Frijoles Charros y Frioles Refritos

Frijoles Charros y Frioles Refritos
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charro beans
Frijoles charros ready for the freezer.

That’s cowboy beans and refried beans for you gringos.

For the past several months, we’ve stacked up the dried beans that we’ve gotten from the CSA. Not because we don’t like them; rather, it takes just as much effort to make a big batch of beans as it does a small batch, and we might as well make a bunch and pop containers in the freezer for later. Now, we could make up all the beans as one dish and freeze that, but we thought we’d put together two types at once.

In this case, when making charro beans and refried beans, you cook the beans the same way, or at least we do, then you scoop out the beans that you want to use as charro beans, pack those away, and make refried beans from the rest.

Oh, if anyone doesn’t know it: refried beans aren’t re-fried. They were never fried to begin with, so we couldn’t very well re-fry them, could we?

Finally, we are making a huge batch of beans, but obviously you can cut down the recipe.

Makes 16 cups (1 gallon) beans

Frijoles Charros y Frioles Refritos

Frijoles Charros y Frioles Refritos


  • 6 cups dried pinto beans
  • 14 cups water
  • 3 dried chile pods, seeds shaken out
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced

Abbreviated Instructions

Place beans in large kettle. Cover with at least 5 inches of water (the beans will swell). Cover and let soak overnighht.

Drain and rinse beans.

In the same large stockpot, put 14 cups water, chile pods, bay leaves, and salt over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil.

Add beans, and bring back to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 to 2 hours, or until beans are tender.

Remove bay leaves and chile pods and discard.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute onions and garlic until tender and starting to brown, about 15 minutes.

Add onion mixture and liquid smoke to beans and let simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool.

When cool enough, package charro beans for freezer storage.

To make refried beans, drain and reserve remaining liquid.

Mash beans with a potato masher, adding reserved liquid back as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Package for the freezer.

Ingredient discussion:

If you don’t have red chile pods, you can substitute ground chiles, or even chili powder. How much? We’d probably do it to taste, just because you know how spicy you want your beans, and how hot your chili powder is.

Procedure in detail:

Soak beans. Pick over your beans and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt or other detritus, then put them in a large kettle. We use a 1.5-gallon kettle for this many beans. Cover with water to a depth of about 4-5 inches. Why? Beans will swell up as they soak and the topmost beans will be pushed right out of the water. Cover and let beans soak overnight.

pinto beans
Beans swell up a bunch when soaking; these nearly doubled in size.

Drain and rinse. In the morning, pour the beans into a colander and rinse. Rinse out the kettle, too. Now, put the 14 cups of water, chile pods, salt, and bay leaves in the kettle. Cover and place on high heat and bring to a boil.



cooking beans
Bring the beans back to a simmer and reduce the heat to low so they can cook for several hours.

Add beans. Pour the beans into the boiling water and allow to come back to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and chile pods.



chopped onions
We cook the onions and garlic separately so that the flavors won’t get all muddied in with the beans.

Cook onions and garlic. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until soft, tender, and just starting to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes for this amount of onions. If you make a smaller batch, they’ll cook faster.



By cooking the onions separately, your onions won’t turn to mush.

Season beans. Add the cooked onions and garlic, along with any remaining oil, to the beans and stir. Add the liquid smoke, stir thoroughly, and simmer, covered, for an additional 30 minutes.



charro beans
For frijoles charros, we like to include enough broth so that it’s like a bean soup. You can discard the broth later if need be, but you can’t put it back.

Cool. Your frijoles charros are done; after the beans have cooled, package into containers and freeze, or, if you’re feeding about 30 people, start serving.



mashing beans
We just mashed by hand using a potato masher; the beans were tender enough that it was easy and took only about 5 minutes.

Drain. Now, to make frijoles refritos, simply drain and reserve the remaining liquid, and mash the beans with a potato masher. If needed, add reserved liquid until you reach your desired consistency. We like ours a little thick and not runny, so we had to add about a cup of the reserved liquid.



frijoles refritos
Frijoles refritos ready for the freezer and future quick and easy meals.

Freeze. Now package the frijoles refritos in appropriate containers and freeze for another day.

We happened to save some of the frijoles refritos for our lunch of bean and rice burritos. We like these better than those that come in a can from the store, mainly because scratched frijoles aren’t as salty. Four stars.

Worth the trouble?

2 Replies to “Frijoles Charros y Frioles Refritos”

  1. If frozen, how long the beans stay edible in the freezer and or in the fridgerator if not frozen, before and after, cooked?
    Miranda Guerrero

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