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Cheap + Quick + Easy: 20-Minute Beefy (or Beany) Spinach Burritos

April 11, 2021

Some evenings are just not made for fussing over dinner. After a long work day; kids' sports-music-dance-chess club-art-study group activities; community meetings; and who knows what, all cooks need some go-to quick, hot, hearty, tasty things we can make with our eyes closed.

This recipe got me through the flurry of raising my then-tween and teen-agers, and still is a completely comforting and serviceable years later. Over the years I've done a lot of "Making It My Own" improv riffing, and it's always forgiving and welcome.

large beefy spinach-filled burrito on blue plate

A big plus to this recipe guideline is that it easily accommodates a range of dietary needs within a household. It's easy to make a burrito cheesy-gooey for one person and dairy-free for another, and it offers the same flexibility with gluten-free and vegan options.

If you're into left overs, plan to make some. It's a jump-start to a hearty Joe's Special egg scramble the next morning, or a great topping for a plate of Friday night nachos.

In my real-world life, not every meal is a multi-course beautifully plated affair. Nope, some nights are just about getting it done, and that's good enough, especially when one of my adult sons still asks, "Hey, Mom, can I come over for spinach burritos?" That's a sign of a successful recipe.

Cheap Quick + Easy 20-Minute Beefy (or Beany) Spinach Burritos

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: Mexican
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 small burritos
The perfect veggie-filled busy-night dinner when you need something hot, delicious and NOW! Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan option, too!
Print Recipe


  • 1 ¼ lb. ground beef, vegan ground meat substitute OR
  • 3 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil for the pan
  • 6 cloves garlic, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ Cups store-bought salsa
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies, or add another ½ cup salsa
  • 8 to 10 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 medium flour or GF tortillas
  • canola or other cooking spray
  • cilantro, additional salsa and sour cream for garnish


  • In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef or meat substitute, garlic, cumin, and salt.
  • If replacing the meat with canned beans, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan before adding the beans.
  • When the meat (or beans) and spices are well-browned, stir in in the salsa and green chilis.
  • Add the spinach leaves, two or three handfuls at a time, stirring them in until they wilt before adding the next few handfuls, until all the spinach is wilted and mixed through.
  • Heat a separate large skillet to medium high. Spray one side of each tortilla with the cooking spray (this will help them crisp up.*) Place the sprayed side down in the heated skillet, and sprinkle a little of the cheese down the center. (Omit the cheese for vegan/dairy-free options.) Spoon the beefy spinach filling down the center of the tortilla. Fold the edges over the filling, burrito-style. When the first side is browned, flip the burrito over to crisp it too.
  • Place the burritos on serving plates and garnish with additional salsa, green chilis, cilantro, and sour cream (omit for vegan/diary-free versions) as desired.


Make It Your Own:
  • add a chopped onion to the skillet when browning the ground beef
  • try this with ground chicken or turkey
  • experiment with adding chili powder and/or dried Mexican oregano
  • add a chopped stems from a bunch of cilantro with the spinach
  • fancy expensive salsa is not needed in this recipe, but have fun experimenting with different inexpensive ones. 
  • bump up the heat with spicier salsa, or add a chopped jalapeno to the meet as it browns. 
*This cooking spray tip is also how I soften corn tortillas for tacos and enchiladas. No need to pour oil into a skillet to do this task, just a simple shot of cooking spray. 

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You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.

Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.

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