Beyond Easy (Not) Refried Beans

Beyond Easy (Not) Refried Beans

Now that I’ve gotten you to at least start thinking about getting a 1 1/2 to 2 quart slow cooker – here’s another recipe for it. This time it’s a savory staple that can make any meal easy – refried beans – except my beans play no part in the frying game. They’re completely oil-free, so you there’s no guilt, and fewer calories than the regular version!

Refried beans won’t win any beauty contest, but they are cheap, tasty and good for you.

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The recipe below is a jumping off point. You can add green chilies, chopped hot peppers, lime juice, sauteed onions and peppers, even beer if you’re so inclined.  You can make these taste just the way you want them to. I don’t know about you, but it makes me happy to actually find something I can control in my life. You don’t have to be a control freak like me to enjoy them – even those of you with patience and inner peace can love these beans too!

This recipe starts off with dried beans. You can use canned or pre-cooked ones, just put the ingredients together in the morning instead of the night before. You could make some flautas with the leftovers, if you have any.

Beyond Easy Not-Refried Beans

Serves: 2 to 3 cups

**This recipe uses a smaller slow cooker 1½ to 2 quarts - you can double the recipe and use a 3½ to 4 quart slow cooker
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans
  • 3 cup water (plus extra noted in recipe)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (can use ½ teaspoon garlic powder instead)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • A few dashes liquid smoke or smoked salt, optional
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, optional
  • salt, to taste
  1. The night before: In your slow cooker add the dried beans, water, garlic, and chili powder. Cook on low overnight. (If your 1½ quart slow cooker does not have a low/high setting then it should run on low.)
  2. In the morning: Add the liquid smoke if using and ¼ to ½ cup of water depending on how long you will be gone for the day. You can cook these a very long time if you just add extra water.
  3. Before serving: Take a wooden spoon and mix the beans together smashing some again the walls of the slow cooker if there are still too many whole beans. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce, salt, or other add-ins now.
  4. Serve as-is over brown rice with salsa for the easiest meal ever, or serve in tacos or burritos.



  1. says

    This might be a dumb question but where can I buy liquid smoke? Beans are my favorite (hence my blog name) but these sound like they must be made this week!

  2. Aimee B. says

    I followed the recipe to a tee, but ended up with beans that were very thin, more like a soup or gravy. What went wrong? I salvaged them by adding a can of drained and rinsed beans to the pot to thicken it up. :)

    • Kathy Hester says

      A few questions for you and then I can better help you troubleshoot what happened.

      1. Do you have a new or older slow cooker? 2. How much water did you add in the morning? 3. How long did the beans cook the night before? Then how long during the day?

      My initial feeling is that your slow cooker may be older or doesn’t run hot. You may need to use 1/2 cup to 1 cup less water depending on how long you will be cooking them.

      • Aimee B. says

        Hi Kathy,

        Thank you so much for getting back to me. My slow cooker is brand new. This was the very first recipe I tried in it, lol! It’s a Rival 1.5 quart. I didn’t add any water in the morning. I started the beans at about 10 pm the night before and cooked them until 6 pm the following day.

        I think I may try them with less water like you suggested. :)

        • Kathy Hester says

          That’s really odd, though I have about every brand 1 1/2 quart other than the latest Rival. Maybe that one runs more like an older one. Anyone else have the same experience?

          Please let me know how it turns out next time and how much water you end up using. I’d love to pass that on here so others can benefit too.


  3. Janet says

    I just made these a second time in my new Bella 3 x 1.5 qt. crockpot The first time I put 3 cups water and they were soupy (but delicious). This time I put 2 cups (boiling) water, thinking it would be impossible for dry, unsoaked beans to cook through in so little water – but they DID!! I checked them a couple times for dryness, stirred in darker ones on top, added no more water, and didn’t get to them for 13.5 hours (I’m sure they were done earlier). The first time I started them on high for 3-4 hours because I didn’t pay close enough attention to directions, then changed to low. Since I was home (and wanted to smell them sooner), I did the same with these. All I know is I just made a burrito with them and these will be a staple here FOR SURE! Can’t want to explore more from your book with these cute little crockpots. Thank you! :-)

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