Cream Cheese Is The Simple Addition For Thicker Refried Beans

If you've ever noticed a taste difference between canned and restaurant refried beans, you certainly aren't the only one. Served up on a hot plate, covered in melted cheese, and oh-so-creamy, restaurant-style refried beans are a far cry from the cold, dry beans that clump in a can shape. It's a common kitchen hack to add water or milk to refried beans, though extra liquid can make the beans a bit runny.

If you prefer thicker beans, there's a simple solution to boost flavor, add moisture, and thicken refried beans. Cream cheese is the not-so-secret weapon for making refried beans a yummy side dish to accompany rice, or a versatile taco or nacho topping. The dairy in cream cheese not only thickens refried beans to a creamier consistency — cream is in the name — but it also incorporates the rich, silky flavor of dairy.

Fat content and viscosity are the two key components of creaminess, and the fat in cream cheese is a natural thickener akin to the animal fats used in traditional refried beans. Naturally high in fat, cream cheese has about 10 grams of fat per ounce, according to Healthline. Rich in the benefits of dairy, like vitamin A and B2, cream cheese adds more nutrients to already protein-packed beans.

Cream cheese is the vegetarian addition you can make to canned or homemade refried beans

Cream cheese is also a tried and true vegetarian alternative to the usual lard or bacon grease added to flavor refried beans. The thick, meltiness of cream cheese resembles the consistency of rendered pork fat, and the fat from the dairy emulates the same effects. Whether you want to add cream cheese to make traditional refried beans even creamier or swap the lard for dairy fat from cow's milk, cream cheese is an excellent addition to canned or homemade refried beans.

While most canned refried beans just call for microwave or stovetop heating, the resulting beans can be a little bland and a lot dry. If you choose to cook your own beans, the heating process also contributes to dryness. Frying the beans allows more moisture to evaporate on the hot skillet, thickening the beans, but countering the moist, creamy texture that makes refried beans delicious. And you guessed it, cream cheese is the easy, quick fix to this dryness.

To enhance your cream cheese refried beans even more, throw in some taco sauce, and seasonings like cumin and chili powder, and sprinkle cheese on top. You can even try using a wooden kitchen tool called a machadora to smash the beans with aromatic ingredients while they're in the frying pan. Just put those beans on the stove, and mix in the cream cheese.