There's something about refried beans. Maybe it's the cumin or the tie into Mexican and Central American cuisine. Whether you serve them with tacos, flautas, tamales, or just want a delicious, nutritious snack, they always go down a treat.
Of course, finding the best canned refried beans can be hard to do. There are so many brands out there, and each company has its own recipe. Which is the right one for you? We've done all the hard work and compiled a list of the 10 best refried bean options just for you.
Amy's Organic Refried Beans are our best pick. Because they're certified organic, you know you're getting top quality. They're also vegetarian and vegan-friendly, and they're packed with nutrition and flavor.
If you're on a budget, we recommend the 365 Everyday Value Organic Refried Beans. Again, they're certified organic, but they are priced low enough that you can afford to stock your pantry with these delicious, nutritious beans.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Canned Refried Bean Choices
- 1. Amy's Organic Refried Beans with Green Chiles
- 2. 365 Everyday Value, Organic Refried Beans
- 3. Old El Paso Refried Spicy Beans
- 4. Taco Bell Original Refried Beans
- 5. Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
- 6. Rosarita No Fat Refried Beans with Green Chile and Lime
- 7. Ortega Original Flavor Black Beans
- 8. Bearitos Organic Low-Fat Traditional Refried Beans
- 9. Ducal Refried Black Beans
- 10. Rosaria Organic Refried Beans
- Key Considerations When Buying the Best Canned Refried Beans
- Frequently Asked Questions about Refried Beans
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Canned Refried Bean Choices
Looking for an organic option? These traditional refried beans fit the bill. They're also vegetarian, which means no worrying about meat-based ingredients. With this option, you get a 12-pack of 15.4-ounce cans, all featuring Amy's traditional refried beans. They're made with pinto beans for the same great flavor you know and love, and the chiles give them just a touch of warmth.
These refried beans are a good source of iron and fiber, and they contain no trans-fat. Also, they give you a decent amount of calcium, as well as protein and vitamin C.
Dive into delicious Southwestern flavor with these 365 Everyday Value Organic Refried Beans, Roasted Chili & Lime. This is Whole Foods' house brand, which means you get high-quality food at a great price. The can features a non-BPA lining to safeguard your food. The beans are also ready to serve – just heat and eat. There's no need to cook them.
These refried beans feature the flavor of roasted chili and lime and are also fat-free and have no sugar added, which means they're better for you. They're also certified vegan, which is a rarity with refried beans.
3. Old El Paso Refried Spicy Beans
Want to add a little heat to your Southwestern dishes? These Old El Paso Spicy Fat-Free Refried Beans will do the trick. You'll find only the best ingredients here, as well, including cooked pinto beans, jalapeño peppers, and seasoning.
These refried beans are a good source of fiber and iron and also offer calcium and a decent amount of protein in each serving. They are also trans-fat free and cholesterol-free for your peace of mind. These refried beans will work great on their own as a side, or you can work them into your favorite Mexican and Southwestern dishes for a little heat.
4. Taco Bell Original Refried Beans
Looking for the great taste of Taco Bell's refried beans? Look no further. This is the company's original recipe, featuring both pinto beans and pink beans for flavor and texture. You'll find that this 12-pack offers more than enough refried beans to feed your family for a long time, or it can be used in a food service industry facility. The beans are ready to eat – just heat them and serve. Add them to almost any dish you like, or serve them as a standalone side.Note that these are vegan-friendly despite not being certified as vegan. They also include plenty of fiber, protein, and iron, along with calcium and potassium.
5. Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
Sometimes you just can't beat the classics, like these Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans. The recipe features rich pinto beans refried with spices and seasonings. It's the perfect accompaniment to your Mexican meal. You get a 12 pack of refried beans in 16-ounce cans, which is more than enough for the average family. Of course, they last for a long time in the pantry, making them a reliable staple for just about any need.
In addition to the fiber and protein, these refried beans are also a good source of iron, potassium, and calcium. Note that this recipe is not vegan-friendly.
6. Rosarita No Fat Refried Beans with Green Chile and Lime
Get a 12-pack of authentic Mexican refried beans with this purchase. Rosarita's recipe is very popular and offers a creamier take on this Southwestern staple. Add it to your favorite dish or add a little cheese and serve it on its own. Each serving contains just 100 calories and no fat or trans-fat. You also get plenty of fiber, iron, potassium, and calcium, as well as a good amount of protein.
Note that this is vegetarian-friendly and does not contain animal products or byproducts. However, with 580mg of sodium per serving, it is not a low-sodium food.
7. Ortega Original Flavor Black Beans
If you're looking for some of the most flavorful refried beans around, consider Ortega Refried Beans Traditional. They come in a 12-pack of 16-ounce cans, meaning that you can stock up and ensure you have a pantry staple available for a long time to come. They're also delicious and nutritious.
Each can of Ortega black beans includes simple, understandable ingredients. This is also a high-fiber, low-fat food. Every serving provides 10% of your iron and 8% of your potassium for the day. There are 0 added sugars, so this can be a good option for diabetics. However, with 630mg of sodium per serving, this is not a low-salt food.
8. Bearitos Organic Low-Fat Traditional Refried Beans
If you’re a big fan of healthy, organic foods, you’ll be happy to hear that there are no chemicals and no pesticides in these refried beans from Bearitos. Also, they are vegetarian, which means no animal products or byproducts are used.
Plus, these refried beans contain no hydrogenated oils, and are completely non-GMO, for even more peace of mind about the quality of what you're feeding your family. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and calcium.
9. Ducal Refried Black Beans
If you're looking for something a bit different, consider these Ducal Refried Black Beans. Most refried bean recipes use pinto beans, but black beans offer a slightly different, deeper flavor that you and your family will love. These beans are also packaged in plastic pouches rather than cans for easier access.
Cholesterol-free, these refried beans are also low in fat, high in fiber, and contain plenty of potassium, iron, and calcium. They're also easy to cook – just open the pouch and heat them. They're pre-cooked, so there's no fuss. With this purchase, you also get three 14.1-ounce packages, making it easy to stock up.
10. Rosaria Organic Refried Beans
Simple, delicious, and vegan-friendly, Rosarita Organic Refried Beans are made with coconut oil rather than animal fat and are certified organic, too. Serve them with your favorite Mexican or Southwestern recipes and know that you're giving your family food that not only tastes good but is also good for them.
These refried beans are high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and fat-free. They're also a good source of iron and potassium. Just open the can, heat the beans, and you're ready to go.
Key Considerations When Buying the Best Canned Refried Beans
As you can see from our reviews, there are plenty of refried bean options on the market. Whether you're interested in a familiar flavor like Taco Bell's signature refried beans, prefer an old favorite like Old El Paso, or you're looking for something certified organic and vegan-friendly, it's out there.
Of course, it can still be challenging to make an informed purchase. How many cans do you need? What can you do with refried beans other than serving them as a side? These are just a few of the questions you might have. We'll walk you through some of the answers in our buying guide below.
Quantity and Volume
Quantity and volume are two important considerations when buying refried beans. As you saw from our reviews, can sizes vary considerably from one manufacturer to the next. How many servings do you need per meal?
If you are feeding just a couple of people, a single can will be enough. However, if you have a large family, you might need two cans per meal. Make sure that you consider the number of cans in the package and the volume of each can when making your purchase.
Why are you buying refried beans? Are you looking for a couple of cans to add to your weekly rotation for family dinners? Are you stocking your pantry with long-lasting canned foods in case of a storm or other emergency? Are you buying food for a food-service business or organization?
The purpose of your purchase will affect a wide range of factors, including your budget, the number of cans, the volume of the cans, and more.
In most cases, refried beans come packaged in metal cans. However, that is no longer the case for all brands. Several manufacturing companies are shifting from cans towards pouches. Why is that? There are several reasons, and you might find that they make a difference in your buying decision.
Plastic pouches do not need a food liner like metal cans do, which reduces processing time and cost. Pouches also take up less room in boxes, meaning manufacturers can ship more pouches at a time, or reduce their box sizes without affecting volume.
For consumers, pouches offer several additional benefits. One, they're lighter and less dangerous. You're not going to drop one on your foot and cut or bruise yourself, for instance.
However, they are also easier to store and are often resealable, too. That means if you only need to use half a container, you can simply open the pouch, remove the amount you want to use, reseal the pouch, and put it in the refrigerator. No more fighting with the can opener, and no more dealing with plastic wrap over the can.
Preparation is a key consideration when buying refried beans. In most cases, refried beans simply need to be warmed and then served. This is the most convenient, fastest option.
However, you may find that some products are condensed, meaning that you need to empty the can into a saucepan, add the stated amount of water, and then cook them. In most cases, you only need to cook them for about five minutes and you will have a nutritious, delicious addition to your meal.
If you’ve only ever eaten one or two brands of refried beans, you might assume that they are all the same when it comes to texture, and that's partially true. Most beans have a creamy texture. However, other textures might be appealing, depending on your preferences.
Creamy: A creamy texture means that the beans are smooth and without chunks or bits of unprocessed bean. This is good if you prefer a homogenous texture, or if you're going to add refried beans to another recipe and don't want the texture to clash.
Chunky: Some manufacturers combine creamed beans with partially chopped beans to create a chunky texture. This is a more rustic food and it works very well if you want to serve refried beans as a side and have them stand out as more than just creamed beans.
Non-Pinto: Some manufacturers use black beans and other varieties, rather than pinto beans or in addition to pinto beans. The type and combination of beans used will affect the ultimate texture of the product. Some refried bean brands are thinner, while others are thicker.
Know what type of texture and consistency you want for your meal and then experiment with available brands until you find it.
As you saw from our reviews, some refried bean brands are pretty basic. Others layer in other flavors, including lime, lemon, and even chiles. Pay attention to the heat level of the product you choose.
Seeing “green chiles” on the package usually indicates that the manufacturer used jalapenos in the recipe. However, other chiles might be used, including serrano, poblano, hatch, and even red chiles.
Know the level of heat that you like and then shop around. In addition to spiciness, peppers can also bring other flavors to the table. For instance, roasted poblanos offer a tiny bit of warmth, combined with a deep, earthy, roasted flavor.
However, if you are sensitive to heat, you should choose a brand that does not use chiles of any type in the recipe. Read the ingredient list before making a purchase.
Regular, Organic, Vegetarian, or Vegan-Friendly?
When you start comparing refried bean options, you'll find that there are quite a few different versions out there. You can simply buy any old can you want, but if you want to be an informed consumer, you need to consider a few things.
Regular: Regular refried beans are just that – your garden variety refried beans. They may or may not contain chemicals that you don't want, such as preservatives, or the beans may have been treated with pesticides while growing on the farm.
Most regular recipes also use animal products and byproducts in processing. Animal fat is often added for flavor and depth, while animal-sourced enzymes help with texture and gelling.
Organic: Organic refried beans are made with produce that is FDA-certified as organic. That means these are the highest-quality beans on the market, and that there were no pesticides or fungicides used on or around them during growth.
Note that you need to look for labeling that says FDA-certified organic. Anything less is not guaranteed. Also, words like "all-natural" or similar phrasing mean nothing, as the use of these phrases is not regulated by the FDA or any other entity.
Vegetarian – You might think that refried beans are automatically vegetarian. They're beans, right? Animal products and byproducts are frequently used. If you are a vegetarian, look for beans that are certified vegetarian or that say vegetarian on the label.
This ensures that no animal fat was used in the recipe. Some companies are even turning to healthier fat options, such as coconut oil.
Vegan – Just because a refried bean recipe says that it is vegetarian, it does not necessarily mean that it's vegan. Vegetarian recipes avoid animal products, but not certain byproducts, such as enzymes sourced from animal hair and fur.
You'll find these most often used in commercial bread products, but they do wind up in bean products from time to time. If you are a practicing vegan, make sure you buy a product that is certified vegan, or that you scour the ingredient list to make sure there are no hidden animal byproducts.
Variations on Refried Beans
The humble pinto bean is the most common ingredient for refried beans. However, there are other options out there, including the following:
- Black Beans: Black beans offer a different take on refried beans, bringing a deep earthiness to any dish you make. Not only do these make great additions to your Mexican or Southwestern recipes, but they can be used to form black bean burger patties more easily than by processing cooked black beans.
- Red Kidney Beans: Rarer than pinto beans or black beans, red kidney beans offer a slightly different flavor and texture that many people find helps their dishes stand out from the crowd.
- Mixes: Some recipes use a combination of different beans. For instance, Taco Bell uses pinto beans and pink beans in their refried bean recipe. A combination of different beans offers a unique flavor found nowhere else but also affects texture and consistency.
- Other Vegetables: Some refried bean recipes include not just beans, spices, and herbs, but other veggies, too. Some of the more commonly used options include carrots and peppers, but others can be used, as well. These can change the texture and flavor, but also bring additional vitamins and minerals to your dishes.
Commonly Used Ingredients
Refried bean recipes vary to some extent in the ingredients used, but many feature a range of commonly used options. Understanding these can help you find a recipe that suits your nutritional needs, or avoid ingredients you might be sensitive to. The most commonly used ingredients include the following:
- Pinto beans (or another variety of bean)
- Chili powder
- Fat – lard from animal fat is frequently used
- Tomato paste
- Acetic acid
What to Make with Refried Beans
Struggling to put your refried beans to use? Tired of using them as a standalone side dish? While refried beans often accompany meals at Mexican restaurants, they can also be used in the main dish.
This includes not just Mexican dishes, but also Southwestern foods and Tex-Mex fare. Below, we'll cover just a few of the ways that you can use refried beans in your weekly meal planning.
- Tostadas – Lay your tostada on a plate and then layer refried beans over it. Top it with your choice of meat and veg, cheese, avocado, cilantro, pico de gallo, or whatever you prefer.
- Burritos – Want to make your burritos extra flavorful and filling? Lay the tortilla out and spread refried beans over the area where you'll add your toppings. Layer on the rest of your ingredients, wrap, and dig in!
- Mexican Pizza – If you're looking for a new way to combine two of your favorite foods, look no further. Use pre-made pizza dough and replace the pizza sauce with refried beans. Top it with your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex ingredients and bake until it's heated through. Delicious!
- Chili – Who doesn't love a great bowl of chili? Break out of the norm by using refried beans as the base, and then adding in black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese.
- Tacos (Hard or Soft) – Make your hard or soft tacos more filling and flavorful by adding refried beans before the filling. Just a couple of tablespoons can dramatically change your meal for the better.
- Layered Taco Dip – Who says tacos have to come in a shell or on a tortilla? Use refried beans and turn those ingredients into a delectable dip. Use alternating layers of refried beans and salsa, guac, sour cream, cheese, cheese, and veg.
Frequently Asked Questions about Refried Beans
To help you further understand your choices when it comes to refried beans, we'll cover some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding this staple food.
Are refried beans healthy?
Refried beans can be very healthy. Like all beans, they are high in fiber, protein, and iron. They are also good sources of other nutrients.
Most beans are largely fat-free and cholesterol-free, too. However, you need to pay attention to the recipe used by the manufacturer. For instance, fat is added to refried beans, and the type of fat will impact the healthiness of the food.
Refried beans made with vegetable oil are healthier than those made with lard. Those made with coconut oil may be even healthier than those made with vegetable oil.
There is also the question of sodium content. While salt is an essential nutrient required to sustain life, most Americans consume far too much of it. High salt intake has been linked to a number of negative health conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure).
Many refried bean recipes are high in salt, so if you are on a low-sodium diet or are trying to watch your salt intake, limit your consumption.
Can I be allergic to refried beans?
Yes, you could have an allergy or a sensitivity to beans. Also, you might be allergic or sensitive to one of the ingredients used in the recipe. Make sure to read the label thoroughly if you have any food allergies or sensitivities.
Can I add other ingredients to my refried beans to kick up the flavor?
Yes, you can! Refried beans are almost like a blank slate. You can add virtually anything you might want, and some of the more common options include the following:
- Additional garlic or onion
- A hotter variety of pepper
- Pico de gallo
- Additional herbs like thyme, sage, or rosemary
Are refried beans microwaveable?
Yes, you can microwave refried beans easily. Open the can, empty the beans into a microwave-safe bowl, and then heat them for about two minutes. Stir the beans and check the temperature – you may need to heat them for another minute or two.
Refried beans can be the foundation of an amazing Tex-Mex or Mexican meal. They can also be used as a side in their own right. You may like to experiment with them in other ways, too – as a snack, with your favorite savory breakfast foods, and more!
Whether you like your refried beans creamy, hot, mild, or chunky, there's an option out there for you. We've reviewed some of the best canned refried beans to add to your pantry, and whether you're a carnivore, a vegetarian, a vegan, or simply someone who wants to ensure the highest quality food for your family, you'll find lots of choices out there.
Not only do refried beans taste great, but they can also be very healthy. They pack in a lot of fiber, iron, and protein, as well as other nutrients. However, if you're sensitive to salt, it's best to opt for a low-sodium option.