Are Refried Beans Vegan?
The answer is that it depends! Traditionally cooked refried beans are made from pinto beans (but can also be made from other beans like black beans or red kidney beans). Once the dry beans are soaked, they are slow cooked and mashed into a paste or pressed through a sieve. At that time, chicken, vegetable stock, or water may be added if the consistency is too thick and dry. This is also when the paste gets fried in a pan with onion, garlic, spices, and potentially lard, bacon, butter or vegetable oil. Lard is most commonly used in traditional Mexican cooking as it provides a distinct flavor although definitely not vegan! So, if you are eating refried beans out at a restaurant, you would need to inquire about how they prepare them (with lard or not). Commercially prepared refried beans are sometimes labeled as vegetarian and do not contain lard or animal drippings. Sometimes vegan commercially prepared refried beans are also labeled as fat free (because they would not have a source of animal fat added). So again, the short answer is that it depends. However, if you are looking for commercially available vegan refried beans, check out our favorites below.
5 Best Vegan Refried Beans
What We Love: With only three ingredients (water, pinto beans, sea salt), Natural Value Refried Beans are about as good as it gets when looking for clean, simple, wholesome vegan canned foods. Natural Value canned beans may not be a brand you’re familiar with but they make other Organic/Non-GMO gluten-free beans as well. Check out Natural Value Organic Refried Beans HERE.
Considerations: There is a considerable amount of sodium per serving (500mg/serving), but without all the other additives, it’s not a bad trade off.
What We Love: Amy’s Kitchen has been creating delicious vegetarian and vegan foods for several years and you can rest assured with these USDA organic traditional refried beans. Without any animal products and mild spices, these tasty vegan refried beans make a great meal accompaniment. Plus with 6grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per serving, you’re nourishing your body with plant-based goodness. Find Amy’s Traditional Refried Beans HERE.
Considerations: If you’re looking for a lower salt option, these are not it as they have 360mg of sodium per serving.
What We Love: These 365 Refried Beans are naturally fat free and packed with flavor including chili powder, ground cumin, oregano powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Also USDA Organic, these refried beans are a healthy take on a traditional favorite. Nutritionally, you’ll find 7 grams of fiber and 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving. Check out 365 Refried Beans HERE.
Considerations: With 480 mg of sodium per serving, there is a bit more serving and this brand is only available through Whole Foods either in store or with grocery delivery via Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh.
What We Love: Also with only 3 simple ingredients (water, organic pinto beans, and sea salt), these USDA organic vegan refried beans from Bearitos are a tasty treat. They are a bit on the creamier side than some of the other options on this list (which is why we’ve noted them higher). Nutritionally, they compare to other plant-based refried beans with 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving. Find this small company making delicious products like these vegan refried beans HERE.
Considerations: There are not spices or seasonings added and we personally think adding a dash of salsa or some fresh garlic or sautéed onions can go a long way here!
What We Love: Amy’s products are mostly vegan and definitely all vegetarian. The refried beans are creamy, smooth and flavorful but this variety has less sodium with 210mg of sodium per serving (compared to 390mg sodium in the original Amy’s refried beans). And although there is less sodium, there is the same great flavor with added garlic, onions, and spices. Find Amy’s Light in Sodium Refried Beans HERE.
Considerations: Amy’s Light in Sodium Refried Beans are Organic and will be a bit more expensive than non-organic massive brands but by supporting Amy’s Kitchen, you’re supporting a family owned and operated business passionate about plant-based foods, non-GMOs, treating their employees well – all of this before it was trendy.
There you have it…vegan refried bean options to add to your next taco night or serve straight out of the can as they are tasty, wholesome, and full of plant-based protein and fiber!