How to Freeze Refried Beans (Homemade & Canned)

Refried beans are a staple to any Mexican meal. Still, not everyone has time to whip up a batch of homemade refried beans at a moment’s notice. If you’ve ever planned a dish that includes refried beans, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s possible to freeze them?

You can easily freeze homemade refried beans. Refried beans and the main added ingredients, like garlic and onion, are easy to freeze. In addition, refried beans won’t see a significant change in texture once thawed.

This article will discuss some of the most important concepts to keep in mind when freezing refried beans. Read on to prepare yourself for the next time you want to make a batch of beans ahead of time.

Can You Freeze Homemade Refried Beans?

If you’re preparing for a fiesta or another lively event, you might want to make refried beans from scratch. However, many people find it more convenient to make such recipes ahead of time and freeze the dish until it’s time to serve it.

You can freeze homemade refried beans. However, recipes including significant amounts of butter or lard might see a textural change after thawing. The textural changes are drastic after freezing, especially compared to those that omit such ingredients.

So, keep this in mind when you’re preparing your refried beans recipe. If you plan on freezing the beans, you can substitute the butter or lard with a relatively small amount of olive oil.

How to Freeze Refried Beans (Homemade & Canned)

The Ingredients in Refried Beans Are Easily Frozen

As you might expect, one of the main ingredients of refried beans is pinto beans. Believe it or not, beans are a wonderfully easy food to freeze! Whether cooked or dried, whole pinto beans will do well in the freezer; you can preserve them for later use.

Most refried beans recipes also call for oil, onion, garlic, water, and an array of spices. These ingredients freeze well, although certain foods with high water content can sometimes see a textural change after freezing.

Will Freezing Refried Beans Change the Texture?

We’ve all been there: you pull a delicious custard out of the freezer and taste it only to find that it has adopted a terrible, separated texture. Such experiences might make you hesitant to freeze any homemade food ahead of time. Luckily, you aren’t likely to have such a horrible experience when you freeze refried beans.

Freezing refried beans won’t change the texture. Unless the beans contain high amounts of fat or dairy products, separation in the beans’ texture is unlikely.

Separation often occurs when you freeze creamy foods. If you’ve ever tried to freeze cheese, whipping cream, or yogurt, you are familiar with this. This unpleasant texture change occurs because dairy products’ essential components don’t maintain their structure throughout the freezing process. Curds and whey separate from each other during the freezing process and are unlikely to reincorporate upon thawing.

Can You Freeze Canned Refried Beans?

You cannot freeze canned refried beans without first opening the can and placing the refried beans into a different airtight container. Because of the sealing process for canned foods, it’s not a good idea to freeze any food in its original can.

Although it sounds relatively harmless, freezing food in a can is often extremely dangerous. The process used to can foods seals out any hazardous bacteria, and freezing canned food can break the seal. Once a refried bean can is no longer airtight, it can become a hazard to anyone that eats the food within.

The Canning Process Keeps Bacteria Out

In the canning process, refried beans are heated to extremely high temperatures. These high temperatures kill any bacteria in the beans, making them safe to eat.

While the beans are hot, the can is sealed. Thoroughly sealing the can is essential because it prevents new microorganisms from entering the food.

Canning Extends the Shelf Life of Food

Because the canning process eliminates microorganisms and prevents any bacteria from entering the container, the shelf life of canned refried beans is significantly longer than homemade refried beans. 

However, once you break the can’s seal, the food is no longer sterile. As a result, most canned foods (including refried beans) need to be refrigerated once opened.

Freezing Canned Food Breaks the Seal

When refried beans are frozen in their original can, the can loses its airtight seal. When you freeze the can, the pinto beans inside will naturally expand and break the crucial airtight seal.

A can of refried beans that has lost its seal is dangerous because it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Some bacteria that can grow in canned food, like Clostridium botulinum, can make you extremely sick or even kill you. 

Should I Eat a Can of Refried Beans That Has Been Frozen?

You should never eat a can of refried beans if you think it has been previously frozen in the can. If you find a frozen can of refried beans, throw it away without tasting it.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to freeze a can of refried beans accidentally. For example, if you leave a can of beans in a cold car by mistake, it might freeze without your knowledge. If this is the case, the safest choice is always to throw the can away, especially if it has thawed. Don’t even taste them to see if they taste normal.

What Type of Container Should I Freeze Refried Beans In?

You should freeze refried beans in a heavy-duty plastic container or a resealable freezer bag. Always use an airtight container to freeze refried beans. Using an extra bag is a good idea if you choose to use a resealable freezer bag to store your refried beans.

Placing the bag of beans within another bag adds an extra layer of protection and prevents rips or tears. Even better, use a durable plastic container to store your beans—thick plastic will combat potential breaks as the liquid in the beans expands during the freezing process.

Check out this video for an awesome homemade refried beans recipe!

How Long Can I Keep Frozen Refried Beans?

You can keep refried beans in the freezer for up to twelve months. However, after two months in the freezer, the beans may undergo a slight change in flavor.

Putting a batch of refried beans in the freezer extends its shelf life significantly. So, if you need to make some beans a month or two in advance, the freezer is an excellent place to store them. However, although beans frozen for up to a year are safe to eat, it’s best not to freeze them more than two months ahead of time to best preserve their flavor. 

Final Thoughts

Next time you want to whip up a batch of refried beans ahead of time, never fear! Refried beans are an excellent staple to have on hand for any Mexican cuisine, and freezing them is a great way to extend their shelf-life.