Brown Bag Burritos

Keeping my freezer stocked with quick fixin’s for lunch or an emergency “what are we going to eat” supper definitely works for me, and this is one of my favorite recipes to use for just that purpose.  It’s versatile… add and subtract ingredients and spices to your tastes.

The name Brown Bag Burritos comes from the days when everyone actually carried a brown bag for their lunch.  The original recipe (posted by my mother in our hometown church cookbook) says that these are tasty cold and perfect for a brown bag lunch.  Um… okay…


Brown Bag Burritos

  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 cans refried beans (I make my own)
  • 1 1/3 c. enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. minced onion (I use dried)
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, whatever)
  • 20 flour tortillas (burrito-size)

Brown ground beef; drain.  Add remaining ingredients (except tortillas).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Heat 3-4 tortillas at a time.  Spoon 1/4 c. beef mixture down the side of each tortilla.  (I like to use my cookie scoop for this.  Helps me keep everything uniform without any mess.)

Roll up.  Wrap each burrito in a paper towel, then wrap in foil.  (See my crinkly foil?  Because the foil doesn’t really touch the food, it is super easy to save and reuse!)

Refrigerate or freeze.  I like to pack them in the tortilla ziplock bag.  I can usually fit 10 per bag.  Oh, by the way, sure wish I would have looked at the corner of this bag before I bought them.  See where it says “Thins?”  Not such a good thing for burritos.  These tortillas tore too easily.  I know I should practice making my own…

When ready to eat, remove foil and microwave for about a minute.  The paper towel keeps the burritos moist.  If you don’t use a microwave, skip the paper towel and just wrap in foil.  Then heat burritos in the oven with foil.  For a sit down meal they are nice topped with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream.  If you’re eating on the run, though, just grab and go!



  1. Hmm. Clever! I think I’ll have to give those a try! They would be great for nights when the babysitter is serving dinner, too.

  2. Yum! I’ll definitely have to add these to the menu.

    I really need to try making homemade tortillas here too, someday… 🙂

  3. Yeah. Not so sure about the cold burrito thing. *shiver*

  4. That look delish! Sounds oh so easy, too.

    Once you make/try a homemade tortilla, you will never go back to store bought. They taste so empty.

    Thanks for the recipe, Amy!

  5. I know your family must eat good! You always have great recipes!

  6. Thanks for posting this! I’m going to be out of town for a few weeks and have been trying to gather recipes that I can make and freeze for my husband while I’m gone. I think I’ll do a half batch of these (we have a teeny freezer and I don’t want him to think he has to eat them every single day while I’m gone *L*).

  7. I’ve been hoping you’d post this recipe since I first saw it on your menu plan.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks Amy!!! I’m so eager to try this!!!


  9. This is fabulous! Thank you for sharing. I just bought all the stuffing’s for taco’s and have changed my mind. I have surgery on Friday and just know I won’t be in the cooking mood. Going to throw a bunch of these together today! ty ty ty!!

  10. This look so delicious and easy! I wish more blogs would have directions for freezing/making extra/storing portions like this – I love it and it’s totally going to help me make some and plan ahead!

  11. These sound absolutely scrumptious! I could definitely see freezing these, too, as you recommended. 😀

  12. I make large batches of black bean burritos for our freezer. I agree with you, I don’t think I would like them cold. Yours look really good.

  13. Quick , Easy and Healthy Num Num’s can never be bad !! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Oh I am liking the look of this. I never know what to send with my hubby as we rarely have leftovers. This would be perfect. Bookmarked it. Thanks

  15. Mmmm…I shouldn’t have read this before supper. Now, I’m starving! I’m definitely going to try these. Thanks for sharing!

  16. What a fabulous idea! And they look delish to boot. Will have to try these out for sure. Thanks for the great idea and recipe. =0)

  17. jennyleigh says:

    Thank you for sharing. These sound very good. I look forward to trying them.

  18. Oh my this recipe looks so yummy. I am always looking for things like this for Wednesday nights as we always eat in the car on our way to a church event. I will be making this up next week.

    I was wondering what is enchilada sauce, I don’t think I have heard of this before. Can I make my own?

    Thanks again for a great recipe

    • @Katie,

      Yes, you can make your own enchilada sauce. I found my recipe online. I have an enchilada casserole recipe that I make my own sauce for instead of buying the can. So, much cheaper to make my own and I can pronounce all the ingredients that go in it.

      • Wenonah says:

        What is your enchilada sauce recipe? I’d like to know how to make my own too! My husband loves the green sauce!

  19. In case this helps anyone, I figured out my cost per portion on this and it was (surprisingly to me) .61 a burrito, including costs for paper towels and aluminum foil – so that’s a top end cost.

    I know I could get the cost down by using a 1:3 meat:bean ratio, getting a better price on my beef, subbing potatoes for one pound of meat (you’d never know), making my own refried beans, cutting the cheese by 1 cup (not sure you’d really notice) and getting the aluminum foil free after coupons and reusing the aluminum foil. I’m guessing using about all of these means, I could get it down to .42/burrito.

    Hope that saves someone the math.

    2 # Ground Beef 3.54 1.98
    2 cans refried beans 1.98 1
    1.33 c. Enchilada sauce 1 1
    1/2 c. water 0 0
    1/3 c. minced onion 0.2 0.2
    1 T. Chili powder 0.05 0.05
    1 T. Garlic Powder 0.05 0.05
    1 t. salt 0.05 0.05
    1 t. oregano or cumin 0.05 0.05
    3 c. shredded cheese 1.5 1
    20 flour tortillas 2.817 2.8167
    20 ft aluminum foil 0.79 0
    20 paper towels 0.2 0.2
    0.611333333 0.419835

  20. I am new to your blog! It has been fun reading your posts. These look great! I love to find recipes that freeze well! I was wondering what your recipe is for your homemade refried beans (if you do not mind sharing it). I love homemade bean but have not come up with a recipe that I love yet. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  21. I made these this weekend, they were awesome! Much better than the frozen store bought ones. I froze some for dinner later on this month too. Thank You very much for this recipe!

  22. I was just wondering if this would work alright if I substituted the ground beef for ground turkey? Thanks :0

  23. Looks wonderful! great idea!

  24. My hubs loves burritos…I will definetly give thse a try!!

  25. just made the filling and YUM! can’t wait to try it in the tortilla tonight! thanks so much!

  26. These look great. I gave you a stumble!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It looks delicious. I’m planning to make it for my lunch today and then send some with my husband to work over the next several days. 🙂

  28. Yum! I just made a huge batch of these, and now my freezer is stuffed! I made beef & bean, chicken & bean, and bean & cheese burritos. My kids are thrilled, and I like the idea that I have a few meals made, or even just a snack that the kids can warm up when they are hungry. Thanks for the fantastic idea & recipe!

  29. I am always on the lookout for meals that can be made ahead of time. These sound wonderful! (Although I have to say I will definitely try the hot version!) 😉

  30. I have made these & they are such a great timesaver! Thanks for the recipe. I’m curious though, I send these with my husband to work & he has problems with the papertowel sticking to the tortilla. Have you had this problem? I’ve used two different brands of paper towels with the same results. Any suggestions? thanks

  31. I made these last week, and have already tried a couple. I only had one lb of meat, so I added 2 cups of rice to bulk it up and it turned out great!

    I think next time I will use Cilantro instead of Oregano to make them taste more Tex-Mex. I might also add crushed tomatoes and peppers.

  32. I made these and they are awesome! I am going to mix them up with other ingredients. They are a great time saver.

    Hey, are you familar with the restaraunt chain called Naugles (not even sure if they are still in business). But anyway my husband swears they taste like their burritos! Which he loves.

  33. I made these last week and they were REALLY good. YUM YUM! We all enjoyed them. I had some leftover meat and bean mixture, so my hubby used some to make burritos for breakfast. He added egg and bacon to the meat and bean mixture. It came out awesome.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  34. I’m making these right now! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  35. I used this recipe to make 30 fajita size burritos Thursday night. Sat morning I was informed we were getting low on burritos and I needed to make some more. They LOVE them! They taste like the Sonic Frito Chili Cheese Burritos without the Fritos. GOOD!

  36. These sound really good! I might try making a batch using shredded chicken instead of the ground beef, as well. I have a really good recipe for steak fajitas that can be made ahead and frozen that I should share. I like the idea of spending a day cooking and freezing meals for the month…even though I really hate cooking! 😉 It’d be so nice to know I have meals in the freezer, especially on the nights when I’m tired, don’t feel like cooking and can’t think of a thing to make! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  37. These are definitely going on my to-do list. I love the idea of having a pile frozen in the freezer.

  38. Betsy Durand says:

    This may be a crazy question, but how do you make your own refried beans? Do you have a good homemade tortilla recipe as well?! The store bought seem to be going up in price every time I buy them! Thanks for this recipe. Can’t wait to try!

    • Not a crazy question, but I haven’t posted a refried bean recipe because I kind of “wing it.” I use my cooked pintos, pour them in a skillet with some oil, mash as they heat, adding water as needed and spices (garlic, cumin, etc) I really should pay attention to what I do so I can type it out! I’m not a pro with homemade tortillas either, but I’ve used the recipe over at Kitchen Stewardship with success.

  39. That looks so yummy!!! I am definitely going to make these! Mmmmm! Thank you!

  40. Heather says:

    Wow!! These really are good! I happened across the recipe this morning and had everything but refried beans…so off to FoodLion I went. Very easy to make and yummy yummy, had to eat two for lunch! Thanks so much for posting how to freeze ahead!

  41. Well I am about to make my homemade refried beans for this wonderful found recipe. How much of the homemade refried beans do I add??? I am so excited to make these!!! Thanks so much!!

  42. I love this idea! Perfect for the boys since they can zap them in the micro on their own. I appreciate the idea and love your blog. Thank you!

  43. Jennifer says:

    I made these for my husband and ended up eating them on the run myself! We used ground turkey, and left off the cheese- so it was “guilt free” and SO CONVENIENT! I also recommend making enough to put some away in ziploc freezer bags for tacos- we had a couple of really great family meals this way, as well. Even my toddler (3) liked this one (to our astonishment)! Make a lot of this at one time…. you’ll be glad that you did! Thank you so much for sharing! LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!

  44. I don’t know how to “trackback” to your blog – I’ve made a menu and used this recipe this week – I just added your website in my blogpost so people would come straight to you instead of me typing your recipe into my blog. This is an incredible recipe!!!

  45. Thanks, great idea!! I make my own tortillas, but do it the easy way! Quaker makes a white flour tortilla mix you just add water to!! Just make sure it is for tortillas and not tamales! That way you can make them as thick or thin as you like!!

  46. These turned out great! I didn’t have quite 2 lbs of beef, so I added a can of black beans as filler, but I think I like them with the extra beans anyway. They were a little too moist, so I might leave out the water next time. I had the same problem with the tortillas sticking to the paper towel when I reheated them. Any way around that? I might leave that out and use only the foil next time.

    • Fabulous! I’ve dumped black beans in mine, too, when I had some “hanging out” in the fridge. The filling is very forgiving. If you use the oven to warm them, there’s no need for the paper towel. I think the paper towel holds in some moisture when they’re warmed in the microwave, but really… not necessary. 😉

  47. I made this last night and my husband said it was the best burrito he’s ever had! Thanks so much for sharing this. I saved one for his lunch today and put the rest in the freezer. I’m so excited to have some go to meals already made. I noticed someone said they used ground turkey. I might try that next time also.

  48. Cheryl Newton says:

    Hi, Amy,
    I just found your blog and have added it to my Google Reader. I have a question about the Brown Bag Burritos recipe: are the cans of refried beans the regular (15 oz. I think) size, or the larger cans?
    Thanks so much,

  49. I stumbled upon this recipe posted on Money Saving Mom a few months ago, but microwavable frozen burritos came up in conversation last night, and I came trolling for your recipe this morning. I don’t cook for a large group, so I hope you don’t mind if I rework your recipe for a small batch version. Can’t wait to give these a try!

  50. I stumbled across this recipe a few days ago while reading up on meal planning. We tried it out tonight and it was GREAT! And to top it all off, I have 15 more frozen for lunches! Thank you!!!

  51. Amy, I just wanted to let you know that on my second batch I did some experimenting: I made them without the meat and added a few different ingredients. Just a couple cans of refried beans, 1-2 cans of black beans, a can of enchilada sauce, a bag of shredded cheese, some diced onions, a can of green chilis (these really added to it!), and some garlic powder. I heated all of that in a pot until heated through. Then I spread a spoonful of salsa con queso (nacho cheese would work too) on the tortillas before putting the bean mixture on them. These were yummy. I’m still trying to figuring out the gummy/sticky issue with the tortillas when reheating them in the microwave though… next time I’m going to try crisping the burritos on a griddle before wrapping them in the foil.

  52. I make the burritos with this recipe for refried beans:
    It’s very low-effort, and the house smells fabulous all day. And it’s fat-free. 🙂

  53. I just made these today and they are SO yummy!! I didn’t follow your recipe exactly because I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I used it as a guideline and they turned out great. I’m linking to this next week on my blog because I’m a huge fan now! 🙂

  54. Do you know what the nutritonal value would be? I assume I could sub the ground beef for ground turkey to make them more weight friendly..These look GREAT Btw…Going to make these for the week.

    • I have no idea on the nutritional content, but yes, I think you could sub turkey just fine. Let me know how it turns out!

  55. I love this idea! Quick question, is there an icon to print a post on your blog? I’m probably missing it, but I’ve wanted to print several of your recipes (this one included!) but I can’t seem to do it without printing the entire page and all the comments.

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement! I have a brand new print plugin, but now I have to go through each and every recipe to reformat it. Yikes! I went ahead and did this one, just for you. 😉 I’ll get to the others asap… but it might be a while. Do you have any special requests?

  56. Thank you so much! I would love to print the peaches & cream muffin recipe, too. =) By the way, my mom is friends with your Aunt Jeanette – she shared your blog with us several months ago, and I love following along!

  57. Just made these today although I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while and they were a HUGE hit at my house even for my picky toddler and preschooler. I made my own refried beans as well and will be doing research to make my own enchilada sauce before the next time I make them. Do have a question though – not sure why but mine came out really soupy. I halved the recipe for us so not sure if that had something to do with it but just wondering if anyone else’s turned out soupy or anyone has any suggestions on how to not have them so soupy next time? And I WILL be making these again!

    • You might try simmering them for a longer time to reduce the liquid. Also, they tend to thicken as they cool, so if you’re not in a big hurry, let the mixture cool before you fill the tortillas.

  58. It’s back to school for us and I will be making these for my kid’s (and husband’s) lunches. My husband is a hunter and I use venison for the beef, the LOVE it! Thanks for the great recipe, now a staple in my home!

  59. Amy, I linked to your yummy recipe today. Plus, I shared how you told me you make refried beans. I hope that was alright.

  60. Maybe someone else said this and I missed it… but you could always quick freeze these and then pkg in gallon zips. Then just reheat… save on some foil? I do a similar recipe although they are called Chimi’s and when I put them in oven I spritz or brush with some butter… but the tortillas would be a little firmer than yours if heated in foil. But don’t know why you couldn’t heat them in foil. Just a thought.a

    • I could be wrong, but I *think* the whole purpose of the foil was to truly package them for “brown baggin’ it.” I don’t know, though. Yes, it definitely could be eliminated.

  61. Christina says:

    These are delicious! Made them today and will make them again!

  62. Brenda Tuttle says:

    Hi! I made these and they are yummy!
    I used 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb ground venison, 1 can reduced fat refried beans, and 1 can black refried beans. I don’t like venison, but my husband is a hunter, so I try to use it occasionally. You can’t taste it in this recipe with all of the other flavors! 🙂 Plus he is happy that I used venison!
    * I wonder if anyone has used them in a casserole, and if so, what type of sauce did you put on them?

    • I’ve never cooked with venison, but it sounds like a great way to hide it!

    • I have put 6-8 of these burritos unwrapped in a foil baking dish/ cake pan and then wrapped the whole thing in saran wrap and frozen it. Then I defrost, cover with enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for 30 min at 350 degrees. They are pretty yummy, and a great option for a meal to take to a new mom or someone who is sick.

      On a side note, I add rice and used black beans instead of refried and they are a hit in our family.

  63. These are the BEST burritos EVER! I have forwarded to countless people & they all love it! I just joined Pinterest & it was one of my first pins to share with other!

  64. So good! I added some brown rice to mine and ate them with salsa and sour cream. This is a keeper for sure.

  65. I know it’s an extra step, but you can also dry fry the burritos before you wrap them for storage. It makes a difference! I make burritos once or twice a year and I have explained it in my blog. Check it out for some tips if you want.

  66. I also love to make up meals and freeze them. I will be trying this one for sure. Just wanted to tell you. If you are making and freezing a lot I highly recommend investing in a seal a meal. The food in them stays much longer because it sucks all the air out. I love love love mine. The bags are the most expensive part but I order them off ebay for a good price.

  67. I’ve made these several times. They are easy and the family loves them. Thanks!

  68. Joi Matthews says:

    Great recipe. My senior high daughter loves frozen burritos. I made 16 of these and between her and her sister they were gone in alittle over a week! I use taco seasoning packages instead of the spices. They are wonderful! We have no problem with the paper towels sticking to the flour tortillas.

  69. Rachelle Hise says:

    I was wondering the scoop you have in the photo is it a tablespoon? I don not have a scoop like that and I need to know if 3 TBS of the filling is good enough per burrito

  70. Oh my these just sound yummy. Love this type of food. Simon.


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