Pinto Beans Easy Recipe 2021

Pinto Beans Easy Recipe

Pinto Beans Easy Recipe 2021

The pinto bean is a variety of common bean. In Spanish they are called frijol pinto, literally “speckled bean”. It is the most popular bean by crop production in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States, and is most often eaten whole, or mashed and then refried. 

Do I have to soak my beans?

The best thing about this recipe is that it works perfectly for nearly any other dried bean. The soak time and cook time might change a bit for larger beans like large dried limas, but the flavors work perfectly regardless.

Black beans, lima beans, large lima beans, kidney beans, even black-eyed peas.   

Now, the packages of most dried beans say to soak them before you cook them to rehydrate them and reduce the cook time.  There are quick soak methods where you briefly boil them and then let them rest and overnight soak methods.

The truth is that you don’t HAVE to soak the beans. I talk a lot about soaking beans over on my Lima Bean recipe. Soaking just helps reduce the cooking time a bit. 

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Can I use my crock pot?

If you want to use your slow cooker or crockpot, you just dump everything right into the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. There’s no need to presoak in this case.  

Just keep in mind that the texture of the beans will be different. This method produces beans that are super tender and almost fall-apart, whereas the stovetop method with overnight soaking allows the beans to keep their shape a little better.

If you like them to be nearly mushy and want to use the stovetop method, simply add about 30 minute to the cook time and just cook them until they’re tender to your liking. 

What liquid should I cook my pinto beans in?

I really prefer the flavor of the beans when I use bouillon cubes and water as the liquid.  That said, you can replace the water and bouillon with chicken or veggie stock or broth. It’s totally up to you. 

I know not putting an exact salt measurement can be a little frustrating for some folks, but there’s a reason it’s vague. Different brands of bouillon cubes have varying amounts of sodium, so you’ll want to add enough to taste.

The other thing is that you may need a different amount of salt if you swap the bouillon and water out for broth.  So how do you know how much to add? You taste it.  

Cook the beans for 30 minutes or so and then taste the broth.  If it tastes salty, but not too salty, you’re good. Add a little salt at a time until you get it where you want it.  You can always add more, but it’s super hard to get it back out.

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Should I put meat in my beans?

The majority of the flavor in these beans comes from the smoked ham hock. That has always been my favorite way to add some smoky flavor to things like beans, greens, etc.  

But I realize not everyone can get their hands on ham hocks, so keep in mind that you can use other smoked meats as well. A big ham bone, some sliced smoked ham, 3 or 4 pieces of bacon, a smoked turkey wing or leg, or even 3 or 4 tablespoons of bacon grease will work.

You can also go for some ham base or ham-flavored concentrate. The goal is just to get that smoky flavor in there somehow. 

How to Season Pinto Beans?

While seasonings are optional, we find it’s what helps elevate beans to be a dish worthy of enjoying on their own. So we went with our favorite: Mexican-inspired flavors.

Many traditional Mexican pinto bean recipes require bacon or ham hocks to prepare, but to keep ours plant-based, we relied on vegetable broth, garlic, onion, and diced tomatoes with green chilies, chili powder, cumin, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

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Batch Cooking Beans

The brilliant thing is this recipe yields about 5 cups cooked pinto beans, which you can enjoy throughout the week for super easy, quick meals. Or you can store leftovers in freezer-safe bags or jars to save for future meals.

Making a pot of healthy vegan Mexican Pinto Beans using our easy recipe
I think you guys are going to love these easy, 1-Pot beans. They’re:

  • Smoky
  • Hearty
  • Tender
  • Flavorful
  • Perfectly spiced
  • Satisfying
  • & Delicious

These pinto beans are great on their own as a snack with guacamole and chips (hello, lunch). They also make a great addition to meals like tacos, nachos, veggie burgers, burrito bowls, salads, and chili.

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1 lb. dried pinto beans
2 thick-cut bacon slices
1 small onion, quartered
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
Kosher salt


1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 thick-cut sliced bacon, cut into 1/2″ strips
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 (15.5-oz.) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. chicken broth or water
2 sprigs fresh oregano
Kosher salt



  1. Pour beans into a colander and rinse under cold water. Pick through beans and discard any broken beans and debris. Transfer to a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
  2. To soak overnight (optional): cover beans with 4” of cold water and place in the refrigerator and let soak overnight, or up to 12 hours. Drain beans and return to pot.
  3. Add enough cold water to your pot to cover your beans by 2”. Add bacon, onion, oregano, and bay leaf. Bring the beans up to a rolling boil, and let boil on high for 10 minutes before reducing to a simmer. Stir in cumin and paprika and cover, with the lid ajar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 1 to 2 hours, depending on how long the beans were soaked.
  4. When beans are tender, remove onion, oregano, and bay leaf. Remove bacon, coarsely chop, and return to pot. Season beans to taste with salt and serve.


  1. In a large, high-sided skillet or medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add bacon and onion and cook until onion is translucent and bacon is beginning to crisp 6 minutes.
  2. Add cumin and smoked paprika and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add beans and chicken broth or water and stir to combine, scraping any burnt bits from the bottom of your skillet. Stir oregano into the beans.
  3. Bring the mixture up to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, adding more broth or water ¼ cup at a time if the pan is looking dry. 
  4. Before serving, remove oregano stems and season to taste with salt.

What are pinto beans good for?

Pinto beans are extremely nutritious. They’re an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients may provide several benefits, including improved blood sugar control and heart health. 

Pinto beans are also rich in various antioxidants and may help lower your risk of chronic disease.

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Are pinto beans the same as kidney beans?

Pinto beans come in just one variety, are smaller but more plump-looking than kidney beans, and come in a lighter shade of pink than light red kidney beans.

Kidney beans have a slight sweetness and a meaty, or dense texture, while pinto beans have a more earthy flavor and a creamy texture


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