White Refried Beans

These homemade white refried beans are made at home without the soaking and long cook time. They taste just like the real thing and are ready in 5 minutes.

These homemade white refried beans are made at home without the soaking and long cook time. They taste just like the real thing and are ready in 5 minutes.

A few Christmases (I just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to pluralize that word correctly…no idea if it’s right, it still looks weird to me but I’m moving on) ago, I got Ulysses a subscription to Men’s Health magazine. He liked it and read it but honestly, I was the one waiting for it in the mailbox every month.

From the ridiculous questions women would write in about their guy asking the dude that looked like a bartender in the beginning section (basically a men’s version of Dear Abbey) to the Eat This! Not That! meal of the month to the best part, which was the recipes with only 5 ingredients purely enforcing the stereotype of men not being able to cook.

I friggin’ LOVED those recipes.

There were some amazingly delicious combinations in there that most would probably overlook because of their simplicity. My favorite was this smashed bean and rosemary combination (which inspired this smashed white bean quesadilla) which obviously had 3 other ingredients that I can’t remember but it was basically refried beans meets baked beans except without the nasty tomato-sauce baked bean flavor (sorry if that’s your thing, but I just can’t get behind the canned baked bean thing) and all sophisticated up with rosemary.

So simple, so quick, so good.

Homemade white refried beans make an easy and delicious side dish to any dinner.

These beans were inspired by that recipe.

I love refried beans in restaurants but I’ll be honest with you all, I’ve never once in my life bought dry beans. The whole soaking overnight and cooking for hours thing just doesn’t appeal. Yes, they may be like 20 cents cheaper per serving but no, I’m not that cheap to care.

Canned beans are a convenience that is just always going to win that battle for me.

So that being said, these are a very loose translation of “refried beans”. A Men’s Health quickie version if you will. I used cannellini beans because I’m just partial to them. They’re soft and I love their flavor more than any other although, this really could be made with any bean.

No soaking, no long cook times and yet pretty much all the flavor of traditional refried beans just in a white refried bean version.

Serve these easy white refried beans with your favorite grilled meat or protein for an easy and quick dinner.

I guess men do get some things right.

Homemade white refried beans

Homemade White Refried Beans

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes

These homemade white refried beans are made at home without the soaking and long cook time. They taste just like the real thing and are ready in 5 minutes.


  • 1 15oz. can of cannellini beans, drained with liquid reserved and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped


  1. Add drained & rinsed beans to a medium bowl.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and saute oil and shallots together for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add spices and salt and continue to saute for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add brown sugar and cook for another 30-45 seconds until sugar starts to melt and caramelize.
  5. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the beans.
  6. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash beans and shallot mixture until coarsely combined.
  7. Add in 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid to help mash further and smooth out the beans (add more liquid if you want the beans creamier/smoother)
  8. Mix in the chopped cilantro last and finish by seasoning with salt & pepper to taste (it may not need any depending on your taste).


Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen



  1. Kelly @ No Sugar Sweet Life

    1) Yes, those beans look great… and sound way healthier than “traditional” refried beans and 2) I just LOVE that blue table that these are photographed on!! I want one. :)

  2. Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf

    YES! A refried bean recipe that doesn’t have lard in it! The main reason REB and I don’t go out for Mexican food a lot is because I know a lot of places use lard in their beans :\ That and there’s no REAL nutritional value in a bean and cheese burrito :P I need to make these then incorporate them into my Mexican lasagna or enchiladas!! I LOVE cannellini beans!

  3. Cait's Plate

    1) I think Christmases is right. At least it seems like it is to me so I say roll with it.

    2) I used to LOVE the Eat This! Not That! and Men’s Health recipes. I actually still kinda like Men’s Health more than Women’s Health…is that weird?

  4. Cassie

    Truth be told, I don’t like refried beans. I really don’t like any beans, except black beans and chickpeas, and even then, they have to be cooked a certain way. I hate that I am so picky about them. I want to love them, just not there yet. PS – your board looks great! I still need to paint and stain mine!

  5. Calee (@chimes)

    That’s hilarious that you were the one waiting for the mag. I’d be the same way. Mark is the only one reading my Glamour and Self now. I honestly don’t know why I subscribed to either in the first place but they keep automatically renewing.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I swear they just renew on their own, they really make your WORK to cancel that membership!

  6. Shannon

    This post just made my day. I LOVE Men’s Health recipes! The short order cook section is fantastic! I learned (memorized??) their pepper shrimp recipe and now it’s a total go-to for a quick weeknight meal. (bell peppers and onions sauteed with red pepper flakes and garlic, a few jalapeno slices, then add OJ and hoisin to make a sauce, then add shrimp til just done) PLUS I can trick my husband into eating healthy meals.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      that shrimp recipe sounds delicious! Might have to try that out soon. Over rice it sounds like the perfect meal :)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      It was! I’m going to post about the boards and the process in a few days. It was so easy and I’m so excited with how they came out :)

  7. Anna @ The Guiltless Life

    Thank you for a refried beans recipe! I am all about refried beans but don’t always like the amount of sodium they dump into the can. Plus I love that you used different kinds of beans too :).

    PS. Christmases is correct! (I’m an editor by day job, so I tend to end up noticing these things when I probably shouldn’t be. But I thought you’d want to know it was right!)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Thank you for letting me know! It’s funny how sometimes you can stare at a words so long that it just starts to look wrong.

  8. Margarita

    I always just cook with chickpeas and kidney beans because I can never find cannelini beans! Not even canned ones. I love how healthy this “Refried Bean” recipe is… it’s only refried with one tablespoon of oil. Awesome!

  9. Thallia

    Wow! I guess this one is what I should have on weekends.. I hope I can make this better for my kids and husband as well.. Great job!

  10. Jenny

    I made enchilladas this week and just used tinned refried beans – if only I’d seen this sooner, I would have had a go at making my own!

  11. Jingalala

    Gina, the photos are awesome!. Being a toddler in food blogging i need to know what paint i can use to paint such wooden slabs which you’ve used in this post. Can you help pls?

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I just finished writing up a post about the whole process of making them at home. It will publish on Sunday! But to quickly answer your question, I just picked up sample paints from Lowes. They’re just latex.

  12. Pingback: DIY Photography Background

  13. Donna

    These are truly the most “elegant” refried beans I have ever seen!!…Would it totally destroy your recipe if I added cumin in to the spice mix?…When I see beans I spontaneously think “cumin”…Must be the Portuguese genetics kicking in!…Thanks for this wonderful offering!

  14. Andrea

    These look so good! What kinds of things do you serve them with, though? I want to make them but not sure what they’d go good with.

  15. Emily

    I just made these for my 20 month old, in my attempts to be more creative with lunch time (instead of just chicken nuggets!) I only had an onion, so that’s what I used, but the beans turned out SO YUMMY! They are a little sweet, but a touch of spice. I slathered them on a tortilla, grated some cheese, and browned it (like a quesadilla). She LOVES it, and she’s pretty picky! Thanks for the recipe. Do you think these would freeze well, if I made a big batch?

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      So glad you both liked them! I haven’t tried freezing them but it’s worth a shot…I’ve frozen other beans before without any problems.

  16. J

    Simple enough, sounds tasty, but for those of you who need to watch their sodium levels, anything that’s canned, including beans, are just ridiculously high in sodium. I recommend making your own white beans in the pressure cooker, takes 10 minutes and they’re done. Not rocket science folks. Stop being lazy now and avoid the consequences down the road…. you’ve heard it before and I’m sure you’ll hear it many times over before complications begin.

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