Slow Cooker “Refried” Beans

When I was a kid a couple of fabulous Mexican restaurants opened up in downtown Orlando.  I don’t remember having Mexican food before that.  I guess maybe I’d had tacos at some point but this was completely different.   I soon discovered, after letting my parents order for me or at least do their best to describe the food on the menu to me, that my favorite part of eating at a Mexican restaurant was the beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream that was left on my plate when my entree had been devoured.

I was a picky eater as a kid, but not in the way most kids are picky.  I wasn’t too choosy about what was served to me, but I was particular about my food.  None of the items on my plate could be touching, I didn’t want anything mixed up, and I ate one thing at a time working my way around the plate.

That’s why it was so strange that at a Mexican restaurant I would take all of the sides that had been served with my entree and mix them all together and eat every last bit.  I think this was the first time I ever thought about flavor and texture combinations.   I was a teenager before I realized that taco salads, which were pretty common on most menus during the late 80s, were made of the same ingredients but came served in a crispy fried flour tortilla…heaven!

It was also strange that if my parents put a bowl of bean soup in front of me as a child and I would turn my nose up at it, but pureed pintos mixed with vegetables and rice?  I loved it, even when my German grandmother who would frequently accompany us to dinner when we went to a Mexican restaurant, would wrinkle her nose at me and say that those beans on my plate were “rechewed beans”.  It’s amazing I ever ate them at all, but mostly she just made me giggle.  She was SO good at that.

I am still not very fond of beans.  I’ll fix them up all different ways so that I can tolerate getting them down as I appreciate their enormous health benefits, but I will never love them.  Chocolate cravings are a pretty regular part of my life, but I can’t say I have ever been sitting around and had a lima bean craving smack me in the forehead.  Refried beans mixed with rice and vegetables and usually a big glob of guacamole in lieu of sour cream are still a treat to me, however.

I decided to make a batch of pintos in the Crock Pot to see if the flavor would end up the same.  I cook a lot of dried beans at once but don’t like the fact that I have to soak them overnight or boil them before cooking them on the stove for hours.  I wondered if I could use the slow cooker the way it was intended and just dump all of the ingredients in, beans, water, seasonings and all, and let the whole mess cook until the beans got very soft.  My plan was to puree them to make “refried” beans.  It worked like a charm.


2 c. dried pinto beans

10 c. water

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 strips of bacon (omit if opting for a vegetarian dish)

1/2 tsp. coriander

1 onion, halved

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and stem ends removed

1 T chilli powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes


Really…just dump it all in the slow cooker and turn it on low.  I put them on in the evening and by morning they were soft.  I then strained and pureed them in batches.  They froze really well and tasted delicious reheated for various meals.




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