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What to Add to Refried Beans for Flavor? 10 BEST Options

Adding flavor to refried beans can be a daunting task, leaving you wondering where to even start.

Have you ever heard of adding Mediterranean-inspired flavors such as feta cheese and kalamata olives?

What about topping it off with Mexican ingredients like cilantro, tomatoes and lime juice?

If these sound like the perfect match to give your refried beans just the right amount of zing, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll be exploring some key tips on spicing up your refried beans as well as explaining why some add-ins are so effective.

We’ll show you everything from simple sauce and herb combinations to adventurous ones using vegetables and fruits – all designed to tantalize your taste buds.

Ready for some tasty ideas? Let’s dig in.

What to Add to Refried Beans for Flavor? 10 BEST Options

Refried beans are an incredibly versatile dish – you can add just about any ingredient to enhance their flavor.

You might want to adjust their flavor profile, make them spicier, or add a little sweetness.

Here are 10 of the best foods you should consider adding to refried beans for extra flavor:

1. Top with Some Delicious Salsa

Refried beans are a classic Mexican side dish that are made by slow cooking and then mashing pinto beans.

They have a creamy and flavorful texture, but can also be bland unless you add some extra flavor.

One of the best ways to enhance the flavour of refried beans is by topping them with salsa.

Look for classic salsa roja, or try a fruity twist with roasted mango salsa or pineapple salsa.

You can also make your own dairy-free or vegetarian version of this traditional side dish with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and jalapeños for added flavor.

For an extra kick of heat, you can use chili peppers in addition to jalapeños.

If you like things on the milder side, opt for sweeter salsas such as tomato-cucumber salsa (picante de pimentón).

Serve these delectable refried beans as a side dish or add them to tacos and burritos for a delicious meal.

2. Add Some Canned Chipotles

Canned chipotles are smoked jalapeño peppers that have been packed in adobo sauce.

This adds both smoky and spicy notes to refried beans, depending on how many you add.

A single pepper can give your beans a slight kick, but if you’re looking for a more intense flavor, you can add up to five or six peppers.

When adding chipotles in adobo sauce, start by mashing up the pepper in the sauce and then adding a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired flavor intensity.

Once they’ve been added, stir them thoroughly into the refried beans so that the flavors blend peacefully together.

3. Mix in A Little Leftover Taco Meat

Leftover taco meat is a great way to add flavor to refried beans.

Any type of cooked ground beef or pork will work.

Simply mix it in with the refried beans and heat over low heat until everything is warm and the flavors combine.

You can also substitute taco meat for other proteins such as cooked chicken, turkey, chorizo, or tofu if desired.

No matter what type of protein you use, this is an easy and delicious way to liven up your next batch of refried beans.

4. Stir in Some Sautéed Onions or Garlic

For a delicious flavor boost, add some sautéed onions or garlic to your refried beans.

Both of these flavorful ingredients will add an delicious savory hint that will take the dish to a completely new level.

Onions and garlic are easy to sauté quickly in butter, oil or fat of your choice.

Let them get nice and golden brown before adding them to your refried beans and stirring everything together until it is fully combined.

You can also adjust the amount according to your taste; if you want a very subtle hint of these flavors, just add a small quantity.

For more pronounced onion and garlic notes, simply use more of them when you cook.

5. Top with Some Crumbled Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese

Adding a sprinkle of crumbled queso fresco (a mild white cheese) or Cotija cheese (a harder cheese with a salty, robust flavor) on top of your refried beans is an easy way to add flavor.

Not only do the cheeses provide a creamy texture, they also give the dish a wonderful salty tang that complements the richness of the beans.

Simply sprinkle some over your cooked refried beans before serving.

If desired, add minced jalapenos, tomatoes and cilantro to make it even more flavorful.

6. Add a Dollop of Guacamole or Sour Cream

One of the easiest ways to add flavor and texture to your refried beans is by adding a dollop of guacamole or sour cream.

Adding a dollop of fresh guacamole will give your beans a creamy texture, as well as providing a nutty flavor from the avocado.

The addition of some diced tomato, red onion and cilantro to the guacamole before adding it to the beans will help enhance the flavor even further.

Adding a dollop of sour cream is another simple way to add more flavor and texture.

The cool, creamy tanginess helps to balance out the smoky flavors of your refried beans and provides an extra layer of richness that pairs perfectly with Mexican cuisine.

You can also mix in shredded cheese or diced jalapeños for additional heat and crunch.

7. Sprinkle on Some Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Adding a hint of citrusy flavor to your dish, cilantro is an aromatic herb filled with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and antioxidants.

Chopping up some fresh cilantro leaves or stems and sprinkling them on top of your refried beans can bring a whole world of flavor to the dish.

Additionally, the green hue of the cilantro makes it a great visual accompaniment to your refried beans.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try mixing fresh cilantro into a sour cream topping to use when serving the dish.

8. Stir in A Can of Rotel Tomatoes

Adding a can of Rotel tomatoes to your refried beans is an easy and effective way to instantly add flavor for extra zing.

The tomatoes help enhance the flavor of the beans, providing a delicious balance of savory and spicy flavors.

You can opt for either mild or original Rotel and adjust the amount to your liking.

As an added bonus, this addition also adds body and texture to your dish.

If you want creamier refried beans, be sure to mash them well before stirring in your can of tomatoes.

9. Add a Spoonful of Your Favorite Salsa Verde

Adding a spoonful of store-bought or homemade salsa verde is a great way to elevate the flavor of your refried beans.

The combination of boldly spiced green tomatoes, diced jalapenos, onion and garlic creates a unique sauce that adds just the right amount of heat and freshness to your dish.

For an even deeper flavor, try adding some cilantro into the mix too.

If you want to decrease the heat level, reduce or omit the jalapeno pepper from your salsa verde recipe.

You can use this condiment with both canned and homemade refried beans for unbeatable flavor in no time.

10. Mix in A Can of Drained and Rinsed Pinto Beans

Adding a can of rinsed and drained pinto beans to your refried beans will give them a hearty texture.

Not only that, but this inexpensive ingredient is loaded with extra nutrients like protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate.

Feel free to add the entire contents of a can for a full meal or just half for extra texture and flavor.

Adding the pinto beans at the beginning of the cooking process will ensure they are fully cooked before your refried beans are finished.

For an almost smoked flavor, try roasting the pinto beans first before mixing them in with your refried bean recipe.

This will give them more depth and complexity while giving your dish an upgraded taste.


In conclusion, adding spices and herbs to refried beans is an excellent way to increase the flavor and complexity of your dish.

Herbs like oregano, cilantro, and parsley are great for imparting freshness and brightness.

Spices such as chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika and ground coriander give the beans a more savory and robust flavor.

Cheese adds creaminess and saltiness to the mix while beans with chiles or jalapenos offer ample heat.

Finally, simmering the beans with onions or bell peppers creates layered complexity in the dish.

With all of these amazing flavor boosters at your fingertips it’s no wonder why refried beans are one of the most popular Mexican staples.

Yield: 1 Serving

What to Add to Refried Beans for Flavor? 10 BEST Options

What to Add to Refried Beans for Flavor? 10 BEST Options
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1. Top with Some Delicious Salsa
  • 2. Add Some Canned Chipotles
  • 3. Mix in A Little Leftover Taco Meat
  • 4. Stir in Some Sautéed Onions or Garlic
  • 5. Top with Some Crumbled Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese
  • 6. Add a Dollop of Guacamole or Sour Cream
  • 7. Sprinkle on Some Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 8. Stir in A Can of Rotel Tomatoes
  • 9. Add a Spoonful of Your Favorite Salsa Verde
  • 10. Mix in A Can of Drained and Rinsed Pinto Beans


  1. Choose your favorite pick from the comprehensive selection provided in this article.
  2. Gather all of the essential ingredients required for the recipe.
  3. Prepare a delectable dish with your selected pick in under 30 minutes, following the provided instructions.
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