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Our healthy, easy pinto bean casserole is a well-balanced meal the whole family will enjoy! This delicious and healthy one-pot meal is ready in under 30 minutes, making it perfect for when you need to get something on the dinner table in a hurry.
Don’t you just love it when you can be in and out of the kitchen in no time, with a dish that everyone enjoys? This Mexican pinto bean casserole is packed full of fresh ingredients, warm spices, and fun toppings for a nutritious and kid-friendly weeknight dinner.
Many casserole recipes use heavy cream, a meat mixture, and white rice, but this recipe swaps these ingredients out opting for high fiber beans, quinoa and veggies!
Plus, with just one pot required, you’ll have an easy clean up! No need to add anything to a large bowl, or dirty up a bunch of pans. All the sautéing, mixing, and simmering is done in the same pot. Perfect for busy weeknight dinners!
The rich spices infuse the dish with a warm and savory depth for classic Mexican flavors. The addition of quinoa not only adds to the texture but also boosts the protein content, making this casserole a complete meal.
What’s more is that it is topped with creamy avocado, tangy lime, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. It can be served as both a hearty main dish and as a side dish. Plus, it’s also a fantastic way to introduce your kids to a variety of vegetables.
👩🏽🍳 Why You’ll Love Pinto Bean Casserole
- Plant-Based: This dish is a plant-based powerhouse, packed with veggies like large sweet red peppers, baby spinach, and whole kernel corn. With pinto beans as the star, it is a hearty, satisfying meal that’s completely free from animal products.
- Quick And Easy: With a total time of just under thirty minutes, this recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights. Plus, it is a one-pot meal, which means minimal cleanup afterwards.
- Gluten-Free: With quinoa as the grain, this dish is entirely gluten-free. It is a great option for those with dietary restrictions, without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.
- Versatile: This recipe is versatile and adaptable. You can use any veggies you have on hand, making it a great choice for using up leftovers. Plus, with toppings like avocado, cilantro, and Greek yogurt, everyone can customize their own plate to their liking.
- Accessible Ingredients: This casserole with pinto beans uses simple, whole food ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. It is a testament to the fact that healthy, delicious meals don’t have to be complicated.
- Family Favorite: With its mild flavors and customizable toppings, this recipe is a hit with kids and adults alike. Plus, it is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies for the little ones.
Latest Recipe Video!
This recipe for pinto bean casserole uses a delicious mix of pantry staples and fresh produce. You’ll find that every ingredient is readily available at your local grocery store.
- Red Onion: Red onion adds a sweet and mild flavor to our casserole, making it enticing to kids and adults alike. One large onion should be plenty here, or two small/medium onions!
- Bell Peppers, Corn, & Spinach: These colorful veggies not only make the dish visually appealing but also add a variety of amazing flavors with a burst of subtle sweetness. You’ll use a whole cup of corn and 4 cups of chopped spinach.
- Garlic & Olive Oil: Garlic brings a robust flavor to the casserole. It is a key ingredient that makes this dish aromatic and flavorful. We use olive oil for sautéing our veggies and garlic!
- Pinto Beans: Pinto beans are the star of this casserole. They provide a hearty texture and are a great source of plant-based protein. The longer you simmer them, the softer they become, making the dish suitable for all ages. You can also use cooked dry beans.
- Diced Tomatoes: These bring a tangy sweetness to the casserole and help to create a deliciously rich sauce. Use one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, unsalted to reduce overall salt in the dish. For extra tomato flavor, you can use 2 cans tomatoes.
- Spices: The combination of chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and taco seasoning gives our casserole a wonderful depth of flavor.
- Salt And Ground Black Pepper: These are essential seasonings that enhance the overall flavor of the casserole. You’ll just need 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper.
- Cooked Quinoa: Quinoa is a super grain that adds a delightful crunch to the casserole and packs in extra protein and fiber.
- Toppings: These optional toppings add more flavor and texture. Add diced avocado for a creamy element, and a bit of lime juice for some acidity. A few cilantro leaves give a refreshing taste, and a dollop of Greek Yogurt or vegan sour cream brings the flavors together.
🍲 Ingredient Substitutions
- Onion: Swap the red onion for whatever onion you have on hand. Yellow onion, sweet onion, or even shallots would be tasty here!
- Vegetables: You can use green peppers, kale, or any veggie you have on hand for this recipe.
- Garlic: Use fresh cloves, pre-minced, or even a garlic paste if you are in a scramble.
- Oil: Swap the olive oil for another high-heat oil like avocado oil, if needed. You could also use unsalted butter for more flavor.
- Beans: If you’re not a fan of pinto beans or just want to try something different, swap them out with black beans, kidney beans, or refried beans. Each type of bean will bring a unique flavor and texture to the dish.
- Tomatoes: Instead of canned tomatoes, fresh chopped tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or plain tomato sauce will work fine!
- Spices: Play around with different spices like garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, or smoked paprika.
- Rice: Instead of quinoa, feel free to try this recipe with your favorite type of rice!
🔪 How To Make Pinto Bean Casserole
Making this Mexican casserole dish at home is incredibly simple and easy. For a more comprehensive breakdown and nutrition facts, refer to the recipe card below.
Sauté The Vegetables: Begin by adding onion, bell peppers, and garlic to a large pan or 2-quart bean pot, along with a drizzle of olive oil or cooking spray. Sauté these over medium heat until the onions turn translucent. This should take about five to ten minutes.
Add The Beans And Spices: Next, stir in the pinto beans, diced tomatoes, corn, baby spinach, and all the spices – from chili powder to black pepper. Continue sautéing for another ten to fifteen minutes until everything is thoroughly cooked.
Stir In Quinoa: Now, it’s time to add some wholesome grains to the pinto bean mixture. Stir the quinoa in the pan and let it cook with the rest of the ingredients.
Squeeze Lime And Mix: Squeeze fresh lime juice over the casserole and stir well to combine all the flavors.
Serve Warm: Finally, serve this healthy pinto bean casserole warm. Top it off with slices of avocado, a sprinkling of cilantro, and a dollop of Greek yogurt for added creaminess and flavor. Enjoy!
💭 Expert Tips
- Prep Your Vegetables In Advance: To save time, chop your red onion, bell peppers, and garlic ahead of time. This will allow you to throw everything into the pan quickly when it is time to start cooking.
- Use Fresh Spices For Maximum Flavor: Fresh chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and taco seasoning will give your pinto bean casserole a rich and savory taste. Try to avoid using old spices that have been sitting in your pantry for too long.
- Don’t Forget The Lime: The lime juice squeezed on top of the casserole at the end is crucial. It adds a zesty freshness that balances out the hearty flavors of the beans and veggies.
- Grate Your Own Cheese: If you decide to add cheese to your casserole, grate it yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts better and has a richer texture.
- Simmer Time Can Vary: The longer you simmer the casserole, the softer the veggies and beans will become. If you’re cooking for young children, consider simmering for a bit longer to guarantee that everything is easy for them to chew.
- Double Up For A Crowd: If you’re feeding a large group, have a big family, or want leftovers for the next day, don’t hesitate to double the recipe. This casserole is easy to scale up and always a crowd-pleaser.
- Sweetness: If you want to add a subtle touch of sweetness to this casserole dish, add in about 1/2 tablespoon sugar or brown sugar when sautéing the vegetables. The recipe will still be savory overall, with a richer and more complex flavor profile.
- Extra Vegetables: If you’re looking to add more veggies into your diet, this variation is perfect for you. Just toss in any extra vegetables you have in your fridge, like zucchini, carrots, or broccoli, along with the other ingredients. This will not only increase the nutritional value but also add more flavors and textures to your casserole.
- Protein-Packed: To add an extra protein punch to this dish, try adding tofu crumbles! You could also do shredded chicken, ground turkey, or ground beef if you’re not following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Just make sure to cook your protein before adding it to the casserole. This variation is perfect for those who are looking to increase their protein intake.
- Spicy Twist: If you love spicy food, try adding jalapenos, diced green chiles, or a dash of hot pepper sauce to your casserole. This will give the dish a kick that spice lovers will enjoy. Just be sure to adjust the other seasonings to balance the heat.
- Try Cheese: For those who can’t resist cheese, add some cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese to cover beans and veggies in a creamy layer of melted, cheesy goodness. This will add a delicious creaminess to the dish that kids (and adults) will love.
- Corn Chips: For a fun and crunchy twist, try topping your casserole with crushed corn chips. The chips will add a delightful crunch to each bite, making this variation a hit with the whole family.
- Extra Toppings: If you love toppings, this variation is for you. Try adding black olives, green onions, green chilies, salsa, fresh cheese, or even some extra avocado on top of your casserole.
- Cornbread Topping: You can also make your own corn bread topping or use Jiffy cornbread mix to turn this into a pinto bean cornbread casserole. It’s one of my favorite ways to change up the flavor so definitely save this idea for next time!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
This tasty pinto bean casserole is a versatile dish that can be paired with various meals to create a wholesome dining experience. Here are some of our favorite serving suggestions:
- Main Course: This hearty casserole can stand alone as a satisfying main course. Pair it with a refreshing tomato avocado cucumber salad or a tangy grape salad to balance the rich flavors.
- Taco Night: Add a twist to your regular taco night by serving this pinto bean casserole as a filling. It pairs perfectly with soft corn tortillas, fresh salsa, and a squeeze of lime.
- Side Dish: Serve this casserole as a side dish alongside mushroom toast or sweet corn tamale cakes for a complete plant-based meal.
- For Brunch: Yes, you can have this casserole for brunch too! Pair it with avocado toast or a veggie-packed low calorie omelette for a protein-rich start to your day.
- As a Dip: Alternatively, use the casserole itself as a dip! Serve it with tortilla chips or fresh veggie sticks for a healthy and delicious snack. Enjoy your meal!
🙌 Dietary Adaptations
This dish is already a gluten-free and can accommodate most dietary restrictions. Here’s how to turn this into a vegan pinto bean casserole recipe:
- Vegan And Dairy-Free Option: The recipe calls for whole milk, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream for topping. To make this recipe completely dairy-free, simply replace them with a dairy-free alternative. You can use coconut cream, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt, or vegan sour cream as a topping. These options not only retain the creamy texture but also add a unique flavor to your dish.
- Refrigerating: Keep any leftovers of the pinto bean casserole in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to four days.
- Freezing: Unfortunately, this dish does not freeze well due to the texture of the beans and veggies, which can become mushy upon thawing. It is best to enjoy it fresh or refrigerated.
- Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers, gently reheat them in the microwave or on the stove. If you’ve added cheese, be sure to reheat slowly and stir frequently to maintain a creamy, hearty texture.
Absolutely! Unlike most taco casseroles that are loaded with meat and cheese, this vegetarian pinto bean casserole is packed with a rainbow of fresh and frozen veggies. It is rich in healthy fats from the olive oil and avocado, protein and fiber from the pinto beans, and helps you reach your daily value of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. Plus, it contains no refined grain, unlike white rice that is found in most traditional taco casseroles.
Yes, you can assemble the casserole and refrigerate it overnight. Bake it when ready to serve!
Make sure that canned ingredients, especially tomatoes and canned pinto beans, are well-drained. This will help remove excess liquid, preventing your casserole from becoming too watery.
Yes, you can assemble the ingredients in a slow cooker or crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until bubbly.
For a kid-approved casserole, minimize spicy ingredients, use mild cheese, and skip any veggies that you know your little ones don’t enjoy. You can also cut the vegetables into smaller pieces which is often more approachable for kids. For a fun and tasty touch, try adding a layer of crushed tortilla chips.
🌮 More Healthy Mexican Recipes!
- Mexican Pizza
- Keto Enchiladas
- Vegan Taquitos
- Potato Tacos
- Mexican Rice Casserole
- Vegan Chorizo
- Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Loaded Veggie Nachos
- Black Bean Veggie Quesadillas
- Veggie Fajitas
Love this plant based mexican recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!
📋 Recipe Card
🎥 Watch How to Make It
Pinto Bean Casserole
- 1 red onion
- 2 bell peppers diced red yellow or orange
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cans pinto beans rinsed & drained
- 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp taco seasoning more to taste
- ½ tsp salt more to taste
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado diced for topping
- cilantro for topping
- whole milk plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for topping
- Add onion, bell peppers, garlic and olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add pinto beans, diced tomatoes, corn, baby spinach and all spices (chili powder through black pepper). Saute another 10-15 minutes until everything is cooked through. Stir in quinoa.
- Squeeze lime juice on top and stir to combine. Serve warm, topped with avocado, cilantro and greek yogurt.
- I used pinto beans in this dish, but you could easily swap them for black or kidney beans.
- You can use any veggies you like – it’s a great dish for using up leftover veggies in the fridge!
- Keep any leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge (for up to 4 days) and gently reheat in the microwave or the stove.
- Serve with your favorite Mexican toppings like salsa, guacamole or sour cream.
- The longer you simmer this, the softer the veggies/beans/etc. will become. For adults/older kids – sautéing 10-15 minutes is plenty of time for the flavors to come together and for the veggies to still have a nice bite to them. But for really young kids, you can cook it longer so it’s easier for them to chew!