Low Sodium Refried Beans

Did you know that most refried beans are packed with sodium? Make your own refried beans at home for a healthy alternative!

Healthy Low Sodium Refried Beans!

Low Sodium

Refried beans in a can or from a restaurant can have up to 500mg of sodium per 1/2 cup! This is nearly a third of the amount of salt you should have in an entire day! Eating too much salt can contribute to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and kidney stones.

Plant Protein

But, if you do refried beans right, they can be very healthy! Beans are a great source of plant protein. Reducing animal protein (especially from animal flesh like beef, chicken and pork) and increasing plant protein is good for you! More plant protein is associated with less heart disease (1), kidney disease (2), high blood pressure (3) and cancer (4).

Packed with Fiber!

One of the biggest benefits of eating more beans is that they are packed with fiber! One 1/2 cup of refried beans has 8 grams of fiber. Getting in your fiber is good for your heart (5) and can help control blood sugar if you have diabetes (6). Of course, fiber also helps keep your bowels moving and can help stop constipation. (7)

Refried Beans & Kidney Stones

Yep! Refried beans can even fit on a low oxalate diet for people who have calcium oxalate kidney stones. These low sodium refried beans are made from pinto beans. Pinto beans have much less oxalate compared to higher oxalate beans like navy or black beans. One 1/2 cup portion of pinto beans has around 25 grams of oxalate, which can absolutely fit into a daily limit of 100mg oxalate. If you have high urine oxalate, limit oxalate to 100mg per day and eat enough calcium to bring urine oxalate down to a safe level. Remember that salt, protein and sugar can all play a role in kidney stones too!

Refried Beans & Kidney Disease

On the old renal diet, beans were considered a “never” food because they are “high” in phosphorus. But, we now know that most of the phosphorus in beans isn’t absorbed. New guidelines from the National Kidney Foundation support allowing foods like beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains because our bodies don’t absorb this phosphorus. (8)

Beans are also fairly high in potassium, but potassium needs are different for everyone with kidney disease. In addition, eating beans in place of meat at meals usually results in a healthy potassium amount. Ask your doctor or dietitian what is right for you!

Refried Beans in the Slow Cooker

What is better than coming home at night to the smell of dinner already cooked for you!? This is why I love to use my slow cooker as much as possible.

This low sodium refried bean recipe is perfect to throw together in the morning and eat for dinner that night. Because we want the beans to be nice and mushy for easy mashing, you can’t really overcook them! Let them cook for at least 6 hours, but up to 12 hours is fine!

How To Serve Low Sodium Refried Beans

You can use low sodium refried beans however you would usually serve the traditional version.

I love to spread them on crunchy tostadas (try these low sodium tostadas*!) and top them with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado. Try a little hot sauce too!

Use them to make tacos! Choose corn tortillas for a lower sodium swap for flour tortillas.

As a side dish! Low sodium refried beans are delicious all by themselves.

Try refried bean nachos with low sodium tortilla chips. Add a little cheese, lettuce, onion, fresh cilantro and you other favorite nacho toppings!

Happy Eating!


Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Low Sodium Refried Beans

Kidney friendly low sodium refried beans! You'll never buy refried beans in a can again!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: healthy refried beans, low sodium refried beans, slow cooker refried beans
Servings: 12 1/2 cup
Calories: 132kcal


  • Slow cooker


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder


  • Combine beans, water, garlic, onion, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on low at least 6 hours, until beans are very soft.
  • Drain water, reserving the liquid.
  • Using a potato masher, mash the beans. Add enough reserved liquid to meet your consistency preference.
  • Add remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add more spices to taste!


Nutrition Facts (per 1/2 cup): 132 calories, 0.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 24g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 0g added sugar, 8g protein, 125mg sodium, 45mg calcium, 406mg potassium, 135mg phosphorus, 25mg oxalate
Note: Most of the salt in this recipe is removed with draining the liquid! You can make this recipe even lower in sodium by omitting the salt. 

*Please note that this post contains clearly identified affiliate links.  If you click on these links and choose to make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

17 thoughts on “Low Sodium Refried Beans”

  1. the chili powder and garlic powder, onion powder isn’t on the ingredients list how much of each do you use

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      The recipe has been updated! Thanks for letting me know. Honestly, you can use as much (or as little!) of these spices that you want! It will have a negligible impact on the nutrition information.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Absolutely! This recipe makes a TON. I usually get 2-3 meals out of this PLUS some to freeze. I usually just reheat them in the microwave, but the stove would work as well!

  2. Two questions please: (1). I didn’t see the carbohydrates listed—can you tell me how many carbs are in each serving? (2). I don’ have a slow cooker—same amount of time on the stove? or what about cooking in the oven—-at what temp and for how long?

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Hi Lucinda,
      My apologies on the missing carbs! I’ve just updated this information to be 24g carb per serving. I’ve never tested this recipe for the stovetop or oven, so I really can’t say. For the stove, I’d be comfortable taking a guess that you could use the same recipe in a Dutch oven and cook on a very low simmer for 3 hours or so. I would recommend soaking the beans overnight first if you try this method though!

      1. I would like to keep half of this recipe in the fridge for a week, or would it be better to freeze it and then reheat it next week?

        1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

          Technically, it would probably be best to freeze half if you plan on using it an whole week later!

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Hi Carolyn! This recipe has 406mg potassium per 1/2 cup. You can find the potassium amounts for all of my recipes right underneath the recipe itself.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      You certainly could! The reserved water does have some starch in it, so it adds a nice creaminess than plain water wouldn’t. But, it would certainly still work!

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