Cheesy Refried Beans

Get ready to elevate your side dish game with our irresistible Cheesy Refried Beans—a fusion of creamy beans, melted cheese, and savory goodness that’s sure to become a staple in your culinary repertoire. This versatile recipe not only complements your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes but also stands alone as a flavorful delight. Join us as we delve into the ingredients, guide you through the step-by-step instructions, share cook notes and variations, and provide keto and low-carb versions. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the joy of Cheesy Refried Beans!


For the Cheesy Refried Beans:

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)


Crafting the Cheesy Refried Beans:

  1. Prepare the Beans: Drain and rinse the pinto beans under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add Beans and Spices: Add the rinsed pinto beans to the skillet. Sprinkle ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper over the beans. Stir well to combine.
  4. Mash the Beans: Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the beans to your desired consistency. For a creamier texture, you can use an immersion blender.
  5. Cheesy Goodness: Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over the mashed beans. Stir until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated into the mixture.
  6. Finish with Sour Cream: Remove the skillet from heat and fold in sour cream. This adds a luxurious creaminess to the Cheesy Refried Beans.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Transfer the beans to a serving dish, garnish with fresh cilantro if desired, and serve hot.

Cook Notes

  • Customize Texture: Adjust the mashing level to your preference. Some like their refried beans chunky, while others prefer a smoother consistency.
  • Experiment with Cheese: Feel free to explore different cheeses like Monterey Jack or pepper jack for a unique flavor profile.
  • Control Spice Level: Tailor the spiciness by adjusting the amount of chili powder or adding a pinch of cayenne for an extra kick.


1. Spicy Jalapeño Kick:

Introduce diced jalapeños during the sautéing stage for an added spicy punch. This variation adds a layer of heat that complements the cheesy goodness.

2. Bacon Infusion:

Enhance the flavor by incorporating crispy bacon bits into the Cheesy Refried Beans. The smoky and savory notes elevate the dish to new heights.

3. Green Chile Elegance:

Stir in chopped green chiles for a subtle heat and a burst of earthy flavor. This variation adds complexity and depth to the beans.

Keto Versions

For those on a keto journey, consider these modifications:

  • Use Cauliflower Rice: Replace the pinto beans with cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative. Sauté the cauliflower rice until tender before adding cheese and sour cream.
  • Keto-Friendly Thickener: If the beans need thickening, use xanthan gum or another keto-friendly thickener instead of flour.
  • Serve with Keto Tortillas: Enjoy the Cheesy Refried Beans with keto-friendly tortillas or use them as a topping for keto nachos.

Low-Carb Version

To cater to low-carb preferences, make these adjustments:

  • Choose Low-Carb Beans: Opt for black soybeans or other low-carb bean alternatives to reduce the carb content.
  • Replace Onion and Garlic: If watching carb intake closely, reduce the amount of onion and garlic or replace them with milder options like green onions.
  • Minimize Root Vegetables: If adding garnishes, choose low-carb options like chopped scallions or parsley instead of higher-carb options.

Cheesy Refried Beans are more than just a side dish—they’re a celebration of rich, comforting flavors that elevate any meal. Whether you stick to the classic recipe, venture into tempting variations, or adapt it to keto and low-carb lifestyles, these beans are a versatile canvas for culinary creativity. So, gather your ingredients, savor the aroma of sautéed onions, and relish in the satisfaction of creating a dish that brings joy to the table. Here’s to the simple yet profound delight of Cheesy Refried Beans—a true symphony of flavor!

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