Side dish

Healthy “Refried” Beans

Perfect as a filling, dip, or side dish, these healthier “refried” beans are way more flavorful and lower in saturated fat than store-bought!

Refried beans bring me back to childhood memories to this Mexican restaurant in Grand Lake. Almost every weekend that we went up to the cabin, we were sure to meet our friends there and I always ordered the same thing: a kid’s burrito with refried beans and cheese. Simple, mushy, and delicious. Looking back on it now, I cringe thinking about all the grease coming off the cheese and those refried beans were anything but healthy.

Once I got more into nutrition, I started replacing high fat-refried beans with healthier black beans. And while I love black beans in my tacos and burrito bowls, sometimes I just crave refried beans instead (especially when eating green chili).

While there are some canned lower fat and vegetarian refried beans you can buy, I kept thinking that it had to be easy enough to make them at home – and make them even more flavorful.

While the caramelized onion give these beans a delicious depth of flavor, if in a pinch you can use 1 tsp onion powder instead (still add the oil though). One more tip: don’t worry if these seem liquidy at first! Let it simmer for 10 minutes then mash. 

I’ll be posting a yummy breakfast recipe to use these in later in the week, but until then, some of my favorite ways to use refried beans are as a side alongside green chili, as a filling in tacos and burritos, and as a dip for veggies.

Thank you all again for hanging in there with me while my posting schedule has been a bit wonky. Good news is we are almost (finally) all moved in! It’s amazing how many little things there are to do when you buy a place vs. renting. Rather than just moving all your stuff in, you have to think about refinishing hardwood floors, re-painting, updating/installing cabinet hardware, changing toilette seats and outlets, cleaning windows, the list goes on and on. But now that all that is done, we’ve started the fun part of getting to organize and decorate each space. Can’t wait to share pictures from my new kitchen soon!  

So here’s a toast to homemade food being way better than canned!

Healthy Refried Beans

Perfect as a filling, dip, or side dish, these healthier “refried” beans are way more flavorful and lower in saturated fat than store-bought!
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Beans, Homemade
Servings: 4
Author: Kelli


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ medium onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 15- oz can low-sodium pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until caramelized.
  • Next, add in garlic and chili powder. Cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in beans and chicken broth. Let simmer for 10 minutes, or until mixture is less liquidy.
  • Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher, mash beans coarsely until it reaches desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!


Adapted from Ellie Krieger


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