beans and stir all ingredients together. add some of the water to keep it all from being dry and sticking to the pan
  7. Using a masher (like for mashed potatoes) or the back of a large spoon or ladle, start mashing the beans
  8. reduce heat to medium, or medium low
  9. alternate mashing and stirring, adding water to keep everything moist, until most of the beans are mashed. We like to leave bits and pieces of beans for texture.
  10. Once the beans start to mash sample the taste and add salt, if needed (or cayenne if you want the refried beans to be spicier)
  11. remove from heat and serve or transfer to a container


  • We like our refried beans just slightly spicy and let other ingredients of dishes add heat as we desire(like salsa, or hot sauce etc). Occassionaly we add cayenne and/or jalapeño pepper to add some fire. Its up to you!
  • The water is added in small amounts to keep the mixture from drying out as you cook and mash. If the mixture is WET as you’re cooking don’t fret. Simply keep mashing and cooking – it will quickly evaporate

Keywords: beans, mexican, refried, vegan, spicy, low-fat

Greg is the other half of Full Of Beans. He loves to be active, particularly outdoors. If he had his way, he would be on a warm beach at least part of every day. He works as a Graphic Designer, Photographer, and Personal Trainer. In his opinion, Georgia is the best thing that ever happened to him.

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