Should I Choose Pinto or Refried Beans?

Pinto Beans vs. Refried Beans for Authentic Mexican

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At Backyard Taco, we use fresh ingredients to create authentic Mexican food for our customers throughout Arizona. We use both pinto and refried beans in several of our dishes, and we hope you’ll visit us in the future to try them out for yourself.

It’s no surprise beans play a crucial role in Mexican cuisine. Their versatility and availability allow them to be commonly distributed at the dinner table and enjoyed by all. Whether or not you’re a foodie, you may wonder which type of beans are better: pinto or refried? Next time you’re debating between pinto vs. refried beans, we hope you can refer to our helpful guide.

Why Are Beans So Popular?

No matter your heritage, age, or class, beans are commonly eaten throughout the world. Many wonder why beans are so prevalent, especially in Mexican cuisine. Beans come with several benefits valued by many, and they are easily affordable for everyone.
What Are Pinto Beans?

Beans are a Protein Supplement

Early on in Mexico’s history, meat was difficult to acquire, aside from fish. In order for people to get enough filling, muscle-building protein in their diet, they grew many varieties of beans, which are a native crop in Mexico. Because of the availability of beans and their ability to supplement protein, beans quickly became linked to Mexican cuisine. However, beans provide several other advantages aside from their status as a source of protein.


Beans are used in several different dishes, including stews, salads, and casseroles, or may be seasoned and served on their own. In fact, even when traditional Mexican cooks incorporated beans into dishes containing dairy and meat, they found that they worked well with other spices, herbs, and vegetables. Because of how versatile beans are, several traditional Mexican dishes include beans as an ingredient.

Beans Can Balance Flavor

Mexican cuisine also contains various spices and chilies that many people enjoy. However, intense spice isn’t for everyone, and even in Mexican cuisine, heat isn’t the focus of all dishes all the time. In order to complement these chiles and spices, beans can balance out the heat with their richness or creaminess, depending on the beans. Beans tend to have a neutral taste, and they’re known to go with many flavors.

Great Source of Fiber

Beans are a great source of fiber, which allows for proper digestion, improved gut health, and even better heart health. Fiber is an important part of the diet, and because beans are readily available, they’re a great food to eat to improve your fiber intake.

A Great Food for Weight Loss

Beans are often eaten as a way to lose weight. Because beans include both protein and fiber, you’ll feel fuller for longer, preventing you from consuming more calories than you’d like to. There are even studies available showing how beans increase your nutrient intake. If you’re on a diet but still want to experience Mexican cuisine, consider eating beans, either whole or refried.

What Are Pinto Beans?

Pinto beans are a variety of dried beans that are the most popular type of bean in the United States. They are beige with red-brown specks but turn light brown or pale tan when cooked. These beans are simple to prepare, readily accept seasoning, and can be eaten either whole or mashed.

Our team at Backyard Taco uses whole pinto beans for our signature Bueno Bowls, as well as many other dishes or even as a side on their own. Not only do they complement other ingredients and flavors, but pinto beans include several different health benefits as well.

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans Are Nutritious

Not only do pinto beans taste great, but they’re also packed with several different nutrients. Many essential minerals and nutrients can be found in pinto beans, including potassium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Pinto beans can also include a notable amount of other nutrients, such as calcium and zinc. Finally, they don’t contain any cholesterol and are low in fat, which may help improve heart health and help you lose weight.

Blood Sugar Support

If your diet requires strict monitoring of your blood sugar, pinto beans may help support your efforts. While pinto beans are high in carbs, they don’t significantly increase blood sugar. They are complex carbohydrates digested more slowly than other foods, and diets that contain low glycemic foods like pinto beans may improve blood sugar regulation.

What Are Refried Beans?

What Are Refried Beans?

Many people believe refried beans were given their name because they’re fried twice. However, this is actually not the case. The Spanish name for refried beans is frijoles refritos, meaning well-fried beans. English speakers assumed refritos meant refried, which is how refried beans got their name.

It’s important to know that refried beans aren’t deep-fried but rather pan-fried in salt and lard. While refried beans can be made using any type of bean, pinto beans are the most common choice. Refried beans are thick in consistency and can be flavored in many different ways. At Backyard Taco, you can order refried beans on their own, enjoy them in one of our burritos, or add them to any of our dishes.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

Refried beans are typically made from pinto beans or other nutritious beans, so they contain several of the same nutrients that can improve heart and digestive health. However, refried beans also contain lard or butter essential for the frying process. Lard is high in calories and fat, so if you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to stick with traditional pinto beans. However, refried beans are still packed with fiber, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Refried beans, like other beans, have several health benefits.

Controlled Blood Sugar

Just like pinto beans, refried beans can be used to help manage your blood sugar levels. Because beans contain magnesium, consuming them as part of your diet can prevent your blood sugar from rising, also preventing type 2 diabetes. Not only does eating refried beans help you manage certain aspects of your health, but they taste incredible when fresh and authentic.

They Can Fight Against Diseases

Refried beans contain antioxidants called polyphenols that can help prevent heart disease. Age-related illnesses can also be prevented by incorporating beans into your diet, as these same polyphenols may help slow cell death. You can also improve your gut health by eating beans, which are high in fiber and promote digestion.

Pinto vs. Refried Beans: Which Are Better in Mexican Food?

Mexican cuisine has existed for hundreds of years, and to this day, people continue to visit Mexican restaurants to enjoy their favorites. Beans are a part of every Mexican meal, but which type of bean is better?

Pinto and refried beans come with their own unique features, and each is traditionally used a bit differently. For example, pinto beans are typically eaten on their own or served atop a bowl or burrito. Refried beans, on the other hand, can be incorporated more easily into tacos and burritos, much like a condiment – or even served as a dip.

Refried beans

At Backyard Taco, we use refried beans as a component of our burritos, but they can also be eaten as a side item or paired with chips. Meanwhile, we include whole pinto beans as an ingredient in our Bueno Bowls and offer them as a side.

Refried beans are pinto beans that have been mashed and pan-fried, and they are typically seasoned with a little chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Because pinto beans are typically eaten whole, they are often served with a similar flavor profile, with the addition of onions, tomatoes, and even bacon.

Should You Choose Pintos or Refried Beans?

While both beans are delicious and have slightly different uses, there’s another way to determine which bean might be better for you. As mentioned, while beans can be a great source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients, refried beans also contain lard and salt. If you’re watching your diet, you may want to keep this in mind before ordering a burrito or a side of refried beans.

Refried beans contain more fat and calories than pinto beans, so if you’re looking to lose weight but still want to incorporate beans into your diet, consider trying a Bueno Bowl that contains pinto beans and eliminates the tortilla present in our burritos and tacos. But, we’re definitely not saying you should forego the refried beans altogether! If you tend to watch your diet carefully and don’t exceed the daily recommended value of certain nutrients, you can enjoy either bean without much to worry about.

Authentic Mexican Food: Which Bean is Best?

At Backyard Taco, our food is authentic and freshly made. This is a welcome difference from your standard fast food or counter-serve Mexican chains. While it’s not unusual for cultures to interact, causing food to change and enabling cuisines to borrow elements from each other, it’s worth noting that Mexican food found in the US is certainly no stranger to this concept. American Mexican food first brought to Texas was called “Tex-Mex,” and many elements of this style of Mexican-American fusion found their way into US culture.

So, how do you know if your Mexican food is authentic? One major way to tell if Mexican food is authentic is the meats used in the cuisine. Mexican cuisine incorporates mesquite-grilled meats like carne asada, al pastor, pollo, and more, while Tex-Mex may offer ground beef as the primary option. Along with the meats, the variety of ingredients, chiles, and seasonings is what makes Mexican food authentic, beans included.

Bean & Cheese

Not only did refried beans originate in Mexico, but the beans themselves can determine if what you’re eating is authentic. In many Mexican dishes, a mix of whole pinto, black, and refried beans is used. Both whole pinto beans and refried beans can be found in authentic Mexican cuisine, and we suggest choosing your favorite to eat along with our authentic Mexican dishes.

Suggested Reading: Defining Authentic Mexican Food

Backyard Taco: Your Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Arizona

Our team at Backyard Taco works diligently to provide authentic Mexican meals to people throughout the Valley area. We are committed to using fresh, authentic ingredients that satisfy your cravings, and we hope to serve you the best refried or pinto bean dishes this side of the border.

Next time you’re debating between pinto vs. refried beans, remember that they’re both used in authentic Mexican cooking – choose your favorite or use both, depending on your fancy! No matter which option you choose, we’ll be ready to serve you. Salivate over our eat-in and takeout menu. And, don’t forget that we’re perfect for catering your next party!