Can Refried Beans Be Frozen?

It’s not uncommon to prepare a big batch of refried beans or buy a whole lot of them because you just can’t get enough of them. This is no susprise, since they’re a very versatile food that go great with most dishes. They’re super easy to prepare, too.

Refried beans make a deliciously creamy snack, a great side for your main dish, or an awesome spread in a burrito or sandwich. There’s really no limit to the options for pairing with other foods because of their delicious, distinct yet neutral flavor.

Bought or made a big batch of refried beans for a Tex-Mex style party dip or because you simply love them much? Great! Have no fear about needing to throw them away, because you can freeze refried beans to keep them on hand to be used whenever needed.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about properly storing refried beans.

Storing Refried Beans in the Refrigerator

If you’re planning to eat your leftover refried beans relatively soon, the fridge is your best bet. You won’t have to worry about defrosting them before use and can just reheat them as desired.

To ensure they retain their moisture and flavor, pop the leftover beans into an airtight container first. If you don’t have one to hand, a resealable bag will do the job nicely.

How Long do Refried Beans Last in the Fridge?

When properly stored, refried beans can last for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Refried Beans?

Thankfully, your options for storing refried beans are not simply limited to your fridge. Bought or made more refried beans than you can eat right now? Plan on saving them for a while? Good news – refried beans certainly can be frozen.

Should You Freeze Canned Refried Beans?

A common question is whether canned refried beans should be frozen.

Usually, refried beans sold in a can have a long shelf life. But, if you want to prolong this further, you can freeze them.

However, you should never freeze them directly in the can. This is because the liquid in the can expands when frozen. This damages the airtight seal of the can and exposes the contents to bacteria. In turn, this increases the risk of foodborne illness.

Before freezing canned refried beans, transfer them into a freezer-safe container first.

How to Freeze Refried Beans

Before freezing, there are a few recommended to steps to ensure optimal results.

First of all, you should think about how you’re planning to use your refried beans. If you intend to use them all in one go, go right ahead and freeze them together. If, on the other hand, you have too much for one meal you should portion them out.

Once you have your desired number of portions, place them into either airtight containers or a freezer bag. Use a separate container for each portion. Because of the moisture in refried beans, they will expand a little in the freezer. Make sure to leave about an inch of space in the container to allow for this expansion.

Lastly, I recommend that you label your refried beans, noting down the freeze date on them to keep track of their shelf life and freshness.

Pros of Freezing Refried Beans


Frozen refried beans are pretty easy to use. You simply thaw them and consume them, there are no extra steps.

Long shelf life

If you freeze your refried beans using the correct method, they will remain edible indefinitely.

Easy to Do

Preparing refried beans for the freezer is a pretty easy and straightforward process and doesn’t take much time at all.

Cons of Freezing Refried Beans


You’ll need to use an airtight container when freezing your refried beans. Otherwise, they will develop freezer burn and/or go bad due to bacterial exposure.


Freezing your refried beans might cause them to dry up a bit while reheating them.

How Long Do Refried Beans Last in the Freezer?

When properly stored, refried beans will last for up to 12 months in the freezer.

Note that this is to ensure the best quality when you defrost them. You can actually keep refried beans in the freezer almost indefinitely. However, beyond 12 months the quality tends to degrade.

How to Defrost Refried Beans

There are multiple ways of thawing your frozen refried beans depending on your situation.

In the Fridge

Ideally, the best method is to just defrost them overnight in the fridge. This is not only the most simple method, but also the best in terms of food safety. It is, however, the most time-consuming method and needs a bit of planning ahead of time.

In a Pan

If you forgot to transfer your refried beans to the fridge from the freezer the night before, don’t worry. You can also defrost them in directly in the pan.

Because refried beans tend to dry in the freezer I recommend you add some water to the pan. This will help to restore them to their former glory.

Defrosting refried beans in this way needs no planning, and as an added bonus you’ll be reheating them too.

In the Microwave

What if you don’t have any space on your stovetop or don’t want to add another pan to the pile of dirty dishes? What if you just want to defrost your beans ASAP?

Good news – you can also thaw your refried beans in the microwave.

Just transfer your frozen refried beans to a microwave-safe plate or bowl and cover it using plastic wrap.

Then, microwave for 3 minutes, stir them up to evenly distribute the heat, and keep microwaving at 1-minute intervals until they reach the desired temperature.

How to Tell if Refried Beans Have Gone Bad

No one likes a side of spoiled refried beans in their dish. You may not realize it since a can of refried beans lasts for a very long time, but an opened can of refried beans or homemade refried beans can definitely go bad and make you very sick.

So, you should always check your refried beans before using them in a dish if they’ve been left out for more than they should have been.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to check if your refried beans have gone bad or not. There are a few telltale signs of spoilage in refried beans which are really helpful in determining their condition.

Off Smell

As with many other foods, your senses are the best way of knowing if refried beans have gone bad.

So, if you suspect that your refried beans have gone bad, give them a sniff. They should give off a pleasant, beany and earthy smell.

If they smell unpleasant or ‘off’ in any way, discard them right away.


Another indicator of condition is their appearance. If their color or appearance in general looks even a bit off, you should steer clear of those refried beans. 


Lastly, the infamous mold is another sign that your refried beans, unfortunately, have gone bad.

If you see furry specks of blueish or greenish spots, then you should throw your refried beans away immediately but safely, without contaminating other areas or surfaces in your kitchen.

Food poisoning is not to be taken lightly and can be extremely detrimental to your health.

If you see any of the signs above, don’t even try to taste those refried beans because it’s not worth the risk.