When you’re in the mood for Mexican-inspired food, there’s one thing that you can’t leave out: refried beans.
With so many options to choose from, sometimes choosing the best canned refried beans can be difficult. To help you get to that burrito or plate of nachos sooner, we’ll help you out by providing you with a list of 10 canned refried bean options. We’ll also give you a little background on one of Mexico’s favorite dishes, share some health information, and give you some tips for making your own refried beans!
Taco Bell Original Refried Beans is our top pick because, let’s be honest, can you have a list of Mexican foods without including something from Taco Bell?!
Coming in as our best budget pick, Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans, Mild with Green Chilies is all-organic, relatively low in sodium, and has all of the authentic spice we crave from green chilies.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: The 10 Best Canned Refried Beans
- 1. Taco Bell Original Refried Beans
- 2. Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans
- 3. Old El Paso Refried Beans, Vegetarian
- 4. Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
- 5. 365 Everyday Value Organic Refried Beans
- 6. Rosarita Low Fat Refried Black Beans
- 7. Ortega Refried Beans
- 8. Bearitos Organic Low Fat Traditional Refried Beans
- 9. Rosarita Organic Refried Beans
- 10. La Preferida Organic Refried Beans
- Things to Consider When Buying Canned Refried Beans
Quick Comparison: The 10 Best Canned Refried Beans
1. Taco Bell Original Refried Beans
When it comes to Mexican food, there’s no household name as common as Taco Bell. Taco Bell prides themselves upon having a Mexican-inspired menu and with this product, one of the best canned refried beans we could find, you don’t even need to leave the house!
This mixture of cooked pinto beans and pink beans goes well in any entree or side dish, making it the perfect option for burritos or nachos. If you’re out of meal ideas, you can even make the seven-layer dip recipe that’s located on the can.
As soon as you bite into these beans, you’ll be transported to the Taco Bell drive through. They’ve got the same signature flavor and affordability you would find at the restaurant.
2. Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans
Amy’s is a brand that we’ve covered in a few of our articles, and there are so many reasons why. It’s definitely a brand we can feel good about supporting—the company supports organic agriculture and you can be sure that all of their products are made with the best ingredients available.
This can of refried beans is one of our favorites because it’s already got a lot of flavor cooked right in. It’s not too spicy, but the addition of green chiles adds a little bit of heat. For anyone who is trying to avoid MSG or other types of artificial flavor enhancers, this is definitely worth keeping in your pantry.
We also love how versatile it is. These beans are delicious in huevos rancheros, tacos, and burritos. Even better, these refried beans come without the high sodium levels found in similar products. For family members who have high blood pressure or are trying to watch their sodium levels, we find that these are the best canned refried beans for them!
3. Old El Paso Refried Beans, Vegetarian
Great as part of a main meal or used as a side dish, these vegetarian-friendly refried beans are great to have in any household. We all get to a point where we’re in need of a quick and easy meal—and you get exactly that with this product. Just a minute in the microwave and they’re ready to eat!
We’ll give you a little recipe hint with these refried beans: layer some tortilla chips on a baking dish, top with some sauteed spicy chicken, add the refried beans, and sprinkle on some cheese. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes and you’ve got some quick and easy nachos! We like to add diced avocados on top, too.
When it comes down to it, Old El Paso has been one of the best Mexican-inspired food brands for years. Not only do they make great products, but they give back in really supportive ways, too. They’re currently partnering with the Lebron James Family Foundation to help people suffering from domestic violence, homelessness, and COVID-19-related issues. Never before have beans been so beneficial for social justice!
4. Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
This version of refried beans is slightly different to the Old El Paso variety listed above. The reason? It contains lard instead of vegetable oil, making it not suitable for vegans. However, we happen to think that the addition of lard makes for a creamier and more traditional-tasting type of refried beans.
In addition to that, it also contains spices, garlic powder, and chili pepper, making this one of the more flavorful refried bean options out there. We like that there’s also a strong cumin flavor in these refried beans, making them a great option for those of us who like the spice.
5. 365 Everyday Value Organic Refried Beans
When you buy something from the 365 product line, you’re getting quality. We love that with this brand, we’re able to get natural and organic products—without the expensive price tag. The Whole Foods 365 brand also avoids more than 100 potentially-harmful chemicals that are found in our foods, which makes us feel better about using this can of refried beans for the whole family.
When you’re strapped for time (and cash) you can use these refried beans to whip up a quick and tasty meal. We love using them for a simple bean and cheese burrito. It takes no time at all to prepare them, and they’re a hit with the whole family!
While you do get a little bit of spice from the organic roasted green chile, it’s not overpowering. Plus, the lime added some extra flavor.
6. Rosarita Low Fat Refried Black Beans
For over 70 years, Rosarita has been making some of the world’s most authentically Mexican tasting products. If you’re looking for a way to add true Mexican flavor to any meal or snack, this is a great thing to have in your pantry.
These refried black beans are also low fat, which is a good option for anyone trying to lose weight—without missing out on flavor. Since it’s made with black beans, you get a richer and stronger flavor than you do with refried beans made with pinto beans.Our secret meal with these refried beans is to heat up a can, mix it with some Mexican-style cheese and hot sauce, then sprinkle in some crunched up tortilla chips. It’s like nachos you can eat with a spoon!
7. Ortega Refried Beans
These refried beans make for an excellent addition to any meal, either cooked inside a quesadilla or burrito or added as a side dish. It contains simple ingredients and the flavor is like what you would find at an authentic Mexican restaurant.
We’ve all found ourselves at the end of a long work day, just ready for something quick and easy for dinner. And that’s where these refried beans are great. They’re perfect to have on hand and extremely easy to incorporate into any meal.
Not only are they tasty, but they’re also an extremely protein-rich addition to any meal. We love how filling they are, without any of the added phosphates you find in some other brands.
8. Bearitos Organic Low Fat Traditional Refried Beans
Bearitos is one of our favorite organic brands because not only do they make delicious products, but they also give back in a way that makes them stand out from other companies. They regularly partner with organizations like the World Wildlife Fund to contribute a portion of their profits to conservation and environmental efforts.
Never before has buying a can of beans felt so good! When it comes to these refried beans, we love them because they’re extremely easy to eat. They just need a few minutes on the stovetop or microwave before they’re ready to eat on their own, as bean dip, in burritos, in tacos, or in huevos rancheros.
From a nutritional standpoint, we’re really impressed with the sodium content in these refried beans. They have much less sodium than other, similar types of refried beans, which is great for individuals who suffer from a cardiovascular issue or high blood pressure. Plus, they’re an excellent source of protein for vegetarians!
9. Rosarita Organic Refried Beans
When it comes to Southwestern and Mexican-style food products, Rosarita is a brand that consistently ends up in people’s homes. Their organic refried beans are one of the best types out there, with great flavor, an affordable price, and only natural ingredients.
While they contain spices and chili, their flavor isn’t overwhelming. We think that this makes them great to use for a plate of nachos for kids. But they’re great for adults, too! We love them in beef fajita nachos—it’ll make you feel like you’re eating in a Mexican restaurant when you’re really in your own kitchen!
10. La Preferida Organic Refried Beans
One of the main reasons we love this type of canned refried beans is because of its ingredient list: it contains just three ingredients! That’s right, all you’ll find in this can is organic pinto beans, water, and sea salt! For those of us who want to keep things natural, this is a great addition to any kitchen pantry.
Since the 1920’s, La Preferida has brought Latin American food to the rest of the world. When it comes to authentic Mexican-style foods, they’re one of the best companies to choose.
Keeping up with consumer demands and concerns about the environment, the La Preferida company started an organic line in 2009. If you want to be sure that you’re eating foods that haven’t been genetically modified, you can trust any organic can or bottle from La Preferida.
Things to Consider When Buying Canned Refried Beans
So, now that you know our favorite picks for canned refried beans, we can tell you a little bit about them, how they’re used, how they fare nutritionally, and how you can even make your own!
What Exactly are Refried Beans?
Refried beans are cooked and mashed beans. The dish is popular in many Latin American countries and considered a staple for traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
Making refried beans involves boiling beans, mashing them into a chunky paste, and then baking or frying. Ironically, while they’re considered to be “refried,” they’re typically only fried once.
How to Use Refried Beans in a Meal?
Refried beans are versatile. They can be eaten as a side dish, like in nachos or simply on their own. Additionally, you may find them incorporated into a main dish, like a bean burrito.
Here are a few ways we’ve been using refried beans recently:
- In a tostada. We like to combine some refried beans and lime-chipotle marinated shredded pork on a small corn tortilla before baking. Top with some avocado and cotija cheese and you’ll have a tasty meal in no time! Another tostada version suggestion: bake the tortillas in a muffin pan and make your own tostada cups!
- In stuffed shells. Enchilada stuffed shells have quickly become one of our favorites. While they aren't’ authentically Mexican, they are loved by the whole family! Add meat, beans, and shredded Mexican cheese into some large cooked shell noodles and get ready to enjoy.
- Refried bean taco pizza. This is another unique take on a few favorites. Use already prepared pizza crust (or make with your own) and top with refried beans instead of pizza sauce. Still add all of your favorite toppings, just adjust them to fit with the refried beans (we like olives, tomatoes, and jalapenos). Sprinkle on some cheese and bake like normal—pretty soon you’ll be eating this all the time!
Are Refried Beans Healthy?
For anyone trying to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diets, canned refried beans are something that you should always keep in your kitchen pantry. There’s a reason they’ve been a favorite meal ingredient and side dish for so long.
In fact, they’re one of the healthiest (and most delicious) sources of protein out there.
Let’s take a look at why refried beans are great (based on a one cup serving):
- High in protein. On average, refried beans contain about 12 or 13 grams of protein, making up over a quarter of your daily value! Even better, refried beans are a good source of quality protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) in adequate quantities.
- Good source of vitamins. Not only are refried beans a great source of protein, but they’re also a good source of several essential vitamins. Each serving contains about a quarter of your daily recommended value of vitamin C, and a significant amount of vitamin B6, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, choline, and pantothenic acid.
- Excellent source of minerals. Refried beans are an excellent source of manganese phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, and selenium. They also contain copper, zinc, and a little bit of calcium.
- Contain good fatty acids. Most of us are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Fortunately, refried beans provide a decent amount of these fatty acids, and also contain omega-6 fatty acids.
- Very good source of dietary fiber. An average serving of refried beans will contain up to 50% of your daily recommended value of dietary fiber! Not only is this a great way to boost your optimal health, but it will also provide feelings of fullness to keep you satiated between meals.
- Low in saturated fat and cholesterol. As a plant-based protein source, refried beans do not contain any cholesterol. In addition, they’re low in saturated fat and are a great food to have on a regular basis.
Overall, refried beans are about as healthy as you can get. They’re great for keeping you feeling full after a meal, and are a good source of several dietary components that contribute to good overall health. If you’re looking for a food that can help contribute to your goals of optimum health and maintaining a healthy weight, we’d definitely recommend keeping a few cans of refried beans in your house at all times.
Are There Any Health Concerns About Canned Refried Beans?
While canned refried beans are great, there is one health concern that you should be aware of—and it’s one that’s found in most types of canned food—high sodium content.
Per one cup serving, refried beans can have around 1,000 milligrams of sodium, which is very high considering that the daily value recommended by nutrition professionals is only 2,300 milligrams.
What About Dented Cans?
Another concern that many people have when it comes to canned food is dented cans. Not only do dents in cans look less appealing than those without them, but they can also pose a very serious health risk.
Botulism, which is the most common type of foodborne illness, is many times a result of improper food packaging. In fact, clostridium botulinum, the bacteria responsible for botulism, is most commonly found with dented cans.
A dent in a can, even a small one, can create an opening that allows air in. When air mixes with the moisture from the food product, it creates the perfect conditions for the growth of bacteria, which, in turn, contaminates the food.
While this causes a lot of concern for consumers, it’s nothing to be too afraid of. Botulism tends to occur with foods low in acid, like mushrooms and green beans. Plus, it’s extremely rare in the United States as any concerns are typically dealt with quickly.
Still, if a can looks expanded or bloated, avoid it!
Making Your Own Refried Beans
There are a few reasons that canned refried beans end up being prioritized over the DIY version, namely that they’re quick and convenient.
When you decide to make your own refried beans, you have to acquire all of the ingredients, soak the beans, and then cook them for more than an hour in the oven until they’re soft, before adding all of the additional and flavorful ingredients!
However, if you have the time and ingredients, learning how to make refried beans is a great culinary skill to have. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Pinto beans make the best refried beans. While you can use any type of bean (black beans are commonly used) to make refried beans, pinto beans have a buttery flavor that turns them into creamy and delicious refried beans.
- You can use canned or dried refried beans. Canned dried beans are better for the environment (less packaging) but if you don’t have several hours to soak and cook them first, you might want to go with canned pinto beans instead.
- Spice it up! When you make your own refried beans, you can spice them in any way you desire. You can sprinkle in some chili powder, add some chopped garlic, drizzle with lime juice, or top with fresh cilantro.
Here’s an easy refried bean recipe from Cookie and Kate that uses canned pinto beans, along with some fresh herbs and spices. They only take 25 minutes to make!
When we’re in the mood for cheese, we normally try this refried black beans recipe from Simply Recipes. It uses dried black beans and some crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese for a truly authentic Mexican flavor.
For another authentically-Mexican version of frijoles refritos (refried beans), we normally turn to a recipe from Mexican Food Journal. In it, you can use any type of bean you have available (including bayo beans).
Who’s craving a quesadilla or tostado right now? We know that we are.
Especially when you consider that refried beans are high in protein, dietary fiber, and many essential vitamins and minerals, it makes sense that every household should have a can or two of some of the best canned refried beans in their cupboards.
Now that you know which refried beans are best, how to find the healthy options, and how to incorporate them into a tasty Mexican-inspired meal, we hope that you’re ready to cook something delicious. Ole!