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How To Fix Grainy Refried Beans (And Avoid It)

You can fix grainy refried beans by adding water and cooking them longer using low heat. You may also try a pressure cooker or food processor to improve texture. You can avoid grainy beans by mashing them evenly, not using old beans, and not adding acid or salt while soaking. 

Getting gritty refried beans after hours of prep and cooking can be a bummer. The key to avoiding it is understanding why that happens, as I’ll explain in this article. 

bowl of refried beans

Why Are My Refried Beans Grainy or Mealy?

The best refried beans, or frijoles refritos, have great flavors and smooth and creamy consistency. If the texture is off, it could affect your perception of this dish. 

Thus, it is crucial to understand why refried beans have a grainy or mealy texture. By doing so, you can understand what happened with your dish and how you can fix and avoid the issue. 

Refried beans can become grainy or mealy when undercooked, cooked unevenly, or not mashed properly. Rigid or firm beans can also lead to coarse dishes. Beans become firm because of age or the addition of acid or salt during soaking. 

Let me expound on each factor:

  • Undercooked beans. Beans take time to cook, around two hours at most. The cooking time depends heavily on the type and age of the bean. Certain bean species or specific crops or harvest take longer to cook. 
  • Not mashed properly. A crucial part of making refried beans is the mashing portion. You can do that using a fork, potato masher, food processor, Mexican bean processor, or stick blender. Serious Eats’ Daniel Gritzer found that using a food processor leads to gritty beans.
  • Uneven cooking. If beans aren’t cooked evenly, some may be tougher to mash or puree. 
  • Old beans. Older beans take much longer to cook than fresh ones. Thus, there’s a greater probability of undercooking them, leading to grainy or tough beans.  
  • Addition of salt or acid. Some encourage adding salt or acid to speed up the bean cooking process. While that may be true, it also toughens the bean during the process. You wouldn’t want that for refried beans, as it becomes harder to mash. 

How To Fix Gritty Beans

Once you’ve fried your cooked beans and settled down to eat them, it’s pretty hard to reverse the process. 

Refried beans in a skillet

However, if you’ve noticed while cooking or mashing that your beans will be grainier than they should be, there may still be something you can do.

Here’s how you can possibly fix gritty beans: 

  • Add more water and cook longer. Cook your beans longer over low heat. Pour water in small increments to avoid off-shooting. 
  • Add baking soda. Ideally, half a teaspoon (2.4 g) of this would neutralize acid and counter the acid’s effects.
  • Mash using other equipment. If a fork or potato masher wasn’t enough to grind your beans, try a food processor, stick blender, or Mexican bean processor. 

How To Avoid Gritty Beans

It’s always better to take measures to avoid the issue than resolve them. So, if you’re fond of refried beans, you’d better take notes on how to avoid making them gritty.

Here are ways to avoid gritty beans: 

  • Soak your beans. Although soaking is optional, you’d want to do it because it helps in reducing cooking time and evenly cooking the beans. Thus, you are less likely to undercook your beans, and the texture will be more consistent. 
  • Use fresh or new beans. Always check how fresh your beans are. If you’re not confident in cooking old beans, it’s better to seek new beans. 
  • Know your beans. Aside from age, you should also know what type of beans you have. Small beans cook the fastest, while large ones, like kidney beans, take longer. 
  • Add baking soda while soaking. While soaking your beans, add a little bit of baking soda. It helps reduce baking time without making the beans firm. 
  • Do not add salt, acid, sugar, and calcium while soaking. These ingredients are usually added to reduce cooking time. While effective in that sense, a side effect of it is that it makes the beans firm. This makes it harder to mash them, leading to gritty textures. 
  • Do not let the water evaporate while cooking the beans. Monitor your beans as they cook. Do not let the water vaporize, or else the beans become leathery

Final Thoughts

Several factors cause refried beans to become grainy. It could be because the beans were undercooked, too old, or not mashed properly. Knowing why beans become gritty will help fix their texture and, in the future, avoid their occurrence.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss How To Fix Soggy Enchiladas (And Prevent Them).