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Make oil-free instant pot refried beans from scratch with simple ingredients. Super flavorful, and versatile. No soaking required!
Dried beans are the way to go
It wasn’t until the world came crashing down on all of us in 2020 that I started making beans from scratch. Not sure if anyone remembers, but in March-April, all of the canned goods were MIA. Since beans are such a huge part of a vegan diet, I decided to get a bunch of dried varieties thinking that I’d have all the time in the world to cook them.
Turns out, I still don’t have the patience to soak and cook beans unless I’m making these awesome Boston Baked Beans. I did discover that it’s super easy to use your instant pot instead though! High pressure for thirty minutes should cook most beans like dried chickpeas and pinto beans.
Refried beans, but make it fancy
We’ve all been there. We take a can of beans, add some salt and make a sprinkle of garlic powder and give it a good mash. These oil-free instant pot refried beans are not that. They are made with a few fresh ingredients, a few dried spices and are packed with flavor. They taste fresh, herby, and creamy. I can’t get enough.
Once you made these oil-free instant pot refried beans, you can do anything with them. Serve them as a side, toss them on nachos, make veggie burritos, a casserole, breakfast tacos, whatever you want!
A note on equipment for oil-free instant pot refried beans
I am not super familiar with the difference between instant pots, but I have a 6 Quart Instant Pot Ultra. I don’t know if that helps at all, but this recipe doesn’t require much room. You should be able to make it with nearly any size pressure cooker.
Another special tool you’ll need for this is an immersion blender. If you don’t own one, you can use a food processor or a blender. Alternatively, if you don’t have either of those, you can use a potato masher. I absolutely love and recommend an immersion blender for oil-free instant pot refried beans. If you have one, definitely use it!
What ingredients do I need to make oil-free instant pot refried beans?
Dried pinto beans: Dried pinto beans are 100% required for this recipe. Make sure your beans aren’t 100 years old and you’ll be good to go. Sometimes I get my dried beans from Whole Foods. But I also buy them occasionally from Thrive Market. Always lookin’ for the cheapest price and that’s where it’s been lately.
Oat milk: Instead of oil, I use oat milk to make the refried beans super rich and creamy. If you’re not an oat milk person, you can use coconut milk or almond milk. Just make sure whatever plant milk you buy is unsweetened and unflavored.
Bay leaves: Bay leaves bring so much flavor to the beans. These herb-forward aromatic leaves are added to the beans as they cook and then removed before mashing.
Cilantro: If you’re not a cilantro lover you can leave them out. If you like the fresh flavor they bring, feel free to add a few sprigs. Keep the stems. You’ll remove these from the beans before pulvarizing.
Scallions: If you don’t have scallions on hand, you can substitute a quarter of white or yellow onion. Again, you’ll remove these before mashing!
Fresh garlic: For these oil-free instant pot refried beans, I use six garlic cloves and I mash them up with the beans. I absolutely love the flavor they bring to the beans and can’t recommend them enough. If you’re not a garlic person, you may want to cut the amount in half.
Bouillon cube: I’m obsessed with the bouillon cubes from Edward & Sons, but any cube will do. Try to keep it full-sodium if you can. I also think Better Than Bouillon’s No Chicken Base would taste great in here too.
Water: You’ll need about 4 cups of water to coat your beans, spices, and herbs. If you have filtered water on hand, I recommend using that over tap water.
Chili powder and salt: I like adding a little subtle heat to my instant pot refried beans, so chili powder is a must. And you might not need it, but if you find your beans need some salt, wait until the very end before adding it.
How to make oil-free instant pot refried beans
Making oil-free instant pot refried beans is super simple, but you do need some special equipment. The most important small appliance you’ll need is an instant pot to cook your beans. Then, you’ll also need a tool to mash your beans. I use an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one of those, you can try using a food processor, a blender, or a potato masher. You could also use your hands honestly. Just make sure the beans are cool enough to handle first.
Two more slightly special tools that are pretty helpful are a slotted spoon to fish out the cilantro, bay leaves, and scallions before straining. And the second, you guessed it – is a strainer. Additionally, you’ll need a measuring cup, and a knife and a cutting board to peel and smash your garlic.
In your instant pot, add a bouillion cube, water, two bay leaves, three scallions, 4-6 smashed garlic cloves, and 4-5 sprigs of cilantro along with the dried pinto beans. Close the lid on the instant pot and set to “Pressure” on “High” for 30 minutes. The total cooking time will be a little over an hour since the instant pot has to pressurize and then release pressure slowly after the 30 minutes are up.
Do not do the quick release for this recipe. You need the extra time for the pinto beans to fully hydrate. Don’t blow it here! Just be patient. It takes less time than the stove or soakings, so please please hold your horses.
Once the instant pot has released all of its pressure, carefully fish out the bay leaves, cilantro, and scallions and discard them. Then, strain your beans. It’s ok to reserve a few tablespoons of broth for extra flavor. Then, add the oat milk and chili powder and run your immersion blender in the beans to break them apart and mash them into the liquid. I like my beans partially mashed with a few skins here and there. Feel free to blend to your desired consistency, then add sea salt to taste.
And there you have it – oil-free instant pot refried beans.
Serving ideas and more
These oil-free instant pot refried beans rule. They’re super versatile and elevate any Mexican-inspired dish. Here are some ideas I have off the top of my head to serve your beans.
Damn good nachos: Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Beavis and Butthead lately. Toss these refried beans on top of your favorite plant-based nachos. I may or may not have a recipe in my queue for oil-free nacho cheese! Stay tuned.
Hot sauce on my burrito baby: I make these refried beans once every two or three weeks for burrito night! Make some rice, chop some lettuce, tomato, and jalapeño, and smash it together with vegan sour cream and cheese. YUM
Make a dang quesadilla: Another super simple way to eat these oil-free refried beans is by adding some of the beans and vegan cheese to a tortilla, smashing in half, and toasting on each side in a skillet.
Breakfast tacos: I make these super simple tofu scramble breakfast tacos almost every weekend. They taste great with a few scoops of oil-free instant pot refried beans too!
Enchilada casserole: Layer on some tortillas, refried beans, vegan cheese, and sauteed veggies layer by layer with enchilada sauce to make a super delicious and homey enchilada casserole.
Want more recipes?
If you liked these oil-free instant pot refried beans, you might like some of my other recipes! Check out these ones below
- Chile de árbol hummus
- Southwest salad with seasoned crispy tofu
- Pumpkin pasta with soyrizo
- Boston baked beans
- Breakfast potatoes with soyrizo
- Chipotle corn pasta salad
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make oil-free instant pot refried beans! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is To Whom it May Concern by N0V3L.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Oil-Free Instant Pot Refried Beans
- instant pot
- cutting board
- measuring cup and spoons
- slotted spoon
- immersion blender
- Add water, beans, garlic, cilantro, scallions, bay leaves, and bouillon cube to the instant pot and seal. Set to "Pressure Cook" for 30 minutes on "High."
- The beans will take about an hour to cook and depressurize. Do not press the quick release. Patience my friend!
- Once the instant pot has depressurized, remove the lid and use a slotted spoon to fish out and discard the scallions, bay leaves, and cilantro. Then, drain the beans. It's ok if there is a small amount of leftover broth.
- Add the oat milk and chili powder and use an immersion blender to mash. If you don't have one of those you can use a potato masher, a blender or a food processor. Taste the beans and add salt if needed.