Are Canned Refried Beans Vegan? Everything You Need to Know

Are canned refried beans vegan? This is a question that many people have been asking lately, especially those who are looking to adopt a vegan lifestyle or just want to eat healthier. It can be difficult to navigate the world of packaged food products, especially when it comes to reading labels and understanding ingredients. So, let’s dive into this topic and find out if canned refried beans are indeed vegan.

Many people assume that refried beans are vegan since they are made with beans – a plant-based food. However, it’s not that simple. Some brands of canned refried beans may contain non-vegan ingredients like lard or animal-based broth. This can be a surprise to those who are trying to avoid animal products in their food. Therefore, it is essential to read the labels of canned refried beans carefully before purchasing them.

If you’re a vegan or want to avoid animal products in your food, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many brands of canned refried beans that are indeed vegan. These beans are usually made with oil or vegetable broth instead of lard or animal-based broth. They make for a quick and easy meal that is not only delicious but also nutritious. With the right information, you can confidently choose the right canned refried beans that are suitable for your dietary needs and preferences.

What are Refried Beans?

Refried beans are a popular staple in Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Despite the name, refried beans are not actually fried twice. The term “refried” is a mistranslation of the Spanish term “frijoles refritos”, which means “well-fried beans”.

Refried beans are traditionally made from pinto beans that have been cooked until soft, then mashed and fried in oil or lard with onions, garlic, and spices. The mixture is then cooked until thick and creamy, and can be used as a filling for burritos, tacos, or as a side dish with rice and meat.

Nowadays, many canned refried beans are available in supermarkets, offering a convenient and time-saving way to enjoy this delicious dish at home.

The Origin and History of Refried Beans

Refried beans are a staple in many Mexican dishes, but where did they come from? Like many foods, the history of refried beans is a bit murky, but there are a few theories on their origin.

  • One theory is that the Spanish conquistadors, who arrived in Mexico in the 16th century, were introduced to cooked and mashed beans by the Indigenous people of the area. The Spanish then added lard and spices to the mashed beans, creating what we know today as refried beans.
  • Another theory is that refried beans were originally called frijoles de la olla, which translates to “beans from the pot”. These beans were cooked in a large pot with water, onion, garlic and salt, and then mashed and fried with lard or bacon fat. The name “refried” may have come from a mistranslation of the Spanish word “refrito”, which means “well-fried”.
  • Yet another theory is that refried beans were popularized in the American Southwest during the Mexican-American War in the mid-19th century. The US Army was supplied with canned beans, which they found unappetizing. They then learned to refry the canned beans to make them more palatable.

Regardless of their origin, refried beans have become a beloved part of Mexican cuisine and beyond. They are a versatile ingredient that can be used in burritos, tacos, dips, and more.

But are canned refried beans vegan? That’s a question many people ask, especially those who follow a plant-based diet. The answer is not always clear-cut. Some canned refried beans contain lard or other animal products, while others are made with only plant-based ingredients. It’s important to check the label or contact the manufacturer to be sure.

Brand Vegan?
Old El Paso No (contains lard)
Trader Joe’s Yes
Rosarita No (contains lard)

Overall, the history of refried beans is as varied as their uses in modern cuisine. Whether you’re a vegan or not, there are many delicious versions of refried beans out there to enjoy.

The Nutritional Value of Refried Beans

Refried beans are a popular staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Not only are they delicious, but they are also packed with essential nutrients that are beneficial to our health.

Here are some of the nutritional benefits of refried beans:

  • Protein: Refried beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. One cup of refried beans contains approximately 15 grams of protein, which is equivalent to the protein found in a 2-ounce serving of beef.
  • Fiber: Refried beans are high in fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. One cup of refried beans contains approximately 14 grams of fiber, which is more than half the daily recommended intake for adults.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Refried beans are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and overall health.

It’s important to note that the nutritional value of refried beans may vary depending on the brand and preparation method. Some brands may add extra ingredients such as lard or bacon, which can increase the calorie and fat content.

If you are looking for a healthier option, try making refried beans at home using canned beans without added ingredients. You can also opt for low-sodium varieties to reduce your sodium intake.

Nutrient Amount per 1 cup serving
Calories 294
Protein 15 grams
Fat 9 grams
Carbohydrates 42 grams
Fiber 14 grams
Sodium 868 milligrams

In conclusion, refried beans are a healthy and nutritious addition to any diet. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s essential to check the label and choose brands without added ingredients to ensure you’re getting the healthiest option.

Various Canned Refried Beans Brands Available

Refried beans are a staple in many households, especially for those who follow a vegan lifestyle. They are a great source of protein and fiber, which makes them a popular choice for anyone looking for a nutritious and filling meal. With so many canned refried bean brands available, it can be tough to know which ones are vegan. Here are some of the most popular canned refried bean brands available:

  • Amy’s Organic Refried Beans
  • Rosarita Refried Beans
  • Old El Paso Refried Beans
  • Goya Refried Beans
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Refried Pinto Beans

It’s worth noting that many other brands produce canned refried beans, but the ones listed above are some of the most popular and widely available in the market. When choosing a canned refried bean brand, ensure that the ingredients list doesn’t contain any animal products.

For vegan refried beans, always choose brands that don’t use lard (pig fat) in their recipes. Instead, check out vegetarian or vegan brands that use vegetable oil. Also, some brands add dairy products or animal-derived flavorings, such as chicken broth or beef extract, so be sure to read the label carefully.

Why Vegan Canned Refried Beans?

Vegan canned refried beans get their flavor from spices and herbs rather than animal-derived ingredients. They are a great option for those looking for a plant-based diet but don’t want to prepare their own beans. Vegan canned refried beans are also perfect for busy lifestyles, as they can be quickly heated in the microwave or on the stove for a quick and convenient meal.

A Comparison of Various Canned Refried Beans Brands

If you’re looking for the right canned refried bean brand that fits your taste buds, here’s a comparison table that’s helpful:

Brand Ingredients Taste
Amy’s Organic Refried Beans Organic Pinto Beans, Filtered Water, Organic Onions, Organic High Oleic Safflower and/or Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Garlic, Organic Spices Smooth and creamy texture with a subtle kick of spices
Rosarita Refried Beans Cooked Pinto Beans, Water, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Lard with BHA and BHT to Protect Flavor, Onion Powder, Chili Pepper, Spice, Garlic Powder Traditional taste and typically made with lard
Old El Paso Refried Beans Cooked Pinto Beans, Water, Salt, Tomato Paste, Soybean Oil, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Spice, Garlic Powder Savory taste with a hint of chili pepper, vegan
Goya Refried Beans Processed Pinto Beans, Water, Salt, Soybean Oil, Onion Powder, Spice Extractives, Garlic Powder A classic taste and vegan
Trader Joe’s Organic Refried Pinto Beans Organic Cooked Pinto Beans, Water, Organic Onion, Organic Expeller Pressed Soybean Oil, Organic Spices, Sea Salt, Organic Garlic Mild but tasty flavor with great texture

Ultimately, the choice of canned refried beans depends on your personal preferences and dietary restrictions. Be sure to read the label thoroughly and pick the one that suits you best. Happy eating!

The Pros and Cons of Canned Refried Beans

When it comes to convenience and affordability, canned refried beans are a popular staple in many households. However, as a vegan, it’s important to examine their ingredients and nutritional value before adding them to your diet. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Convenience: Canned refried beans are quick and easy to prepare, making them a great option for busy weeknights or when you’re short on time.
  • Affordability: They are also typically less expensive than their fresh or dried counterparts, making them a budget-friendly choice.
  • Good source of protein: Refried beans are a good source of protein, containing between 7-10 grams per serving. This can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
  • Variety: Canned refried beans come in a variety of flavors and can be seasoned to suit your taste preferences.
  • Pantry staple: They have a long shelf life, making them a great item to keep in your pantry for meals in a pinch.


  • High sodium: Canned refried beans can be high in sodium, with some brands containing up to 500mg per serving. This can be problematic for those who need to watch their sodium intake due to health reasons.
  • Preservatives: Some canned refried beans contain preservatives like calcium chloride, which can have negative effects on your health over time.
  • Added sugars: Some brands may also contain added sugars, which can be detrimental to your health if consumed in excess.
  • Nutrient loss: The canning process can lead to a loss of nutrients, meaning that canned refried beans may not be as nutritionally dense as their fresh or dried counterparts.
  • Possible BPA exposure: Some cans of refried beans may be lined with BPA (bisphenol A), which can be harmful to your health over time if consumed regularly.

Overall, canned refried beans can be a convenient and affordable addition to your vegan diet. However, it’s important to pay attention to their nutritional value and ingredient list to ensure that you’re making the healthiest choice possible.

Brand Sodium (mg/serving) Added Sugars (g/serving)
Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans 480 1
Trader Joe’s Refried Pinto Beans 210 0
Bush’s Best Black Refried Beans 380 1

As you can see, there is quite a bit of variability in terms of the sodium and added sugar content among different brands. Take the time to read labels and choose canned refried beans that align with your health goals and dietary preferences.

What Makes Refried Beans Non-Vegan?

Canned refried beans are a staple food in many kitchens as they are versatile, affordable, protein-packed, and delicious. However, they may not be suitable for vegans due to various reasons, including:

  • Animal Products: Some canned refried beans may contain animal products such as lard or bacon grease. This is because these ingredients help to add flavor and improve the texture of refried beans. However, they make the beans non-vegan.
  • Food Additives: Canned refried beans may contain food additives such as cheese, milk, and whey. These additives are controversial as some vegans are okay with consuming them while others are not. Therefore, ensure that you check the labels before buying a can of refried beans.
  • Manufacturing Process: The manufacturing process of canned refried beans may involve the use of non-vegan ingredients such as gelatin, casein, and whey protein. These ingredients help to preserve the beans and enhance their texture. However, they make the beans non-vegan.
  • Cross-Contamination: Some canned refried beans may be processed in facilities that also handle non-vegan products. This can lead to cross-contamination and the presence of non-vegan ingredients in otherwise vegan refried beans. Therefore, it is essential to read the labels, call the manufacturer, or look for certification to ensure that the product is entirely vegan.
  • Sourcing: Some canned refried beans may contain ingredients that are derived from non-vegan sources such as animal bones, skin, or fur. For instance, some can labels may read “natural flavoring,” which can indicate the use of non-vegan ingredients. Therefore, it is essential to research and investigate the sourcing practices of the manufacturer before purchasing their canned refried beans.
  • Sustainability Concerns: Some vegans may avoid canned refried beans due to concerns about the sustainability of the production process. This may include the use of pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or exploitation of labor. Therefore, it is essential to do your research and purchase canned refried beans from companies that prioritize sustainable and ethical farming practices.


In conclusion, canned refried beans may or may not be suitable for vegans due to various reasons such as the inclusion of animal products, food additives, cross-contamination, sourcing, and sustainability concerns. Therefore, it is essential to read the labels, research the manufacturer’s practices, and even contact them to ensure that the canned refried beans you purchase are entirely vegan and align with your values and dietary needs.

Pro Cons
Protein-packed May contain animal products
Versatile May contain food additives
Affordable Manufacturing process may involve non-vegan ingredients
Delicious Possible cross-contamination
Sourcing concerns
Sustainability concerns

Ultimately, your decision to consume canned refried beans as a vegan or not will depend on your personal beliefs, values, and dietary needs. However, with careful research and consideration, you can find a vegan-friendly canned refried beans brand that satisfies your taste buds and conscience.

Vegan-Friendly Refried Beans Alternatives

If you’re following a vegan diet, you’ll want to steer clear of most canned refried beans on the market. These typically contain lard or other animal fats, which aren’t vegan-friendly. But fear not, there are several vegan-friendly refried bean alternatives that are just as delicious. Here are seven:

  • Black beans: Black beans can be mashed and seasoned just like traditional refried beans. They’re also packed with protein and fiber, making them a healthier option.
  • Chickpeas: Mashed chickpeas make for a tasty and protein-rich alternative to refried beans. Add some cumin and garlic for extra flavor.
  • Lentils: Lentils may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of refried beans, but they work surprisingly well. They’re also high in protein and fiber.
  • Hummus: If you’re in a pinch, a dollop of hummus can be a quick and easy substitute for refried beans. It’s also a great source of healthy fats.
  • Sweet potatoes: Pureed sweet potatoes can make for a delicious and unique alternative to refried beans. They’re also a great source of vitamins A and C.
  • Cauliflower: Pureed cauliflower makes for a light and flavorful alternative to traditional refried beans. It’s also low in calories and high in fiber.
  • Butternut squash: Pureed butternut squash is another great option that’s both delicious and healthy. It’s also a good source of potassium and vitamin A.

More Vegan-Friendly Refried Bean Alternatives

If you’re looking for more vegan-friendly refried bean alternatives, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few other ideas:

1. Pureed white beans: Pureed white beans make for a creamy and smooth alternative to refried beans. They’re also a great source of protein and fiber.

2. Pureed zucchini: Pureed zucchini is a light and healthy alternative that’s perfect for summertime. It’s also a good source of vitamin C.

3. Pureed eggplant: Pureed eggplant has a rich and smoky flavor that can be a great substitute for refried beans. It’s also a good source of antioxidants.

4. Pureed pumpkin: Pureed pumpkin has a sweet flavor that’s perfect for fall. It’s also a good source of vitamin A.

As you can see, there are plenty of vegan-friendly refried bean alternatives to choose from. Whether you opt for black beans, chickpeas, or something completely different, you’re sure to find a delicious and healthy substitute for traditional refried beans.

Ingredient Nutritional Benefits
Black beans Protein, fiber
Chickpeas Protein, fiber
Lentils Protein, fiber
Sweet potatoes Vitamins A and C
Cauliflower Low in calories, high in fiber
Butternut squash Potassium, vitamin A

These vegan-friendly refried bean alternatives are not only delicious but packed with nutrients, making them a great addition to any vegan diet.

Are Canned Refried Beans Vegan: FAQs

Q1: Are canned refried beans vegan?
A: It depends on the ingredients used in their preparation. Some brands may add animal-based products such as lard, chicken broth, or bacon grease, while others don’t. Therefore, you need to check the label and look for vegan certification.

Q2: What ingredients are commonly used in canned refried beans?
A: The main ingredients in canned refried beans are pinto or black beans, oil, salt, and spices such as cumin, chili powder, or garlic. Some brands may add additional flavorings, thickeners, or preservatives.

Q3: Why do some brands use animal products in canned refried beans?
A: Animal products such as lard, chicken broth, or bacon grease are commonly used to add flavor, creaminess, or richness to the beans. However, they can be easily replaced with vegan alternatives such as vegetable oil, vegetable broth, or coconut milk.

Q4: Can I make my own vegan refried beans from scratch?
A: Yes, you can make refried beans from scratch using vegan ingredients such as beans, oil, spices, and vegan broth or milk. There are many recipes available online that are easy and delicious.

Q5: How do I know if a canned refried beans brand is vegan-friendly?
A: Look for a vegan certification logo on the label, such as certified vegan, vegan action, or vegan society. You can also check the ingredients list and avoid brands that use animal-based products or artificial additives.

Q6: Are canned vegetarian refried beans vegan?
A: Not necessarily. Although vegetarian refried beans don’t contain meat or fish, they may still use animal-based products such as cheese or milk. Therefore, you should read the label carefully and look for vegan certification.

Q7: What are some vegan brands of canned refried beans?
A: Some popular vegan brands of canned refried beans are Amy’s Kitchen, Eden Organic, Muir Glen, Rosarita, and Trader Joe’s. However, you should always check the label and ingredients list to make sure they are vegan-friendly.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know the facts about canned refried beans and their vegan-friendliness, you can make an informed choice when shopping for them. Remember to read the label carefully, look for vegan certification, and choose brands that use wholesome, natural ingredients. Whether you prefer black beans or pinto beans, creamy or chunky texture, there is a vegan-friendly canned refried beans option for you. Thank you for reading and come back soon for more vegan food advice!