Slow Cooker Beans for the Freezer aka Refried Beans without the Refry


I have heard about the beans for years.  Yes, years!  And I can’t believe I had never tried them.  I first heard about them on the Sonlight forums, where they were made famous by Bethany of For the Love of Grub.

Bethany loves these beans and makes them often and tells the rest of us that we need to be making them.  Everyone who has tried them raves about them.

Do I take the hint and give them a try?  No, I wait 5 or 7 years before it finally hits me that I need to see what the fuss is about.  I mean, it’s just beans, right? They can’t be that much better than canned, right?

Call me a crazy bean lover!  These things are fabulous!

They aren’t spicy, and yet they’re flavorful.  They make a quick dinner, can be mashed or left whole and they’re great for stocking your freezer.

Bethany gives a lot of variations on her blog, but this is how I made them: 

Please ignore the slow cooker that needs to be scrubbed.  It’s okay, Mom.  I promise I scrubbed it and it’s clean now.

You can use these beans in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.  Or eat them as a side dish.

Slow Cooker Beans for the Freezer aka Refried Beans without the Refry

Serves: 8 -10 cups

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans
  • 1 lb. dry black beans
  • 10 big cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 jalepeno, seeds removed and diced
  • 1½ tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbs. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. black pepper
  • 9-11 cups water
  1. Sort and rinse beans. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  4. Drain.
  5. Mash or keep them whole.
  6. Can be frozen for later use.
Some types of dry beans have toxins in them, especially kidney beans. These should always be soaked first and the water discarded to rid the beans of toxins. A slow cooker isn't hot enough to kill the toxins without soaking.

I did cook these pinto and black beans on high without soaking them and no one got sick - thanks goodness! But you might not want to risk it. And you definitely want to soak them if you're making kidney beans.


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  1. I hate to say “I told you so”.

    Ok, ok. I love to say it. 😉

  2. So you don’t soak them at all before?

  3. These sound as good as the ones my husband (the cook at our house) makes. He just made a crock pot full this weekend that never got to see the inside of the freezer. Zip, gone! Of course, having company makes them go a wee bit faster than normal; we usually have a lot for the freezer, since we NEVER buy canned refried beans any more. I saved this recipe for him. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Are you a Sonlighter too!?! Can’t wait to try these beans! I love beans; I love easy; I love crockpot. What a combination these beans are!

  5. Please don’t cook dry beans without having soaked them first–the crock pot does NOT get hot enough to kill all the toxins.

    • Liz, thanks for the info. I did know that kidney beans have that strange toxin thing. I didn’t know it about other beans. I’ll add a note to the recipe.

      • Kidney beans have the most toxins, but other dry beans have them as well. The only ones that are safe to cook without soaking are split peas and lentils. I would haaaate to hear that someone got really sick (or worse) after making this (YUMMY) dish 😛

    • I’ve never heard about bean toxins. I only use this recipe for pintos and blacks, but I’ve been making a batch every week or two for years and years without a problem. Hmmmm …..

      • Bethany, I think this is like cooking with frozen chicken in the slow cooker. Some say never do it. I do it all the time (boneless chicken) with no problem. I think it’s a small risk. If someone has a very sensitive person in their family with health issues or their crockpot doesn’t cook hot at all, they might not want to do either of these things. As for me, I’ll probably keep on with my risky behavior 😉

        • We do frozen breasts and unsoaked beans all the time, so I guess I’m more of a risk taker than I thought. 🙂 It’s good to know, though, that there are potential risks with beans. Learn something new every day!

  6. Bernadene Whitten says:

    I regularly cook beans to have on hand, but I cook them au naturale so they can be combined with any meal. I throw them in soups, salads, casseroles, tacos, enchiladas, and I even use them in desserts! I usually use my chickpeas for my hummus but once we found this spread, well lets just say I haven’t been smelling like garlic lately.

    Chocolate Chickpea Spread

    1 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 1/2 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar 1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract 1/2 Teaspoon Salt 2 – 4 Tablespoons Water

    As with all hummus, this spread couldn’t be easier; Just throw everything but the water into your food processor or blender, and thoroughly puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl to get everything incorporated as needed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water, until you reach your desired consistency. Spread at will!

    Makes about 2 Cups

  7. kathleen says:

    thanks for this recipe, i will definitely be making this week as we eat a lot of bean dishes. another very good reason to soak the beans is it makes the person who consumes the beans less gassy! unsoaked beans leads to some very unpleasant consquences . . .

  8. Do you think it would it be safe to use a little of the crockpot liquid (after cook time) to mash with the beans?

  9. I am definitely going to try this recipe. My understanding is that you actually need to boil kidney beans for a full 10 minutes and then drain before they go in the slow cooker – and all other beans should be boiled for 2-3 minutes. This will neutralize the toxins. Even if it is a small risk – why take it when it’s not such a big deal to avoid it.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Here’s one I made this past weekend, DH said they were a keeper.

  11. I was totally surprised to hear of toxins in beans. I’ve been cooking various bean soups in CP for years w/o soaking beans. Never had any issues. Have made chili with red beans, and many mixed bean soups. So I looked it up. found it is not soaking that removes the toxin, but heat that kills it. My hunch is that the new crockpots which do not simmer on low are the guilty parties. My old crockpot(s) simmered on low and boiled on high. Eventually the low kind of petered out, and I have been cooking on high for quite a while. I’m not working, so I don’t have to worry about having the soup finish too soon. Anyway, thanks for the tip.

    • Thanks for the link. I had never heard of toxic kidney beans either. Having read the info and the articles/abstracts that are referenced, here are my take-aways:

      1) In all the cases the beans were either raw (soaked but never cooked) or severely under-cooked. And by severely under-cooked I mean they were “cooked” to 150*after 3 hours. Crunchy, warm, under-cooked beans that most sane people would conclude were disgusting and needed to cook longer (not so, apparently for the starving hungry teen aged boys who ate said beans anyway and ended up spending the next few hours in the crapper).

      2.) Studies have included mixing “bean flour” with water and force feeding unsuspecting mice…who then received tiny mouse-sized enemas so that scientists with nothing much worse to do could examine the “liquid” for inflammatory cells. That’s about as far as I could read on that one…having just eaten my lunch and all.

      In conclusion: no need to throw the beans out with the bath water, per se….just cook them like you always do. Till they’re done. And if you are extra-worried about the whole thing (hey, no one ever died from this) just soak them for a few hours, boil for 10 mins., dump out the water and proceed on with the bean cooking. And if your teenager is starving and can’t wait, tell them to eat the pizza that was left-over and sitting out on the counter from last night. Because next year, when they are in college, that’s exactly what they’ll do. And they’ll survive. (We did!) 🙂

      Oh yeah…regarding the beans…they sound fabulous and I’m planning my menu this week to include them in a couple of ways. Thanks for sharing, and thank’s for the info Sharala….I learn something new every day!

  12. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. What a yummy way to get needed protein into my son diet. Thanks for sharing.


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