These crispy Bean and Cheese Tacos are the perfect quick and easy meal! Made with just a handful of ingredients, these simple vegetarian tacos are ready in no time and are sure to become a family favorite.
I have to admit, the first time I saw bean and cheese tacos, I thought, "Wait—aren't these quesadillas?"
And hey, maybe they are! But they're actually pretty ingenious. Tuck regular beans into a tortilla and you've got beans spilling out all over the place when you try to eat.
Fold your refried beans into tortillas and seal them shut and now you've got yourself a delicious solution to these taco problems. Fry them in a skillet until they're crispy and you're never going to want a regular taco again. (Okay, I take that back. I still love Tempeh Tacos.)
Each of these bean and cheese tacos is filled with melty cheese, salsa, refried beans, and seasonings. While I used these homemade Refried Beans, you can make refried black bean tacos instead if you prefer. When it's time to serve them, instead of adding the toppings inside as you would with a typical taco, you either add them on top or dip the tacos into them.
Of course, I can't forget to mention that these tacos are a cinch to make and they're the kind of dinner recipe even the pickiest eaters in the house will devour. Now that's a win, right?
You only need a few basics to pull together this easy bean and cheese taco recipe! You'll find specific quantities in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here's a quick overview of what we're going to be using:
- Small tortillas --> Either wheat or corn; use corn and this recipe is gluten-free.
- Salsa --> I chose a basic tomato-based salsa, but you can go wild here. Pico de gallo would work too.
- Shredded cheddar cheese or jack cheese --> Or another melty cheese you enjoy with Mexican and Tex-Mex food.
- Refried beans --> Canned or homemade refried beans (here's how to make refried beans), made with black beans, pinto beans, or another type of bean you like.
- Olive oil --> No need for anything fancy here; just your average cooking olive oil will do.
- Onion --> A standard yellow onion is perfect.
- Smoked paprika --> Adds irresistibly smoky flavor.
- Dried oregano --> Mexican oregano is best.
- Chili powder --> For some Tex-Mex flair.
- Salt --> I prefer kosher or sea salt.
- Garnishes --> Avocado, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and other taco toppings for serving.
How to Make Bean and Cheese Tacos
You'll find detailed instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. For now here's a step-by-step overview, complete with photos!
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, then add the onion. Once it's browned, stir in the paprika, oregano, and chili powder. When this mixture is fragrant, stir in the refried beans. Remove from the stovetop and season to taste.
Note! If you're starting with homemade refried beans, you can skip this step and simply warm the beans up. We're seasoning canned refried beans to add flavor, but the homemade version is already well seasoned!
Warm the tortillas for 20 to 30 seconds on each side in a dry skillet set over medium-high heat. Spread the salsa over the top, then sprinkle on the shredded cheese and add the refried beans.
Fold the tacos in half, gently pressing on the beans to push them all the way to the edges. This ensures you get beans in every bite!
At this point, you can eat the bean and cheese tacos as-is or you can fry them.
To fry the tacos, brush both sides with oil. Cook them in a heavy skillet preheated over medium-high heat; it will take 2 to 3 minutes to get each side nicely browned and crispy.
Serve your bean and cheese tacos with your favorite toppings, sauces, a squeeze of lime juice—whatever you like!
Tips for the Best Tacos
Don't overfill your tacos.
Yes, it's tempting, but if you overfill them, they'll be harder to fold, harder to cook, and harder to eat. That’s not what we want—I mean, the whole point of this recipe is that it’s an easy dinner!
Shred your own cheese if you have time.
And let’s be honest: there’s not always time. But when I do have a few extra minutes, I like to shred the cheese off the block instead of using store-bought shreds. It melts much more smoothly because it doesn’t have that powdery white anti-caking agent added to it.
Don’t skip warming the tortillas—especially if you’re using corn.
Whether you use corn or flour tortillas, both benefit from that quick heating in a dry skillet. But for corn tortillas, you really do need to take that step. Without it, your tortillas are likely to break when you attempt to fold them.
Adjust the heat as needed.
If you’re frying the bean and cheese tacos and notice the bottoms of the tortillas browning too quickly, lower the heat. If they're not browning fast enough, increase the heat slightly. I’ve found that when I’m cooking things in a skillet, whether it’s these tacos or Spelt Flour Pancakes, there’s usually a little finessing involved as the pan gets hotter.
Storing + Reheating Leftover Tacos
If you have leftover bean and cheese tacos, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat them, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes until heated through, or warm them up in a skillet set over medium heat. In a pinch, the microwave works too, but they’re likely to be a bit soggy.
Sheet Pan Option
If you want your bean and cheese tacos crispy, but you don't have the patience to fry them one at a time (or you want them all to be finished cooking at the same time), you can bake them on a sheet pan.
Simply follow the instructions for making the tacos, but instead of frying them in a skillet, lightly brush both sides with oil and bake at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
Bean and cheese tacos can be a nutritious meal option as long as you don’t overdo it on the cheese, use healthy refried beans, and keep the added oil in check. Beans are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while cheese also has protein and calcium.
Yes, you can easily make these tacos vegan by using dairy-free shredded cheese (or skipping the cheese) and my refried beans recipe, which is made without lard.
Yes, you can freeze these tacos for up to 3 months. And the best part - you can freeze them either before or after frying! Just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. To reheat, bake them from frozen in a 350ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through.
So many ways! Sauté diced bell peppers or frozen corn with the onions, try a different type of cheese like pepper jack, queso fresco, or cotija, or add hot sauce or sliced jalapeños to the tacos for some heat. You can also add scrambled eggs for breakfast tacos. This is the kind of recipe that you can easily experiment with!
Bean and Cheese Tacos
- 12 small tortillas wheat or corn are both fine
- ½ cup salsa
- ½ cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
- 1 14- ounce can refried beans or 1 ½ cups homemade refried beans
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup finely minced onion*
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika*
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano*
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder*
- salt to taste*
- Avocado sour cream, salsa, and cilantro for serving
Season Refried Beans
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Add the onion, and sauté until they are beginning to brown.¼ cup finely minced onion*
- Add the smoked paprika, oregano, and chili powder.½ teaspoon smoked paprika*, ½ teaspoon dried oregano*, ¼ teaspoon chili powder*, salt
- Add the refried beans, and stir to combine well.1 14- ounce can refried beans
- Taste the bean mixture, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
To Make the Tacos
- Place a dry skillet over medium-high heat.
- One at a time, warm the tortillas in the skillet for about 20-30 seconds on each side, until they are soft and pliable.12 small tortillas
- Spread each tortilla with about a teaspoon of salsa.½ cup salsa
- Scatter with 2 Tablespoons of shredded cheese.½ cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
- Place a scant 2 Tablespoons of refried beans in the center, and fold the tortilla over to form a taco, pressing the beans out to the sides.1 14- ounce can refried beans
- You can enjoy these tacos as is for soft tacos, or fry them if you prefer crispy tacos.
For Fried Tacos
- Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
- Lightly brush both sides of the tacos with oil and fry until they are browned and crisp - about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Serve immediately with toppings of your choice.Avocado
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are optional and are only required if you would like to season canned refried beans. If you're starting with our homemade refried beans recipe, this isn't necessary as they are already seasoned.
- To bulk-prep bean and cheese tacos, you can brush them with oil and bake them rather than frying.
- Bean and cheese tacos can be frozen for up to 3 months. To re-heat simply bake them for 10-15 minutes.