Healthy Refried Beans and Tortillas – Cut the fat, not the flavour!

Healthy Refried Beans and Tortillas – Cut the fat, not the flavour!

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Refried beans are served in the white bowl that is on the table with tortillas, cilantro, sliced radishes etc.| Hurry The Food Up

These healthy refried beans are our take on the traditional Mexican dish, with a health-conscious twist!

Authentic refried beans consist of a bean paste which is then fried or baked. We have taken that simple principle and stripped everything down to create a recipe that is the healthiest and easiest version of the traditional dish.

A fun fact for you: the English word ‘refried’ is actually quite misleading, as the beans are not in fact fried twice!

The English language took the word ‘refried’ from the Spanish name for this dish, ‘frijoles refritos’. However, ‘Refritos’ in this case does not mean fried again, it means well fried.

Usually, Mexican refried beans are served as a side dish or included in tortillas and enchiladas. In Tex-mex cuisine, they are also eaten as a dip with tortilla chips!

The recipe ingredients like black beans, olive oil, cheddar, tortillas, bell pepper, radishes, cilantro etc. | Hurry The Food Up

Simple but effective: making healthy refried beans at home

If you’ve tried this dish before, it has probably been from out of a can – now we can show you how to make refried black beans from scratch, a much healthier and cheaper option!

It’s a pretty simple method: all you have to do is blend up your black beans, fry some garlic in a frying pan, then add the black bean paste!

Then comes the fun part – toppings. Although refried black beans make a great side dish, we think that, with a bit of jazzing up, they can be incorporated into a main meal.

That’s why we suggest eating them with corn tortillas, avocado, onion, red pepper and low fat sour cream. A sort of DIY lunch, full of veggies and goodness.

You could also serve them with the delicious radish pickle we usually serve alongside our huevos rancheros recipe.

To make the pickle, mix 3 tbsp white vinegar, ¼ cup water, 1 tsp sugar and ½ tsp salt with 2 sliced radishes, then leave it in the fridge until everything else is ready.

And there you have it: easy refried beans with all the trimmings!

You could also enjoy them alongside these vegetarian tacos, or with any one of these vegetarian Mexican recipes!

Black bean paste is frying in the pan | Hurry The Food Up

What the HEALTH makes these beans so healthy?

The reason we can claim that this is a healthy refried beans recipe is because we have made sure to minimise the amount of salt and fat it contains and suggest only healthy toppings to serve it with, such as veggies and low fat sour cream.

Furthermore, we have chosen to use just 1 tbsp of olive oil, a healthy unsaturated fat, instead of lard, which is traditionally used!

However, refried beans are already fundamentally a pretty healthy dish, thanks to their staple ingredient : beans!

Reaping the bean-ifits!

We make our refried beans from canned black beans, but you can use any kind of bean – they all have a similar nutritional profile and flavour. Traditionally, pinto beans are used, but we opted for black beans for their dark colour and sweet, nutty flavour.

But what’s so healthy about beans anyway?

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fibre for vegetarians, alongside many other benefits. One ½ cup serving of black beans contains 8g protein, 7g fibre and 0g fat!

Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass, along with plenty of other functions in your body. As a minimum, it is recommended that you consume around 0.36g protein per pound of body weight daily. Overall, this means a minimum recommended daily intake of around 48g of protein a day for women and 56g of protein a day for men.

One serving of our healthy refried beans contains 18g protein, a good chunk of your daily intake!

Fibre is important because it helps us feel fuller and aids digestion. A high fibre diet is also associated with lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. It is recommended that you consume around 30g fibre per day.

This dish contains 14g fibre per serving – perfect!

The tortilla is topped with refried beans radish slice, chopped onion, cilantro and grated cheddar cheese that is on the table with all the prepared ingredients | Hurry The Food Up

Wondering about weight loss?

If you’re looking to lose weight as a vegetarian, bean-based dishes are a good place to start.

The high protein and fibre content we have already mentioned are part of the reason that our healthy refried beans could be a good dish to incorporate into your weight loss meal plan.

Both protein and fibre are vital for keeping you feeling full and healthy. Therefore, eating meals that are high in both these things is the perfect way to ensure that you stay full for as long as possible, reducing the need to snack between meals on empty calories.

If you’re interested in learning more about weight loss as a vegetarian, check out our weight loss e-book, which contains everything you need to know!

Well, now you know how and WHY to make healthy refried beans, all that is left to do is try out what we think is the very best refried bean recipe for health conscious vegetarians! Right this way:

Bean dish is in the white bowl that is on the table with tortillas, cilantro, sliced radishes and avocado | Hurry The Food Up
Refried beans are served in the white bowl that is on the table with tortillas, cilantro, sliced radishes etc.| Hurry The Food Up
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5 from 3 votes

Healthy Refried Beans and Tortillas

These healthy refried beans are our take on the traditional Mexican dish, with a health-conscious twist!
Course Lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Time 25 minutes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 402kcal




  • 1 oz sharp cheddar (grated)
  • 1 chili pepper (sliced)
  • ½ small red onion (sliced)
  • ½ ripe avocado (sliced)
  • ½ red bell pepper (sliced)
  • 2 radishes (sliced)
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • 4 tbsp low fat sour cream (or Skyr)
  • 4 corn tortillas (small)
  • Chipotle or Tabasco sauce (for serving, optional)


  • Process the beans in the food processor until they are a homogenous bean paste.
    1 can black beans
  • In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the minced garlic cloves and cook until the edges are golden brown. Add the black bean paste and spread over the garlic and oil base.
    1 tbsp olive oil, 3 cloves garlic
  • Fry the bean paste without moving it for about two minutes. Add the salt and black pepper to taste and mix the refried beans until you have a creamy bean puree that doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan, if needed add a little water to make it extra smooth.
    Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat the tortillas according to package instructions. Serve the refried beans with warm tortillas, cheese, red onion, avocado, bell pepper, radishes, cilantro leaves, sour cream, and chipotle or tabasco sauce (optionally).
    1 oz sharp cheddar, ½ small red onion, ½ ripe avocado, ½ red bell pepper, 2 radishes, 2 sprigs cilantro, 4 tbsp low fat sour cream, 4 corn tortillas, Chipotle or Tabasco sauce
  • You can also bake the nachos with the bean spread and the cheese in the oven for about 3 minutes for a nice gooey-cheesy bake! Then serve with the other toppings as usual.


You can make pickled radishes instead or raw radishes with the following ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 radishes, sliced
In a small bowl mix the white vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Add the sliced radishes and allow to rest until needed.
Enjoyed this? Try another:
Classic lunch Vegetarian Baked Beans
Mexican inspired Black Bean Burrito Bowl
Simple dump and bake Bean and Pasta Casserole
Brunch favourite Huevos Rancheros


Nutrition Facts
Healthy Refried Beans and Tortillas
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Dave

From the UK to Germany with many stops along the way. Food without meat is the best type of food. And I plan to share it!

This article has been medically reviewed by James Bell

Healthy, nutritious and absurdly tasty food? That’s what I’m all about. I love recipes which are full of flavour but are good for you too. My job in family medicine led me to become a nutrition professional as well, with an aim to get people healthier just by the food they eat.

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