I prefer using these homemade stewed beans for any recipe that calls for canned beans! Once you taste them you won’t be able to go back!
Dried pinto beans are cooked low and slow until they’re tender, bringing flavor to simple ingredients. Beans are considered legumes and are nutritious and full of protein and fiber. This recipe is extremely flexible – they can be the whole meal or a creamy complement served with meats or greens.
Eat them on their own with flour tortillas, on tacos (I love a spoonful with my carnitas tacos), in burritos or over a bowl of rice with slices of avocado and arugula or spinach. They can also be added to recipes that call for canned beans like chili or stews. While I prefer cooking my beans on the stovetop I also provide instructions for cooking in a slow cooker or Instant pot below.
Many stewed beans include fat like bacon or ham hocks, but since I typically serve these with a rich meat like carnitas I keep this recipe vegetarian with a bit of olive oil as the fat. It’s a flexible recipe so you can always add ½ pound bacon or ham hocks to the pot for a smokier, richer flavor. These stewed beans are often refried in fat and are popular to serve in Mexican recipes.
The formula for my beans is this:
beans + water + allium (onion) + herbs and spices + salt
Soaking beans in a bowl of water overnight helps to shave time off the cooking time. But here’s the thing, I don’t soak my beans. I can never remember to do it ahead of time and I don’t find the hour or two it cuts off the cook time to justify the extra work and foresight. I do, however, give my beans a rinse before cooking them.
Key Ingredients in This Recipe
Beans – I use pinto beans, but this stovetop cooking method can be used for any variety of bean from black beans to cranberry beans. Pinto beans are a common variety of bean with an earthy flavor and creamy texture. The uncooked beans are off white speckled with red when they’re dried but turn a reddish-brown color when they’re cooked. Fresher beans cook faster than old beans.
Jalapeño – I like the flavor the jalapeño adds. As the beans cook the jalapeño breaks down into the beans. It adds more flavor than spice so don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of spicy foods.
Onion – Rather than browning the onion, I simply cut it in half and add to the pot. The long cooking time breaks down the onion so it melds into the broth. I use a yellow onion for it’s mild flavor, though red onion or green onions can also be used.
Herbs – I add a combination of coriander, cumin and Mexican oregano to flavor the beans.
How to Make Stewed Pinto Beans
Char onion and jalapeño. Set the onion and jalapeño over a high flame on a gas stove, rotating with metal tongs until charred, about 3 minutes. If you don’t have a gas stove, place onion and jalapeño cut side up on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until charred.
Cover beans with water. Add the beans, onion, jalapeño, olive oil, cilantro, coriander, cumin and oregano to a large pot and cover by several inches of water.
Simmer the beans. Bring the beans to a boil over medium heat then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 3 hours. Add more water if necessary to keep the beans covered by about ½” of water.
Season the beans. Once the beans are tender, season with salt to taste with salt. Serve or store.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
How to Cook Pinto Beans in an Instant Pot
Cooking pinto beans in an instant pot is a great way to cut down on cooking time. If they have been soaked overnight, cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. If the beans have not been soaked, cook for 30 minutes on high manual pressure. Naturally release for 15 minutes.
How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Slow Cooker
If the beans have previously been soaked overnight, the beans will take 4 hours on high or 6 hours on the low setting. If they have not been soaked, I recommend cooking on high for 6 hours.
How to Freeze Beans
The beans can be frozen and used as needed. I recommend portioning the beans out into individual servings and store in resealable bags. I always write what the food is and the date they were made on the freezer bags.
How to Scale this Recipe
As a rule of thumb, 1 cup of dried beans makes about 3 cups of cooked beans.
Pinto Bean Pairing Suggestions
While you can simply serve the beans in a bowl or over rice, I love using them in these recipes:
Set the onion and jalapeño over a high flame on a gas stove, rotating with metal tongs until charred, about 3 minutes. If you don’t have a gas stove, place onion and jalapeño cut side up on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until charred.
Add the beans, onion, jalapeño, olive oil, cilantro, coriander, cumin and oregano to a large pot and cover by several inches of water.
Bring the beans to a boil over medium heat then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 3 hours. Add more water if necessary to keep the beans covered by about ½” of water.
Once the beans are tender, season with salt to taste with salt.
Serve or store.
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