Bean burritos once saved my life. Seriously. When I broke my foot, the docs sent me home thinking it was a sprain. What a mess that was – my back went out from using the crutches. I couldn’t stand up, each movement was agony and I spent several days crawling around the house. I happened to have a few groceries I hadn’t put away on the table and I was able to cobble together some bean burritos. They weren’t as well put together as these Freezer Friendly Burritos, heck, I couldn’t even warm them up, but as they say, “Hunger is the best sauce!”
I think we can do much better than those emergency bean burritos! And while Freezer Friendly Burritos might not be life-saving, they’re going to be life-changing!
About Freezer Friendly Burritos:
If there is one thing that no one has enough of, it’s got to be time. And while you can whip up Freezer Friendly Burritos pretty quickly, assembly style, and that’s a time-saver, think what a big time saver it will be to have burritos stashed in the freezer ready to become a quick meal or snack when you are rushed. These Burritos make great after school snacks and fit right into my post on Over 50 Easy Prep Ahead After School Snacks. And it doesn’t matter if you’re single, a couple or a family, having Freezer Friendly Burritos stashed away is like having gold.
The recipe I’m showing you today is for a simple Refried Bean & Cheese burrito, classic for sure. (Plus you just can’t beat that combo for being great cheap eats.) They’re great for eating out of hand and they’re pretty much just begging to be heated up and smothered with your favorite salsa, Green Chili or a red sauce, and of course, all of your fave toppings. (Which reminds me, I have make-ahead Green Chili Breakfast Burritos, too.)
This method is so versatile, you can fill your Freezer Friendly Burritos with just about anything you’d like; you’re not limited to beans. You can choose a traditional burrito filling to just about anything you think would be great, with just a few limitations, below. And while you can specifically cook a batch of something to make your burritos, consider this as a go-to to deal with some of your leftovers. Using your leftovers is a great shortcut for Freezer Friendly Burritos.
So What Can I Fill my Freezer Friendly Burritos with?:
I already mentioned Refried Beans & Cheese and these are fantastic with canned or homemade refried beans. Somehow I’ve never posted Classic Refried Beans on my site, but I do have Classic Instant Pot Refried Beans and I also have a fabulous way doctor up canned refried beans. See Canned Refried Beans That Taste Like They Came From A Restaurant. There is no way you’re probably going to be able to fill your burritos with beans straight from a can. Most are thick and won’t spread properly, but beware of using refried beans that are too liquidy. You want that filling just right and at room temperature.
You can fill your burritos with just about anything, from classic & traditional to vegetarian options or fusion recipes, as long as what you are using is not too juicy and is at room temperature. That’s going to ensure that your burritos won’t steam as you make them and that they will reheat beautifully without getting soggy. I like fillings that are softer, like braised meats, rather than items like grilled chicken or steak, just because I don’t think those chunky fillings reheat as well. I don’t care for the commercially frozen ones, either. I’m a little picky so if you’re all about the steak, for instance, give it a try with a few burritos and see what you think before making a huge batch. Using a rarer steak will probably be better so as the burritos are reheated, the steak won’t be dry.
I have some fabulous recipes on my site that will make marvelous Freezer Friendly Burritos, see them all on my post for Mexican, Mexican American and Southwestern Recipes. Some are traditionally made, others are made in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot & some have multiple options. I don’t think you can go wrong with Pulled Pork or Brisket, either. My fave contenders for Freezer Friendly Burritos are in the clickable photos, below. In some, you’ll just want to use the filling, for instance, the meat and cheese in my recipe for Enchiladas con Carne or the same for the filling in the Chicken or Turkey Enchiladas. And speaking of cheese, I can’t imagine a burrito without one!
If you’ve made your filling ahead and refrigerated it, watch out for fillings that seem fine when cold or at room temperature, but become juicier once they’re heated – usually, those are long braised meat-based fillings where the fat and collagen has broken down. That makes them silky, luscious, and saucy. When refrigerated, that sauciness firms up, only to become more liquidy when heated. If that’s the case, heat them slightly and then strain them for a few minutes, then let them cool before filling – that will ensure your burritos won’t be soggy when reheated. Another help for a wetter filling is to make sure there is something in the burrito to absorb any excess liquid like rice or a grain. Case in point: My two Chicken Tinga recipes, below, and both Beef Barbacoa recipes, too, have quite a bit of juiciness.
What NOT to use in Freezer Friendly Burritos:
Just as important as what to use in your burritos is what to stay away from. Most of these things can be added after your burrito is reheated or as a topping if you wish.
- Avoid anything too wet or juicy. A small amount of taco sauce buried inside the filling is usually fine. If you’re using rice or grains that can absorb some liquid, that will help if using a juicer filling.
- If you’re making fajita-style burritos, make sure the veggies are drained well and/or have something to absorb any liquid they might give off, like rice or another grain.
- Don’t use anything fresh and not cooked, like Pico de Gallo. Your burrito will turn out to be unfortunate!
- Don’t use anything that will be gross once frozen and then heated, like lettuce.
- I’d avoid raw onions, too. Some people use them but they become strong. Saute onions first to avoid that.
- No Guacamole, whatever you do! Some say Guac freezes fine; they lie!
Tortillas and How to Prepare Tortillas for Filling:
Room temperature flour tortillas work best for freezer burritos; corn tortillas will not survive the reheating. I haven’t tested this with other kinds of wraps. The freshest tortillas are best because they are already going to be soft and pliable at room temperature. If you need to soften the tortillas, working with several tortillas at a time, wrap in a clean towel or paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Turn over and repeat. Pull out as many as you need at a time but leave the rest wrapped.
I’ve found that the Burrito sized tortillas, about 8″ or so work the best. The burritos won’t be huge Chipotle-style burritos, but the smaller ones tend to reheat a little better without becoming tough in the microwave. One’s usually great for a child, two work well for adults as a serving. 10-inch tortillas work pretty well, too. Just avoid those giant burrito shells that will give you a Chipotle sized burrito. They’re hard to heat through from frozen.
Assembling Freezer Friendly Burritos:
It’s easy & fast to whip these burritos out assembly style. First, clear a space! Have your filling ready and shredded cheese on hand. Lay out, depending on how many you’re making, several tortillas. An 8″ tortillas will need about 1/3 of a cup of filling and 1/4 cup of cheese, and a 10 inch tortilla will need about 1/2 a cup of filling and just a bit more cheese. If you have a scoop that’s the appropriate size, filling goes really fast.
Just scoop the filling on the lower third of each tortilla and with clean hands shape the filling into a kind of log. Add the cheese to them all, about a quarter cup. Then roll all of them one by one by first folding over the sides, then fold the edge closest to you over the filling. Pull that edge back towards you, encasing the filling and then using a forward motion, roll, doing little tucks on the sides if needed. End up seam side down and make sure the tortilla is all tucked in on the sides and secure; if not, poke it in with a finger.
I like to have a sheet tray nearby to place the finished burritos on and get them out of the way, so my counter space is cleared for the next batch – that’s helpful if you lack a lot of counter space.
Wrapping and Storing Freezer Friendly Burritos:
Once all the tortillas are rolled, you have several options to wrap and store. The best one for you will depend on how long the burritos will be stored and if they are stored in a fridge/freezer or deep freeze. Wrapped well, the burritos will keep two or three months in a fridge/freezer and ‘at least 6 months in the deep freeze. They will probably never last that long!!
If you plan on serving a family a dinner of your burritos and will be using them in two to three months, freeze the burritos (a sheet tray works well to lay them on) and when solid divide into Ziplocs in the amount your family will use for a meal, label, and store.
For individual burritos or longer-term storage, you have three choices. Wrap in foil (you don’t need a full square of foil, just a rectangle large enough to cover), wrap in plastic wrap and then foil or wrap in parchment or wax paper, and then foil. Neither the plastic wrap or the paper wraps will stay put once frozen without being wrapped in something else like the foil.
If you wrap the burrito as if you’re swaddling a baby (place the wrapping at an angle so it’s like a diamond, put the burrito in the center, then first bring the bottom triangle up, then the sides over then the top down, the wrap is easier to remove. Label and then store. They can still be ganged together ina Ziploc if you wish and they’ll be better protected inside their individual wrappings.
I personally like to use the plastic wrap and then the foil. I can cover the plate I’m reheating on loosely with the plastic, then when hot, wrap the burrito in the foil, which hasn’t touched the food, chipotle style.
How to Reheat Freezer Friendly Burritos:
I really think the best way to reheat the burritos is in the microwave. You’ll want to unwrap your burrito, place it on a plate, cover loosely and microwave at 50 percent power for about a minute and a half. Turn it over, recover again, loosely and microwave at full power for a minute to a minute and a half. If desired, they can be griddled after microwaving to put some browning on the burrito.
Another option would be to deep fry. This can be done from frozen, but you will need a significant amount of oil so it doesn’t cool too much when the burrito is added.
Generally, I don’t thaw the burritos before ready to prepare them.
Saving Money on Freezer Friendly Burritos:
When I make Freezer Friendly Burritos, I don’t decide to make them and then go buy the ingredients. Instead, I’ll watch for tortillas to go on sale (or possibly I’ll decide to make the burritos because I’ve seen tortillas on sale) and pick them up and if I don’t see a great sale around the same time on cheese, I’ll chuck the tortillas in the freezer until I do. I’ll watch for the cheese at a low, and since it keeps for several weeks just fine, I usually refrigerate it. The type of filling I make will generally depend on what’s on special around the time I decide to make the burritos.
I know this kind of thinking doesn’t always come naturally to everyone; it might seem a bit “backwards” but if you make these burritos with sales priced ingredients, you can literally, depending on what you fill them with, make them for pennies apiece. For 10 bean & cheese burritos, I spent $1.49 on sale for 10 8″ burritos, $1.00 for cheese on sale (some were a little short of 1/4 cup) and 2/3 a recipe of homemade Instant Pot Refried Beans (I used the rest for something else) that ran 83 cents for the pintos, 12 cents for the onion and about 6 cents for the oil., so about 66 cents for this recipe. The total, $3.14 for 10 or about 31 cents apiece. Walmart has a package of bean & cheese burritos that don’t cost much more but only contain 8 burritos that are half the size of these, so that’s over double the cost than to make homemade..
Of course, the bean burritos are always going to be the cheapest and you can always stretch just about any filling by adding beans, whether it’s a layer of refried beans, refried beans mixed into the filling, or black beans or pinto beans added to your burritos. Rice, if you choose to use, is a great filler and stretches your main protein as well. I realize I haven’t talked vegetarian options unless your refries are vegetarian, but vegetable burritos or vegetables in your burritos are usually an inexpensive option. If you go with fancier grains, quinoa, farro, etc., that will up your cost.
And although I only briefly mentioned it above, using leftovers for your filling is a great way to repurpose them. I love having a freezer full of different burrito options. Maybe you served tacos one night and had a little extra. Roll up and freeze a burrito or two. Maybe there’s pulled pork and enough for another half a dozen. And so on – it’s so perfectly painless. When the time comes that you want to get into that stash of burritos, you can ask, “Who wants chicken? Who wants Shredded Pork? I have two Beef and Bean and a couple of Bean and Cheese. Any takers? And so on. Now that’s burritos for the win!!Print
Freezer Friendly Burritos
Make ahead burritios for the freezer. Multiply out the recipe as needed and feel free to substitute other fillings for the refried beans.
- Yield: 10 1x
- Category: Burritos
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 10 flour tortillas, 8 or 10“
- 3 1/3 to 5 cups refried beans (2 16 ounce cans or homemade, made from 1 pound dried beans)
- 4 to 6 ounces grated cheese
For 10 burritos using 8″ tortillas, you’ll need about 3 1/3 cups of filling, 1/3 cup per burrito, plus cheese.
For 10 burritos using 10″ tortillas, you’ll need about 5 cups of filling, 1/2 cup per burrito, plus cheese.
I’ll be posting my Freezer Friendly Burritos at Fiesta Friday #289 this week.