The Best Refried Beans

Tex-Mex Refried Beans with Bacon
The beloved, bacony refried beans from Austin's Las Manitas Avenue CaféMatt Taylor-Gross

These are the beloved refried beans from Tex-Mex institution Las Manitas in Austin, Texas. The restaurant was popular up until it closed in 2008, and was renowned for its bacon-infused refried beans. Here's our adaptation of the recipe from co-owners Cynthia and Lidia Perez.

What You Will Need

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)
Cynthia and Lidia Perez, the sisters who owned Las Manitas Avenue Café in Austin, Texas, served these beans as an accompaniment to grilled marinated skirt steak and with many other dishes at their popular diner.
Yield: makes 3 1/2 cups
Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 12 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 cup (4 3/4 oz.) chopped white onion, divided
  • 1 whole red bell pepper (6 oz.), seeded and stemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 tbsp. corn or canola oil
  • 14 cup grated cotija cheese (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. minced cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, combine the beans, all but 1 tablespoons of the onion, and the bell pepper, garlic, and salt. Add enough water to cover by 2 ½ inches. Set over medium heat, bring to a low boil, then reduce to low heat to simmer. Cook until the beans are very soft, approximately 2 hours. Remove and discard the bell pepper. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until the fat is rendered, 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and set aside for another use, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add the oil, the remaining tablespoon of onion, and the drained beans to the skillet. Cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the mixture begins to bubble, approximately 10 minutes. Ladle in the bean-cooking liquid, about ¼ cup at a time, while slowly stirring smashing the beans gently the back of a wooden spoon. Season with kosher salt, garnish with crispy bacon, grated cotija cheese, and minced cilantro, if using.