Slow cooker refried beans

I recently stopped purchasing canned foods.  And–not to be bossy–but I think you should too.  Why?  Because most canned foods, as well as those packaged in various plastics, show traces of BPA.  What’s BPA, you ask?  It’s a chemical that has been restricted in Canada and some US states because it has been linked to a disturbing number of health effects including various cancers, reproductive abnormalities, heart disease, and diabetes.

You can read more about BPA and related issues here and here.

Considering I’ve always used canned beans and tomatoes, I was rather disturbed by this discovery.  I mean, is it just me or should this be a far more publicized fact?  Especially considering the amount of canned foods our nation consumes.

I think it’s appalling.  Which is why I’ve given up canned foods cold turkey.

We’ve since had to be slightly more creative with food choices.

Like moving from canned tomatoes, to these.

And ditching canned kidneys and pintos and cannellonis to the dry variety.  We’d previously switched over to organic canned beans, not because of the organic factor, but because those were the only kind I could find that didn’t have added sugar.

Added sugar.  In beans.  Who knew?

Dry beans are much, much cheaper anyway.  But they’re also much more time consuming to prepare.

Unless.  Unless you make good use of your slow cooker.  Like I did today.

I thought I’d share a recipe for non-refried refried beans with you.  Just in case you, too, want to preserve the health of your family by switching from canned beans to dry.

Imposter Refried Beans

3 c. dry pinto beans
2 cloves garlic (pressed or finely grated)
5 t. salt
1 small onion, quartered
1/2 t. cumin
Juice from 1 lime

Forgive the picture quality.  I had to use my cheapie camera because the battery on my good one was charging.  But even on my best photog day, Pioneer Woman I most certainly am not.  Moving right along…

You start by soaking your beans, overnight, in a pot large enough to cover the beans completely with water.

After a good 8 or so hour soak, the beans will be much softer.  I’ve also heard it said that soaking the beans releases some of the gas.  That’s all I have to say about that.

So then, you’re going to want to rinse your beans in a colander before dumping them into your Crock pot.  Or slow cooker, same thing.

Atop the beans, sprinkle the salt and cumin.  Add the garlic, onion, and lime juice.  Finish it off by adding enough water to cover the beans with about an inch of water.

Cook on high for 6-8 hours.

Once the beans have finished cooking, you may need to drain some of the water, depending upon how much water was soaked up during the cooking.  You just want the beans to move freely in the water, not swim in it.  Reserve the water in case you need to add it back in later.  One you’ve removed the excess water, mash the beans with a potato masher.  Turn the heat down to low and allow the beans to cook for another thirty minutes or so.  They’ll thicken slightly, especially if you toss in a handful of Monterey jack cheese.  When all is said and done, you’ll be left with a crock full of delicious, nutritious beans, perfect for stuffing burritos or as a side dish to enchiladas or tacos.

Here’s a picture.  But keep in mind that it’s really, really hard to make refried beans look appetizing.  M’kay?  But they were.  Appetizing, I mean.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.


  1. (skipping over the beans because they make me gag)

    So, I have been very interested in the canned tomatoes thing.. I have almost stopped buying them, and was so excited to see that you had a link… but it’s not linked. So, tell me about the alternative to canned tomatoes. Please.

    Because I want to make salsa again.

  2. Awesome info, Darcie…such a time commitment (wah!), but worth it. The beans do look delish.

    Uhh, Becca, one can make salsa with tomatoes from the produce section. :)

  3. Can you freeze ’em? Like make a ton and save some for later??

    Thanks for continuing to make me look more slovenly by the day. Gardening and now this.


  4. We have not stopped using canned food yet, but I’m trying to cut back. I do already make my own refried beans though. Next on the list is black beans, we eat those a lot.

  5. I stopped buying all canned vegs. and fruits awhile ago, and plastic containers too like fruit cups and applesauce cups. But i was still buying refried beans in the can! hello!! So thank you so much for this recipe! I already buy the bags of split peas and navy beans, so I will just add these to my list.

  6. We.. well I should say I, because “we” gives the impression that someone else around here cooks.. and that just never happens… so *ahem* I am not a big user of canned foods. Namely because I’m a food snob and prefer fresh – seriously? a canned green bean is a completely different creature than it’s crisp fresh counterpart. Tomatoes, on the other-hand, I do buy canned. Along with the occasional bean, and perhaps corn. I had heard about the tomatoes, something about the lining or the seal and the acidity of the tomatoes… but I wasn’t aware that it was ALL canned foods. I switched to the pomm kind that come in paper cartons for awhile but they don’t compare to the Italian kind that I buy for sauce or a quick tomato base for soups… so how are the glass jar variety? I’ll have to check the organic section for them. Thanks for the heads up!

  7. Yikes! I really don’t buy any canned foods except for chicken broth, but I do buy the applesause cups for an on-the-go snack.

  8. These look great! I’ve never cooked dry beans before, but we don’t use canned really either. BUT, these look REALLY good with the lime, cumin, and garlic. I might have to try them soon! Also, I’ll be looking into the BPA in canned goods more too. Thanks!

  9. Holy wow, those are some expensive tomatoes. $45 for 6 jars? ouch!

    I pretty much always use fresh, which is why growing tomatoes is so awesome. I still have some in the freezer from last summer!

  10. I did not know that! In general I do not buy many canned goods, but I did buy some black beans and canned tomatoes today. Hmmm…I have to check out alternatives now.

  11. We’ve stopped buying canned foods completely. That said, we still have a *few* cans in our pantry and I keep wavering…keep them or give to the food bank or…?

    P.S. Do you buy those strained tomatoes in the jar from Amazon or at a local grocer?

  12. Hello…is this thing on? lol Hope all is well with you! I miss your posts!

  13. This looks scrumptious–we’ve cut out canned goods, too, but we love beans, esp. for burritos.

    Also–you doing okay? You haven’t posted in a bit, nor been on Twitter for a long time.

  14. Do not fear BPA. BPA is used to make the cans safer. Canned food should not be considered the same as fresh. If you can eat fresh food all the time, go for it. If your budget and time management can’t afford to always be thinking ahead two days, don’t worry about the BPA that might be in a can of tomatoes.

    Yes they can detect BPA in your urine, but they can also detect Arsenic from those vegetables you ate! They can detect many other DEADLY chemicals in your blood that you got from your “healthy” vegetables. All chemicals are dangerous at some level. If you are unfamiliar with DHMO ( read about it and realize that it is every bit as deadly as BPA (perhaps more deadly.. ask the lady in the wii game, she had too much DHMO and died).

    Everyone has to make their own decisions. Make them. I just hope everyone will remember their ancestors who weren’t worried about whether BPA was bad for them or not. They were worried about whether their was gonna be supper on the table. They didn’t get picky about what was for supper, HAVING anything was a good thing.

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