Are Refried Beans Plant Based?

Refried beans is a highly popular dish and a staple of Mexican cuisine. Made with pinto beans, spices, herbs and condiments, this recipe goes well with several other dishes and can be made in different ways. Though it seems to be so healthy, a lot of people are not sure whether they should include the delicious recipe in their plant-based diet. 

So, are refried beans plant based? Yes, refried beans can be plant-based depending on how they are prepared. The primary ingredient in the dish is a plant product, rich in protein and essential nutrients, making it easy to classify it as plant-based. However, refried beans sold by several brands contain dairy products and lard in varying amounts.

Are Refried Beans Plant Based?

Below, let us take a closer look at what goes into refried beans and other considerations so that you can find out whether it can be a part of your plant-based diet. 

Why Refried Beans Are Plant Based?

Refried beans are made using pinto beans or other bean varieties with some added fat, spices and salt. They are mostly beans which are whole foods coming from plants and known to be high in protein and fiber. The dish does not include a lot of other ingredients and can be easily consumed as a plant-based meal recipe.

However, whether refried beans are plant based or not depends on how they are cooked. Some ready-made products and restaurant dishes can include animal fats and other ingredients, that make it far from being plant-based. It is, therefore, advisable to pay attention to the contents of the product before consuming. 

What Are The Main Ingredients In Refried Beans?

Refried beans are mainly composed of mashed pinto beans though the choice of beans varies depending on the area. The recipe does not involve double frying but boiling and mashing of beans. The authentic recipe includes ingredients like onion, garlic, lard, bacon, butter, vegetable oil, spices and salt. 

However, it is possible to substitute the ingredients to suit a variety of diets. A plant-based version of refried beans includes cold-pressed oil, garlic, onion, salt, spices and herbs. It is best to look at the ingredients list to make sure the product is free of animal products and suits your plant-based diet. 

Refried Beans Nutrition

If animal fat is eliminated from the recipe, refried beans make an excellent option for a delicious, nutritious meal. Black or pinto beans are rich in protein and fiber, keeping you satiated for longer. They also provide folate, iron and other vitamins as well as minerals in good amounts. 

Here is the nutritional information per serving of homemade refried beans made using 1.5 cups pinto beans and 2 tbsp. virgin olive oil. 

  • Calories: 140
  • Carbs: 5g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Fiber: 5g

Remember to purchase low-sodium pinto beans to make this recipe healthier. 


Refried beans are a great dish to add to your everyday plant-based diet if prepared in the right way. It is an excellent plant-based protein and fiber source and can be easily made at home with a few ingredients.