Owen Fairclough

Written by Owen Fairclough

Published: 08 Jul 2024

Source: Allrecipes.com

Ever wondered how many calories are packed into that delicious scoop of refried beans on your plate? Well, you're about to find out! Refried beans, a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines, often get a bad rap for being unhealthy. But hold your horses, because we're about to dive into the nitty-gritty of what's really in those creamy, savory beans. From their nutritional content to some eye-opening facts that might just change how you view your next Mexican feast, we've got all the deets. So, grab a spoon (or a chip!) and let's get into the heart of refried beans' calories. Spoiler alert: you might be surprised by what you learn!

Key Takeaways:

  • Refried beans are a nutritious source of fiber, protein, iron, and magnesium. They can support heart health, weight management, and provide essential nutrients for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Homemade refried beans are a healthier option than canned ones, as they contain fewer calories and less sodium. Adding vegetables can enhance flavor without significantly increasing the calorie content.
Table of Contents

What Are Refried Beans?

Refried beans, a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines, are cooked and mashed beans. Traditionally, pinto beans are used, but black beans have become popular too. Despite the name, they're not fried twice; "refried" is a mistranslation of the Spanish "refritos," meaning well-fried.

How Many Calories Are in Refried Beans?

  1. A typical serving of refried beans, which is about half a cup, contains roughly 120 calories. This number can vary depending on whether they're homemade or store-bought, and if any additional ingredients like cheese or bacon are included.

Nutritional Content Beyond Calories

  1. Besides calories, refried beans offer substantial nutritional value. They're rich in fiber, providing about 6 grams per serving, which aids in digestion and can help you feel full longer.

  2. Protein is another key nutrient found in refried beans, with a serving containing about 7 grams. This makes them an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans looking for plant-based protein sources.

  3. Refried beans are also a good source of iron and magnesium, essential minerals for energy production and muscle function, respectively.

Comparing Homemade and Canned Refried Beans

  1. Homemade refried beans often have fewer calories and less sodium than their canned counterparts. This is because you can control the amount of oil and salt added during preparation.

  2. Canned refried beans are convenient but can contain additives and preservatives to extend shelf life. Always check the label for the most accurate nutritional information.

Impact of Additional Ingredients

  1. Adding ingredients like cheese or sour cream to refried beans will increase the calorie count. For example, a tablespoon of shredded cheese can add around 20 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.

  2. Conversely, incorporating vegetables such as onions or peppers can enhance the flavor without significantly boosting the calorie content.

Health Benefits of Refried Beans

  1. The high fiber content in refried beans can improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels.

  2. Being low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates, refried beans can be part of a balanced diet that supports weight management.

  3. The iron in refried beans is particularly beneficial for individuals who don't consume meat, as it helps prevent anemia by improving blood health.

Tips for Healthier Refried Beans

  1. To reduce calories, cook refried beans with minimal oil or choose a low-fat version if buying canned.

  2. Seasoning beans with herbs and spices instead of salt can lower sodium intake while keeping the beans flavorful.

  3. For an extra health boost, use black beans. They're known for their antioxidant properties, which can protect cells from damage.

Are Refried Beans Gluten-Free?

  1. Generally, refried beans are gluten-free, making them a safe choice for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, always verify the ingredients list on canned products to ensure no gluten-containing additives are used.

Incorporating Refried Beans into Your Diet

  1. Refried beans can be a versatile addition to meals. Use them as a filling for burritos or tacos, a side dish, or even a base for a hearty bean dip.

  2. Mixing refried beans with rice can create a complete protein, providing all the essential amino acids your body needs.

  3. For a lighter option, pair refried beans with a salad. The beans add substance and protein, making the salad more satisfying.


  1. Refried beans are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients that can benefit your health in various ways. Whether you prefer them homemade or canned, they can be a valuable part of a healthy diet.

  2. Remember, the key to enjoying refried beans in a health-conscious way is to pay attention to portion sizes and the additional ingredients you mix in. This way, you can savor their flavor without overindulging in calories.

A Final Scoop on Refried Beans' Caloric Content

Refried beans, a staple in many diets, pack more than just flavor. They're a source of essential nutrients but also come with a caloric count that demands attention. Whether you're watching your weight or just curious about what you're eating, understanding the calorie content in refried beans is crucial. Opting for homemade versions can give you control over what goes into your food, potentially lowering the calorie count. Remember, balance is key in any diet. Refried beans can fit into a healthy eating plan when consumed in moderation and combined with other nutrient-rich foods. So, next time you're about to enjoy this delicious dish, you'll be fully informed about its caloric impact. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories are in a serving of refried beans?
On average, a half-cup serving of canned refried beans packs about 120 calories. But, keep in mind, homemade versions might have more or less, depending on the ingredients used.
Can refried beans be part of a weight loss diet?
Absolutely! Despite their calorie content, refried beans are rich in fiber and protein, making you feel full longer. Just watch portion sizes and how they're prepared.
Are all refried beans made with lard?
Not all of them. Traditional recipes often call for lard, but many store-bought options and homemade recipes use vegetable oils, making them a great vegetarian option.
What's the difference in calories between refried black beans and pinto beans?
The difference isn't huge. Refried black beans might have slightly fewer calories than pinto beans, but the variation is minimal. Both are nutritious choices.
How can I make refried beans healthier?
Try using olive oil instead of lard or bacon fat for a heart-healthier version. You can also amp up the fiber by adding extra veggies like onions or peppers.
Do refried beans contain any hidden calories?
Yes, if you're not careful. Toppings like cheese, sour cream, or guacamole can add significant calories. Stick to fresh salsa or a sprinkle of cilantro for flavor without the calorie hit.
Are canned refried beans as nutritious as homemade?
Canned beans can be just as nutritious, but watch out for added sodium. Look for low-sodium versions or rinse them under water to reduce salt content. Homemade allows for more control over ingredients and sodium levels.

Was this page helpful?

Our commitment to delivering trustworthy and engaging content is at the heart of what we do. Each fact on our site is contributed by real users like you, bringing a wealth of diverse insights and information. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, our dedicated editors meticulously review each submission. This process guarantees that the facts we share are not only fascinating but also credible. Trust in our commitment to quality and authenticity as you explore and learn with us.