The best easy pinto beans from scratch, with stove top, slow cooker, and Instant Pot directions. They are an easy, flavorful and healthy side dish to go with all of your Tex-Mex, Mexican, and BBQ meals, or a simple, hearty vegetarian dinner. (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian option)
For as long as I can remember, almost every one of my family gatherings on my dad's side (except for Thanksgiving) was sure to have one thing - a big pot of homemade pinto beans.
My aunt always made the best easy pinto beans, and she taught my mom, my cousins and me to make them at our family lake house, where we would spend the weekends cooking, fishing, and eating lots of delicious food. Now I'm excited to share the recipe with you!
Why You'll Love This Pinto Bean Recipe
These pinto beans are amazing for many reasons. First, they go with almost anything. From Tex-Mex meals like enchiladas and taco salads to BBQ brisket and ribs, to just a steaming bowl with cornbread, pinto beans are great with so many meals! Sometimes I freeze half of them for later or make some baked beans with them. They're so versatile!
These pinto beans are also so easy to make and super affordable. You start with a pound of dried beans and add a few simple flavoring ingredients, and you end up with a big ol' batch of delicious, steamy beans with so much flavor. And they take so little effort!
Are Pinto Beans Healthy?
Beans are also a great vegetarian source of protein, and they also provide fiber, iron, B vitamins, and potassium. So yes, I'd say they're healthy. We can all stand to eat a few more plants.
How To Make Pinto Beans From Scratch
- Soak the beans overnight. Add to a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. Let soak overnight, then drain and rinse once you're ready to cook.
- Add beans to a large pot with all of the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2-4 hours until beans are tender.
A Mexican Variation
For a Mexican version to eat with all of your Mexican and Tex Mex favorites, add a can of diced tomatoes, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin with the other ingredients.
Pro Tips For Making The Best Pinto Beans
- Remember to soak the dry beans the night before you plan to cook them, or you'll have to do a quick soak the day you want to cook them. It's not the end of the world, but it’s easier if you soak them beforehand.
- Add more or less salt to taste.
- The longer the beans cook, the better they will taste. They're always delicious leftover!
How To Store Leftovers
Store leftover beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until hot throughout.
How To Do a Quick Soak
If you forget to soak your beans (because life happens), no worries! You can do a 'quick soak' instead. Add rinsed and drained beans to a pot, cover with at least 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 1 minute, then turn off the heat, cover, and let soak for 1 hour. Drain beans and proceed with the recipe.
Can These Be Made In The Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?
Yes! I've done both. I've even kept them on warm for 24 in the slow cooker (due to poor planning) and they were extra delicious! For the slow cooker, follow the instructions as written, but cook on high for 3-4 hours. For the Instant Pot, follow the directions as written, but cook 8-10 minutes on high pressure (or 25-30 minutes for unsoaked beans) then let the pressure release naturally.
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The Best Easy Pinto Beans
The best easy pinto beans from scratch, with stovetop, slow cooker and Instant Pot directions. They are an easy, flavorful and healthy side dish to go with all of your Tex-Mex, Mexican, and BBQ meals, or a simple, hearty vegetarian dinner. (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian option)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: About 6 cups 1x
- Category: side dish
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 1 lb dry pinto beans
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- Small ham hock, slice of bacon, or pork bone
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (optional)
For Mexican version:
- Add 1 can diced tomatoes, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Soak beans overnight: Pour beans into a large bowl or pot. Sift through and pick out any small rocks that may be present. Cover beans with water (at least 3 inches over beans) and let sit on the counter overnight. If you forgot to soak the beans (it happens!), use the quick soak method (see notes).
- Drain and rinse beans. Place in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and ham hock, if using. Add spices (this is also the time to add tomatoes and Mexican spices if you are making that version). Add chicken broth if using and fill with enough water to cover beans at least 2 inches with water.
- Place lid on the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Boil beans for 1 minute, then turn heat to low.
- Simmer 2-4 hours or until beans are tender.
- Omit bacon/ham hock for vegetarian.
- For quick soak method, rinse and drain beans. Add to a pot and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Cover, turn heat to high, and bring to a rapid boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let soak, covered, for 1 hour. Then drain and proceed with the recipe.
- For slow cooker, follow directions as written, but add beans to your slow cooker instead of a pot on the stove. Cook on high about 3-4 hours or until tender.
- For Instant Pot, add all ingredients to the pot of the Instant Pot. Close and lock lid and seal vent. Cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes for unsoaked beans or 8-10 minutes for soaked beans. Let pressure release naturally before removing the lid.
- For Mexican version, add the tomatoes, chili powder and cumin along with the other ingredients.
Keywords: the best pinto beans, easy pinto beans, easy crockpot pinto beans