A Spicy Perspective

Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans)

Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe) – Zesty beans, made on the stovetop, as Instant Pot Pinto Beans, or as Crock Pot Pinto Beans!

Frijoles de la Olla Mexican Pinto Beans

“Frijoles de la Olla” A Fabulous Stewed Pinto Beans Recipe

There is a casual Mexican restaurant down the street from my house that makes the most amazing pinto beans.

I know, I know… Beans aren’t usually what you rave about when discussing favorite restaurant dishes.

However, these Frijoles de la Olla, loosely translated “Pot Beans” or “Baked Bean Stew” are so simplistic and perfect, I have to order them every single time we visit.

These simple Mexican Pinto Beans offer a clean, yet rich almost-meaty flavor, with a pop of freshness. They are tender and comforting, and surprisingly healthy!

Frijoles de la Olla Pinto Beans Recipe

Our Favorite Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe

I decided it was time to learn to make my favorite restaurant-style pinto beans at home.

This recipe was not-so-surprisingly easy to replicate. After all, they are just boiled beans with a few key ingredients.

Yet this handful of ingredients makes such a huge difference in flavor, it’s important to mention them…

Also, I’m thrilled to tell you, you can make this recipe on the stovetop, in your Instant Pot, or in a slow cooker. It makes no difference in taste and texture. You can even skip the bean soaking with certain methods.

Pinto Beans Recipe Ingredients

Key Pinto Beans Recipe Ingredients

  • Dry Pinto Beans Soaked or Unsoaked depending on the cooking method.
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pico De GalloAdded at the end for a pop of fresh flavor.
  • Ham BoneCompletely optional.

A note about the ham bone. I almost posted this recipe without the ham bone. Yet in the end, I decided to add it and give the disclaimer that it is optional.

Beans cooked with a hambone (usually kept in the freezer after a holiday ham is gone) are ultra-rich and silky with a much deeper fatty flavor. They taste succulent and luxurious. If you don’t have a leftover ham bone, you can buy a ham hock at your local grocery store, or even throw in some diced bacon to add porky richness.

Yet here’s the thing… Even without the pork, these beans provide a deep robust flavor. You can make a healthy vegan version, without really missing out on the flavor.

Both of my kids actually prefer this recipe without the hambone, even though they love the flavor a hambone creates in our navy bean soup recipe. They feel the pork overshadows the bean flavor of the pintos. Yet, the grownups like the addition of the hambone.

The truth is, you can’t go wrong either way. If you have a hambone, throw it in. If not, don’t go out of your way to find one. *wink*

Soaking Pinto Beans

Do Pinto Beans Have To Be Soaked Before Cooking?

That depends on the cooking method you select. If you plan to simmer the beans on the stovetop, it really is worth it to soak your beans overnight before cooking.

Soaking the beans allows them to soften and plump before cooking. Therefore it cuts down on the cooking time and gives them a fine silky texture.

Because the beans are sitting in water, undisturbed, it actually helps to protect the beans’ appearance as well. Beans that are boiled, unsoaked, are jostled around in the boiling water for much longer than soaked beans, and are therefore more likely to break apart or losing their skins.

It should be noted that even after soaking beans overnight, they take a varied amount of time to cook, based on how old they are. “New” dried beans will cook faster than beans that have been sitting in the pantry for months or even years.

Easy Pinto Beans Recipe

What About Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans And Crock Pot Beans?

If cooking beans in an electric pressure cooker, there is no need to soak the beans. The Instant Pot will compress the soaking and cooking times together into one little neat package.

With a slow cooker, you can go either way. You do not have to soak the beans. Yet if you do, they will cook much faster.

If you plan to set the slow cooker in the morning before work and enjoy the pinto beans later in the evening, there’s no need to soak them. You could even cook them to slow cooker overnight as you sleep.

Stovetop Mexican Pinto Beans

How To Make Pinto Beans From Scratch (On The Stovetop)

  1. Soak. Place the dried beans in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water, and let the beans soak overnight. The package of dried beans you buy may have a quick no-soak method written on the back, and it will work. However, beans tend to have a better overall texture when they have been soaked, and they definitely cook faster!
  2. Season. Place the beans in a large pot with a heavy lid. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using. Note, if you don’t have a ham bone in your freezer (from a past holiday ham) you can add bacon here or skip the pork altogether for a vegan version. My kids actually prefer these beans without pork. They say it has a cleaner beany flavor.
  3. Simmer. Pour in enough water to cover the beans. Cover and bring to a simmer. Then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are very soft.
  4. Add Freshness! Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo and season with salt if needed.
Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Instant Pot Pinto Beans Method (No-Soak)

  1. Skip the Soak. When you cook beans with an electric pressure cooker, you do not have to soak the beans beforehand.
  2. Season. Place the beans in a large Instant Pot. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using. (Again, skip the hambone for a vegan option.)
  3. Set. Add water and lock the lid into place. Cook on Pressure Cook High. Then perform a natural release.
  4. Add Freshness! Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo.
Instant Pot Mexican Beans

What About Crock Pot Pinto Beans? (Also a No-Soak Method)

  1. Season. Place the dried beans in a large slow cooker. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using. (You do not have to soak the beans for this method.)
  2. Pour in water and set the slow cooker on HIGH for 8-10 hours or on LOW for 15-17 hours.
  3. Add Freshness! Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo, and salt if needed.

Get the Full (Printable) Frijoles de la Olla Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe Below with All Three Cooking Methods!

Frijoles de la Olla Recipe

What Do You Add To Beans For Flavor?

The great thing about pinto beans is that they have such a strong meaty flavor on their own.

You do not need to add all sorts of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. Just a few simple ingredients will do.

As mentioned above, just salt, onions, garlic, and some fresh pico de gallo at the end will give them a brilliant flavor with tons of contrast!

Best Crock Pot Pinto Beans

What Goes with Pinto Beans?

These festive Mexican Pinto Beans go with all your Favorite Mexican Dishes!

Best Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe

Is This Pinto Beans Recipe Vegetarian?

The hambone (or bacon) is completely optional. It does provide a deep rich flavor, but as mentioned before, my kids prefer the vegetarian Frijoles de la Olla, because they say it has a cleaner flavor. It’s your call.

If you skip the hambone this recipe is vegetarian and vegan.

Frijoles De La Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe)

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Authentic “Frijoles De La Olla” Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe – Rich zesty pintos made on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or in a Crock Pot.
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • ½ sweet onion, cut into large wedges
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 hambone *optional (Could use diced bacon, or skip for vegetarian. )
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • Water
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Stovetop Method: Place the dried beans in a large bowl and fill with water, covering the top of the beans by 2 inches. Let the beans soak overnight.
  • When ready to cook, place the beans in a large 6-8 quart pot with a heavy lid. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using.
  • Pour in enough water to cover the beans by 3-4 inches. Set the heat on medium.
  • Cover and bring to a simmer. Then reduce the heat and simmer on medium-low to low for 2-4 hours, until the beans are very soft. *Even after soaking overnight, beans take a varied amount of time, base on how old they are. “New” dried beans will cook faster than beans that have been sitting in the pantry for months/years.
  • Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo. Taste, then salt as needed.
  • Instant Pot Method: When using an electric pressure cooker, you do not have to soak the beans overnight.
  • Place the beans in a 6+ quart Instant Pot. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using.
  • Add 5 cups of water. Lock the lid into place and set on Pressure Cook High for 35 minutes.
  • Perform a natural release. Once the steam button drops, it is safe to open the lid. If the beans are still firm, you can Pressure Cook again for 5-10 minutes. Then perform a Quick Release.
  • Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo. Taste, then salt as needed.
  • Crock Pot Method: Place the dried beans in a large 6-8 quart slow cooker. Add the onion wedges, garlic, and hambone if using. Pour in 8 cups water. (You do not have to soak the beans for this method.)
  • Set the crock pot on HIGH for 8-10 hours or on LOW for 15-17 hours. Once the beans are soft, remove the onion, garlic, and hambone. Stir in the pico de gallo. Taste, then salt as needed.

Video

Notes

The hambone (or bacon) is completely optional. It does provide a deep rich flavor, but my kids actually prefer the vegetarian Frijoles de la Olla, because they say it has a cleaner flavor. It’s your call.
Salt? Hambones provide a lot of salt, so you will not want to salt the beans until the end. If you plan to skip the hambone, you can add 1 ½ teaspoon salt as the beginning of the cooking process.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cups, Calories: 175kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 166mg, Potassium: 656mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 106IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Sommer Collier

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2 comments on “Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans)”

  1. Love these Mexican pinto beans! The flavors are spot on!

  2. I made a batch this morning for Cinco de Mayo and they are delicious! Thanks for another great recipe.