7 Ways To Use Canned Refried Beans You Probably Never Thought Of

Refried beans with chips and queso
Refried beans with chips and queso - Guajillo studio/Shutterstock

As the late comedian Mitch Hedberg once said, "I like refried beans. That's why I want to try fried beans, because maybe they're just as good and we're wasting time." This classic joke may have led you astray because these beans aren't actually fried twice. Refried beans are a delicious part of Northern Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, typically prepared from pinto or black beans that are cooked and thickened with lard (or oil) and spices. The name comes from the Spanish word for the dish, frijoles refritos. In Spanish, the prefix "re" roughly translates to "very." That makes these "very fried" beans, not beans that are fried two separate times.

There's reasons galore to pick up a can of refried beans at the grocery store. You are probably used to seeing them in burritos and on tostadas and nachos, but they can also be used in a number of unique and creative dishes. Whether it's for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there's always a way to turn a can of beans into a meal. Here's just a handful of out-of-the-box ideas to get yourself started when you are sick of the same old.

Read more: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Should Be Doing With Bacon

Spread Refried Beans Over Toast

Mexican mollete
Mexican mollete - DavidBautista/Shutterstock

If you don't have any tortillas on hand, don't fret; instead, you can use toast. This application of refried beans can be as simple or complex as you want or have the ability to make it. If all you can spare is refried beans and half a loaf of bread, this is a tasty snack for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Add only a couple other basic ingredients to the mix, though, and you will have yourself the workings of a real meal.

A mollete is a traditional Mexican dish made from refried beans and cheese on toast. It is traditionally served with a tomato salsa on top or on the side. It only takes four ingredients to assemble this Mexican open-faced sandwich. The results are a tasty, balanced, and easy-to-make meal. It can also make for a great appetizer or shared plate if you are hosting and need a quick and inexpensive dinner option.

Add Refried Beans To Your Morning Eggs

refried beans and eggs in sauce
refried beans and eggs in sauce - Carlosrojas20/Getty Images

Refried beans in particular are found in plenty of Mexican brunch dishes like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, or Oaxacan tlayudas. In these dishes, beans are served right alongside eggs. Ultimately, this vegetarian source of protein pairs just as well for breakfast as steak or bacon.

You can heat up refried beans in a pan and then just fry up an egg right there on top for the simplest version of this dish. Or you can add refried beans to your basic scrambled eggs to take them to the next level. This combination makes for a healthy breakfast high in not just protein but high in fiber as well.

If you find the flavor lacking, a dab of hot sauce can go a long way. Be careful not to use too much, because hot sauces can be shockingly high in sodium. You can elevate your bean and egg dish even further by adding tortillas, vegetables, or homemade salsas.

Use Them As The Sauce On A Pizza

taco pizza close up
taco pizza close up - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Taco pizza is a regional classic in certain Midwestern states. This far-from-traditional take on Mexican food is a staple of Iowa pizza chain Happy Joe's and has been for decades. Throughout the Midwest, many imitators and variations on the dish can be found.

Instead of traditional marinara sauce on this pizza, spread an even layer of refried beans on the crust before assembling your toppings. A taco pizza needs to have cheese, but beyond that, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can add to it. Typically, a taco pizza comes topped with lettuce, tomato, and tortilla chips. This last bit is the most important, as the flavor combination of meat with beans and chips is what gives this the taco factor. If you can't decide between nachos and pizza for your cheat day, this is the perfect way to indulge. And with a can of refried beans in tow, you are already almost a third of the way there.

Turn Refried Beans Into A Veggie Burger

bean burger on bun
bean burger on bun - Lindasphotography/Getty Images

If you're making a Mexican-inspired hamburger or torta, canned refried beans are a great addition. Top your beef patty with a pile of beans, along with some cheese and avocado, and you have yourself a proper Mexican burger. But if you don't eat meat or just don't have it on hand, you have most of the makings of a veggie burger ready to go in a can of beans.

Like other types of beans, refried beans can act as a protein-rich base for a veggie patty. Adding eggs and breadcrumbs to the mixture will help bind the patties and ensure they won't fall apart when cooked. Fresh ingredients, such as corn, onions, and peppers, can be a great way to add nutrition and texture to your refried bean burger. Even incorporating canned beans of a different variety, like black beans, can reinforce your patty and load it full of textures, flavors, and nutrients.

Mix Them Into A Casserole

cornbread tamale pie
cornbread tamale pie - Michael Kraus/Shutterstock

If you have the ingredients for tacos or burritos but just don't want to do the same old thing for Tuesday night dinner again, turn them into a casserole. There are a handful of ways to go about this, but they are all simple to put together. Whether you call it a taco casserole or enchilada pie, this dish is an essential American take on Mexican food.

Often, a taco casserole recipe will call for beef, but as we've established, refried beans can be quite the hearty filling to substitute for meat. Casseroles can be layered with tortillas, like a Mexican lasagna, or topped with crushed-up chips or tortilla strips. Tomatoes, black olive slices, and green onions are great to put on top once it's finished baking.

You could also try a cornbread casserole, also called tamale pie or cowboy dinner. If you have cornbread mix, cheese, beef, and refried beans, you can put together a very basic version of this dish. Once the cornbread crust is baked to perfection, you'll have a sweet and savory dinner for the whole family.

Stir Them Into Soup

bowl of tortilla soup
bowl of tortilla soup - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

They say that you can judge a fine restaurant or chef based on its soup alone. If you have a can of refried beans lying around, whipping up a soup can be the best way to get as much flavor out of that can as possible. With only a fresh onion, a can of crushed tomatoes, and some chicken (or vegetable) stock, you have all you need for a basic refried bean soup. Toppings like cilantro, green onions, and tortilla strips are optional but encouraged.

Canned refried beans can act as a flavorful thickener for soup since they already contain onions, garlic, and chilis in powdered form. Both the spices and the fat content from the lard or oil can add a ton of flavor to any broth. Whether it be a black bean, chicken tortilla, or Minestrone soup, adding refried beans can give your soup a creamy punch.

In the same fashion, you can also use refried beans to thicken up a chili. Since there are already multiple types of beans in many chilis, adding or substituting refried beans makes perfect culinary sense.

Stuff Them Into Peppers

stuffed pepper topped with cheese
stuffed pepper topped with cheese - joanna wnuk/Shutterstock

Stuffed peppers can be an excellent low-carb alternative to tacos or burritos. They use most of the same ingredients too, which often include beans. The refried variety can be a hearty filling for a stuffed pepper on its own but will shine when mixed with other ingredients.

stuffed bell pepper recipe typically calls for a mixture of vegetables, ground beef, and rice. The peppers are hollowed out, filled, and then topped with cheese that gets wonderfully gooey and crispy in the oven. Refried beans can easily be used instead of, or in addition to, beef. Mixing these creamy canned beans with rice and veggies like corn or carrots will give your mixture an enticing textural contrast.

If you want something a little closer to a chili relleno, you can use the same filling but stuff it inside a poblano pepper. This will also give your dish a bit more heat than if you were using bell peppers.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.