Bean and Cheese Tacos

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on May 21, 2009

I don’t know what it is about  beans these days, but I’m just cravin’ ‘em y’all! 

I LOVED eating bean and cheese tacos from Taco Cabana back in my high school days.  It’s a shame that Taco Cabana won’t expand their franchise to Dayton.  Last I heard they were just in TX…so if you’re listening Taco Cabana people, this pregnant mama NEEDS her Taco C!

But, since the chances of a Taco Cabana sprouting up in Dayton in the next 6 months tomorrow are slim, I decided to do a little experiment and make my own bean and cheese tacos…a healthier version!

1 bag regular size whole wheat flour tortillas ($1.29)
1 15 oz. can vegetarian organic refried beans ($1.42)
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese ($1.17)
1/2 canteloupe, sliced ($.75) On sale for $1.49 this past week
2 apples, peeled and diced ($.50) “Lunchbox” apples still on sale for $.25 each!

1. Lay tortillas flat and spread about 1/4 cup of refried beans down the midline of the tortilla. Sprinkle with handful of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Roll up and place next to each other on dinner plate. Microwave 2-3 minutes, depending on the number of tacos. Microwave longer if necessary, until all the cheese has melted.
2. Cut canteloupe in half and then cut of slices or wedges.
3. Peel and dice apples.
4. Serve Bean and Cheese Tacos with Canteloupe and Apples.

Cost $5.13

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P.S. I have tried several times, UNSUCCESSFULLY, to make my own refried beans from scratch using dried beans.  I would have preferred to do that, but went for the easy way out this time!  If anyone has any refried beans pointers or recipe links, please let me know!!!

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara @ Feels like home May 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

I know you already know the value of dried beans. I think this would be great with whole or slightly mashed black beans instead of refried. It would probably come out cheaper, too. Yum! :)


Erin May 21, 2009 at 10:25 am

I totally caved this week Tara! I have tried several times unsuccessfully to make refried beans from scratch…any pointers???


Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect May 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

Erin, I love getting bean (and cheese and onion) burritos at Taco Bell. At home, though, I’ve been making bean and cheese quesadillas. I use fat-free refried beans, diced tomatoes and chilies, and shredded cheddar. It’s not the “normal” quesadilla recipe, but I love it! (Of course, it might be healthier if I’d use less cheese and sour cream…but that’s part of what makes it good!)


Lesley May 21, 2009 at 10:15 am

oh yum….I love this….because I can make this just for me….


Cara May 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

wow that sounds great. mmmmmmm.


Danielle May 21, 2009 at 10:25 am

Taco C! That is awesome you referred to it by that name! I’ve got one just down the road from me. I’ll eat a bean and cheese taco for you at lunch today!


Erin May 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

Thanks Danielle…Overnight express packed on dry ice might work too ;)


Tara May 21, 2009 at 10:42 am

My fantastic next door neighbor taught me how to make refried beans, and I can’t believe how easy it is.

I soak my beans overnight in the crockpot with just enough water to cover them by an inch, then I turn them on low in the morning (adding more water to cover by an inch if needed), season to my own taste, and let them cook all day. That night I use a potato masher to smash up the beans in their own juice, adding butter or margarine to get a good consistency. They will thicken as you smash the beans. Presto! Refried beans.

I love the homemade so much better than the canned.


Erin May 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

Tara! That’s genious! It never occurred to me to make them in the crockpot! Of course! Thanks SO much! Will try that soon!


Amber May 21, 2009 at 10:49 am

Hmmm, you’re making me crave a bean and cheese burrito now! I think that’s our dinner now!


Mandi May 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

One of the ingredients that gives canned refried beans their taste is lard. Sounds gross, but if you add a spoonful (2 Tbsp?) to the beans before you mash them it adds a lot of flavor.


Jenelle May 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

This is how I made my healthy “refired” beans. Cover dry bean with about 2in water and let sit over night. Drain and rince the beans. Then put them in a pan with fresh water and a good amount of salt (the salt help the inside of the bean get nice and soft) bring the beans to a boil and then cover and simmer for 2 -3 hours or until beans are soft. Like Tara, I use a potato masher and mash the beans with a potato masher in their own juice. I usually pour off some and add it back as needed. Then I season the beans with garlic powder, cumin chili pawder, and salt if needed (but the broth should already have enough) My family loves these and we eat Bean and Cheese burritos almost every week.


Brenna Kater, the Ocean Skater May 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

Do you have a good blender or food processor? I cooked pinto beans in the crockpot, drain them (saving the water), and dump them into my Blendtec. Add onion powder, salt, oil (I use canola and/or olive) and as much bean cooking water as I need to make them the desired consistency. Yummy!

BTW, how do you find soy-free RF beans? I can’t for the life of me!


Julie May 21, 2009 at 11:33 am

I also make them in the crock pot. If it looks like too much water, I take it out before blending (with my stick blender). You can always add back in.

Also, I cook the beans with onion and garlic and spices, like cumin and red pepper for kick. If you had extra green peppers in your garden you could add them at the end for a few hours for yummy taste.


Nicole @frugalisfab May 21, 2009 at 11:49 am

I don’t use the crockpot but I have heard it works great. what I do is after I soak and cook the beans I cover the bottom of a large frying pan with oil and fry up minced garlic {I like a lot!} and a chopped onion. Once the onion is a little browned I put the beans and some of the water from the beans in the pan {keeping in mind they will get thicker as they cook so be generous}. I don’t have a potato masher so I use a spatula to mash the beans. Keep adding beans and water until you have the desired amount. I then season them with a LOT of salt, some cumin and some chili powder.

I had a hard learning how to do this, but it is actually really easy once you get it. My problem was that I wasn’t using enough salt.


Alea May 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

I make mine in the pressure cooker using this recipe:

I love how fast it is! Oh, and I often leave out the salt pork.


Jessica May 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Here is the crock pot recipe for refried beans that I have tried and LOVED. We also added cheese at the end–


Megan May 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I started making my own bean just recently. I place the bean in a large pot and fill with water about 2 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil on the stove, place a lid on it and turn off the heat. Let them stand for 1 hour and rinse and drain. Next fill the pot back up with water and whatever seasonings or my secret is veges(tomato, carrot, onion, garlic, etc.) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until soft. Then I add the beans into my food processor and add just enough of the cooking liquid until I get the right consistency. There great. Good luck.


Kat May 21, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I like the crockpot idea but don’t forget to rinse them! I also like the other person who said to drain and rinse AFTER soaking. I’m going to try the crockpot thing soon! Great idea!


Shari May 21, 2009 at 11:39 pm

at our house we call these santa cruz tacos, Im not sure why, maybe we ate them in santa cruz for the first time LOL no idea, even my mom calls them that. We fry the shells in oil till soft, or as crunchy as the person likes, I like them soft, kids like them crunchy….I also make my own refried beans for them…


Debi May 21, 2009 at 11:49 pm

I love my homemade ‘refried’ beans! As you’ll see in the recipe linked below, there’s no refrying! We just blend them up! Also, I like to use black beans – very tasty!


Tina May 22, 2009 at 6:19 am

Homemade refried beasn are so much better. I love the beans at our favorite Mexican spot. My friend showed me how to make homemade refried beans in 30 minutes just 30 minutes cooktime thats it. I soak my beans about 4 hours before i am going to pressure cook them. Once in the pressure cooker it is just 25-30 minutes depending on the amount of beans. For more its about 40. I do add the traditional enemy as some would say LARD but it is the key in the taste. Here is the link:


Deanna Walker May 22, 2009 at 11:56 am

The secret to good refrieds is lard, but since I don’t keep that around, I use bacon drippings. Here is a cheaters version of refried beans and they come out really delicous!

1 can refried beans
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 TBSP bacon drippings
1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice)
1/4 cup salsa

Saute your onion in the bacon drippings. When skillet is good and hot, put in the beans, stirring constantly until heated through. Once heated through add your cheese and salsa for more flavor, heat again until hot.

You can use this same technique with your dried beans. Pull some to the side, mash them up and proceed as above. When I cook dried beans, I use bouillon instead of adding pork fat…..just a way I do it, to reduce fat but not lose flavor! Love your site!



Mom Of Faith May 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Oh my, I might just have to make these tonight instead of homemade BBQ Chx Pizza…I have all the ingredients! As for making it from scratch, let me know how that goes and what works for you…I would also like to try it. I also like Tara’s idea of using black beans rather than refried beans…for some different flavor.


Melissa May 22, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I have lived in South Texas for the past 12 years. I make my beans in the crockpot. I add a little bacon, diced jalapanos, onion, cumin, garlic, and diced tomatoes. I cook them overnight on low. In the morning you have fresh beans with your eggs and that night you have been tacos.


Elizabeth May 22, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I’ve been making my own refried beans for about a year. It seemed like the bean fairy visited and I had TONS of dried beans. This is what I do. Soak 3 cups pinto beans overnight-rinse and drain. Add to crockpot as well as 1 onion peeled and halved, 2 T. minced garlic, 5 tsp salt, 1 3/4 t black pepper, 1/8 t cumin, and a few slices of jarred jalapenos. Add water. Cook all day, drain and reserve cooking liquid. Then slowly add back in as you mash with a potato masher until desired consistency. If I want spicier beans I add in some of the liquid from the jalapenos. Yummy every time!


hmcm45 May 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Making refried beans are easy, but take some time. I wash and pick over my pinto beans first. Then I put them in the crock pot on low until done, sometimes it takes longer than other times, just taste them to make sure they are done before you take them out of the crock pot. I then put them in a big chicken frying pan, with the bean liquid, and add finely chopped green pepper and onion and let them boil for a while, to reduce the liquid. I then fry up some chorizo in another pan (about 1/4 lb per lb of beans) and add the well done chorizo to the beans and mash them up as fine as possible. I add seasoning of chili powder, seasoned salt, and garlic powder to taste. I have found out that my secret ingredient is what makes everyone rave about my beans. I add shredded mozarella cheese (1-2 cups) to my beans and let it melt and stir well. It is so good and no one, and I do mean no one, knows that there is chees in it.


Bridget May 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I pretty much do what everyone else is doing (crockpot, onion, seasoning, etc), but when it is time to mash, I put about half in my KitchenAid mixer and mix with the paddle. It mashes everything up really well, including the onion. I can then add the rest so I have whole bean pieces. If it seems too liquidy, I fry them up in a skillet with some olive oil to cook out the water. It continues to mash as I fry it, so I have some pieces, but it is all pretty smooth.


Sithean May 25, 2009 at 9:04 am

Bless your heart for putting this post up. I was stumbling around (online), wondering what to make for a late breakfast, and I came upon your site. I don’t have refried beans on hand, but I did have some tortillas, shredded cheese, roma tomatoes and Cholula hot sauce. Yum!


Michelle Chapin May 25, 2009 at 10:56 am

My refried beans are supper easy. I take a quart of pinto beans (I can my own beans) and I pour it into a cast iron skillet and then mash with a potato masher adding taco seasoning to taste. Every one seems to like it. With out the lard it is hard to make them taste truly authentic but I just let it cook down to the consistancy I like. Hope this helps.


Belinda July 27, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Making your own beans is easier than it sounds. I usually make mine in a big pot. The key to great beans is lard or bacon drippings works best. You don’t have to soak them, but you should pick through them and make sure there are no rocks in your bag of beans. Then you should rinse them well. Combine your beans, bacon drippings, salt to taste (don’t overdo it), and enough water to cover them by a few inches. Cook on medium-high heat for about four hours or until they are soft, adding water as needed to keep the beans from burning. If you need the beans to cook faster, make sure you add hot water.

If you cook a full bag of beans, you can use them all week. You should only mash them as you need them. They can be refried in a pan along with some of the juice and bacon drippings or lard. For a healthier alternative use the beans whole and add tomatoes, onions, and pickled jalepenos for a nice bowl of charro beans.


Kimber August 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

This is a link to a very good site with a great re-fried beans recipes! I make this all the time and we love it. Sometimes I doctor it up with extra spices for more heat! Hope this helps some of you!


Kim Acedo September 21, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I also make my beans in a crockpot overnite.I use a ratio of 1/4 beans and 3/4 water with salt to taste. Cook on high for about 1 hour then low for the rest of the night. I will sometimes substitute Mayocoba(perubian) beans for pinto. They have a soft ,fresh taste and are very reasonably priced in the southwest.
To refry the beans heat 2 tbsps of bacon grease or corn oil. For spice add a little picked jalepeno to taste. Cook to a gentle boil. Once beans have thicken up turn off burner and smash with a potato smatcher . enjoy!

Bean Enchiladas recipe

corn tortillas
shredded cheese
refried beans
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans El Pato sauce
fresh cilantro
green onion
sour cream

warm up corn tortillas in micro
spray casserole dish with Pam

take each tortilla and fill center with beans and a little shredded cheese.
roll up and place in casserole dish.
cover enchiladas with sauce made from half and half tomato sauce and El Pato
sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and bake at 350 for 20 min.
When done add chopped cilantro,onion, and a dollop of sour cream.


Tina October 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I know I’m a little late on this but the secret to getting good mexican flavor in ANY dish is sofrito. You can see it here:

It probably comes out cheaper than buying all the vegetables and spices. It really is amazing stuff, I catch myself eating it by the spoonful right out of the jar. I always put it in my refried beans. I also cook my chicken and vegetables for burritos with it and often I will smear some right on the tortilla before preparing the burrito. Nom nom nom…


Ellen November 24, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Like others here, I use bacon grease when I make refried beans. Not good for you but oh so good! I usually quick-soak the beans, then cook with a chopped onion, a tablespoon of chili powder and a ham hock or a few slices of bacon. Then use about a tablespoon of bacon grease for every cup of cooked beans you want to fry. Heat the bacon grease, add the beans (drained but not too…) and mash with a potato masher.

That said, I always have cans of refried beans in the pantry too!


Katie K April 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

Hi, just found your site yesturday…can’t wait to make tons of your recipes!!!! I have to ask…..did you end up having a boy? With my son, I had tacobell bean and cheese burritos everyday til he was born!!!!!LOL


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom April 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm

@Katie K,

LOL! 3 boys for us!


bblz2259 November 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

I had a girl and it was the chicken and cheese soft tacos that I craved lol. My poor husband would go out at all hours of the day and night to get them for me.


Britney Hibbs June 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Hi! My husband and I are currently serving as missionaries in El Salvador and beans are an almost daily staple in our diet. I too use a crockpot to cook our beans and wouldn’t dream of cooking them on top of the stove anymore as a crockpot is so easy! First, I wash the beans well and then sort them (sometimes you will find small rocks, so sorting here is important) then I put them into the crockpot and cover them with water. I add a chopped onion, a couple cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper. I set the crockpot for 8 hours,and then leave them alone. Occasionally I will need to add more water, but not often. Once the beans are cooked I put them into our blender with a little of the juice and additional salt and spices if necessary and blend them until creamy. It is common to add oil for flavor, but we omit this as we try to eat healthy, and find that the beans without oil are just as good! Thanks for the tips!


Darwin February 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

Love this post!


Joe June 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I miss breakfast tacos so much… there are no breakfast tacos in Colorado. I was just in TX and went nuts when I was there. I have to resort to making my own. Everybody around the country just eats big burritos which just aren’t the same.


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