Easy As (Pinto) Beans

About: aka "OJ"

Nothing beats a fresh pot of Pinto Beans. No can or pouch of ready made pinto beans matches the awesome taste of freshly made Pinto Beans in a clay pot. It requires a small amout of ingredients and a few hours of your divide time.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Main Recipe

1) clay pot

2) a metal bowl that fits over the clay pot

3) 2 lbs bag of dried pinto beans
4) 2 tbsp of crushed garlic
5) 1 to 2 Tbsp of salt
6) a gallon of water

Garnish Topping
1) chopped onion
2) chopped tomato
3) chopped Serrano pepper
4) chopped cilantro

Step 2: The Clay Pot

You can get a clay pot at most Mexican Grocery stores. They are pretty common in Mexican cooking. When you are shopping for one, make sure it has a tag or label that states it is "LEAD FREE". There some authentic clay pots that contain lead. Always avoid those. If you have doubts, they have a lead testing kit that can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes that can be used to test the pot before you buy it.

SIZE - make sure to get a pot that is big enough. When you add the full amount of dry beans to the pot, it should only occupy 1/3 of the clay pot. The beans will double in size when they absorb water. Then you need some head room to prevent boil overs. I like to have 4 inches of head room to prevent boil overs.

Step 3: Metallic Bowl

I like to cover my clay pot when cooking pinto beans with a metallic bowl or sauce pan. This makes the beans come out nice and light colored. Not sure if the flavor is any different, but I prefer the resulting color of the beans as that is what I have been eating my whole life.

Step 4: Cleaning the Pinto Beans

Depending on where you buy your pinto beans you may have to clean them. I always clean them. When the beans are harvested you sometimes get small rocks in the bag. Nothing ruins an awesome bowl of beans like finding a rock in them when your eating them. So I clean them always. Cleaning requires that you spread the beans out on a clean surface like a table and visually inspect them all before use them. On this batch of beans I only found one rock this time.

Step 5: Washing the Beans

The beans then need to be washed. I wash them in the same clay pot. I put the dry beans in the pot. Fill up the pot with water. Then you stir the beans with your hands 5 or 6 times. Then using your hand as a strainer, pour out the dirty water. I wash them at least two times before I fill up the pot to 4 inches from the top rim of the pot.

Step 6: Add Garlic

Add the 2 tbsp of crushed garlic to the water and beans

Step 7: Cover

Place the metallic bowl over the top of the clay pot and fill the bowl 3/4's with water. This water will be the same temperature as the mixture inside the clay pot. So when your mixture is running too dry, use this preheated water to bring the mixture back up to 4 inches from the top of the rim of the clay pot.

Step 8: Bring to Boil

Bring the mixture up to a boil. Keep close eye on it as it will boil over some if you the heat is too high. When the mixture is boiling, lower the heat low enough to maintain a slow boil.

Step 9: Cook for 2 Hours

Check the beans every 30 minutes. Using a big long spoon, carefully mix the beans all the way from the bottom of the clay pot. This is to verify there is not dry spot in the mixture. A dry spot in the beans especially at the bottom, can cause the beans to stick to the pot. If the mixture is running a little low on water, add the pre-heated water in the metal bowl. Then refill the bowl with water to keep a pre-heated source of water available for the next check in. Because the beans were pre-soaked for 2 hours, they beans will fully cook in two hours.

Step 10: Salt the Beans

At the end of the 2 hours. The beans should be able to break apart within your fingers pretty easily. I like to check a couple of beans by chewing them and making sure they are not chalkie. If they are chalkie, I'll let them cook for another 15 minutes and check them again for done-ness. When they are done, I will add the 1 tbsp of salt to the beans. I will then mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Then I will check the liquid for saltyness. If they need more, i'll add another teaspoon at a time. Over salting the beans can ruin the hours of work. So don't over salt the beans.

Step 11: Serve in Bowl

My family always has a habit of serving beans with raw rarnish as seen in the pic. The raw garnish consists of chopped onions, tomatoes, serrano peppers, and cilantro. Serve piping hot and enjoy simple goodness of pinto beans.



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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I just want to be able to buy one of the cooking pots here !? But you can't use them on electric stoves without a heat diffuser and l will have get that to so I guess I will keep cooking my pintos on the stove top and in the crock pot for now.


    4 years ago on Step 1

    Your last picture makes me want to put a pot of these on the stove right now! Have you ever cooked these in something other than the clay pot? I do not have one and would have to order by mail since unfortunately there is no Hispanic grocer anywhere near where I live right now. I am thinking about trying my slow cooker to replicate the cooking process.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    A crock pot will do the trick as well. I have made them in crock pot before. Just make sure you use preheated water when adding more water during the cooking process. This will keep the beans on track to cook in the quickest time, and also keep them on the lighter side. Try it out!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Well I made the beans in the slow cooker and they turned out really nice - creamy and toothsome. They took a bit longer than yours to cook - about 3 hours in total. Next, they will become Ranchero Beans! Thanks again.

    Uncle Kudzu

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I've never seen a pot like that. I'm gonna have to pop over to the tienda and see if they have one, because this sounds so good.

    And yes, those little rocks will ruin your day!

    1 reply
    G10768Uncle Kudzu

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I have modified step 2 to add comments on the clay pot SIZE "- make sure to get a pot that is big enough. When you add the full amount of dry beans to the pot, it should only occupy 1/3 of the clay pot. The beans will double in size when they absorb water. Then you need some head room to prevent boil overs. I like to have 4 inches of head room to prevent boil overs."

    Thanks for the comment Uncle Kudzu.


    4 years ago

    Up here in Wisconsin I was taught how to make them in a pressure cooker. Takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. I'd say better than grandma's, not to her face though. I share them with about 4 college buddies and there's enough for everyone. We always cube extra sharp cheddar and dice onion. To make it go a little further we brown and salt a pound of hamburger.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I would really be interested in seeing that on an Instructable. I'll pick up pressure cooker at the next neighborhood garage sale in the mean time. I have never owned one myself. Thanks for the input.