This slow cooker refried beans recipe is one of my very favorites. I’ve been hoarding it away for quite some time because I knew it would be a great way to kick off Legume Appreciation Month. Now, the beans are not really fried. In fact, they’re actually fat-free. I love that about them – this way, I can pile up my vegan tacos with lots of guacamole. =]
Crock pot, slow cooker, whatever you want to call it, it’s the secret to these un-fried beans. Simmering for hours along with aromatic seasonings, the pinto beans absorb tons of flavor. Not only that, but the whole house smells like walking into a Mexican restaurant. I don’t necessarily have anything against frying up some beans when the craving hits. But the set-it-and-forget-it nature of this recipe makes it very easy to fit into a busy schedule!
The most recent time I made the slow cooker refried beans, I was on a family trip to Montana, and I had an 18-mile training run planned the next morning. Before I went to bed, I set up the slow cooker, and gave my parents their breakfast assignment. My uncle and I set out on our run before the clock struck 6 (fun vacation, right? Also, my uncle is amazing). 3 hours or so later, we walked in to the smell of delicious beans, fresh tomatillo salsa, and tortillas warmed in the skillet. Huevos-less rancheros, if you will. If that isn’t a FANTASTIC thing to eat after a long run (at elevation!), then I don’t know what is.
I know the nutritional yeast and soy sauce in this recipe might seem a little weird. Because there’s no frying, and no lard in these pinto beans, I add these extras to amp up the umami flavor a little bit. I promise that you can’t taste either of them. They just round out the flavor a little bit. My 6-year-old cousin who has not so much as heard of nutritional yeast had absolutely no problem gobbling it down ;). Couple those savory add-ins with a squeeze of lime juice and the flavor really pops. If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, you can leave it out and the recipe still comes out fine.
Vegan Slow Cooker Refried Beans (Un-fried)
- 1 lb dried pinto beans
- 1 red onion roughly chopped
- 1 poblano, anaheim or hatch chile pepper roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tbsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- a few grinds of black pepper
- 1 tsp soy sauce (optional) (or tamari for gluten-free)
- 8 cup water
- 1 small tomato diced
- 1 lime juiced
- Soak the pinto beans for 1-2 hours. Rinse and drain.
- Add the pinto beans to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients except for the tomato and lime, and stir.
- Cook on 'low' for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are completely soft. Add more water if needed. Cooking time may also vary depending on how old your beans are.
- Stir in the chopped tomato, and lime juice, and cook for another 1 hour on high, until the tomato is soft and incorporated.
- Blend in the food processor, or mash with a masher, to the desired amount of smoothness. Add more salt to taste.
- These slow cooker refried beans freeze really well, or they will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
If you don't have a big enough blender or food processor to blend all of the beans after cooking, you can also use this method: puree together all of the ingredients except for the beans, tomato and lime; add to the slow cooker along with the beans; and cook as in the instructions. Chop the tomato as finely as possible before adding it. Instead of blending afterward, mash everything with a masher or a strong fork.