Make a batch of these vegetarian refried beans and use them to make easy dinners for days! They’re easy, super flavorful, packed with protein, and so much better than store-bought.
It’s time to get excited about refried beans… said no one ever. But I’m hoping that maaaaybe after reading through this post, you’ll come to appreciate this vegetarian refried beans recipe as much as I do.
In fact, I’m pretty sure you will because refried beans are the key to unlocking delicious Tex-Mex meals for days. Whip up a batch—you might even want to double it!—and you can use them in endless ways.
Since so many Mexican-inspired recipes are made with the same core ingredients, you can buy lettuce, salsa, tomatoes, and tortillas and repurpose them each night. It’s cost-effective and it takes the stress out of getting dinner on the table. I’d say that’s a pretty big win, yes?
Are Refried Beans Healthy?
If we’re talking traditional refried beans, well, not so much. They’re loaded with sodium and fat—usually either bacon fat or lard.
This recipe for vegetarian refried beans is much healthier because it’s made with healthy olive or avocado oil and you can control the amount of sodium by using low-sodium pinto beans and vegetable broth.
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Olive or avocado oil
- Yellow onion – Red or white will work, too.
- Garlic cloves
- Chipotle peppers in adobo – You can use more for spicier refried beans, or less if you like things milder.
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Pinto beans – Or use dried pinto beans and cook them. You’ll need about 3 cups of cooked beans.
- Low-sodium vegetable broth or water
- Kosher salt
How to Make Vegetarian Refried Beans
This is a fantastic recipe for doubling or even tripling. Just increase the cooking time a bit, and use a bigger pan.
Cook the aromatics. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for a minute more, or until the spices and garlic are fragrant.
Simmer. Add the beans and broth or water to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finish. Add the lime juice to the beans and use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash the beans to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, add an extra squeeze of lime juice, or stir in some adobo sauce for more heat.
This vegetarian refried bean recipe is very adaptable. Here are a few variations to try:
- Use black beans or your favorite heirloom beans instead of pinto beans.
- Add smoked paprika or liquid smoke for some smoky flavor.
- Stir in chopped cilantro once the beans are done cooking.
- Add cayenne or hot sauce for a kick.
All the Ways to Use Vegetarian Refried Beans
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Get creative and find new ways to use refried beans! Here are some of my fave ideas:
- Make a restaurant-style dinner platter with Mexican quinoa and refried beans served on the side with Pan-Seared Crispy Fish Tacos.
- Assemble your own Mexican pizzas with refried beans as the base. (Who needs Taco Bell?!)
- Use refried beans to add protein to quesadillas.
- Fold them into burritos with rice, fajita veggies, and cheese (vegan or otherwise).
- Spoon refried beans onto tortilla chips, then top with vegan queso, salsa, and your favorite nacho toppings.
- Use your refried beans as a taco filling or tostada topping.
- Make a layered taco dip by adding guacamole, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce.
- Fill enchiladas with refried beans.
- Add a scoop to your next burrito bowl.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Refried beans will last about 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of broth to loosen them up a bit.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, vegetarian refried beans can be frozen for up to 3 months. Transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze them flat, or store them in an airtight container. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Vegetarian Refried Beans
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion , diced
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo , minced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 15- ounce cans pinto beans , drained and rinsed
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 lime , juiced
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the beans and broth/water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.
- Remove the lid, add the lime juice and use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash the beans to your desired consistency. Season to tase with salt, lime juice and/or adobo sauce for more spice.