Charro Beans

in Beans & Legumes, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican & TexMex

Pinto Beans

Growing up, my mom regularly made a big pot of pinto beans. It was part of my dad’s favorite dinner of beans, potatoes, and cornbread – he called it “Poor Man’s Supper.” It was also strategic – she’d put the leftover ham bone from a special-occasion Sunday dinner into the pot to cook with the beans (and she used the crockpot). The leftover meat would fall off the bone and the ham would flavor the beans.

I rarely cooked beans myself because, up until the kiddo arrived, I was the only one who’d eat them. But now that I have a fellow pinto beans addict in the house, I make them regularly. I never cook ham but it isn’t hard to find a salty, porky substitution.

One of my favorite lunches is a bowl of beans with cilantro, a splash of lime juice, and a drizzle of sour cream whisked with a little milk. Oh, and don’t forget the warm flour tortillas. While potatoes and cornbread are definitely good, the tortillas make the meal!

Charro Beans

A flavorful pot of beans is the perfect side for Taco night.


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Flour tortillas for serving


  1. Place beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water.
  2. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then turn off and let sit one hour.
  3. Add bacon, garlic, onion, and the bay leaf and cook over medium heat until beans are tender (about an hour and a1 1/2-2 hours half).
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf and serve.
  5. Leftovers keep a week in the fridge.


Yields: 12 1/2-cup servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 2 hours

24 comments… add one

  • They’re even better with corn tortillas! I’m a big fan of pinto beans as well. Maybe with some tomatillo salsa!

  • Natalie

    Dry beans in a crock pot — such a good idea!

  • Pinto beans are one of our favorite crock pot meals. I can’t wait to try them with the cilantro, lime and sour cream.

  • I love beans as a healthy way to get some protein. This looks delicious!

  • my life be like

    i am in love with this post! the pictures, the recipe and all the ingredients! cilantro is my absolute favorite thing to put in a hearty soup or stew. I will definitely save this and make it the next time I need chilly weather comfort food. :)

  • Nicole H.

    You inspired me to make my first Pinto Beans tonight with a few minor adjustments (didn’t have a bay leaf so added some cumin and chopped pickled jalapeños). So delicious and frugal.

  • Cookie

    This post made me smile, because growing up in Texas my mom would regularly make pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread for dinner, except we called it supper back then. When I was a single mom, I would also make the same meal for my kids because money was really tight for us. The kids would call it their “poverty meal”. Today, my kids are in their 30’s, and they request this meal. We now all live in Arizona, but Texas flows through our blood and this Texas meal is one of our very favorites. My California born husband LOVES this meal. He had never had it before he married me. So, thanks for this post, it reminded me to make this meal again soon.

  • leslie

    Do you cover the pot while the beans are soaking and simmering?

    • @leslie, I’m not consistent about it because I can almost never find the lid to that pot. If the liquid looks like it’s disappearing too quickly, I’ll turn the heat down a little and add some water. You could also just partially cover the pot.

  • OTA Mom

    I make a version of this quite often, too, as it is also something my mother made with the leftover hambone. :) Since my own family is smaller and I almost never make a ham, I use a package of smoked hocks to flavor the beans–adds great depth and they’re cheap and readily available (Walmart), too!

  • What a lovely bowl of beans – making me hungry!

  • This looks so easy and delicious! I just bought pinto beans today, so this will most likely be on the menu for tonight. Yum!

  • A girl after my own heart!!! I just made homemade borracho (drunk) beans! I love a good excuse to eat sour cream!!!

  • mynda fryer

    can you freeze pinto beans

  • mynda fryer

    can you freeze cooked pinto beans

    • I personally don’t think they freeze well – but they’ll keep a week in the fridge.

  • Debra Kapellakis

    I will give your recipe a try. My Mom always used a chunk of “bacon” (pork fat really). I don’t have that available here. I am with your Dad on what to eat with my beans. I want a big chunk of homemade cornbread with butter melting inside. mmmmmm…

  • Debra Kapellakis

    I love these beans!

  • Linda Cockrill

    Your Pinto Bean posting brought back fond memories of a long-ago childhood! My mom cooked a big ol’ pot of beans every week too! We had ’em with cornbread the first meal, then the left-overs just got warmed up any which-away and then, there were Smashed Bean Sandwiches!! Ummm-hmmmm!! AND to Mynda Fryer, Yes, you can freeze pinto beans, you just might need to add some more water when reheating them, but they freeze fine!

  • Janice

    Do you fry the bacon first? Otherwise, isn’t it too gummy?

    • I don’t cook it – the pieces are small and it simmers for so long that it doesn’t feel chewy at all.

  • scarlett

    we are texans who live in montana and we make pintos ALL THE TIME. i am the master pinto maker in the family. and they NEVER go to waste. we put leftovers into homemade burritos and taquitos and freeze them.
    curious to know what kind of potatoes your mom served with pinto beans?
    never thought of potatoes and beans, but sounds like a killer idea!
    thanks for your fun blog!

    • Thanks! My parents made “fried potatoes.” They were white potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces (maybe smaller than you’d chop if you were making mashed potatoes), and then sauteed (a lot of times in that morning’s leftover bacon grease) until tender.

  • Lora

    Just found your website and am loving it. I grew up eating cornbread and beans several times a month. We always crumbled the cornbread in a bowl, topped it with plenty of pinto beans with liquid from the beans and added a splash of milk to give it a creamy texture. To this day it’s still one of my all time favorite meals. On occasion my mom would fry up small chunks of potato and that would be added to the bowl as well. It’s comfort food at it’s best!

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