Recipes » Vegan Refried Black Beans (Instant Pot)

Vegan Refried Black Beans (Instant Pot)

These oil-free vegan refried black beans are made from scratch in the Instant Pot. Enjoy them on their own or as a homemade substitute for the canned version in your favorite recipes.

A white bowl filled with vegan refried black beans, garnished with scallions and tortilla chips. In the foreground are some tortilla chips on a white tablecloth, and in the background are a glass of water and a basket of chips.

Why I Developed This Recipe

Refried beans are a versatile, easy plant-based ingredient to use in a variety of ways. I wanted to develop a recipe that was packed with flavor, and mostly hands-off. The Instant Pot is my go-to for a job like this! 

I start with the simplest of ingredients – dried black beans and seasonings. In this recipe, no presoak is required! These beans are highly seasoned and somewhat spicy, feel free to adjust the spices to suit your preferences.  

There is a simple way to make this dish oil-free – Just use the bean cooking liquid to keep the mixture from sticking to the skillet while mashing!

These refried beans are so tasty and so versatile. Enjoy them alone or as an ingredient in tacos, burritos, bowls… anything you can think of. Make sure to try them with my Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños with Red Onion as a topping to your dish, and add a salad with my Creamy Salsa Dressing.

Incidentally, if you are looking for a pot of well-seasoned black beans, skip the smashing step and just use them as-is. 

Use any leftovers as the filling in my Air Fryer Taquitos to make that 30-minute recipe even faster!

Ingredients

  • Dried Black Beans – Make sure you rinse them well, some bags have more dust and grit than others. If your beans are older, you may need to use more water for them to soften properly during cooking.
  • Bay Leaf, Cumin, and Chili Powder – Bring the basic Tex-Mex flavor to the recipe.
  • Smoked Paprika and Chipotle Chili Powder – Add a spicy and smoky flavor. The heat in this recipe will mostly come from the Chipotle Chili Powder, so adjust the amount according to the desired spice level.
  • Onion and Garlic Powder – I prefer to use onion and garlic powders rather than fresh when using the Instant Pot, as I find the fresh versions can sometimes develop an odd flavor.
  • Salt – I do add salt to my food however my recipes generally do not include a specific amount in the ingredients. Differences in the type of salt you choose can significantly affect the taste of the final product. Please adjust salt to your taste and in accordance with your dietary needs. That said, if you do choose to use salt in this recipe, you will want to add it after the initial cooking as it can keep the beans from softening. 
  • Yellow Onion and Garlic – Add not only flavor but texture to the finished dish.
  • Lime Juice and Zest – Lime is a natural flavor pairing for black beans, and I find adding the zest also brightens the finished dish.
  • Garnishes – Potential garnishes for refried beans include diced scallion, white onion or jalapeño, fresh cilantro, and avocado.

Method

Part 1 – Cooking the Dry Beans

Rinse the dry beans well. This is necessary to remove any dust or debris that may be present.

Combine the rinsed beans and spices in the Instant Pot insert with 6 cups of water. Stir well to break up clumps of spices.

Ensure the silicone ring is properly placed inside the lid. If your model has a venting knob, ensure it is placed on the lid correctly.

Place the lid on the pot and twist to lock. Set the steam release valve to “sealing.”

Press “manual” or “pressure cook” on your Instant Pot, depending on which model you have. Set the timer to 35 minutes.

The pot will begin heating, however, the timer will not start until the float valve raises, indicating that the proper pressure has been reached.

When the timer counts down to zero, a signal will sound. At this point, you can either choose to release the pressure manually, by *carefully* venting the steam to bring down the pressure inside the pot OR release the pressure naturally, by leaving the pot to cool down by itself. In either case, DO NOT attempt to open the pot until the float valve lowers into its initial position, indicating that it is safe to open.

Check for doneness. A trick I learned years ago is to gently blow on some beans on a spoon. If the skins split, they are likely done but taste a bean to make sure.  

Add salt. Set the pot to “saute” for 5-10 minutes, stir well, and simmer until the salt is absorbed, and the beans taste well-seasoned. 

Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. This liquid is highly flavored, and you will use it to ensure the mixture does not stick to the skillet in the next step, as this recipe is oil-free.

(If you want to use the beans as-is, stop at this step)

Step 2 – Making the Refried Beans

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt, letting them begin to cook without stirring for about 1 minute. 

Add 1 tablespoon of water and continue to saute until the onion is translucent, adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking, about 8-10 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown, they should be translucent for this recipe. 

Add the garlic and saute for approximately 1 minute more.

Reduce heat to low and add the drained beans and 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid.

close up of adding black beans to water-sauteed onions in a skillet

Begin mashing with a potato masher, adding reserved liquid 1/2 cup at a time to prevent sticking. If you run out of liquid, you can use water.

Close up of partially mashed black beans and onions in a skillet

Mash the beans to your desired texture, adding more liquid as necessary. The final result is up to you, leave some partially mashed or continue mashing until the entire pan is smooth. I vary the consistency of the finished product based on how I will use the beans. A more rustic texture is nice if they are the main element in a bowl or burrito however when used as an addition to other ingredients, I mash them until they are completely smooth.

close up of finished vegan refried black beans in a skillet

Taste and adjust salt.

Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and zest, stirring until mixed throughout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all refried beans vegan? Are they oil-free?

This recipe is vegan and oil-free. When buying canned refried beans, read the label as some contain added oils or lard.

How can I make oil-free refried beans?

In this recipe, you eliminate the need for added oil by water-sauteing the onions and garlic, using the highly seasoned liquid leftover from cooking the beans in place of oil to prevent them from sticking to the skillet while mashing.

Can I freeze refried beans?

Homemade refried beans freeze well in an airtight container. Add water if necessary and stir when reheating until they are the desired consistency.

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Vegan Refried Black Beans (Instant Pot)

white bowl of vegan refried black beans on a white tablecloth. scallions and a tortilla chip garnish the beans.

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Oil-free, vegan refried black beans made from scratch in the Instant Pot. Use these on their own or as a meal starter in your favorite Tex-Mex recipe.

  • Author: Jennifer @ Always Add Alliums
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6.5 cups 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot, Saute
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale

1 pound Dried Black Beans, rinsed well and drained

2 Bay Leaves

1/4 teaspoon Cumin

2 teaspoons Chili Powder

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder

2 tablespoons Onion Powder

2 tablespoons Garlic Powder

6 cups Water

1 small Yellow Onion, finely diced

4 cloves Garlic, minced

juice and zest of 1 Lime

Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse the black beans well and place them in the Instant Pot insert along with the water, bay leaves, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, using natural pressure release. See the “method” section for detailed Instant Pot instructions.
  3. Open Instant Pot and add salt to taste, set to saute, and simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the salt to absorb.
  4. Drain, reserving liquid.
  5. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat for approximately 1 minute. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt, letting them cook without stirring for about 1 minute, then stir and add 1 tablespoon of water. Saute until translucent, adding water by the tablespoon as needed to prevent sticking, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and saute for approximately 1 minute more.
  7. Reduce heat to low, add the drained beans, and begin to mash, using a potato masher. Add the bean cooking liquid approximately 1/2 cup at a time, to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  8. Continue mashing and adding water until you reach your desired texture, anywhere from partially mashed to completely smooth.
  9. Taste and adjust salt.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and zest, stirring until mixed throughout.

Notes

See the “method” section in the post for more detailed instructions for the preparation of this recipe, including detailed Instant Pot directions.

Vary the consistency of the finished product based on how you will use the beans. A more rustic texture is nice if they are the main element in a bowl or burrito however when used as an addition to the main ingredients, you may prefer to mash them until they are completely smooth. 

If you would like to use the seasoned and cooked black beans without re-frying them, stop after step 3 of the recipe.

Garnish with scallion, white onion, jalapeno, fresh cilantro, or avocado.

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