Find out what refried beans are, what they’re made of, and if this bean dish is considered safe for a gluten-free diet. Plus a brand list of gluten-free options.
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If you like to enjoy refried beans alongside your favorite Mexican dishes or in burritos, quesadillas, or taco salads, you may have wondered if this food is considered safe for a gluten-free diet.
While beans are naturally gluten-free, many foods with additional ingredients added to them may not be. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into the topic of refried beans in this post to talk about what refried beans are, what they’re made of, and if they are considered safe for folks who avoid gluten in their regular diet.
By the end of this post, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not you want to continue enjoying this bean dish in your gluten-free diet.
What are refried beans?
Refried beans are a dish popular in Mexican, Latin American, and American Tex-Mex cuisines. The term “refried” means the beans have been cooked twice. Once while cooked as whole beans, then again after they’ve been mashed and combined with additional spices and seasonings.
Refried beans are traditionally served as a side dish, but can also be used in burritos, tacos, tostadas, on nachos, enchiladas, in burrito bowls, taco salads, quesadillas, and seven-layer dips.
What are refried beans made of?
Most refried beans use pinto beans as their main ingredient. Additional ingredients may be added like salt, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, onion, and some kind of fat. Some refried beans recipes use black beans instead of pinto beans.
The amount and type of fat varies from recipe to recipe, so you can use pork lard or bacon fat if you want a more heavy dish. Or you can opt for a lighter oil like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
You can find gluten in whole grains, but also in many processed foods as well. Many processed foods have hidden gluten in them in the form of gluten or wheat derivatives.
These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Are beans gluten-free?
Plain beans are naturally gluten-free. You can enjoy beans regularly on a gluten-free diet with a few things in mind.
Be aware that even if beans themselves are gluten-free, there are opportunities for the beans we can get at the store to not be considered gluten-free.
Read on: Are beans gluten-free?
Read on: Are black beans gluten-free?
Are refried beans gluten-free?
Refried beans are naturally gluten-free as no ingredients in this dish contain gluten. Any gluten that may appear in refried beans would be from seasonings added to the dish, like spices or spice blends.
You may also want to be aware that gluten could be present from cross contamination due to where the beans are manufactured, particularly if they are packaged in a facility that also works with gluten-containing grains.
Another place cross contamination could happen is in the kitchens where they’re being made. If there are gluten-containing ingredients in the same proximity or if shared tools are being used, cross contamination may occur.
The only time you’d need to be concerned about gluten in refried beans is if the beans are cross contaminated with gluten-containing grains before being cooked. Or if the area where the beans are being prepared has gluten nearby and there’s a chance for cross contamination.
Read on: Gluten-free Mexican food
Gluten-free refried bean brands
If you make your own refried beans at home, you can know for sure that they are gluten-free. If you want to buy some from the store, know that not all brands come with a gluten-free label.
This could be due to the fact that the brand hasn’t had their products tested for gluten or it could be that they know there is enough gluten from seasonings or spices to not be considered safe for folks on a gluten-free diet.
If you’re looking for a brand of refried beans that will work for you and your gluten-free diet, look for a gluten-free label on the packaging. Here is a short list to help you narrow down your options next time you’re at the store.
A Dozen Cousins
- A Dozen Cousins Classic Refried Pinto Beans
- A Dozen Cousins Refried Black Beans
- Amy’s Organic Vegetarian Traditional Refried Beans
- Amy’s Organic Vegetarian Traditional Refried Beans, Light in Sodium
- Amy’s Organic Vegetarian Traditional Refried Beans with Green Chiles
Garden of Eatin’
- Garden of Eatin’ Bearitos Organic Low Fat Traditional Refried Beans
- Bush’s Traditional Refried Beans
- Bush’s Fat Free Refried Beans
- Bush’s Traditional Refried Black Beans
- Eden Foods Spicy Organic Refried Black Beans
- Eden Foods Spicy Organic Refried Pinto Beans
- Eden Foods Organic Refried Kidney Beans
- Eden Foods Organic Refried Black Beans
- Eden Foods Organic Refried Black Beans
- Goya Traditional Refried Beans
- Goya Organic Refried Black Beans
- Goya Organic Traditional Refried Beans
- Goya Refried Black Beans
- Goya Refried Pinto Beans
- Goya Refried Pinto Beans with Chorizo
- Goya Fat Free Refried Black Beans
- Goya Reduced Sodium Refried Black Beans
- Goya Refried Black Beans Home-Style
- Goya Refried Mayocoba Beans
- Goya Refried Pinto Beans Traditional
- Goya Refried Pinto Beans with Chipotle
- Goya Fat Free Refried Pinto Beans
- Goya Reduced Sodium Refried Pinto Beans
- La Costeña Refried Pinto Beans
- La Costeña Refried Black Beans
- La Costeña Refried Pinto Beans with Chipotle
Old El Paso
This brand is not labeled as gluten-free but there are no gluten ingredients in their products.
- Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
- Old El Paso Fat Free Refried Beans
- Old El Paso Spicy Fat Free Refried Beans
- Old El Paso Green Chiles Refried Beans
- Old El Paso Vegetarian Refried Beans
- Old El Paso Black Bean Refried Beans
- Ortega Traditional Refried Beans
- Ortega Fat Free Refried Beans
- Ortega Vegetarian Refried Beans
- Rosarita Traditional Refried Beans
- Rosarita Refried Beans – Spicy Jalapeno
- Rosarita Refried Beans – Vegetarian
- Rosarita Refried Beans – Lower Sodium
- Rosarita Refried Beans – Black Beans
If you’ve been wondering if refried beans are considered safe for your gluten-free diet, I hope this post has been helpful for you. While all homemade refried beans are gluten-free, the ones you’ll want to watch out for are those in cans.
Look at ingredients lists and review the packaging for a gluten-free label to help you make a good decision around which product will work best for you and your gluten-free diet.