When you’re in the mood for Tex-Mex that’s cheap, delicious, and quick, Taco Bell is the way to go. Although they have a few wallet-busters on their menu, most of their burritos are pretty affordable. Take the vegetarian-friendly bean burrito, for example. It’s nothing fancy — a simple combination of refried beans, red sauce, cheddar cheese, and onions, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla — but it absolutely satisfies the taste buds for its $1.29 price tag (prices vary with date and location).
We knew it would be close to impossible to make a burrito at home for less than that price, but we wanted to try to make a copycat Taco Bell bean burrito recipe anyway. It looked like it would be simple to pull it off without adding too many ingredients, so we challenged ourselves to make it with only five ingredients. The only issue we ran into was making the beans a similar consistency to Taco Bell’s — a problem we solved by adding a little water to the beans as they cooked. By the time we finished, we could barely tell the difference between the burrito that came from the drive-thru and the one we made in our home kitchen.
Gather the ingredients for this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito
Our first step to make a copycat 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito was to go straight to the source and identify the ingredients. Luckily, Taco Bell is very transparent in its ingredients usage. Their website lists every single component of this burrito (as well as all their other menu items, too). The ingredients list for the bean burrito was short and sweet, so we headed to the store and got started.
The burrito begins with a standard flour tortilla. Taco Bell’s tortillas are certified vegan, so we looked for a tortilla brand that used oil or vegetable shortening instead of lard. From there, we picked up a block of cheddar cheese, a yellow onion, and a can of refried beans. Taco Bell’s refried beans contain "seasoning," so we chose a brand that contained spices like onion powder, cumin, chili pepper, and garlic powder in addition to pinto beans. The final component was the red sauce. We could have made it from scratch, but we used premade taco sauce with similar ingredients to keep the total ingredients under five.
You’ll find a full list of ingredients, including quantities and step-by-step instructions, in the directions section at the end of this article.
How do you replicate the red sauce for this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito?
The red sauce is part of what makes the Taco Bell bean burrito so crave-worthy. It’s zesty, tangy, and contains the perfect amount of spice. Without it, this bean burrito would be pretty boring, so picking the right sauce is essential to making a good copycat. The only problem is Taco Bell’s red sauce has over a dozen ingredients, so making it from scratch would put us well over the 5-ingredient limit.
Luckily, Ortega’s mild taco sauce came to the rescue. It’s thick and smooth, just like Taco Bell’s sauce, and the two share several common ingredients. They’re both made with a tomato base, use similar spices like paprika and onion powder, and contain cornstarch and xanthan gum as a thickener. Ortega’s is perhaps slightly spicier — thanks to the addition of green chile powder — but it’s close enough that we were happy to use it as a shortcut to make this 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito copycat recipe.
Dice the onion very finely for the perfect 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito
Our first step in making 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burritos was to dice the onion as finely as possible. Raw onions have a very sharp flavor, and they can be overpowering if you eat a too-large slice. They’re important for the flavor and — perhaps more importantly — the texture of the bean burrito, but you don’t want to overwhelm your taste buds with too much raw flavor.
Start by removing the peel and slicing the onion in half through the root. Lay the onion flat on the cut end and remove the top inch from the side opposite of the root. Make several horizontal slices from the top of the onion towards the root, stopping about a half-inch before you hit the root. This ensures the onion will hold together as you make the remaining cuts. Next, position the tip of your knife just before the root and make several vertical slices from pole to pole, being careful not to slice through the root itself. Finally, finish by slicing across the cuts to free the diced pieces from the onion. Discard the root and set the onions aside until you’re ready to assemble the burrito.
Heat the beans and tortilla to make this 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito
The only other steps you need to take to make this 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito involve heating the remaining ingredients. Grab a small saucepan and empty out the can of refried beans. Heat the beans over medium-low heat until they’re warmed through, adding 1/4 cup of water to loosen them up a bit. You may need to add more water, depending on the consistency. You want them to be loose but not runny.
While the beans are heating, warm the flour tortillas in a large skillet. Let the skillet preheat over high heat and add the tortillas once at a time, flipping them once or twice to heat both sides. When the tortilla is warm on both sides, remove it to a plate and continue heating the remaining tortillas. You can also use a microwave to heat the tortillas, but don’t skip this step. The heat will help soften the tortillas and make them more pliable, making it significantly easier to roll the burritos without cracking the tortilla.
Build the burrito to finish this 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito
When everything is warmed through and chopped, it’s finally time to assemble the burritos. Add a quarter of your refried beans to the warmed tortilla, using a spatula or spoon to position them in the center of the tortilla. Top the beans with one tablespoon of the taco sauce followed by a quarter of the finely diced onions. To finish, sprinkle two tablespoons of the cheddar cheese on top and fold the burrito. You can fold in both sides before wrapping the burrito up to make it easier to eat, but folding in one side and leaving the other open will make the burrito look more like Taco Bell’s.
Continue rolling the burritos until all the ingredients are used. If you happen to make too many burritos, you can store them in an airtight container or wrap them individually in parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. They will last in the refrigerator for about four to five days, and they can be reheated in the microwave or on a hot griddle for a crispy exterior. You can also store them in a freezer-safe plastic bag in the freezer for up to three months. The best way to reheat frozen burritos is in the microwave or a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 40 minutes.
How close did we get to the original Taco Bell bean burrito?
Our 5-ingredient Taco Bell bean burrito was so close to the original, we might not have known the difference in a blind taste test. The beans were the perfect consistency, and their savory flavor paired so nicely with the bold flavor of the taco sauce. The onion provided crunch and a burst of pungent flavor, and we loved the way the cheese melted from the heat of the beans. The flavors might not have been spot on, but they were close enough that we didn’t notice.
Now that we know how quickly and easily we can make Taco Bell bean burritos, we don’t need to make the trip to the drive-through when a craving comes on. All of the ingredients in this recipe are either shelf-stable or last for several weeks in the refrigerator, so they’ll always be on-hand when we want to make burritos. Knowing that we can make the burritos ahead and reheat them for lunch or dinner is a huge time saver, too.
We definitely plan to experiment with this recipe in the future, branching out to make a Cheesy Bean and Rice burrito by adding seasoned rice and cheese sauce. Or turn it into the Beefy 5-Layer burrito by adding seasoned beef, sour cream, and cheese sauce. The possibilities are endless when you use this burrito as a base recipe!