Canned Bean Liquid Is Key To Creamy Refried Beans

If canned bean liquid sounds a little unappetizing, think again. Just like pasta water is essentially liquid gold in the cooking world, the liquid from a can of beans that you may typically pour down the drain can be put to use in a few tasty ways. Essentially, you should never get rid of it, as it can be used to make aquafaba, mayo, and recipes that require a lot of liquid. It's also the perfect addition to soups or stews because it can add a savory element that creates a richer flavor. 

Likewise, it's the ideal accompaniment for your next side dish of refried beans. It's not that refried beans are super liquidy, per se — but adding the bean juices can turn a lumpy, stiff dish into a rich and creamy one. Since the fluid is released from the beans while they're originally cooked, it contains a bunch of starchy goodness that can prevent your final product from turning out thin and runny. 

How to incorporate canned bean liquid into your refried beans

The first step when it comes to incorporating canned bean juices into your refried dish is, of course, saving the liquid. Resist the urge to drain and rinse your beans over the sink. Instead, pour them out over a colander with a bowl underneath to catch all the starchy solution. And to make sure you get all the good stuff, let your beans sit there for at least a few minutes so everything has time to fully strain. It's also a good idea to get a sense of what's actually in the can before you make the choice to incorporate the liquid since some are thicker and smoother than others.

Then cook your drained beans with any seasonings like garlic, cumin, or oregano, and mash them up before adding in their juices. Once everything is combined and heated through, you can add any final seasonings like salt, pepper, or a spritz of lime juice. Keep in mind that the bean liquid is packed with sodium, so you may not need any extra salt — when in doubt, taste before adding more. As an alternative, you can cook the beans right there in their juices without straining them, and mash them up as-is. Either way, you'll end up with thick, creamy refried beans, perfect for serving with Mexican rice or enchiladas.