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Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans By Oh My

Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans + Self-Serve Tostadas

Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans + Self-Serve Tostadas

Refried beans. Definitely not the most attractive foodstuff on the planet, but dang–when done well, I believe that taste firmly trumps looks.

They’re often made with lard, but as a vegetarian, that’s a no-go. So these lard-free refried beans cooked in the Crock Pot are basically my best friend. The version I’m sharing here, Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans, is a twist on that base recipe. It turns a plain ol’ bag of dried black beans and a few smoky spices into pure bean bliss. It’s true! All you need is your slow cooker, an immersion blender, and only about 15 minutes of hands-on time–if that.

So what can you do with your brand spankin’ new batch of refried black beans after you’ve slow-cooked them up? You can bag them up and freeze them for later. Or top a scoop with melty cheddar cheese for an instant lunch. Mix them with rice and salsa for an easy burrito filling. Or spoon onto tortilla chips and sprinkle with cheese for simple nachos.

Or! How about setting out a tostada spread, inviting over all your friends, and doing tostada night, DIY style?

Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans + Self-Serve Tostadas

Crisp corn tortillas, a layer of fancy new refried black beans on top, then toppings–whatever you want. A few ideas:

  • Shredded lettuce or other fresh greens
  • Sautéed veggies (I like onions, bell peppers, and zucchini sautéed with a bit of oregano)
  • Sweet corn
  • Roasted squash or other hearty veggies
  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • Diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salsa
  • Pico de gallo
  • Shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • Crumbled queso fresco, cotija, or even feta

With tostadas and these easy refried black beans, the possibilities are endless.

Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans + Self-Serve Tostadas

Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Beans

No lard in these homemade refried black beans - just loads of flavor (and all kinds of possibilities).
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 45 minutes


  • 1 pound dry black beans
  • 3 cups vegetable broth plus a little more for thinning, if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional salt to taste
  • Freshly squeeze lime juice for topping optional


  • Rinse the beans and pick through them, discarding any debris. Place the beans in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and fill it with water to about 2-3 inches above the beans. Cover and let sit overnight, or for 8-12 hours.
  • Pour the beans into a colander to discard the soaking water. Rinse and return the beans to the slow cooker.
  • Add the vegetable broth, olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. Stir.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until the beans are cooked through.
  • Turn the slow cooker off and remove the lid to allow the beans to cool slightly.
  • Before pureeing, check the liquid level: Slow cookers can vary, so if you find that the liquid is still above the level of the beans when it comes time to puree them, you may want to skim a little of the liquid and reserve it for thinning later on.
  • With an immersion blender or by working in batches with a high-powered blender or food processor, carefully puree beans until your desired consistency is reached (you might like your beans to be 100% smooth, or chunky with a few beans still left whole).
  • Turn the slow cooker back on the low setting and let beans cook for another 30 minutes to thicken.
  • Check the consistency; if the beans are too thick, add additional vegetable broth and stir. If they're too thin, let them sit and cook for a little longer.
  • Taste and add additional salt if needed and squeeze half a lime over the beans right before serving, if desired.


To freeze: Allow the beans to cool, then freeze them in a large freezer bag or airtight plastic container. To serve, take the beans out of the freezer and let them thaw in your refrigerator. If you’ve frozen the beans in a microwave-safe plastic container, you can use the thaw setting on your microwave to thaw them. Once thawed, cook the beans on the stovetop on medium heat until heated through or microwave in a microwave-safe container, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until heated through.
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  • Reply
    May 28, 2015 at 4:40 am

    sounds perfect to make smoothier fajitas!! so delicious

  • Reply
    May 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Mmmmmm! Smoky paprika! Thanks for introducing me to this spice, Kar! I put it on everything now!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    You somehow made refried beans look goooorrrgeeeooouss!! AKA you are my hero.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I was just about to write the exact same comment as Joanne above! How stunning are these pictures?! And I love refried beans. Great idea to make up a big batch and freeze in portions. I’m always on the lookout for packed lunch ideas and these would be a great addition to my repertoire.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2015 at 11:02 am

    These were excellent. Sorry if this offends vegetarian readers but I used the skimmed off liquid after cooking in the slow cooker to cook some ground turkey with taco seasoning. Served the turkey and beans on tortillas with an avocado and roasted corn salsa. It was an awesome meal. And then then next night (since this made a LOT of beans) we made nachos and used the beans as a dip. So yummy! The beans came out kind of runny, so I think I’ll have to play with the recipe a bit to get thicker beans, but oeverall I love this concept of healthy refried beans.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I LOVE YOU! I love to make refried black beans, but I always end up throwing away half of a batch before they get eaten. I have never thought to freeze the remaining beans. THANKS!!!

    BTW, when I make tacos, sometimes I’ll use a can of pureed black beans to make the meat go a bit further, but now I’ll just be able to pull some out of the freezer instead of opening a can. I typically use organic whole milk to thin, which tastes great, but shortens the edible life of the beans. From now on, I think I’ll stick to broth. 🙂

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