How To Cook Pinto Beans

Hello, and welcome to another round of Mexican Meatless Monday! I am your host, Monica “the Mexican” Olivas.


Today we will be learning how to cook beans.

Growing up, we always ate pinto beans. They were either in the fridge or on the stove at all times. We had them as a side dish or as the main part of our meal, like in bean burritos, regularly for dinner. How To Cook Pinto Beans

I can clearly remember the sound of my grandma’s iron pot jiggling on the stove top. She has one of those big, thick iron pots with a vent in the lid. Then vent would click around for hours as our beans were on a rolling boil getting soft.

Hi Grams!DSCN1118

Sure, you can buy beans in a can. But you can get them for super cheap in the bulk bins at your local market and cook them up adding only what you choose. How To Cook Pinto Beans

1. Step One is to check the beans for rocks or debris. I have never found a rock in dry beans, but my grandma has told me horror stories about people breaking their teeth while chomping into bean burritos.

Pour the beans on your table and push them into the pan little by little, checking for rocks in the process. How To Cook Pinto Beans recipe

2. After you’re sure your beans are rock-free fill the pot with water. Add a big dollop of garlic (or a clove to be removed later) and salt. (See me in the microwave reflection?)IMG_0965

3. Bring to a rolling boil. Then, reduce to a simmer and cover. Don’t put the cover directly on the pot if it doesn’t have a vent. Or use a lid one size bigger. This allows steam to vent and avoids an overflow.  recipe How To Cook Pinto Beans

4. Simmer for about 1.5 hours. You can check the beans after one hour and see how soft they are. This will let you know how much longer you need to cook them.

*This cooking time can be reduced if you soak the beans in water overnight. Soak overnight and cook for 1 hour.

Check the pot periodically to make sure you don’t cook off all the water. If you do start getting too low on water you can just add more. You don’t want to bottom of the pan or your beans to burn! (Sadly, I know from experience.)

5. Once they are tender enough – Drain the beans, season to taste and serve them whole…easy vegetarian recipe for cooking pinto beans


For “Re-fried Beans”easy vegetarian recipe for cooking pinto beans

6. Drain the beans and add salt, pepper and a wedge or two of laughing cow cheese.

7.  Then, smash the mix with a potato masher. You can also use a hand mixer to get them fluffy and super smooth. I didn’t this time, but I love smooth and creamy beans. easy vegetarian recipe for cooking pinto beans

My family never actually “fried” our beans. We always would smash them with a little bit of the bean water and add cheese and salt. These are better than re-friend and healthier. easy vegetarian recipe for cooking pinto beans


Question: What’s a staple food you always had at your house growing up?


  1. says

    My Colombian mother was all about making the beans as well. However, she always told me not to put the salt in until the beans were soft because they would get too tough. Not sure if that is true but if you’ve had success then it must be one of those old wives’ tales.

  2. says

    Yay, this is great. I’m cooking with pinto beans today. Can yuo suggest any easy quick recipes with pinto beans? I was thinking about marinating them in some kind of sauce for a cookout today.

  3. says

    I love beans but sadly my mother never cooked with them growing up – they are something I have grown to love as an adult.

    I bought beans in the bulk bin yesterday to try cooking in the crock pot.

    We always had mac and cheese in the house growing up – my mom would make it frequently as a quick meal!

  4. says

    I grew up in a house of processed foods. So I don’t really have any fun memories of things cooking.

    Probably why I am so impatient when it comes to cooking. I saw that the beans took an HOUR to cook and my first thought was “WHAT? Screw that! They come in a can!”

    I know it’s healthier and cheaper to do it the long way….so maybe…one day… 😉

    • says

      Same here, almost everything came from a can or a package in my house. Ironically, my mother was a chef but by time she got home from work she didn’t want to cook anymore. My dad also did a lot of the cooking growing up because my mom always had big catering jobs during the summers.

  5. says

    I have always wanted to know how to make my own refried beans! Now I know — yippee!!!

    We had lots of staples, but especially plain yogurt (it’s used in a lot of persian dishes, and my mom was also ahead of her time, health-wise).

  6. says

    You buy your beans in bulk, so they’re probably prepped in a different way than bags of beans you get from the grocery store…..or at least from different places/brands. I find small rocks in my bags of beans pretty much every time I go through them. They’re not huge, but would definitely hurt if I missed one when sorting.

  7. Dynamics says

    Thanks. I just experimented and made some red beans in my pressure cooker. That’s it, no more canned beans. Beans are way to simple to make and the cost is fantastic. I look forward to your crockpot version. I think that would be supper easy too. I always heard you cannot cook them in a crockpot.

  8. says

    Growing up in East L.A. and P.R., I loved home cooked pintos. It’s sad that they are so tough to find in my OC based Mexican restaurants. Maybe I’ll ship some upthis weekend. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. hungrybill says

    Mark me down as Red-bean Lover #1. I add a piece of bacon, fat back, or just a little bacon grease. I love softer beans with juice, so I usually cook them in a pressure cooker @ 15psi for more than an hour. And for variety, sometimes I grind up and add to the pot peppers, onions (these two added plus some spices makes Charro Beans), carrots, and -who knows what?. All good.
    I think it’s easier to check for rocks and also to pour the beans into the pot by spreading out a cup of the dry beans on a cookie sheet with sides. I find at least one rock about every third cup-maybe because I buy the cheapest bags of beans at WallyWorld.

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