Your Leftover Bacon Fat Will Totally Upgrade Refried Beans

If bacon is on frequent rotation for your breakfast routine, you probably have a little container reserved for your leftover bacon grease. This bit of homemade lard is smokey, rich, and the perfect ingredient to add some oomph to a number of recipes. Bacon grease is the golden secret to delicious popcorn, salad dressing, and hash browns, and another recipe that could use this addition as a secret weapon is the creamy classic, refried beans.

The aromatic pleasures of refried beans come from adding numerous layers of savory flavor and bacon grease is the fastest way to bring in these nuanced layers. By swapping in bacon fat for canola oil or olive oil, you can sauté your onion and other vegetables in a tasty fat that will bring decadent pork flavor to every bite. Plus, if you start with a fresh batch of bacon, you'll have the ideal crunchy topping for your refried beans. Still, you need to be careful with how much bacon grease you add to your mix to help keep it from being overly greasy.

The umami boosting power of bacon fat

To begin with, note how much oil or fat is called for in your recipe. Whatever is listed, you'll want to substitute in an equal amount of bacon fat, but not add it on top of the existing oil. If the recipe doesn't mention any oil or butter, you can start from scratch and add as much as 2 tablespoons of bacon grease per 1 (16-ounce) can. Any aromatics like onions or spices can be sautéed or bloomed in the bacon grease, but you can also add it directly to the refried beans. 

While you may be tempted to add more bacon grease to double down on the decadence, try to keep it in check. Too much fat will make your beans feel suspended in an oil slick, which is decidedly unappetizing. Still, a little bit of bacon grease goes a long way toward making the most memorable batch of refried beans you've ever tasted.