Easy Vegetarian Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!)

When I first saw Crock Pot Refried Beans making the internet rounds a while back, I got kind of excited. I mean, I’m a fiend for the Crock Pot, surely I’ve made that clear by now. But the first time they really truly landed squarely on my radar was when the wonderful Simply Scratch posted a great-looking recipe for them. And even though they look terrific, unfortunately, they have lard. No-go for a vegetarian.

So I set out to make my own version of Crock Pot Refried Beans. My criteria was pretty simple: they must use dried beans, they must be super duper easy, and they must taste amazing.

Easy Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!) | Kitchen Treaty

Honestly? It took me about seven tries until I got these just right. I’d like to think that confession will inspire confidence in my recipe rather than doubt …

Easy Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!) | Kitchen Treaty

This recipe is so, so easy. While I’m usually all for fresh veggies, I love that this particular recipe takes no chopping – no peppers, no onions. Just a few whole cloves of garlic, a couple glugs of olive oil, some vegetable broth, and spices. And beans, of course.

Some versions of Crock Pot Refried Beans don’t include soaking time. This isn’t one. I’ve read that soaking beans is an important step in reducing the gas-causing compounds, and, well, I’ve found that to be pretty true. So I’m a bonafide always-soaks-beans kinda gal. Besides – it takes, like, two extra minutes of hands-on time to soak. Okay, and a tad more planning. Totally worth less discomfort and, um, you know. Noise and stuff.

So. First, I soak the beans in the Crock Pot overnight. In the morning, I drain and rinse the beans, then return them to the Crock Pot and add the other ingredients.

Easy Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!) | Kitchen Treaty


Then they cook. 8 hours or so.

Then I break out my immersion blender and blend the heck out of them. And then I let them cook in the Crock Pot, uncovered, for another 30 minutes or so to thicken up and get even more refried-ish.

Easy Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!) | Kitchen Treaty

And then there you have it. Creamy, perfect, frugal, oh-so easy refried beans. Now you can make tostadas. Or tacos. Or just eat a bowl straight up with some cheddar cheese melted sprinkled on the top. That, my friends, is the perfect snack.

Easy Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!) | Kitchen Treaty

You can also freeze them. I measure cups into zipper bags, label them, flatten them, and throw them into the freezer. Then I can just pull one out whenever I want a snack or we decide we want some super-easy tostadas for dinner.

So there ya go. Refried beans in the Crock Pot with no lard, no chopping, and hardly any work. Vegetarian, vegan, healthy, delicious. These easy Crock Pot Refried Beans are a happy new staple around here.

Oh, and here’s a little cost comparison for giggles.

  • 1 pound of pinto beans = 6 cups of refried beans = $1.50 (roughly $1 per pound of beans + 50 cents for other ingredients)
  • 3 15-ounce cans of vegetarian refried beans = $4.50 (assuming a decent price of $1.50 per can)
  • Homemade from-scratch refried beans only cost 33% of what canned beans cost – a 66% savings!

I love saving money – not to mention knowing exactly what goes into my food.

Oh, and the Crock Pot. Gosh, I love my Crock Pot.

Print Recipe

Easy Vegetarian Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!)

Creamy refried beans from scratch, right in your Crock Pot! With a simple list of ingredients, these lard-free vegetarian and vegan refried beans are a cinch to make.

Yield: 6 cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 3 cups vegetable broth + a little more for thinning, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 fresh lime (optional)


  1. Rinse beans under water and pick through, discarding any weird broken bean pieces or other debris. Place beans in a 3-quart or larger Crock Pot and fill Crock Pot with water to about 2 - 3 inches above the beans. Cover and let sit overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  2. Discard soaking water by pouring beans into a colander. Rinse beans. Return beans to the Crock Pot.
  3. Add vegetable broth, olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and salt.
  4. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours, until beans are cooked through.
  5. Turn off Crock Pot and remove lid to allow beans to cool a bit so that they're safer to handle. Using an immersion blender, blend beans to desired consistency (you might like your beans to be 100% smooth, or chunky with a few beans still left whole). A note on liquid level: Crock Pots can vary, so if before blending, the liquid is still above the level of the beans, you may want to skim a little off and reserve the liquid for possibly thinning later on. Mine cook down and end up at the perfect consistency with exactly 3 cups vegetable broth, and I don't need to remove any of the liquid before blending.
  6. Turn Crock Pot back on to low and let pureed beans sit and cook for another 30 minutes or so. This will help the beans to thicken up and the flavors to develop.
  7. Taste and add additional salt if desired. I actually like to use 2 teaspoons kosher salt up front, but I like mine a bit salty. If beans are too thick, add additional vegetable broth and stir. If beans are too thin, let sit for a little longer and they will thicken up nicely.
  8. Squeeze half a lime over the top of the beans before serving, if desired.
  9. These keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 - 3 days, or you can keep them frozen for several months. They will thicken after sitting. Just thin with vegetable broth or water to the desired consistency.

Inspired by and adapted from Simply Scratch and A Year of Slow Cooking


I’ve joined a few of my fellow Crock Pot loving bloggers to bring you a great bunch of Crock Pot main dish recipes today. Follow the hashtag #crocktoberfest2013 on facebook, twitter, and instagram to see all of the fabulous slow cooker recipes being shared this week.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a portion of the proceeds.


46 Responses to “Easy Vegetarian Crock Pot Refried Beans (without Lard!)”

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  3. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl posted on October 16, 2013 at 7:55 am

    LOVE this!! I hate when refried beans contain lard..it’s so unnecessary!! :(

  4. Wendy | Around My Family Table posted on October 16, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’ve been making my “refried” beans in my slow cooker for years….love how easry it is. Can’t wait to try your version!

    • Karen Troughton posted on October 18, 2013 at 8:24 am

      It’s such a great concept! I was making mine from canned black beans in a saute pan – also delicious, but not nearly as easy (nor as money-saving)!

  5. Susan posted on October 16, 2013 at 10:19 am

    So excited for this – my husband and I are on the trek to making more from scratch and refried beans are basically an almost daily staple for him so this is going to be fantastic!! Curious what pitfalls you encountered/learned from in your 7 trial runs? Or is it just a matter of getting technique down for proper consistency, etc?

  6. Cheryl Rhodes posted on October 16, 2013 at 11:44 am

    It sounds good but I don’t usually have much need for refried beans in recipes I make. I also don’t have an immersion blender. Though I do keep dried pinto beans on hand for other crock pot recipes and soak them overnight. Will keep it in mind for possible upcoming Mexican dishes though I’m thinking I can use a potato masher and get the same results without that blender.

    • Karen Troughton posted on October 18, 2013 at 8:02 am

      I almost suggested using a potato masher or a fork if you don’t have an immersion blender. I would think that the resulting texture would actually be pretty glorious. :)

    • vanessa b posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      I used my food processor. An emersion blender would be so much easier, but I don’t have one nor want to spend the money on one right now…

      • vanessa b posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        uh… that should read immersion blender would be easier. ha ha.

  7. Ramona posted on October 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    We love refried beans… this is definitely a keeper. :)

    • Karen Troughton posted on October 18, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Thanks so much, Ramona!

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  9. Rachel @ I Love My Disorganized Life posted on October 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I love homemade beans! I have never tried making them in the crock pot, and I’ll admit, when I do make them, I use lard {eek!}. I’ll have to give this recipe a try for sure. Thanks!

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  12. vanessa b posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve tried a handful of different healthy refried bean recipes without being too excited about any of them, and finally- this one is really good!!! easy, too- first time using the crock pot for them. Although, I did use chicken broth because I didn’t have any veggie; however, next time I will use veggie as I would prefer vegetarian beans. THANKS!

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  16. Stephanie posted on October 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I tried these and they are SO GOOD! To be fair, I’ve never had “real” refried beans because the lard grosses me out.. but both my 11 month old son & I really liked these!! I used my regular blender in batches.

  17. Jill posted on November 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

    These came out great! Has anyone doubled the recipe? Anything I need to keep in mind? I’m going to make these for a party.

    • Karen Troughton posted on November 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

      I actually have not, but I would think it’ll be pretty straightforward. Just use a very big Crock Pot! :)

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  19. Pri posted on December 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Karen, I am so happy I found your blog. My pinto beans are currently soaking right now. I’m curious – I read the link you traced your recipe back to (Simply Scratch) and she mentioned there’s a rumor that adding salt to the crockpot will make the beans “tough” – have you had that happen to you?

    Also, since most of the spices you use are in my homemade taco seasoning, I plan to use a tbsp. of that instead. Do you think that’s ok? Have you tried making your recipe with taco seasoning?

    Thanks :)

    • Karen Troughton posted on December 23, 2013 at 7:17 am

      Hi Pri! I hope you love the recipe! As far as salting the beans goes, I have found no discernible difference in texture between unsalted and salted beans. I actually just cooked two test batches of beans side-by-side a couple of weeks ago to test the theory! The only difference I found was that the salted beans had much better flavor. Not tougher at all.

      I played with this recipe a lot and adjusted the spices until I thought it was just right, so I can’t guarantee it will taste the same with your taco seasoning (I haven’t tried it) … that said, one of the great things about this recipe is that you can really make it your own, so I say go for it (and let us know how it turns out)!

  20. Pri posted on December 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Also, how many cups is 1 pound uncooked? I only did 1.5 cups of uncooked beans so I’m wondering how to revise the ingredients tmrw!

    • Karen Troughton posted on December 23, 2013 at 7:13 am

      One pound uncooked beans is generally equal to two cups. Hope that helps!

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  22. Pam posted on February 10, 2014 at 8:10 am

    I had made a large batch of pinto beans in the pressure cooker before I saw this recipe. How can I incorporate the other ingredients into already cooked beans?

    • Karen Troughton posted on February 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Pam, hrmmm … well, I like the idea of the beans cooking in the broth and the spices because I think that really amps up the overall flavor. But you could probably puree the beans and spices along with just enough broth to get the right consistency and get something similar. For already cooked beans, I actually really like to stick with stove top – I saute a bit of garlic in olive oil and then add beans and spices along with a bit of the bean stock to a saute pan, then just cook and mash with a fork.

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  25. Marie posted on March 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

    this is the easiest recipe EVER!! i just made a batch for a party, and then volunteered to make something else too because i feel like i didn’t do anything!

    and so flavorful too! i’m never buying refried beans in a can again. THANK YOU for posting this!

    • Karen Troughton posted on March 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Aren’t they crazy easy?! Almost to the point where you’re wondering if you missed something. ;) So glad you liked them! My pleasure!

  26. Tara posted on March 31, 2014 at 11:53 am

    These were a hit! We had them with some also-excellent Mexican rice and potato & kale enchiladas. SO GOOD and easy! Thanks :)

    • Karen Troughton posted on April 3, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Yay! So glad to hear it, Tara! The accompaniments sound amazing … kale and potato enchiladas?! Yum!

      • Tara posted on April 3, 2014 at 10:57 am

        Yeah, from the book, Veganomicon! Labor intensive, but worth it!

  27. Tara posted on March 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

    oh I meant to rate it…

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  29. Johna254 posted on May 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and web and this is really annoying. A good blog with interesting content, that is what I need. Thanks for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it. kdefbaddgecf

  30. Lisa posted on May 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I found your website last year and have made this recipe at least 10 times since then. I think it is perfect, just as it is, with no tweaking.

    As a vegan it can be hard to find things to eat when you’re away on vacation. I cooked a batch of these beans up and took them on vacation with me so I would have something to eat at the beach house while everyone else was grilling burgers, eating pizza, etc.

    Well, I guess you know what happened. My meat-eating friends saw the burritos I was eating and yadda yadda yadda the bean were gone within 24 hours. One meat-eater swore they “were as good as Taco Bell”.

    While that sounds vaguely like an insult, I know she meant it as a compliment….

  31. Darryl posted on December 4, 2014 at 12:43 am

    I love this recipe!  I’m a vegan, and I am so glad I found this healthy, no meat recipe. I’ve made this recipe weekly for 4 weeks in a row now. Thank you.

  32. Martha posted on January 3, 2015 at 8:07 am

    I am vegetarian and also cutting fat and sodium so I didn’t use the oil or salt and they still turned out ok. I also used water instead of vegetable broth but next time may substitute half the water with low sodium broth just to see if they are more flavorful.

  33. Holly Jones posted on March 7, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    This is an amazingly delicious and easy recipe…definitely something I will be making more often! Thank you!

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