vegan refried beans that are really good
July 9, 2019 8:35 AM   Subscribe

So I'm doing this vegan challenge. And it is challenging. Please help me by explaining how exactly to make a really good vegan refried beans. And by really good, I mean, they are like liquid. And not just all carbohydrate. No fake cheeses. Nuts & seeds OK. I can pre-grind them if needed.

I LOVE cheesy refried beans when they get that liquid consistency, and I never learned how to make it. So this is a great opportunity for me to learn how to make the vegan equivalent instead. Everyone claims you just make beans and re-fry them, but this has never gotten me that super-thin and yet so cheesy refried beans that I love. So please be specific.
posted by aniola to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I just discovered Gochujang Mama on YouTube yesterday, and she makes some great-looking Mexican food. Here is her refried beans video.

To get great flavor, you'll need to cook great pinto beans. She has a video for her charro beans, which uses bacon, but you can just use shortening or oil instead.

I'm not quite sure how liquid-y you are looking for your beans to be, but I think that's mostly a function of how much fat you use when frying the beans. That will thin out the consistency. (Or you can add some of the soup/broth from the charro beans.)
posted by hydra77 at 8:51 AM on July 9, 2019

I use beans (pinto or black usually), canola oil, garlic powder, onion powder or sauteed onion (depending on if I have onions here), and maybe some taco seasoning. I may also add salsa while it cooks. I let it cook for a bit, mash it down with a potato masher, if it needs to be more liquidy I add vegetable broth or water.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:03 AM on July 9, 2019

2 cups of dry black or pinto beans, 6 cups of water, one onion sliced on half, 3 cloves of garlic, and 2 bay leaves. Slow cook on low for 8 hours.

Drain and reserve the liquid. Put beans in a pot and use an immersion blender to liquify. Add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut oil. Heat through and add more salt if needed. Thin with reserved liquid until it's as thin as you like.

Not sure what you mean by cheesy? If you want to top it with vegan cheese equivalent, that means fake cheese. Cashew 'cheese' is pretty good tho. You can also add nutritional yeast for a sort of cheesy flavor.
posted by ananci at 9:13 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would do something like this (you can use small red beans or pinto beans or whatever bean you like) or this with vegetable broth, depending on the taste you are after. I suspect Kenji wouldn't lead you astray, either. I might throw in some smoked paprika, and if it isn't hot where you are, I'd be lazy and do it the LA Times way. Not sure on how to get the cheesy flavor you crave other than perhaps a cashew variant that might fit the bill from Serious Eats? Agree that reserving the liquid to thin and using fat is going to be key to mimic restaurant-style beans.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2019

The two things that should be in refried beans are very good beans (as in good-quality dried beans, also cooked very well) and high-grade fat. For competition, I would absolutely order Rancho Gordo beans per the recommendation in the recipes below, because it's bean quality that really affects smoothness - it's the tough skins plus grainy internal texture on old dried beans that are the problem.

I would adhere to a proper Mexican bean recipe including epazote (see: Frijoles de olla; I personally would add a bay leaf to that), and then carefully handle the beans when you "re-fry" (heat and mash) them. Keep some cooking liquor aside from the beans and use that for any thinning you need to do. That's how you get thinner beans: you thin them, but use flavorful liquid and not just water.

I would not just use vegetable oil but something nicer but unflavored. Avocado oil is easy to get a hold of these days. Watch your salt, but don't ignore salt at each stage.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:16 AM on July 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

My very favorite trick with meatless refried beans is shallot oil (the oil left over after frying shallots--bonus: you get a batch of beautiful crispy fried shallots). Don't skimp!
posted by redfoxtail at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

posted by moiraine at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2019

oooooh shallot oil is such a good idea!! And those fried shallots will be good on EVERYTHING.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:32 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don’t consider nutritional yeast to be fake cheese, but it does impart a delicious cheese-ish umami flavor to dishes like this, so I’d recommend adding it to your recipe or shake some on top when serving.

Beans and fat will have plenty of protein, fiber and fat, not an all-carb dish by any means.

Vegetable shortening or refined coconut oil will give you the most indulgent mouthfeels and deep flavor, compared to unsaturated vegetable oils.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:55 AM on July 9, 2019

When I was vegetarian, my secret ingredient was smoked onions. Throw some in while you're cooking the beans, to mimic meat.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 12:36 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

You do want to start off with the best beans you can lay your hands on. For that, Rancho Gordo is your friend.

As for technique, the refried beans recipe on their website looks solid.
posted by 6thsense at 3:53 PM on July 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

What you are indicating is that you would like the Umami that comes from lard/cheese in Re-fried Beans.

Here are a few things I use to add umami to my dishes. Miso Paste, Gochujang, Soy Sauce, Tomato Paste, Powdered Mushrooms (especially the dried Shiitake from Chinese stores), Fermented Black Beans, Fermented Tofu, Vegetarian Oyster Sauce ...

Depending on the taste you are going for; try one or more of these and see if they work.
posted by indianbadger1 at 4:06 PM on July 9, 2019

« Older Which San Francisco park to visit between roughly...   |   Where can I find novel/interesting multipurpose... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.