Is There Really A Difference Between Refried Beans And Bean Dip?

Bean dip in bowl with chips
Bean dip in bowl with chips - Bhofack2/Getty Images

As you gather ingredients for your next round of ground beef tacos with zesty guacamole, you might wonder if you're better off making refried beans or homemade bean dip to serve alongside your crispy chips and queso. Yet, are refried beans and bean dip just different names for the same food?

These two savory dishes include beans, spices, and aromatic ingredients like onions and garlic. However, traditional refried bean recipes usually have fewer ingredients than classic bean dips. Bean dip can be made in several ways and may incorporate very few ingredients or include a wide range of additions like sour cream, green chilis, and hot sauce.

The texture of these two bean-based foods is also quite different. While refried beans usually resemble a chunky, mashed mixture perfect for spreading on tortillas or serving alongside warm rice, bean dip can be made with whole beans with a fresh appeal similar to classic pico de gallo or puréed into a smooth consistency with several different ingredients. The application of these two foods differs as well. Depending on the resulting flavor and texture, bean dip has several uses beyond serving as a delicious pre-dinner snack. Alternatively, refried beans are often consumed as a trustworthy side dish or meal-building anchor. To further understand the differences between these two dishes, let's delve more into recipe specifics regarding refried beans and classic bean dip variations.

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Refried Beans Defined

Bowl of refried beans with cheese
Bowl of refried beans with cheese - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Classic refried beans are traditionally made by combining dried pinto beans with water until fully cooked and broken down. The soft beans are mixed with onions and garlic and fried in bacon fat or lard. While you can dress up refried beans with various spices, this veritable side dish usually contains a mild, versatile flavor that relies heavily on beans, a few aromatic ingredients, and a bit of salt and pepper.

Refried beans can also be made from whole canned varieties, including black beans. Fat or oil and spices of your choice are heated in a skillet. Rinsed canned beans are added and mashed to create that signature thick and chunky refried bean texture. Many people also enjoy buying pre-mashed beans. In actuality, there are many unique ways to use canned refried beans. Even though you can serve this convenient food on toast or as your next veggie burger base, canned refried beans typically don't pack an overwhelming flavor. Most varieties are primarily made up of cooked pinto beans with less than 2% each of flavorings like cumin, tomato paste, and lard. Homemade refried beans may include more than one unexpected ingredient, such as lime juice, bacon, or queso fresco, but bean dip can be made with an extensive range of extra ingredients.

There's More Than One Way To Make Classic Bean Dip

Loaded bean dip with chips
Loaded bean dip with chips - Megan Betteridge/Shutterstock

What primarily sets bean dip apart from traditional refried beans has everything to do with what's in it. Bean dip isn't a one-size-fits-all recipe, and this satisfying snack can be made with whole beans, fresh corn, and herbs, or you can make a smooth and robust dip that includes cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

In the most general sense, bean dip contains puréed pinto or black beans, a range of spices, and some added water or stock to achieve the right consistency. Most recipes are made from whole canned beans or, believe it or not, canned refried beans. Depending on the dip you're making, you can make either hot or cold bean dip varieties.

Combine canned refried beans and a bit of salsa to serve as a hearty base for chilled seven-layer dip, including layers of guacamole, cheese, and black olives. Alternatively, blend canned black beans with onion, tomato, jalapeño, and lime juice to make a warm and tasty black bean dip with cheese and cilantro. The options are endless when making bean dip. While making refried beans follows a predictable set of guidelines with a few variations here and there, bean dip can be made using several ingredients, served hot or cold, and made light and smooth or extra chunky.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.