Refried beans are a wonderful thing to add to your prepper pantry. They are inexpensive, pack a nutritional punch, and can be served in many ways. While it’s easy to store canned refried beans in your prepper pantry, there are many advantages to also storing dehydrated refried beans. In this article, I get into how to dehydrate refried beans.

The Advantages of Dehydrated Refried Beans

This post includes affiliate links.

Pro tip: It’s important to use a dehydrator with a temperature setting. I use and recommend both this Nesco Dehydrator as well as the Cosori Premium dehydrator that you can get on Amazon.

Before I get into how to dehydrate refried beans, I want to share some of the advantages of adding dehydrated refried beans to your prepper pantry.

The first advantage of dehydrated refried beans is that they take up less space. Especially if you want to store up a lot of food in your prepper pantry, the amount of space that various food takes matters. This is even more true for people like me who don’t have a lot of space for food storage.

The second advantage of dehydrated refried beans over canned beans is that you can make as much or as little as desired. If you’re a single person, or have a small family, you may not be able to eat an entire can of refried beans at once. If you dehydrate refried beans, you can rehydrate exactly the amount of beans you need so there is no waste.

The third advantage to dehydrated refried beans is that they are very light weight. This matters if you’re taking them backpacking, when traveling, or need to grab and go in case of emergency.

Step 1: Make or Purchase Fat-Free Refried Beans

to dehydrate refried beans, I started by cooking pinto beans from scratch.
It’s cheap and easy to make refried beans from scratch.

You can either make refried beans yourself or buy canned refried beans to dehydrate.

The key is to make or buy fat free refried beans. The reason for this is that it’s best to avoid fat when dehydrating food, since fat can go rancid. If you want fat, you can always add some oil after rehydrating them.

If you want to purchase your refried beans, just look for “fat free” on the label.

To make your own refried beans for dehydrating, simply cook pinto beans with spices or salsa. Spices can be as simple as taco seasoning to taste. I also like to add diced onions, roasted green chilis, and garlic powder to my beans when cooking them for refried beans.

When the beans are done, use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree them. Keep in mind that it’s fine to have some small chunks of beans intact.

Pro tip: While it takes a bit more work, one advantage to making your own refried beans is that they’re incredibly cheap to make. I currently pay around $6 for an eight-pound bag of pinto beans. If watching your pennies, making your own refried beans is the way to go.

Step 2: Put the Refried Beans on Fruit Leather Trays

for best results use a fruit leather tray to dehydrate refried beans

Regardless of whether you buy or make your refried beans, you’ll need to use fruit leather trays on your dehydrator. If you don’t have fruit leather trays, you can cut parchment paper to fit your trays and do it that way.

Start by “plopping” the refried beans onto a tray, and then use a spoon, spread them out.

using a spoon to spread out refried beans on the dehydrator tray.

Of course, the thicker you spread them, the longer they’ll take to dehydrate, so you want to spread them relatively thin. How thin you can spread them depends on how many refried beans you made and how many fruit leather trays you have.

In my case, I have four fruit leather trays, so needed to put about 1/4 of my refried beans on each tray. I cooked just under two pounds of dried beans, and four trays were enough.

Note that if you end up with more refried beans on one tray, if you’re using a stackable dehydrator like the Nesco, put the tray with the most refried beans on top, so that it’s closest to the heat source and fan.

You can also rotate the trays to help expedite the dehydrating process.

Step 3: Set the Dehydrator at 160 Degrees Fahrenheit

dehydrate refried beans at a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

On my food dehydrator, there aren’t any guidelines for the proper temperature for dehydrating refried beans.

I think that any temperature from 125 degrees upwards would work fine. But since refried beans are cooked and therefore there will be no additional nutrient loss as a result of dehydrating at a high temperature, I decided to go with the temperature for meat, which is 160 degrees.

I also chose this temperature since beans, like meat, are a protein.

Note that one problem with dehydrating at a higher temperature is that food can end up dehydrated on the outside, but still maintain moisture on the inside. But as you’ll see in a future step, you can break up the refried beans when they are partially dry to make sure they dehydrate all the way through.

Step 4: Dehydrate the Refried Beans Until Completely Dry

I can’t tell you precisely how long it will take to dehydrate refried beans, since there are a lot of variables. For instance, if your refried beans have a higher water content, they will take longer. They will also take longer to dehydrate if you spread them thicker.

Another thing to keep in mind is that since the refried beans are on fruit leather trays, and since refried beans are dense, the air won’t flow through as well as when dehydrating food that is on mesh trays.

While I can’t say exactly how long it takes to dehydrate refried beans, I can share with you how long the process of dehydrating refried beans took me.

Refried Beans after 3 Hours in the Dehydrator

dehydrate refried beans after 3 hours in the dehydrator

Here’s how the refried beans looked after three hours in the dehydrator. You can see that they were drying and a bit cracked, but they were still very moist on the inside.

I used a spoon to break up the pieces to help it dry in the middle.

Now if by chance you are dehydrating the refried beans overnight when you’re sleeping, or when you’re away from home, know that it’s not necessary to break them up a few hours in, but doing so will help the refried beans to dehydrate faster.

As long as I was breaking up the refried beans, I went ahead and rotated the trays as well.

The lower trays were definitely not as dry as the upper trays so it was good to rotate them.

Refried Beans after 6 Hours in the Dehydrator

A few hours later, they were almost completely dry, but there was still some moisture. By this point it was late at night and I was too tired to stay up, so I left them running over night.

dehydrate refried beans may take 6-9 hours

When I got up the next morning, they were bone dry.

Estimated Dehydration Time

As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to have an exact time for dehydrating refried beans since there are a lot of variables. However, I estimate the time for dehydrating refried beans to be between six and eight hours, at 160 degrees. The time will vary depending on how thickly you spread the refried beans and how much liquid was in the beans before dehydrating them.

Fully Dehydrated Refried Beans are Dry and Crumbly

I used my hands to crumble the dehydrated refried beans into a rough powder.
Using my hands to crumble dehydrated refried beans

If you want your refried beans to be very smooth when you rehydrate them, you could powder the beans in a blender. But since these were smooth enough for my liking when I put them on the dehydrator trays, I decided not to bother powdering them.

Instead, I just used my hands to “powder” them as I put them into an airtight container.

One advantage of using your hands is if by chance there was still a bit of moisture in the beans, you would feel it and know that you need to dehydrate them a bit more.

How to Rehydrate Dehydrated Refried Beans

One thing that I love about using dehydrated refried beans is that they rehydrate very fast. Simply pour boiling (or very hot) water on the dehydrated refried beans, and stir.

I’ve found it takes between 1/2 cup of boiling water to a cup of dehydrated refried beans, all the way up to a cup of water for one cup of dehydrated refried beans. This is a matter of preference regarding consistency, and how you’re going to serve them.

If you’re serving refried beans as a side dish, having them thinner is a good way to go. However, you won’t want thin refried beans in a burrito, unless you want them to be really messy.

So, start with 1/2 cup water to one cup of refried beans, and then gradually add in more water to get the consistency you need.

The good news is, dehydrated refried beans rehydrate really fast. Also, if you use boiling water to rehydrate them, the rehydrated refried beans are hot enough that you won’t need to heat them before serving.

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Here are some of my favorite dehydrating tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-dehydrated food! Here are some tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I recommend and believe in 100%!

The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator was my first dehydrator, and still one of my favorites. I actually have two of them! If I was only going to buy one dehydrator and was on a strict budget, this would be it. I love it because it’s very reasonably priced, and is expandable up to 12 trays. I recommend starting with the basic system that comes with 5 trays. Then expand by buying additional trays, fruit leather sheets, and mesh screens.

The Cosori Premium Dehydrator is my most recent dehydrator purchase.  In many respects, it’s superior to the Nesco since it is constructed with stainless steel, which is always a winner. I love the ease of use, and how precise it is when it comes to setting the temperature. It’s also versatile in that you can remove some of the racks. This makes it possible to use it for more than just dehydrating. As an example, you can use the Cosori dehydrator to make yogurt, something you definitely can’t do with any of the stackable dehydrators.

Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator – I’ve had my eye on this dehydrator for a LONG time. I don’t have space for another dehydrator, so I’m just waiting for one of my dehydrators to die so I can buy this one! What I really love about this dehydrator is that it expands to up to 30 (yes, 30!) trays. At 1,000 watts, it’s more powerful than the two dehydrators listed above. If you only have the means to buy one dehydrator, and have limited space to dehydrate, I recommend this one since you can dehydrate a huge amount of food at a time.

The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing Machine is a great way to preserve the food you’ve dehydrated. The machine I use is no longer available. I chose this one because it’s a great price and includes a port that makes it possible to use the accessory kit linked to below. Since I store all my dehydrated food in mason jars, the jar sealer attachments are a must. But with this device, you can also use food storage bags if you’re short on mason jars, or prefer to seal you dehydrated food in bags.

The FoodSaver Handheld Cordless Food Vacuum Sealer is a great option for those with limited space. I keep mine charged up in my kitchen, so I can easily reseal jars every time I use some of my dehydrated food. While I still love my larger FoodSaver, from a convenience perspective, this one can’t be beat.

The FoodSaver Accessory Kit is a must if, like me, you store dehydrated food in mason jars. You can use this kit with either of the vacuum sealers linked to above.

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