These vegan Instant Pot refried beans transform dry pinto beans into flavor-packed refried beans seasoned with jalapeños, onions, and spices. (Pre-soak AND no-soak options!)
Let’s chat about beans.
Refried beans, to be specific.
You see– the husband LOVES refried beans.
He occasionally works from home, and it’s not unusual for me to come home and find him snacking on refried beans and salsa.
And so, for a few years now, I’ve had a goal to learn how to make refried beans from dried beans.
Because, of course, he eats canned refried beans.
The kind that you shake out of a can and then have to smoosh down with a spoon.
I don’t mind canned refried beans (occasionally), but I’ve eaten delicious, homemade refried beans in the past– and I know that homemade beans taste better!
As in– a million bazillion times better.
And so, when I bought an Instant Pot, I knew I needed to start making batches of refried beans.
And guys– the Instant Pot makes it SO EASY!!!
These Instant Pot refried beans are made with inexpensive dried pinto beans, can be made ahead of time and frozen, and are perfect for easy dinners or snacks!
What Are Refried Beans? Are they Fried?
Traditionally, refried beans are pinto beans cooked twice– once in boiling water, and then fried in a pan with lard.
Want to try traditional refried beans? Make these authentic refried beans from Kevin is Cooking!
More commonly, refried beans are made at home by adding cooked pinto beans to a pan with hot oil, onions, spices, and hot peppers.
This nontraditional pressure cooker recipe cooks the beans along with onions, spices, and jalapeños, and then blends them until they’re creamy.
What Spices Do I Need?
For these Instant Pot refried beans, I swapped out the more traditional cumin for smoked paprika.
Because I do not like cumin.
Also, smoked paprika pairs amazingly with pinto beans, so it’s kind of a match made in bean paradise.
(Is bean paradise a thing?)
That said, if you do love cumin, you can use that instead.
You’ll also need red chili flakes.
Both smoked paprika and red chili flakes should be easy to find at your regular grocery store.
Do I Have to Pre-Soak My Beans?
Do you have to?
And I’m all for anything that helps with easy digestion.
But you don’t have to soak your beans– especially if you’re short on time or have no problems digesting beans.
How to Make Instant Pot Pinto Beans
Start by using the sauté feature on your Instant Pot.
Press the sauté button, and then add diced onion, along with some spices and jalapeño peppers.
If you don’t like a lot of spice, don’t worry: you’re adding A LOT of beans, so yes, you can taste the flavor of the peppers, but these beans are not incredibly spicy.
Once the onions are translucent, and the spices are fragrant, you’re ready to move on.
Add water, bay leaves, and the beans (whether or not you soaked them).
Next, seal the Instant Pot.
Make sure the valve is turned to sealing position, and press the pressure cook button.
Some model Instant Pots have a pressure cook button, and others have a manual button. They do exactly the same thing.
If you soaked the beans, set the timer for 20 minutes.
If you didn’t soak the beans, set the timer for 45 minutes.
The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure, and then the timer will count down.
When it finishes counting down, your pot will beep and begin counting up.
Don’t touch your Instant Pot at this point– let it count up for ten minutes.
This is called a natural release— the pressure is naturally (slowly) releasing.
After ten minutes, you can (carefully) use a long-handled spoon to move the valve to venting, and quick release the remaining pressure.
Next, open the Instant Pot.
Remove the bay leaves, and ladle out two cups of the liquid.
Use an immersion blender to purée the beans, adding back some of the bean liquid if desired.
Want more Instant Pot ideas? Check out all of my Instant Pot recipes!
Instant Pot Refried Beans
3-4 Days (Fridge), 2 Months (Freezer)
- 1 lb dry pinto beans (~2 cups) Sort through + pick out pebbles or deformed / broken beans before using
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 TB salt, plus more if desired
- 2 tsp smoked paprika Alternatively, use equal amounts ground cumin
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 2 jalapeños, stems removed + diced
- 4 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- Optional (But Recommended): Add pinto beans to a large bowl, and cover with water. Soak 8-12 hours (or overnight). Discard soaking water, and rinse beans before using.
- Add olive oil to the Instant Pot. Press the sauté button. Leave the adjustable temperature setting at normal.
- Add the onions, salt, smoked paprika, chili flakes, and jalapeños. Cook until the onions have softened, and the spices are fragrant (about 3-4 minutes).Tip: Turn on the vent hood fan over your oven or open a window during this step. Use a long-handled spoon to stir the veggies, and avoid standing with your face over the pot.
- Add a splash of the water, and stir to remove any bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan (to prevent the burn warning).
- Add the remaining water, along with the bay leaves and beans.
- Press the cancel button on your Instant Pot (to turn off the sauté function).
- Seal the Instant Pot lid, and turn the steam valve to the sealing position.
- For Pre-Soaked Beans:Set Instant Pot to pressure cook/manual, high pressure. Set the cook time for 20 minutes.For Unsoaked Beans:Set Instant Pot to pressure cook/manual, high pressure. Set the cook time for 45 minutes.
- The Instant Pot will take about 10-15 minutes to come to pressure, and then will start counting down the cook time.The Instant Pot will beep to let you know the cook time has finished. After the cook time is finished, the machine will begin the natural release process, and the countdown timer will start counting up.Allow the Instant Pot to do a natural release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully quick release the remaining pressure by using the handle of a long spoon (I use a wooden spoon) to turn the steam valve to venting.Tip: Quick release can be messy– the vent will shoot some liquids out with the steam. Lay a kitchen towel over the top to keep your kitchen clean.
- Open the Instant Pot lid, and remove the bay leaves.
- Strain out approximately 2 cups of liquid from the beans, and reserve the liquid for later.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the beans.Alternatively, add the beans to a blender basin or food processor and blend until creamy.
- Taste, and add more salt if desired. (If you like your beans on the salty side, add about 2 teaspoons of extra salt.)If you like your beans to be thinner, pour some of the reserved liquid back into the beans.Tip: The beans will thicken as they sit in the fridge, so if you're not eating right away, I recommend making them slightly thinner than you prefer.
- Serve warm as a side dish.
- Leftovers / Make Ahead:Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat before serving.Make Ahead / Freeze:Store in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. I recommend storing in small batches, so that you can thaw the exact amount you'll want to use.