The Splendid Table's Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove

October 22, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

A completely inauthentic cheater's method for light and fast refried beans—plus an unexpectedly sexy spice combo you haven't tried (on beans) yet. Adapted slightly from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper (Clarkson Potter, 2008).

Genius Recipes

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min


  • 1 large onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
In This Recipe


  1. Generously film the bottom of a 10-inch skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions with salt and pepper to taste until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon, and cloves, and cook the mix until it is fragrant, about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan. (Do this carefully, or they may squirt juice at you.) Sauté for another minute.
  3. Stir in the beans and water. Bring to a fast simmer, crushing the beans with a potato masher as they cook, and scraping the bottom of the pan as the beans begin to thicken. Simmer until the beans are thick, about 10 minutes.
  4. Blend in the butter, and taste for seasoning just before serving.

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Reviews (9) Questions (0)

9 Reviews

Sarah L. October 30, 2015
This makes a really great filler for burritos! I love it. Just be sure to grind the cloves well enough or they can be a bit rough to digest!
pattyrat March 5, 2015
I thought these might be a welcome change, but I personally didn't care for the cinnamon and cloves in this recipe. Prefer my refried beans with the more traditional seasonings - garlic, cumin, chili powder, etc.
SoupLady April 13, 2015
Sorry to hear it (I really love this recipe); but, I get it, it's a little strange to put cinnamon and clove in beans. I think you could leave them out and use cumin and chili powder instead and they would be very tasty.
cmtm January 4, 2015
Does anyone know what kind of bowl that is in the accompanying photo??? I inherited this same bowl from my mom and have always loved it but have no idea where it came from!
Amy M. February 1, 2017
No idea if you'll see this response two years later, Pinky, but just in case... That's an American yellow ware bowl, very common from the early to the late 19th century. There's quite a variety of styles of decoration. I have my great-grandmother's, with thinner brown stripes around the rim. The one in the photo, same as yours, is really lovely.
Renee B. November 29, 2014
This recipe sounds and looks delicious. Would pinto or Roman beans be a good bean substitute? Kidney beans are a much nicer color but don't agree with me.
Olypeninah February 12, 2014
Look no further. This recipe is da bomb. Plain beans? No way. Love the spices! I am so going to make certain my daughter has this memorized before she goes off to college. Soooo good!
Burf October 27, 2013
genius recipes never cease to amaze me. I've learned not to second guess measurements, textures, preconceptions,…. It's definitely different than what you get out of the can, but my house was totally diggin' this. Fantastic!
Polly October 24, 2013
Looks more like dal than refried beans.