Low Carb Refried Bean Casserole

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Refried Bean Casserole is simple to make but never lacking in spicy, savory flavor! Make this 4 ingredient recipe with lean ground beef, Mexican cheese and spices, and a can of jalapeno refried beans. It comes together in minutes and makes enough leftovers for the week!

titled: Low Carb Refried Bean Casserole


Refried Bean Casserole

While it may be a new recipe on the site, I’ve actually been making this ground beef and bean casserole for my family for years!

I’ve always got some in my fridge because it’s easy to make, lasts for days, and can be used in so many different ways. Chad and Munchkin never get tired of it.

Despite the name “casserole,” it’s actually a no bake recipe. Just brown and season the ground beef on the stovetop, then stir in the refried beans and cheese.

Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Beans are such an easy way to stretch your budget and your meals, whether they’re for a side dish, filling for burritos, or served over rice

That said, my Mexican casserole with refried beans can be served as all three and then some! It’s a no-brainer for busy households.

ingredients for refried bean casserole

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef – The leaner, the better for low carb Mexican casserole with refried beans, I say!

    I use an 88% blend so there’s less grease to drain off as it cooks, but use what you have on hand.
  • Jalapeno Refried Beans – With so few ingredients, a little extra kick goes a long way. If you don’t like spicy foods, stick with plain refried beans instead.

    Or, to keep it extra keto-friendly, make your own refried beans from black soybeans.
  • Mexican Seasoning – I usually have a jar of my homemade blend in the pantry, so if you do too, go ahead and use that.

    Otherwise, you’ll find a modified version (and smaller batch) of that recipe down below!
  • Shredded Cheese – Bagged shreds are just fine here since it’s easier to grab a Mexican or “fiesta” blend than buying each cheese separately and shredding it yourself.

    You could also sub in cheddar or Colby if you’d like!
cooking ground beef seasoned with salt in a dutch oven

Tips and Tricks to Make Mexican Casserole with Refried Beans

  • Season ground beef after it cooks.

I know I usually recommend that you season meat before cooking, but hear me out.

Salt draws moisture out of raw ground beef, causing it to become dry while also creating steam so it doesn’t brown properly.

For best results, allow the beef to brown first and break it into crumbles as it cooks. Then, stir in the seasoning to flavor the meat once there is no more visible pink.

  • Add the beans and cheese separately.

Stir in refried beans over heat so they “melt” into the beef crumbles, giving you a smoother and more consistent texture.

Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. It will melt slightly but not completely so there are gooey pockets throughout the spread.

  • Scale it up or down.

I typically split this between two casserole dishes — we’ll work on one, while the other goes right in the fridge. So, you can cut the recipe in half if you’re eating alone!

Or, if you want to reduce the overall carbs, add another pound of beef, an extra 4 ounces of cheese, and about ¾ tablespoon more of seasoning.

This increases the number of servings to 18, perfect for larger families or game-day snacking.

adding refried beans to ground beef

Prep Ahead

  • Mix seasoning blend
  • Prepare pico de gallo (if using)

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Dutch Oven – I love this set and use it all the time. It is perfect for roasts, and I especially love it for my one-pot meals.
  • Wooden Spoon – Use this to break up the ground beef and stir everything together. It’s much better at scraping the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan than plastic utensils.
  • Can Opener – It seems like a no-brainer, but a good can opener can save your hands and a lot of frustration as well! 
adding shredded cheese to refried bean casserole

Serving Suggestions 

There are so many ways to serve refried bean casserole! Eat it plain with chips — or pork rinds if you’re eating keto.

Top with homemade pico de gallo and crumbled Mexican queso or cotija cheese to put it over the top!

You can also spread it in a taco shell or on top of grain-free tortilla chips as a base for nachos.

Or, one of my favorite ways to use up leftover beef and bean casserole is by stuffing it into bread rolls to make cheesy Mexican bread bombs

Storing and Reheating Beef and Bean Casserole

Allow leftovers to cool, then scoop into an airtight container. My casserole dishes come with lids, which makes serving and storing after that much easier!

Refrigerate refried beans casserole for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month for longer storage. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

You can eat ground beef and bean casserole cold or reheat it if you’d like.

Warm individual portions in the microwave or on the stove, or pop the whole casserole dish in the oven for larger batches.

Refried Beans Casserole FAQ

Are refried beans low-carb?

Traditional refried beans are not low carb, though there are substitutes available — typically black soybeans or mashed cauliflower that’s been doctored up with seasonings. 

So what makes this refried bean casserole low carb? It’s mostly ground beef and cheese, both high in protein and fat, with just one can of beans mixed in to hold it all together.

You’ll have to watch your counts for the day, but you can easily make it a part of your keto plan with some adjustments!

What else can I add to this dish?

Black olives would taste delicious in refried beans casserole — and they’re keto-friendly too! Stir them in with the shredded cheese or sprinkle them right on top.

Can I make refried bean casserole ahead of time?

You bet! As mentioned, I make this recipe every week for my family and always have some in my fridge. 

Just be sure to keep it well covered or store it in an airtight container to extend its life. This also prevents it from forming an unpleasant skin on top!

closeup of refried bean casserole topped with jalapenos and tomatoes

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top view of refried bean casserole

refried bean casserole in a bowl with toppings

Low Carb Refried Bean Casserole

Donna Elick
My Refried Bean Casserole is a 4 ingredient low-carb recipe that’s perfect for leftovers. Enjoy it as a dip or for tacos, nachos, and more!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Method Stovetop
Servings 12


  • 3 pounds lean ground beef, I use 88%
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning, recipe to follow
  • 16 ounce can spicy jalapeno refried beans, I used Rosarita brand
  • 8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend

Mexican Seasoning Blend:

  • 4 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Optional garnishes:

  • Homemade pico de gallo, sliced jalapeno, diced white onion, diced tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper
  • crumbled Mexican queso


For the Mexican seasoning blend

  • Combine everything together in a mason jar. Cover and shake to combine.

For the casserole

  • In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine beef and salt. Cook until cooked through, using a spatula to break up the beef into very small pieces as it cooks.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Mexican seasoning onto the beef and stir until they come together. Store the remaining seasoning in a air tight container. You can make this recipe 6 times with the seasoning blend.
  • Add refried beans and stir until they ‘melt’ into the ground beef.
  • Remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until combined.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and top with homemade pico de gallo and crumbled mexican queso.

Donna’s Notes

You can halve the recipe if you prefer.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 270cal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 1041mg | Sugar: 2g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 5mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Low Carb Refried Bean Casserole - PIN

Originally published June 2024

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