5 Dishes Using Refried Beans

Refried beans—simply-cooked pinto beans that are mashed and fried in either lard, bacon fat, or olive oil—are not only inexpensive and high in fiber, but they're also a hearty and tasty base for several recipes. Contrary to common belief, in the word "refried," the prefix "re" doesn't mean "again," the way Americans are used to using it. "Refried" comes from the Spanish dish frijoles refritos, where refritos means "well-fried."

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, you may prefer to use vegetarian refried beans, which are made with olive oil instead of lard. You can buy canned refried beans or make your own—the canned variety is very good quality, but it is also very easy to cook homemade. 

  • 01 of 05

    Mexican Pizza

    Slice and serve

    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Pizza doesn't always have to be topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Give what can often be a predictable dish an unexpected Mexican twist. The flavors of a taco are translated to this easy-to-make Mexican pizza.

    Pre-made pizza dough is topped with a mixture of cooked ground pork or chorizo, taco sauce, tomato sauce, and spices and then sprinkled with Cojack cheese (a combination of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses). It is then baked until bubbling and delicious. Making two huge pizzas, it's the perfect recipe for entertaining. 

  • 02 of 05

    Four Bean Chili

    Refried beans are the fourth Monterey in this rich and hearty recipe and lend a creamy texture and depth of flavor to the dish, making it seem like you simmered the chili all day. 

    This four-bean chili recipe is for a mild chili, but if you prefer spicy, you can add jalapeno or habanero chilies. Four bean chili is the perfect comfort dish on a cold or rainy night. Top with a sprinkling of Cotija cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

  • 03 of 05

    Beef Tacos

    Ground Beef Tacos Recipe

     The Spruce

    These beef tacos is an Americanized taco recipe from the 1970s, but it is still delicious—and economical—today. Mixing refried beans into the ground beef creates some heft in what can be an otherwise light meal. This recipe is somewhat mild when it comes to spice, so if you prefer a bit of heat feel free to add some jalapeno. 

    As with any taco, you can enjoy any toppings you desire—from guacamole to simple dices of avocado to pico de gallo. Feel free to swap out soft taco shells for the hard, crunchy kind.

  • 04 of 05

    Ground Beef Tostada

    Ground beef tostadas

    Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty Images

    A ground beef tostada is like an open-faced taco—a crispy fried tortilla is layered with ground beef, vegetables, and cheese, as well as any other toppings you prefer in your Mexican dishes.

    This is a classic recipe using only eight ingredients! You can buy already made tostada shells, or make them yourself. You simply deep fry the tortillas until crisp and puffed up. If you prefer a bit of a healthier take, you can bake the tortillas in the oven.

    It is the ideal meal for a busy weeknight or when your kids have friends over. Place the ground beef mixture, refried beans, tomatoes and all other toppings in separate bowls and let diners build their own tostadas to their liking.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Layered Taco Dip

    Mexican layer dip with tortilla chips

    Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    This layered taco dip is a colorful appetizer that will get a party started! Around since the 1980s, layered taco dip has remained a favorite. You can make it as decadent or healthy as you like, starting with refried beans mixed with salsa and then layering guacamole, sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes. Surround with tortilla chips and let your guests dig in!