Can I admit something? I had only cooked beans from scratch once before testing this recipe. And that’s because I’m not usually the type to prep dinners hours ahead of time, or make large quantities of food for later use.
However, I recognize the merit in cooking your own beans from scratch. For starters, a lot of canned products are heavy in salt and often contain preservatives and other additives (such as BPA) that aren’t so great for you in large quantities. Not to mention, cooking your own beans is considerably cheaper, making it far more cost effective than buying canned.
Plus, these pinto beans are seriously simple (just 10 ingredients and 1 pot required). And hands-on prep time is really only 15-20 minutes, since the soaking and cooking take place while you do other things. If I can do it, you can do it. Let me show you how!
How Long to Soak Pinto Beans
We have found that 6-8 hours is the optimal amount of time for soaking dry pinto beans. The longer you soak them, the more tender they will become, and the more likely they will split and separate during cooking.
So if you can’t get to them right away, simply drain, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
For those times when you haven’t planned in advance, some readers have mentioned success using a quick soaking method.
To quick soak pinto beans, add them to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then remove from heat, allow to sit (covered) for 1 hour, and drain. Then proceed as instructed. Just be aware that this method may result in beans that cook faster.
How Long to Cook Pinto Beans
How long it takes to cook pinto beans will depend on the freshness of your beans and how long you have soaked them. Beans that are old may have difficulty softening and require longer to cook. Also, the longer your beans have had to soak, the more quickly they will cook.
Once soaked for 6-8 hours, we find that pinto beans require about 40-50 minutes at a simmer to fully cook.
If you are looking to speed up the cooking time, you can use an Instant Pot to prepare this recipe. We recommend using this recipe as a guide for timing.
It’s also rumored that salting beans before cooking prevents them from softening. We have never experienced this issue and have read that it may be more relevant for those at altitude.
How to Season Pinto Beans
Many traditional Mexican pinto bean recipes require bacon or ham hocks to prepare, but to keep mine plant-based, I relied on vegetable broth, garlic, onion, and diced tomatoes and green chilies. And for even more flavor, I added chili powder, cumin, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Batch Cooking Beans
The brilliant thing is this recipe yields about 5 cups cooked pinto beans, which you can enjoy throughout the week for super easy, quick meals. Or you can store leftovers in freezer-safe bags or jars to save for future meals.
I think you guys are going to love these easy, 1-Pot beans. They’re:
These pinto beans are great on their own as a snack with guacamole and chips (hello, lunch). They also make a great addition to meals like tacos, nachos, veggie burgers, burrito bowls, salads, and chili.
More Beans From Scratch Recipes
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram. We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Mexican Pinto Beans From Scratch (1 Pot)
- 1 pound pinto beans* (soaked overnight in cool water // or for at least 6 hours)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium white onion (diced)
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp)
- 1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1 cube quality vegetable bullion (or 1 cup or 240 ml vegetable broth per 1 cube)
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (plus 1 tsp adobo sauce as original recipe is written // plus more to taste)
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies)
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp chili powder*
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- Add pinto beans to a large pot and cover with cool water (at least a few inches above the beans as they will expand). Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight* uncovered at room temperature.
- Once beans are soaked, drain and set aside.
- Heat your large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, diced onion and garlic, and season with a healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Stir to coat and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent.
- Next add drained beans and bouillon cube and cover with water about 2 inches over the top, as the beans will expand while cooking. If using vegetable broth in place of a bouillon cube, add vegetable broth first, and then water so you don’t add too much liquid.
- Add chipotle pepper and diced tomatoes, stir and bring to a low boil. Then reduce heat to low or medium-low and simmer for 40-50 minutes (time as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size), or until beans are tender.
- Once the beans are tender and cooked through add remaining seasonings: adobo sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon (optional). Stir to coat and cook on low for 10 more minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, cumin for smokiness, chili for depth of flavor, cinnamon for warmth, or adobo sauce (and minced adobo peppers) for heat. You want them very well seasoned, so don’t be shy!
- Store beans well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Will keep in the freezer for 1 month (oftentimes longer).
*The chili powder I used was from Whole Foods and contains a blend of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano, coriander, cloves and allspice.
*6-8 hours is the optimal amount of time for soaking your beans. The longer you soak them, the more tender they will become, and the more likely they will split and separate during cooking. So if you can’t get to them right away, simply drain, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
*Recipe method adapted from All Recipes and The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
*The recipe yields roughly 5 cups cooked beans.
*I recently discovered that Trader Joe’s beans are BPA-free, which is great news if you forget to prep ahead of time. In a pinch, buying cans that are BPA-free is still a good option.