Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans

Refried beans are a staple in my house. Back when my oldest was a toddler, he went through a phase where he would only eat “smushy beans”, so I’ve practiced this recipe a lot.

Canned beans are OK – they’re good, and consistent – but if you want great refried beans, you have to cook your own. Homemade beans have an extra depth of flavor, and the cooking liquid is almost better than the beans. It’s a shame that cooking dried beans takes so long.

That’s where the pressure cooker comes in. A cup of dried beans, three cups of water, and 45 minutes of cooking time (30 minutes under pressure, plus 15 minutes for the pressure to come down naturally and the beans to finish cooking). Homemade refried beans, from scratch, in about an hour. And most of that cooking time involves staring at the pressure cooker.
*No pressure cooker? No worries. See the notes section for stove top instructions. Or if you really want to cheat, see the notes section for canned bean instructions.

For weeknight beans, I try to get the pressure cooking going early. I don’t want to be staring at the pressure cooker, willing it to finish, when everyone is sitting around the table. As soon as I get home, I throw everything in the electric pressure cooker, set the cooking time, and then go about the rest of my evening routine. The electric PC shuts itself off when the beans are done. The beans can sit in their liquid for a while once they’re cooked. That way, the beans are waiting on me, not the other way around.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans

Adapted From: Lorna Sass, Pressure Perfect


5.0 from 2 reviews
Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pressure Cooker Refried Pinto Beans - rustic, chunky beans from the pressure cooker.
Recipe type: Pressure Cooker
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 cup pinto beans (7 ounces), sorted and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic (whole, with skins still on)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Pressure cook the beans: Put the beans, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf, and water in the pressure cooker. Stir. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes in a stove top pressure cooker, or 36 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. Turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves. (Save the beans and the cooking liquid).
  2. Sauté the aromatics: While the pressure is coming down on the beans: heat the vegetable oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion, smashed garlic cloves, jalapeño, and ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté until the onions are browned around the edges, about five minutes. (If the beans aren't done, turn the heat off and move the pan to a cool burner. When the beans are done, put the pan back over medium-high heat and continue with step 3.)
  3. Fry the beans: Add the beans and all of their cooking liquid to the fry pan. Be careful - the hot oil may splatter when the wet beans are added. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the beans. Start mashing the beans, stirring as you go to get the onions evenly distributed. Keep cooking the beans, mashing and stirring occasionally, until the beans thicken, about eight minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Serve.
For more bean cooking details, see my Pressure Cooker Beans Basic Technique.



  • For an extra touch of flavor, sprinkle crumbled queso fresco (or substitute shredded pecorino romano) on top of the beans right before serving.
  • These are rustic, chunky refried beans. If you want smooth beans, use a food processor. After step 1 is complete, pour the beans and their liquid into a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • If you want to speed up the pressure cooking, soak the beans overnight in 1 quart of water with 1/2 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Drain the beans, use the recipe recipe as written (including the 3 cups of water in the pressure cooker), but cut the time under pressure to 15 minutes.
  • No pressure cooker? No problem. Cook the beans in a large sauce pot with a lid. Instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover with the lid ajar so some steam can escape. Cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are completely cooked. You may have to add water during the cooking time to keep the beans submerged. Once the beans are cooked, continue with Step 2.
  • No dried beans? No problem. Canned beans will work just fine. Replace step 1 with a 16 ounce can of pinto beans and its liquid.
  • Use make-ahead beans: Why cook a cup of beans when you can cook a pound? I freeze leftover beans in 2 cup containers, covering them with their liquid. Then this recipe is a quick weeknight side dish. I pull a container of beans out of the freezer, and thaw it in the microwave while I sauté the onions in step 2.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans in Tex-Mex Broth
Pressure Cooker Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta Fagioli)
Pressure Cooker Mexican Black Bean and Noodle Soup (Frijoles y Fideos)
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes.

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  1. Omnivore Vegetarian /

    This really makes me want to run out and get a pressure cooker! I do the opposite — cook my beans all day in a slow cooker so they’re ready and waiting when I come home.

  2. Stretching time with a slow cooker works just as well as a pressure cooker.

  3. CraigRanch /

    I DID IT! Thank you! I bought a Fagor PC, but am admittedly a little intimidated by it! These were a HUGE success last night! I have a Diva induction cooktop, I brought it up to full pressure on 12-setting, left it there for 1 minute, then reduced to 6 for 33 minutes and they were PERFECT! Thanks again!

  4. You’re welcome, and thank you for the induction burner update. A portable induction burner is on my “when I get some mad money” wish list.

  5. These were awesome!! This was my very, very first attempt with a brand new pressure cooker (our first.) Your recipe was very clear and easy to follow, and they turned out delicious. My friend Charlotte ( uses a pressure cooker a lot, and she directed me to your website. I ended up having beans already soaking when my husband came home with the new Fagor, so I’m glad you had the note to only do 15 minutes. They were perfect.
    One variation: I used Peruvian or Peruano Beans, instead of Pintos. They are similar but a little tastier, in my opinion, and I found them in the bulk section of my local health-y store. I think next time I will also add a little epazote and cumin in with the bay leaf in the cooking water, which are all carminatives. If you don’t mind a link to a recipe on my own blog, I use them when cooking Anazasi Beans…
    Thanks and looking forward to trying more recipes on your site!

  6. Thanks for the suggestions! I just got som Anasazi beans from the market, and was wondering what to do with them.

  7. Oh they are yummy! They can be done any way pintos are cooked. Anazasis also make great refried beans. But we do love those burgers…

  8. Oh they are yummy! They can be done any way pintos are cooked. Anazasis also make great refried beans. But we do love those burgers…

  9. conniemm /

    I was looking for an alternative to my slow cooker refried bean recipe because it was already evening and I found this recipe. It was great. Next time I’ll go lighter on the salt but these very tasty. Thanks!

  10. Kayla Pins /

    Thanks for this recipe! It is my favorite refried beans recipe. I make a big batch and freeze smaller portions. I come to this blog often for the simple pressure cooker recipes.

  11. MoMoWack /

    I made these beans this morning. They are delicious and taste nothing like the store bought! I did cut back on the salt due to my husband’s high blood pressure. Thanks Mike! Your directions are super clear and I followed to T.
    Next time I will double the recipe. Hopefully they will still reduce well in larger batch.

  12. You’re welcome! And, you can double the recipe and it will work fine. Enjoy!

  13. Did these tonight minus the Jalapeno so it was kid friendly. Very tasty.. went over quite well and the Instant Pot makes quick work of dried beans!

  14. Thanks for this. Wonderful easy recipe and tastes fantastic! Canned refried aren’t even in the same galaxy.

  15. How has this site eluded me for so long?

    Made these refried beans in my pressure cooker just now and fried up in my cast iron skillet.

    Flavor explosion and the best refried beans I’ve ever had! Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Shawna /

    I’ve made these beans twice now, each time tripling the recipe, for our contribution to the potluck family taco night and they are a hit! The first time I made these, it took a really long time because the pan I used was too small so I had to cook it in batches. This last time I hauled out our 12″ dutch oven and used an electric hand blender to speed up the mashing process (so much easier on my poor arm!). My husband has volunteered me to make another batch of beans for his upcoming March Madness party. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I sure love my pressure cooker.

  17. Roxanne /

    I made this recipe, and it was tasty!! If you increase the recipe using an electric pressure cooker, do you also increase the water, and all ingredients? (Like if I wand to use a pound of dried beans?

    • Yes – this recipe will scale up nicely. (Though what I usually do is cook the pound of pintos, then freeze the extra for later. )

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