From the author, Terrence Paschal: Quesadillas have become a staple in the American diet. Unfortunately, they are filled with cheese. This Vegan Bean Quesadilla removes the cheese and with that removal goes the saturated fat and cholesterol. The bean mixture is very creamy, and is filled with good fats, protein, and fiber. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less of the chipotle pepper. It is easy to throw together quickly, and you can also add other veggies. Enjoy!
From Plant-Based on a Budget: These vegan ‘refried’ bean quesadillas are hearty and flavorful – packed with a creamy, lightly spices pinto bean filling- no dairy required! Instead, the beans, spices, and other add-ins and mashed into a creamy filling for a veggie quesadilla snack or meal that is wonderfully crispy on the outside with a tender, creamy filling!
Hearty Vegan ‘Cheat’ Refried Bean Quesadillas
This vegan bean quesadilla recipe omits all the effort of standing over a stovetop making refried beans, yet ends up with a creamy, beany, flavorful mashed bean filling wrapped up in a crispy pan-fried quesadilla! How? With a food processor, of course! Simply mash all the ingredients into a creamy paste, spread over the tortilla, fold, and fry – for delicious veggie quesadillas!
It’s no secret that legumes (canned and dried) are a staple of any vegan kitchen. Rarely a week goes by without us dipping into them in one way or another – to make Southwest black bean burgers, spicy red bean burgers, 4-bean chili, rice and bean burritos, and beany ‘meatballs.’ This time we’re using pinto beans (or black beans) to make a wonderfully hearty snack or meal in the form of this vegan bean quesadilla recipe!
Quesadillas have become a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine. However, most versions are filled with meat and dairy (which means lots of saturated fats and cholesterol!). Luckily, these veggie quesadillas are meat-free, dairy-free, and can even be made oil-free! The result is a protein-dense, fiber-rich, hearty yet healthy treat packed with a creamy, flavorful bean filling. And at just an average $0.58 per serving!
Beans: We used a 15oz can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed) for this. However, the method also works well with black beans.
Avocado: Use a medium avocado.
Pepper: We used chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, which adds heat and smoky flavor. If you’re unable to use that, you could use a chili (like a jalapeno) and a teaspoon of smoked paprika or simply some hot smoked paprika. It won’t be the same but will still provide heat and smokiness.
Spices: These veggie quesadillas use a common Tex-Mex spice combination, including cumin, onion garlic, garlic powder, and chili powder.
Vegetable broth: Use the vegetable broth of your choice. Use reduced-sodium if preferred. You could also use a vegetable stockpot or stock powder with water.
Tortillas: You’ll need four tortillas – use gluten-free if needed. White or whole wheat will work well.
Cilantro: (Optional) or scallions or parsley would work as a garnish.
Optional Add-ins and Variations:
Cheese: If you have some dairy-free cheddar or similar cheese in your fridge, feel free to add some to the refried bean quesadillas. Alternatively, you could use a vegan ‘cheese sauce’ (like this vegan nacho cheese) to drizzle over the bean mixture before sealing the veggie quesadillas and pan-frying.
Extra veggies: Our favorites include budget-friendly corn and finely diced bell pepper. You could also add options like mushrooms, zucchini, and onions – but it’s best to sauté these first (possibly with spices), to remove excess liquid before they’re added.
Refried beans: If you have pre-prepared refried beans (or these pot beans that you can mash up into a paste), you can use them and adjust any of the spices to personal preference. No need to blend, use avocado slices in the quesadilla.
‘7-layer burrito’ tortilla hack: In 2020, there were several ‘TikTok hacks’ that took the globe, including the ‘tortilla wrap hack,’ which provides a way to add four different layered fillings to a tortilla before folding and pan-frying, like a quesadilla. This same method can be used for this veggie quesadilla- allowing you to make a veggie wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, the bean mixture, rice (or extra veggies like corn and peppers), vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, and guacamole. Keep reading for the complete method below.
Corn chips: You can add some crushed-up corn chips for extra crunch.
How to Make Refried Bean Quesadillas
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.
Add the beans, avocado, chipotle pepper, spices, and broth to a food processor and pulse until creamy. If needed, add more broth (1 tablespoon at a time) until it is creamy and ‘spreadable’.
Divide the mixture between the four tortillas, spreading it over half the tortilla. Then fold each tortilla in half.
To cook the refried bean quesadillas, either place in a non-stick pan (oil-free) or use a pan sprayed with cooking spray or just a little oil. Cook the bean tortilla for several minutes until lightly browned, then flip and repeat on the second side. Repeat this step with the remaining quesadillas.
Once ready, slice each tortilla into several pieces and enjoy!
To Make the 7-Layer Tortilla Wrap Hack
Lay your tortilla flat and make a slice from the center downwards to the bottom of the tortilla. Then separate the tortilla visually into four sections (one section of either side of the slice and above on each side. These will be your four layers of filling.
On the side on the bottom left, add lettuce and tomato slices. Above that, add a layer of vegan sour cream and guacamole. To the right, add a sprinkle of vegan cheese and either Mexican-style rice (like this Mexican rice or Spanish cauliflower rice or cilantro rice) or extra veggies like corn and finely diced bell peppers. In the last section, spread the bean mixture. Then fold the wrap from the bottom left (fold the lettuce tomato layer up over the sauces, then to the right over the cheese layer before finally downwards over the beans.
Once folded, pan-fry as written above, then serve.
How does it work? When folding the tortilla wrap, the left half of the wrap will be in the center of the wrap. That way, you can keep your salad crisp in the center while heating the bean and cheese/rice fillings.
How to Serve this Vegan Bean Quesadilla?
You can enjoy these refired bean quesadillas in several ways, including alone as a snack or with several sides, including:
You can prepare the creamy bean filling in advance and store, covered in the fridge for between 1-2 days. The avocado will brown in this time, but it’s still fine to eat. If you want to prepare the uncooked vegan bean quesadillas far in advance, I recommend freezing them- otherwise, the filling will cause the tortillas to become soggy.
To freeze the unbaked bean quesadillas: Lay them on a large tray and freeze until solid. Then transfer to a freezer-safe Ziplock bag for up to 3 months. You can then bake the quesadillas from frozen (at 375F/190C for 25-30 minutes) and finish off under a broiler or in a pan for crispier results.
Once cooked, I recommend eating the vegan bean quesadillas within 1-2 days, though I recommend enjoying them within 12 hours for the best results. Store them covered in the fridge until eating. To reheat, you can dry-fry them in a pan until warm and crispy.
Top Recipe Tips and FAQs
To make a large batch of vegan bean quesadillas: I recommend baking the refried bean quesadillas. That way, you don’t need to stand over a skillet cooking them in batches. Instead, simply spray the quesadillas with a bit of oil or baking spray. Then bake them all in the oven at 375F/190C for 22-25minutes, or until lightly crispy and warm throughout. If you’re worried about the tortilla not staying folded, you can weigh them down with a second baking tray for 10-12 minutes.
Feel free to adjust the heat: By adjusting the amount of chili powder and chipotle pepper used in the mixture.
To use dried beans: Soak the pinto beans (you’ll need ¾ cup of beans) in cold water overnight, then cook until tender (this can take between 2- 2 ½ hours). Alternatively, use our Instant Pot pinto bean method.