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Pinto Beans with Bacon and Jalapeños

Pinto Beans with Bacon and Jalapeños


1 Cook and prep jalapeños: Heat oil in a medium skillet on high heat. Put the jalapeños in the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Let cook, turning occasionally, on all sides, until all sides are nicely browned (about 10-15 minutes, depending on how hot your burner is).

Remove from pan. Cut away and discard the stem, core, seeds, and veins. Coarsely chop the remaining jalapeño flesh.

2 Cook bacon: While the jalapeños are cooking, cook the bacon slices on medium low heat in a large skillet, until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off (do not discard down the drain!) all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.

3 Cook onion in bacon fat: Add the chopped onion to the pan with the bacon fat. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until translucent and lightly browned. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more. While the onion is cooking, chop the cooked bacon.

4 Add the cooked beans, chopped bacon, and the chopped jalapeños to the pan and stir to mix. Sprinkle with salt.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, and steak and salsa.

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Super Texas-Style Soup Beans

Pandemic cooking has made stars out of forgotten kitchen staples, especially the humble bean.

Ryan Hacker was only a few months into his new job as executive chef at the beloved French Quarter fixture Brennan’s Restaurant when New Orleans closed its dining rooms. “I never had this much time at home before,” he says. While he helped plan for reopening, he spent time teaching his two young daughters to cook family recipes. One of them was soup beans, a simple one-pot meal that over the years he has transformed into something he has nicknamed Southern cassoulet, after the French meat-and-bean stew.

Often associated with Appalachia, soup beans—traditionally long-simmered pinto beans sometimes bulked up with a little meat—have been an economical go-to of many Southern kitchens. Hacker ate his first bowl while growing up just outside Tyler, Texas. Pinto beans would go into the slow cooker with some sausage and onions. One batch could feed the whole family for a couple of days. When he got to college, soup beans provided an inexpensive way to stay fed on a student’s budget. Even after landing an internship at Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston, he relied on them. “I was making cassoulet every day at the restaurant, but I barely had enough money to make it to work and back,” he says. The French stew inspired him to add a little inexpensive white wine to his own beans and to top them with crunchy bread crumbs.

photo: Johnny autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry

His recipe evolved again after he married his wife, Malorie, who had Southwest Texas roots. She grew up eating frijoles charros, which had more pork and were brightened with tomatoes and jalapeños. After the young family landed in New Orleans, he took to adding a dice of bell pepper and celery with the onion (the holy trinity) and andouille sausage. “Now you look at it, and it’s nowhere near a traditional soup bean recipe,” he says. “But it’s the story of me.”

While the beans cook, it’s essential to keep adding enough water so they stay soupy. Hacker likes to serve them over a hunk of cornbread to soak up the liquid and finishes the dish with a buttery, crunchy layer of seasoned cornbread crumbs. By the second day, he says, the beans will have turned creamy and the meat even more luscious. “Once the meat is gone, we like to turn whatever’s left into refried beans. That’s what’s so great about beans. They just keep on giving.”

This article appears in the October/November 2020 issue of Garden & Gun. Start your subscription here or give a gift subscription here.


Step 1

Place beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4". Let soak overnight. Drain beans.

Step 2

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon to pot and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. drippings from pot. Add onion, garlic, and 1 minced jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add drained beans to pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 2" (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water by 1/2-cupfuls if dry, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir in remaining jalapeño and reserved bacon. Season to taste with salt.

Step 4

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving, adding additional water as needed if dry.

Step 5

Transfer beans to a large bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and serve with pickled onions.

How would you rate Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans?

delicious! great variation for red beans and rice lovers.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) bottle dark lager-style beer (such as Shiner Bock®)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper

Place pinto beans into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water. Soak beans 8 hours to overnight.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon slices to a plate lined with paper towel to drain, reserving the bacon drippings. Chop the bacon.

Drain and rinse pinto beans transfer to a large pot. Pour enough water over the beans to cover by several inches Stir salt and garlic powder into the water bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add bacon, reserved bacon drippings, beer, cilantro, green onions, diced tomatoes, and jalapeno pepper to the water bring mixture to a simmer and cook until the beans are completely tender, 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Our Instant Pot Pinto Beans Recipe

Making these Instant Pot pinto beans is a breeze! Here&rsquos a quick look at just how simple the process is:

  1. Sauté the bacon and onion: With the Instant Pot set to sauté, add the bacon and cook until it is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Then add the onion, cook until soft.
  2. Cook the beans: Add the chicken broth and water to the pot, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon to release any stuck bits. Add the beans, bay leaf, salt, garlic powder, cumin, and pepper. Secure the lid and slide the valve into the sealed position. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
  3. Serve the pinto beans: After the pressure releases naturally, release the remaining pressure manually. Open the lid, remove the bay leaf and serve the beans (with or without the cooking broth, it&rsquos up to you!).

What is the ratio of beans to water in an instant pot?

We&rsquove found that the perfect ratio of beans to water in the Instant Pot is 6 cups of liquid (combined water and broth) to 2 cups of dried pinto beans. This will give you the best consistency and the beans will turn out tender but not mushy.

Do pinto beans have to be soaked before cooking?

No, you do not have to soak the beans before making them in the Instant Pot. Just make sure to rinse the pinto beans and pick out any pebbles or dirt before starting. You can place the dried beans in a colander to easily rinse them.

These Instant Pot pinto beans with bacon are a delicious (and nutritious) side dish that will turn any main course into a homestyle meal. If you&rsquore looking for serving ideas, may we suggest our Pork and Beef Meatloaf, our Sage Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread, or this Sausage and Rice Skillet Dinner?

Pop leftovers into the fridge to enjoy the next day, or divide these up for meal planning throughout the week. This Instant Pot pinto beans recipe makes a dish that is truly versatile, which means a pot of flavorful beans will go with almost any meal!

  • The Baked Version. This recipe is a baked version, though you can make it either as a stew in a large pot or Dutch oven, or in a slow cooker or crock pot. Either way will offer great results. Just cover and cook to develop all those wonderful flavors.
  • Dutch Oven. In the Dutch oven, rather than baking it, simply simmer it on the stove top with the mostly covering it. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring every so often, until it thickens and the flavors develop.
  • Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans. For the slow cooker or crock pot cowboy beans, transfer all of the ingredients to the slow cooker after you&rsquove cooked down the vegetables and ground meat. Cook on low for 4 hours, until the flavors develop. Slow cooker or crock pot version. Yes.

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These eminently satisfying pinto beans from Smitten Kitchen‘s new cookbook are baked with bacon, onions, garlic, tomato paste, and plenty of spices for a rich and satisfying side dish or dinner. Truly, once they’re topped with creamy avocado, tangy sour cream, a piquant onion-jalapeño-cilantro relish, and whatever else you like (cheese, tomatoes), all you need are fresh-baked tortilla chips to make it an easy, filling meal everyone will love. And feel free to leave out the bacon if you don’t eat meat there are so many other flavors, it’s not at all necessary for a delicious feast.

For more perfect pinto beans, get our Chipotle, Beef, and Bean Chili recipe, and our Warm Cheesy Bean Dip recipe.

Get The Cookbook

Deep South Pintos and Rice

Though pinto beans may not really be a classic Southern recipe for this part of The Deep South, that doesn't make them any less popular as a southern dish. Yes, we are all about the red beans and rice down this way for sure, and instead of the classic pintos often made in other areas of the South, I made this version of pintos much like my own homemade red beans and rice, but with the addition of a little Tex-Mex flavor by using jalapenos in place of the usual sweet green bell pepper and a few other flavor boosters.

Of course, never one to leave things alone much, we southerners also love to garnish our pinto beans with a tablespoon or two of Chow Chow - a southern relish made of cabbage or sometimes green tomatoes, onion, peppers, often hot, in a vinegary sweet syrup. It's a perfect garnish for just about any bean, but especially endeared to pintos although pickled onions are a favorite too.

Ham, andouille or smoked sausage, or bacon all work for flavoring, and certainly if you have a ham bone, by all means use it! Add in the veggies and saute.

Add the beans, chicken base, jalapenos and juice, salsa and pepper and let it stew for couple hours, or pour it all into a crockpot and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.

Pintos are a nice change of pace and a delicious heart warming pot of beans. Scoop them over hot, cooked rice and serve with hot buttered flour tortillas, yeast rolls or better yet, a big slice of hot buttered southern style skillet cornbread, or hoecakes and maybe some greens on the side. Top with some Chow Chow as shown below. Enjoy!

For more of my favorite bean recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Recipe: Deep South Pinto Beans and Rice

  • 1 pound of dry pinto beans , soaked overnight, picked through and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups of chopped, cooked ham , 1/2 pound package of smoked sausage or andouille sausage, or 1/2 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion , chopped
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base (like Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped, jarred pickled jalapeno slices
  • 1 tablespoon of jalapeno juice , from the jar
  • 1/4 cup of green or red salsa
  • About 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt , or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • Hot, steamed rice

Soak beans overnight, or use quick boil method. If you are using bacon, or bacon in combination with other meats, omit the oil and saute the bacon first before the other meats. Use the rendered fat to saute the vegetables. Otherwise, heat the oil in a stockpot and add the ham or sausage, cooking until browned. Add the chopped onion and celery and cook and stir until onion is softened and slightly caramelized. Add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in the beans, chicken base, jalapenos, juice, salsa and pepper add enough water to cover, plus about 2 inches (about 2-1/2 quarts total) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring regularly. Add additional water 1/2 cup at a time only if the beans thicken too much. Add salt and Cajun seasoning, taste and adjust as needed. Remove a cup of the beans and use an immersion blender to puree, or mash them with a fork, returning them to the pot stir.

Serve as a side dish or scoop beans over hot, cooked rice and serve topped with Chow Chow if desired. Add warmed, buttered flour tortillas, a big slice of hot buttered southern style skillet cornbread, hoecakes or even a yeast roll, and maybe even some greens on the side.

Cook’s Notes: To lessen the heat, substitute chopped, undrained green chilies and eliminate the jalapenos and juice. You'll get a lighter colored bean if you pre-soak them, darker if you simply cook them without soaking, however, they will take longer to cook. Older beans tend to also take longer, so the fresher your beans, the less time they generally will take.

Quick Boil Method: Rinse and sort beans and place into a deep pot, adding water to cover beans plus about an inch or so. Do not add any seasonings or salt! Bring to a boil boil for 5 minutes uncovered, turn off heat, cover and let soak for one hour. Drain and set aside.

Crockpot: Soak beans overnight, drain and rinse and place into crockpot. Saute meats and veggies add to crockpot. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients, except for the salt, Cajun seasoning, and rice, but including the water (enough to cover plus 2 inches). Cook on high until beans are tender, 6 to 8 hours, or low 9 to 12 hours. Length of time will depend on freshness of beans. When done, remove 1 cup of beans and mash, return to the crockpot and stir in.

Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Recipes are offered for your own personal use only and while pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, please do not copy and paste to repost or republish elsewhere such as other Facebook pages, blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Tips for Instant Pot Pinto Beans:

TIP 1: Freeze leftover beans. Don’t be afraid to make more than what you will use for the meal you are making the beans for. You can easily portion the beans into freezer bags to use for later meals. They still taste amazing!

TIP 2: Bacon. All you need is two or three strips of bacon and your beans will have a rich smokey flavor! Toss them in the pot uncooked. A simple way to take your beans over the top.

TIP 3: Meat Substitute You can substitute beans for ground beef in just about any recipe. These pinto beans make a delicious taco!

TIP 4: Refried Beans Canned refried beans are full of fat and sodium. You can quickly turn these pinto beans into refried beans on the stovetop. Add 1/4 cup of water to 2 cups of cooked pinto beans and smash with a potato masher in a skillet. Add in some taco seasoning or cumin to bump up the flavors. (You can add more water if the beans are too thick)

Borracho beans and charro beans are very similar. The difference is that borracho beans are cooked in beer and charro beans are not. Charro beans are typically cooked in water or chicken or beef broth.

To start, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to cook your beans from dried (which is what I highly recommend) or if you’ll used canned pinto beans instead.

Cooking your beans from dried will produce a thicker, creamier and tastier batch of borracho beans. The only downside is that it does take a little longer because you have to soak the beans for 8 hours, but trust me – it’s well worth it.

If you’ve never cooked dried pinto beans before, here’s a post with step-by-step photos on how to cook pinto beans on the stove. I’ve also included those steps in the recipe card below as well as instructions if you decide to use canned beans instead.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients ready to go, cook the diced bacon in a pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (Here’s the Dutch oven that I love and use for all sorts of recipes like soups, stews and beans!)

When the bacon has browned and become nice and crispy, transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside. Make sure to leave the rendered bacon fat in the pot because that’s what you’ll use to cook the rest of the ingredients.

Next, add in the onions and jalapenos. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and have softened.

Now, add in the garlic, chili powders, dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if you have it), salt and ground cumin. Saute for about 30 seconds to release the flavors into the onions. You don’t want to cook it too long though because you might burn the garlic.

Then add the cooked pinto beans, canned diced tomatoes, beer and brown sugar. Give it a good stir to combine everything and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, the beans should be creamy and super tender! If you used canned beans, they may not look quite a thick as the beans in the photos. If you’d like them a little more tender, simmer them a little longer until they’re perfectly thick. You may need to add a splash of water or chicken stock if it needs a little more liquid.

When you’re ready to serve them, mix in some freshly chopped cilantro along with the crispy browned bacon.

Sort through and rinse the beans place in a large container, cover with water, and soak overnight.

Put the beans in the crockpot cover with the water.

Cover and cook on LOW heat 5 to 7 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Place the bacon and the chopped onion in a skillet and fry until the bacon is cooked through and the onion is translucent place on paper towel to drain well, reserving the drippings in the skillet.

Add the drained bacon and onions to the beans along with a tablespoon or more of the bacon drippings. Add the salsa to taste and chopped cilantro if using.

Cover and cook on LOW for 1 to 2 more hours. Serve hot as a side dish, main dish, or use in other recipes.

Beans have been a mainstay in Mexican and Latin cuisine for centuries, and part of the cooking process is sorting through the beans—or "cleaning" the beans—before soaking them. Although commercially packaged beans contain fewer foreign objects than beans of yesteryear, there still is a chance you will come across a stone or two. Empty the bag onto a tray or cutting board and remove any stones or debris, as well as any broken beans or those that contain holes.

You may be tempted to use the soaking water for cooking the beans, but that water actually contains the carbohydrates that can cause gassiness when eating beans if you are sensitive to the effects beans can have on our digestive systems, it is best to discard and add fresh water to the crockpot. However, keep in mind you will be tossing out some of the beans' flavor.

You can soak beans a few different ways, including using cold water or soaking in hot water. A cold water soak is just that—covering the beans with a generous amount of cold water (4 cups of water per cup of beans) and allowing to soak about 8 hours. For a hot water soak, cover the beans with water and place the pot on the stove boil for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit for about 5 hours. Whether you cold or hot soak, you can either drain and rinse the beans afterward or simply cook the beans in the soaking water.