Spilling the Beans | Burrito Time

Spilling the Beans is an occasional blog written by contributing editor Leah Mensch about all things bean-related.


By Leah Mensch, Contributing Editor

First, I just want to say, I respect everyone’s food choices, but a burrito without beans is a “burrito,” not a burrito.

The art of bean burritos seems simple, and it can be, but if you put time and care into your beans and craft, the bean burrito tastes much better. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the perfect bean burrito.


Rice (white or brown)

  • Note: I typically use brown rice because I think it tastes better in burritos, and it’s also far easier to cook. If you’ve never used the brown rice straining method, you should check it out here.


  • Note: The beans are the most important part. Your mind probably goes to black beans, but I usually prefer pinto beans or red beans — which are not the same as pinto beans. In this recipe, I used Santa Maria Pinquito beans, which I realize are kind of niche, but I usually find a smaller bean better.
  • Second Note: Don’t use canned beans. Please. Don’t use canned beans. When you soak and cook the beans, I recommend using my black bean cooking method recipe — it works universally for most beans.


  • Note: make sure the tortillas you get are not taco-sized, or else your burrito is going to be the size of your thumb, and that’s no fun.


  • Note: I recommend cheddar, but pepper jack, Monterey Jack, colby jack etc. also works. 

Sour cream

  • Note: I actually use whole milk Greek yogurt most of the time because I always have yogurt and rarely have sour cream. It does the job.


  • Note: I actually use hot pepper jam because I have a friend who makes really good hot pepper jam, but I don’t have a recipe for the hot pepper jam, so it would be rude and ineffective for me to call for that in this recipe. And salsa tastes just as good. 


  • Note: Unless you’re one of those people who think it tastes like soap, I guess. 

Optional: Avocado

  • Note: I don’t love avocados, so I usually leave them off, but if you’re into them, they’d be great to add.


There is an art when it comes to the order in which you put ingredients on your tortilla. But first, remember to concentrate the ingredients to the middle, because you’re going to — attempt — to roll it.

Step 1: Heat the stove and cook the tortilla on each side for about 15 seconds. This makes it easier to roll.

Step 2: Put a few spoonfuls of rice in the center. Then add the beans. The beans are the ingredient I add most liberally because they’re my favorite part.

Step 3: Spread the sour cream and salsa on top of the beans and rice. Then add the cheese and some chopped cilantro. That’s it.

Step 4: Fold the burrito. I honestly have no idea how to properly fold a burrito, so I just watch the guys at Chipotle and then I try to do the same thing. Usually I just do the best I can and end up eating it with a fork and a knife. I watched this video for help once, and it didn’t really help me, but it seemed to really help the people in the comments.

Additional Notes:

  • Some people like chicken or steak or tofu or whatever else in their burritos. I would recommend adding the meat after the beans and rice, but before the sour cream and salsa. I’m sure it will be delicious.
  • I wrote this in my last blog, but I have not yet found an affordable, good quality tortilla brand that isn’t mediocre. If you have suggestions please email me at [email protected].

Leah is the staff bean czar. Write to them with tortilla suggestions and bean commentary at [email protected]