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Can You Freeze Refried Beans? – The Best Way

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We all have that favorite type of food that we just can’t stay away from. Your tastes could range anywhere from Italian to American to Chinese to Mexican. You really can’t go wrong with any of these but there’s just something to be said about authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes. 

Everyone loves a good Mexican restaurant because there are so many varieties of things and so many different ways that you can enjoy every dish. From queso to guacamole to rice and refried beans, you get a little bit of everything. 

Refried beans are one of our favorites. You can do just about anything with them! When you make things with refried beans, a little bit tends to go a long way.

Can you freeze refried beans to keep them fresh? Yes, you can freeze refried beans as long as you remove them from the can and transfer them to an airtight container. You can freeze refried beans indefinitely, but we recommend using them within 12 months.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of freezing refried beans. The process is not so difficult but there are some things you should know to ensure you have the best possible freezing experience. We have a lot of other information related to refried beans to share with you as well 

Keep reading to learn how to freeze refried beans and more. 

Can You Freeze Refried Beans? A Complete Guide

You’re probably familiar with refried beans. Whether you’ve made them on your own at home or you simply open up a can when you’re using refried beans at home, you know the basic concept. You’ve probably also seen refried beans at your local Mexican restaurant. 

In both Mexican and Tex-Mex style restaurants, refried beans are often topped with cheese and served on the side of any dish, along with rice. This is pretty commonplace for these types of restaurants and dishes. 

Refried beans are made from (that’s right, you guessed it!) beans. There are different ways that refried beans can be made and you might have seen them in numerous ways or even made them in different ways.

Ultimately, refried beans are made using mashed beans. 

If you’re following a homemade recipe, it will probably tell you to use pinto beans. Pinto beans are the most common type of bean used but black beans and kidney beans can also be used to make refried beans. You will need to soak your beans and then cook them and drain them. 

Beans can also be served in a lot of different ways. We will talk more about that later in this guide. 

Freezing and Proper Storage of Refried Beans

Refried beans are really easy to work with. Whether you make them at home or you use a can of them, the processes are all very simple and universal. 

There are several ways that you can store your refried beans. These options come in particularly helpful if you plan to make a large batch but you only need to use a portion. 

You can easily dry refried beans. This is a great option, particularly if you are short on freezer space or if you do a lot of backpacking and hiking and need food options for your adventures.

We wrote a guide on how to dehydrate refried beans previously and that’s a great reference for you in this situation. 

This guide is geared towards freezing refried beans so we will cover proper storage for both refrigerator and freezer to leave you fully prepared for any option you may need. 

Storing Refried Beans in the Refrigerator

If you just had some leftover beans from dinner and you plan to use them within a few days, you can just store them in the fridge. This keeps them readily available for you without having to do additional work if you don’t have to. 

Here are your steps for storing refried beans in the refrigerator. 

  1. Allow refried beans to cool to room temperature. 
  2. Place beans into an airtight container or a storage bag that seals properly. 
  3. Store refried beans in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

If you’re going to use the remaining beans that you have within 5 days, this is the easiest way to store them. Then you can just grab them and reheat them or add them to your dish of choice. 

We would like to note here that if you are using canned refried beans, you should never freeze them in the can. They will remain fine in an unopened can for quite some time but once you open the can, you should put them into a different dish. 

We’ve heard reports of people covering open cans with plastic wrap and we just don’t feel as though this is a best practice way to store refried beans and assure that they are properly preserved or stored. 

Storing Refried Beans in the Freezer

The freezer is a great way to store refried beans. We mentioned earlier that you can make a bulk batch and then freeze them away for later use.

This is a great way to simplify future mealtimes. Freezer meal options are always quite useful. 

If you do freeze your beans because you made a bulk batch of them, you should split them out into different portions. We don’t recommend that you place them all into one large dish or bag. 

Here are your steps for freezing refried beans for the best success. 

  1. Allow beans to fully cool before attempting to freeze them. 
  2. Separate refried beans into usable portions. 
  3. Place portions into separate airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Be sure that whatever method you use is airtight and sealed well. If you do use an airtight container, it doesn’t hurt to place a layer of plastic wrap under the lid just for an extra level of protection from air. 
  4. Label, date, and seal all packaging. 
  5. Freeze refried beans for up to 12 months. 

We would like to note that refried beans can be frozen indefinitely. 12 months is the timeline provided for best processes but if the procedures are accurately followed, they will last forever in the freezer. 

This means that if they are frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder and they are sealed as they should be, they will not go bad in the freezer. 

For fun, let’s talk about the pros and cons of freezing refried beans. 

Pros of Freezing Refried Beans

  • Refried beans can last indefinitely when stored properly
  • Easy to use after freezing
  • The freezing process is simple
  • Refried beans are versatile and can make many things
  • Inexpensive and stretch a long way

Cons to Freezing Refried Beans

  • They sometimes will seem dry after freezing
  • It’s important to be sure they are airtight
  • They freeze forever so you might get tired of them

The pros far outweigh the cons so we say just go for it!

Using Refried Beans After Freezing Them

Refried beans are easy to work with after they’ve been frozen. You can toss them in the fridge and let them thaw overnight for the easiest way to use them. 

Of course, some of us just don’t remember to move things out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge. You can also thaw your refried beans by throwing them in a pan or skillet and heating them. This would also solve your problem of heating them up. 

One thing we do want to mention here is that if your refried beans seem a little dry after they’ve been frozen, that’s quite alright. You can add just a small amount of water or even oil to them to get your consistency back to the way it should be and then they should be perfect from there! 

Another tidbit that you might find useful is that you can also easily reheat your refried beans in the microwave.

There are various recommendations for this process but you should be able to put them in a microwave-safe bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap.

Heat for 3 minutes to start, then stir and heat an additional 1 minute at a time until they are heated. 

It’s so easy! 

How to Make Homemade Refried Beans

Understanding what makes refried beans helps to understand the best practice for the freezing process. 

Remember that there are many different recipes out there for making homemade refried beans. Overall, the concept is the same across the board. We share this recipe as a general reference for you. 

  1. You will need oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and lime (optional). Additionally, you will need pinto beans. You can either use canned pinto beans or you can use dry beans. This instructional does not cover how to cook and prepare your beans so if you use dry beans be sure you soak them and stew them appropriately. 
  2. Start by heating oil in a skillet. Cook your garlic in the oil if you are using cloves and then smash the garlic. 
  3. Stir in pinto beans, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Stir the mixture until the beans are fully warmed. This should take only about 5-10 minutes on medium heat. 
  4. Remove mixture from heat and mash completely. This is easiest with a potato masher tool. 
  5. If you are using lime, squeeze some juice over the beans and mix in. 
  6. Serve or use for cooking as you prefer. 

Making refried beans is simple. You can make them yourself in a short time frame, especially if you use canned beans. Obviously, working with dry beans does take some additional work but once you get past the soaking process, the rest is easy! 

From the time you make your refried beans, you then have a ton of options for how you can use your refried beans. 

The Best Uses for Refried Beans

Refried beans are super easy to work with. You can enjoy them fresh (from the stovetop or from a can) or you can turn them into other meals. Additionally, refried beans are very affordable so they are a great pantry item when you are working with a tight grocery budget. 

There are so many different things you can do with refried beans. Most people see them as a Mexican side dish or a burrito filling. While those are true and definitely good uses for refried beans, there are a ton of other options you can utilize. 

One of the best ways to use them in an expensive format is to spoon some onto a tortilla and add some cheese and sour cream. You can even grill the tortilla or heat it a bit if you really want to spice it up. 

You can easily use refried beans as a casserole filler as well. Remember that you can use refried beans in many different ways. You are certainly not limited to these options, although we hope that if there is something here you haven’t yet tried you will expand your horizons and sample them! 

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about freezing your refried beans. 

Related Questions

We hope that you have found this guide to freezing refried beans to be a valuable and informative resource. There’s a lot of information here but rest assured that the process is simple and we’re quite sure you won’t have any problems in freezing your beans! 

We invite you to take a look at the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be helpful. 

Do Refried Beans Spoil?

Refried beans can go bad. This is most likely to happen if they are opened and then left in the fridge for too long. Check for the smell and appearance.

If anything seems off, it’s much safer to throw the refried beans out rather than take the chance they could be spoiled. 

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

Refried beans, particularly when homemade, can be a healthy dish. Canned refried beans can sometimes be high in sodium so you will need to be mindful of that.

Otherwise, they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are great for protein, Vitamin C, and Potassium. 

Up Next: The Complete Guide To Freezing Pinto Beans

One Comment

  1. We (my husband Brad and I) so enjoyed reading this article about refried beans. You Crack me up. Thank you for answering all my questions in such an entertaining and humorous way!! I’ll be looking your web site up for no other reason than to be entertained and probably learn a lot in the process. Elaine Brown, Friday Harbor, WA

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