Refried Bean Quesadillas For Picky Eaters

by | Jan 12, 2024

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Need an easy weeknight dinner idea?  Quesadillas are my go-to when I’m running short on time and didn’t plan anything, plus what kid doesn’t like tortillas and cheese?

Let’s step it up a notch and add some protein, fiber, and iron with pinto beans and make refried bean quesadillas!

Refried beans are easy to add to quesadillas because their texture makes it undetectable when smashed and the flavor just makes sense.

These refried bean quesadillas are easy to make, filled with valuable nutrients your kids won’t even know they’re eating, and they’re tasty too!

What You Need to Make Refried Bean Quesadillas

We’ve been making these refried bean quesadillas since my daughter was one year old and it’s the main reason why she loves beans to this day.  She’s not a huge animal protein eater, so these pinto bean quesadillas help her get in protein and iron, plus some fiber too!

Ingredients for Quesadillas

  • Flour tortillas
  • Canned pinto beans
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Oil – olive, vegetable, canola, or butter

Equipment for Quesadillas

How to Make Refried Bean Quesadillas

refried bean quesadillas

You can zap these refried bean quesadillas in the microwave, or if you have a few extra minutes, fry them up in a pan or on a griddle.

I find that using a griddle is your best bet because you can fry multiple at a time.  This works great for making extra refried bean quesadillas to save for school lunch or leftovers later in the week.

Making the Refried Beans

Before you fry up your quesadillas, you need to make the refried beans.  You can use a can of refried beans, or simply mash up a can of pinto beans. 

I like to start with canned pinto beans and let my kids help.  They love mashing things, so why not let them mash up something they can eat.

You can use a fork or potato masher to mash the pinto beans. To speed things up, I use my mini ninja food chopper and I let my kids push the button to make it go. 

Throughout the process of mashing your beans, don’t forget to add your seasonings. 

Making the Quesadillas

Once you have your beans mashed, preheat your griddle or frying pan to medium-high or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

I like to assemble my quesadillas on a cutting board prior to putting them on the griddle, but you can also assemble them on the griddle or frying pan.

You’ll take about 1-2 tablespoons, depending on how large your tortilla is, and spread it on one side of the tortilla.  Then layer with shredded cheese, enough to cover the beans, and flip over the plain side of the tortilla onto the shredded cheese and beans to create a half circle.

Now you can place your uncooked quesadilla on a greased griddle to cook.  Even if you have a nonstick griddle, the oil or butter is essential to the overall flavor. I typically eye ball my quesadillas versus setting a timer because each cooking method will vary.  

Once the griddle side down of your quesadilla is golden brown, you can flip the quesadilla to cook the other side.

I highly recommend using a griddle to cook multiple tortillas at a time.  I will often make extra to have for leftovers since they’re so easy to make. 

Once your quesadilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, remove from the griddle and let them cool.  I like to let the quesadillas cool first so all the cheese doesn’t come oozing out. 

Quesadillas for Picky Eaters

refried bean quesadillas for picky eaters

Give a child a tortilla and cheese and they’re likely in heaven. However, not all children enjoy quesadillas, let alone refried bean quesadillas. However, they’re a simple option for families that provide valuable nutrients such as protein, fat, calcium, fiber, and iron.

If your picky eater doesn’t enjoy quesadillas yet, but you’d like to work them into your meal rotation, try these tips and tricks:

  • Serve with preferred dips even if it sounds crazy.
  • Let them use kid-safe knives or mini cookie cutters
  • Offer deconstructed – plain tortilla, shredded cheese, beans on side
  • Have them help you mash the beans and make the quesadillas

If you need more support helping your child learn to try new foods, click here.

Variations

One of the best parts about quesadillas, besides the cheese, is how versatile they are. You can easily swap out the ingredients for nearly any flavor profile you want or keep it simple with just cheese.

  • Cheeseburger quesadillas
  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Pizza quesadillas
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Breakfast quesadillas
  • Black bean quesadillas
  • Confetti quesadillas
  • Carrot quesadillas
  • Buffalo chicken quesadillas
  • Veggie quesadillas

You can also make these quesadillas dairy free or vegan by using dairy free cheese.

If your family enjoys these refried bean quesadillas, try swapping the pinto beans for black beans!

Are Refried Beans Gluten Free

Because I used a can of pinto beans with minimal ingredients for these refried bean quesadillas, they are gluten free. However, some brands of refried beans may contain seasonings that are not gluten free. Always double check the ingredient list.

If you’d like to make this refried bean quesadillas gluten free, you can swap out the flour tortillas for corn tortillas.

Are Quesadillas Safe for Babies?

I’m not going to lie, my son almost choked on a quesadilla when he was two years old. This was likely because he was taking too large of bites and not chewing well enough, which is developmentally appropriate for toddlers.

Read more here for the most common choking hazards and how to modify them.

If you’re going to feed these refried bean quesadillas to your baby, I’d recommend chopping them into bite-size pieces until they develop better chewing skills, typically after four years of age.

It’s also important to note that canned beans and shredded cheese can be fairly high in sodium, something to minimize for young infants and children. This is because their kidneys are so small and have a hard time processing the amount of sodium that we as adults consume.

It’s not that you can’t offer these quesadillas to your infant or toddler, but I’d recommend choosing lower sodium options for snacks and meals that day if possible.

To minimize the sodium in canned beans, you can purchase low or no added salt varieties or rinse the beans prior to mashing to reduce some of the sodium.

Can You Freeze Quesadillas?

Quesadillas can easily be frozen, but over time the quality may decrease. I recommend freezing them in an individual layer on a parchment lined sheet tray and once frozen, transferring to an airtight container or Ziploc bag. They should last for 3 to 6 months in the freezer.

How to Store and Reheat Quesadillas

You can store your refried bean quesadillas in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the fridge for 3 to 7 days.

If you’d like to freeze your quesadillas, place them on a parchment lined sheet tray in a single layer and freeze.  Once your quesadillas are individually frozen, you can add them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag to store in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.

To reheat your quesadillas out of the fridge, simply place your quesadilla on a microwave safe plate and microwave for roughly 1 minute our until your quesadilla reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit for 15 seconds.  You can microwave frozen quesadillas, but it will just take a little longer.

You can also reheat your quesadillas in an oiled pan or griddle the same way you prepared them initially, just enough to warm them through.

What to Serve With Refried Bean Quesadillas

There are many dips and sides you can serve with these refried bean quesadillas, but my go-to’s are always guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.  Sometimes we use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for an added protein boost. 

  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Mexican rice
  • Fresh fruit and/or veggies
refried bean quesadilla

Refried Bean Quesadillas

A quick and easy dinner packed with fiber and protein!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 19 minutes

Equipment

  • Griddle or frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Food chopper or food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 15 oz can Pinto beans
  • 2 cups Shredded cheese
  • 8-16 Tortillas 6" to 8"
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Butter or oil

Instructions
 

  • Open the can of beans, drain the liquid, and rinse. Add beans to a food chopper along with seasonings and mix until smooth consistency. Set aside.
  • Heat the griddle to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or the frying pan to medium-high. While the griddle or pan is heating, assemble your quesadillas by spreading the refried bean mixture on half of a tortilla. Sprinkle on enough shredded cheese to cover the smashed beans and fold the tortilla in half.
  • Add butter or oil to grease the griddle or pan. Place the quesadilla on a greased griddle or pan and cook until the bottom side of the tortilla is golden brown. Flip the quesadilla and repeat
  • Remove the quesadilla from the heat and let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with your favorite dip, shredded lettuce, and Mexican rice.

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Hi! I'm Alex Turnbull. I'm a registered dietitian specializing in introducing solids and picky eating. Most importantly, I'm a mom of two so I get how stressful feeding kids can be.

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