Can You Freeze Refried Beans?

Mexican food is very popular and refried beans are a great accompaniment to enchiladas and fajitas as well as being a delicious filling in tacos. The question we will be answering in this article is if you can freeze refried beans. Perhaps you want to make them in advance for a Tex-Mex party or maybe you have made too much for your meal. On the other hand, you may want to make and freeze refried beans for use in the future with no particular time in mind. 

The simple answer to this question is yes, you can freeze refried beans and it’s not too difficult to do. The great thing is that the beans retain their flavor when you freeze them so they will taste just as if you cooked them that night. The texture may, however, change a little and become thicker. This can be overcome if when you come to reheat them, you add a little oil. 

Recipe for Freezer Friendly Refried Beans

Yes, you can buy canned refried beans, but isn’t it more satisfying to make your own, especially if you’re having people over? You can tell them that it’s your own recipe. The recipe that we’re going to give you is easy, but tasty at the same time. It is freezer friendly because it doesn’t contain butter or lard and most of the ingredients are dry. You can always add butter or lard once you have defrosted the beans, although olive oil is a better and healthier option.  

Ingredients

  • 4 cups pinto beans
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Instructions

Soak the pinto beans for a few hours and then cook with salt and pepper until tender. Boil them over a high heat. Then drain the beans and mash them up using a potato masher or fork. You can also put them in a blender. Once the mixture is thick but not lumpy, add the spices and the oil. Put the bean mixture into a pot and heat over a medium heat until the liquid is reduced. Leave the mixture to cool completely before freezing otherwise it can bring down the temperature in the freezer which can allow bacteria to develop.

Cooking Suggestions

Quicker Cooking Time

To reduce cooking time, use canned pinto beans instead of dried beans. Put them in a pot and heat them up. Add the spices and the oil and reduce the liquid. You could also do this with canned kidney beans or black beans. Both taste great as refried beans. 

A Creamy Consistency

If you want your refried beans to be creamy, reduce them down with milk or even cream.

Keep the Beans Covered

When you are cooking dry beans, it is best to keep the lid on the pot. Once the water has reached boiling point, leave it to simmer and only check very occasionally to make sure that the water hasn’t evaporated. 

Exciting Flavors

If you want to give the beans a more exciting and robust flavor, fry some onions and add them to the mix. Cloves of garlic are also a good addition. Refried beans taste great if they have a garlic flavor. 

Safety

Reheat the defrosted refried beans to a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid any food-borne illnesses. 

Leftover Beans

You may cook too many refried beans and don’t want to throw them away. If so, put them in resealable plastic bags and freeze them. However, if they have been sitting on the counter for more than two hours, throw them away as they could develop bacteria in this time. Also, remember not to refreeze defrosted beans. This can also lead to contamination.

The Best Way to Freeze Refried Beans

The way in which you prep your refried beans for freezing varies. It is slightly different if you have cooked your own beans compared to freezing store-bought beans.

Freezing Homemade Pinto Refried Beans

As we have said before, you need to cool down your beans completely to stop bacteria from forming. Then place the refried beans in either a plastic container or a resealable plastic bag. Pour in a little olive oil to stop the beans from drying out or developing freezer burn. This is when ice forms over your food. The food will then be watery when you thaw it. If you are using a plastic bag, put another bag on top as this helps to stop freezer burn.

The next step is to cover the container or bag in aluminum foil. Remove any air that is caught in the container and write on the date you put it into the freezer. This helps you to remember when you froze the beans. If you freeze frequently, it is easy to forget when you put the items in the freezer.

Freezing Refried Beans From the Store

Refried beans are generally sold in cans. It is very easy to freeze them for future use and is almost the same as freezing homemade beans. All you have to do is scoop out the beans and put them in a freezer-safe container. They don’t have to be pre cooked unless you want to add extra spices. Don’t fill the container right up to the top as the beans can expand and the container could burst. As with homemade pinto beans, pour a little oil over the top of the mixture so that it doesn’t dry out or get freezer burn. Cover the container with aluminum foil and seal. Again, remember to write the date you froze the beans.

The Shelf Life of Refried Beans

Refried beans should be kept at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the freezer. Homemade refried beans will last for two to three months, while canned refried beans will still be tasty between four and six months.

Thawing and Reheating Frozen Refried Beans

Thawing refried beans is easy. Just take the container out of the freezer and put it in the fridge for a few hours, or at best, overnight. 

You might find that the refried beans are a little watery. A dash of olive oil should restore them to their original consistency. Then heat them up on the stovetop or in the microwave. Either way doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

Don’t leave the refried beans at room temperature for long as this can cause food contamination. If you do, throw them away.

Conclusion

As we have shown in this article, it is possible to freeze refried beans, whether you have made them yourself or if you have bought them in a can. Refried beans are a great addition to a Tex Mex meal. If you wake up one morning and fancy a Mexican meal that night, just defrost the beans in the fridge and you’re ready to go. Just keep all of our tips to hand when freezing beans and thawing them.

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