The Real Reason You Should Never Get Taco Bell's Refried Beans

Taco Bell's menu is a shining example of tasty ways to combine beef, cheese, beans, and tortillas to make a satisfying, affordable meal. And, the Bell seems to be the epitome of efficiency when it comes to fast service for the masses. Surely, we could all learn a thing or two about speed in the kitchen from this fast food giant. It begs the question, though, what kinds of shortcuts must they be taking in order to produce our food within mere moments of us placing our order? 

Well, we're here to spill the beans on one of the most ubiquitous items on Taco Bell's menu: the refried beans. They're the creamy layer you'll find folded into many of the burritos featured on the regular menu, and the bean-y blanket coating toasty tortilla chips in the Nachos BellGrande and Nachos Supreme offerings. That's a lot of beans. So how do the cooks in the kitchen keep up? Taco Bell's refried beans are not magic, but there are some kitchen tricks going on behind the scenes, as well as an ingredient you may want to look out for.

Taco Bell's refried beans don't start out looking like beans at all

We'd all like to think the refried beans at Taco Bell start out looking like beans and not like animal pellets you picked up at the local tractor supply store. Unfortunately, that's not the case, as evidenced by a TikTok user demonstrating how Taco Bell's refried beans are actually made. The beans come in the form of tiny, dried cylinders in a bulk-sized plastic bag, from which they are dumped into a pan of hot water and stirred until they morph into the smooth, creamy refried beans we actually recognize. 

Essentially, they're rehydrated from a pre-cooked state. Considering that, according to House of Yumm, making homemade refried beans involves soaking dried beans, simmering them with aromatic ingredients like onions and garlic, then frying the cooked beans in oil, and smashing and mashing them until smooth, it makes sense that Taco Bell would need to shortcut the process. But, the striking resemblance the pre-cooked refried beans bear to rabbit food might just have us opting for bean-free items nonetheless. Not to mention a cringeworthy report on Reddit where a Taco Bell employee noted the refried beans dry out and develop a crust throughout the day, at which point they just add more water, and stir. Ew.

Taco Bell's refried beans contain an ingredient that may surprise you

On the positive side, Taco Bell's refried beans are completely vegan and a staple of the dedicated vegetarian menu Taco Bell rolled out in 2019. And, the ingredients list is relatively short and sweet, including pinto beans, soybean oil, and seasonings. But, one of the "seasonings" is an FDA-approved food additive called trehalose and it could make you rethink that bean and cheese burrito for good. Self Hacked states certain studies have linked the approval of trehalose as a food additive to the uncontrolled growth of some aggressive, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that are known to cause gut infections. Science Alert cautions more research is needed on this potential link and it is considered generally safe in small amounts. 

For now, it's up to you to decide whether to Live Mas, indulging in Taco Bell's refried bean deliciousness or not. Luckily, you have plenty of options as their menu is full of things you should order (and a few more you should not).