Marcus Shares His Abuela's Refried Bean Recipe For Mexican Independence Day

Properly seasoned, refried beans are one of the greatest things you'll ever eat. I remember being a young kid visiting my abuela and my tias and the smell of onions frying in pork fat (the base of this recipe) would fill the house and make my mouth water.

The other night I was trimming a set of pork chops for dinner and I stared at the strips of fat I had just cut off. Rather than throw them in the trash, I got inspired. I was going to make grandma's beans.

Feliz Dia De La Independencia! Happy Mexican Independence Day!

Pro Tips:

  • DON'T soak your beans in water overnight. It's really not necessary and you lose out on a lot of flavor. Instead, cook your beans in chicken stock for an extra 30-60 minutes. All that yummy stock will be soaked up and make your beans that much better.
  • DO save ALL the liquid from the cooked beans. You will end up adding it back later on the recipe.
  • DON'T go out and buy lard for this recipe. If you don't have pork fat laying around like I did, ask your butcher for some fat scraps you can fry down. You need about 1/2 a cup of rendered fat.
  • DON'T sub in bacon. The smoke flavor will overpower the recipe
  • Check your local Mexican Market for epazote. If you can't find it, oregano works just fine)


1 pound dried beans

4 peeled garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon dried epazote

4 cups chicken stock

5 cups cold water

1/2 cup pork fat

1 whole onion, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (omit if you don't like it spicy)

1 tablespoon chili powder


  1. Rinse beans and add them to a large pot with the chicken stock and water. Add garlic cloves and epazote and bring to a boil. Lower and let simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. turn off the heat.
  2. In a large, walled skillet, fry your pork fat until about 1/2 a cup of fat renders. Remove remaining pork pieces and save for later. Add onions and salt and fry until onions are slightly brown. Add jalapeno and chili powder and cook for one minute.
  3. Add beans to skillet (use a slotted spoon). Mash half the beans with a potato masher or back of large spoon.
  4. Begin to ladle in the cooking liquid. Mash and stir the beans and continue to add liquid until the beans reach your desired consistency and texture. Season with salt as needed. If you want to get crazy, you can garnish with some queso fresco.