- Food: Pinto Beans
- Writer: Nicolas Wilson
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Pinto beans from a can will never taste the same after you discover how to make them from scratch. They’re a great side dish that’s creamy and savory.
“I’m never buying canned pinto beans again!” As I devoured spoonful after spoonful of pinto beans directly from a pot on the stove last week, I informed Jack.
Maybe I exaggerated (after all, canned beans are incredibly convenient), but I’ll use them less frequently than I used to.
If there’s one thing the past year has taught me, it’s that making pinto beans from home always results in creamier, more flavorful beans.
I’ll be the first to say that I’m a latecomer to the dried bean gathering. I attempted to prepare them a few years ago but had little success.
I now recognize that the beans I had were too old and dried out to soften adequately (note: fresher beans are better beans – check for yours from a high-turnover store!).
However, I concluded at that moment that cooking dried beans were not for me.
What drew me in? Kite String Cantina, a local tavern, began offering a weekly package of local delicacies. We started getting a bag of dry beans every week, in addition to fresh veggies and Chef Renee’s SUPER delicious sauces.
So I’ve refined my method for making pinto beans from scratch over the previous two months. This pinto bean recipe is incredibly easy to make and tasty. The beans are pleasantly spicy, flavorful, and creamy to the point of being irresistible. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to eat pinto beans any other way.
How to Prepare Them?
This method for cooking pinto beans from scratch is time-consuming, but don’t let that deter you! The procedure is quite easy and almost fully automated. This is how it works:
- Soak the beans first. Put them in a big colander and sift through them to get rid of any stones or trash. Rinse them thoroughly and place them in a large mixing basin. Cover them with 2-3 inches of water and soak them for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
- Cook the aromatics the next day. In a big saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté half an onion over medium heat (include a jalapeno if you prefer your beans spicy!). Stir in cumin, soaked, drained beans, water, oregano, salt, and pepper once the onion has softened.
- After that, let it simmer. The amount of time it takes to cook your beans depends on how fresh they are and how you want them cooked. My pinto beans are cooked until they fall apart and the liquid surrounding them has thickened. After an hour, I check again, and then every 15 minutes after that.
- Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste. Season the beans with a squeeze of lime juice, extra salt and pepper, and chili powder to taste once they’re done.
That’s it! The whole recipe, with measurements, may be seen below.
Serving Suggestions for Pinto Beans
Garnish the pinto beans with cilantro and red pepper flakes when ready to serve. Combine them with cilantro lime rice, tortillas, and a vegetable side dish like these fajita vegetables or sautéed greens to make a feast.
For a flash of fresh flavor, top with pickled onions or pico de gallo, or a dollop of guacamole for richness.
This pinto bean recipe also works well as a side dish. Serve it with any of these Mexican-inspired meals or as part of an at-home taco bar:
- Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Avocado Sweet Potato Tacos
- Homemade Taquitos
- Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas
|15-minute prep time
1 hr 30 mins to cook
Time to soak: 8 hours
Serving: 8 to 12
Once you’ve tried this pinto bean recipe, you’ll never go back to canned pinto beans! Note that the cooking time will vary depending on how fresh your beans are. If you can, buy beans from a source with a high turnover rate because they cook faster and soften more uniformly.
- 2 cups dry pinto beans
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- 8 cups water, more as needed
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, more to taste
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed and diced
- Chili powder, to taste
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Sort through the beans in a large colander to remove and discard any stones or trash. Rinse them thoroughly and place them in a large mixing basin. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of water and toss out any floating beans. Soak for 8 hours or overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a big pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. If you like spicy beans, combine the onion with the jalapeno.
- Bring the beans, water, oregano, salt, and several grinds of pepper to a boil after stirring in the cumin. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid until the beans are tender. The timing will be determined by how fresh your beans are. I prefer to check mine every 15 minutes for the first hour and then every hour after that. As needed, add more liquid to the pot to keep the beans submerged. I like to simmer pinto beans until they begin to come apart and the liquid surrounding them thickens.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime juice. If desired, season the beans with more salt (I normally add 12 to 1 teaspoon more), pepper, and chili powder. If using, garnish with cilantro. Refrigerate the beans for up to 5 days or freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container.