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How to Cook Pinto Beans in 3 Easy Ways

How to Cook Pinto Beans in 3 Easy Ways

If you’re wondering about how to cook pinto beans, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’re going to give you a roundup on 3 different ways you can cook these speckled, oval-shaped, beige-colored beans. So let’s begin.

Pinto beans are commonly grown in the United States and used in Mexican cuisine.

They are an excellent, flavorful dish that can be served on its own or used for preparing soup, dips, or quesadilla.

From burritos to meaty chili and refried beans, pinto beans are a staple in Mexican dishes.

However, in Texas, we love to just eat some good old fashioned pinto beans with cornbread.

Pinto beans are pale-pinkish brown in color with red-brown specks when dried.

When cooked, they become a solid pale pink or light brown. Pinto beans taste almost like nuts with a creamy and rich flavor.

They’re regularly eaten whole or mashed.

How to Cook Pinto Beans from Scratch

Before you can cook pinto beans, you need to soak the dry beans for several hours. Here’s what you need to do.

Sorting the Pinto Beans

Lay the beans out on a cookie sheet and remove any odd items. Sort through the dry beans to ensure there are no rotten, blackened, or cracked beans.

Also, remove any stones or agricultural matter.

Rinsing the Pinto Beans

Transfer the beans to a colander and turn on cool running water over it.

Run the beans under the water and move the colander up and down and side to side to rotate the beans so that water touches all sides of the beans.

This removes any surface dirt and dust.

Soaking the Pinto Beans

Transfer the washed beans to a large pot or bowl. After that, cover them with at least 2 inches of water. Allow them to soak in water for several hours, ideally overnight (24 hours).

However, if you’re in a rush, you can also use a quick soak method. Take a cooking pot and transfer the washed pinto beans into it.

Add enough water to submerge the beans and put the pot on high heat. 

When the water starts boiling, turn off the heat and cover the pot with the lid.

Let the beans sit in hot water for at least an hour. 

Before you begin cooking, take your soaked or quick-soaked beans and pour them in a colander to drain all the soaking water.

Shake them up and down to remove any excess water and let them sit for a few minutes so that all water drips off.

Do Pinto Beans have to be Soaked Before Cooking?

Soaking pinto beans allows them to absorb some water, making them much easier to cook afterward and taste more flavorful. If you cook them without soaking, they will not only take longer cook time but their taste will also be a bit chalky.

Soaking also breaks down complex sugars in the beans, making them easier to digest and preventing unpleasant digestive effects.

1. Cooking Pinto Beans on a Stove Top

Here’s a quick overview of how to cook pinto beans on your stovetop.

  1. To cook pinto beans on a stovetop, you will have to take the soaked beans and put them in a large stockpot. Fill the pot with water just enough to fully immerse the beans. You can also add broth or broth concentrate. A teaspoon of broth concentrate for every 950 mL of water can be used if you want to dilute the flavor of the broth.
  2. Cover the pot and heat the beans over medium to low heat. The water/broth needs to simmer (boil lightly), but if it starts to boil strongly, you need to turn down the heat a little bit.
  3. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes with a large wooden spoon so that the beans heat evenly. You can also add some seasonings to the pot to change the flavor.
  4. Most pinto beans recipes have specific seasonings, but if you’re improvising, you can start with salt, which is the most common seasoning. Use a tablespoon of salt for every 1 pound or 450g of pinto beans.
  5. Leave your beans covered and stir periodically to mix in all the seasonings and prevent scorching. Don’t stir too aggressively as that could crush some of the beans.
  6. You may have to add a little water if the beans appear dry because of the water evaporating.
  7. After about 2 hours of cooking, take out a bean with a fork or your wooden spoon to see if it’s tender. If it’s still hard, cook for another 30 minutes and then check again. When the beans are smashy through and through, they are done.

How to Season Pinto Beans?

In addition to salt and broth, you have a whole lot of options to season your pinto beans. Garlic salt, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, cayenne pepper, and black pepper are all popular choices that pair well with pinto beans.

You can also cut up and stir fry some vegetables in the pot before adding in the beans and water. Chopped garlic, onions, and peppers fried in a little butter or olive oil taste incredible with pinto beans.

Meats, such as bacon strip or ham bone is also a great choice for pinto beans. You can add 1 strip of cooked bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces for every 1 pound of beans.

2. Cooking Pinto Beans in an Instant Pot

Here’s a quick overview of how to cook pinto beans in an instant pot.

  1. Put the soaked beans, water and seasonings of your choice in your instant pot. Chopped onion garlic, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper are frequently used in instant pot recipes. It’s best to add salt after cooking.
  2. Close the lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position.
  3. Pressure cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  4. Let the instant pot natural release for 15 minutes.
  5. Now, open the instant pot lid and stir in salt to taste.

Notes: You can also cook unsoaked pinto beans directly using the instant pot. However, it’s best to soak them to make them easily digestible.

But if you forgot to soak them overnight or are running short on time, it’s possible to cook them as they are. 

Cook dry unsoaked pinto beans at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the instant pot natural release for 15 minutes.

3. Cooking Pinto Beans in a Crock Pot or a Slow Cooker

Here’s a quick overview of how to cook pinto beans in a crock pot or slow cooker.

  1. Place your soaked beans in the crock pot or slow cooker.
  2. Add salt and seasonings of your choice along with any vegetables or meat you want your beans to cook with. Chopped or diced onion is a popular choice in crock pot recipes. You can add 1 onion for every 1 pound of pinto beans.
  3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil or canola oil.
  4. Cover the beans with enough water (should be about 2 inches above the beans).
  5. Cook the beans on medium heat for 8 to 10 hours until they’re soft.
  6. You can test if the beans are well cooked after 8 hours. Take out a bean, cool it off, and check if it’s soft. If it’s still hard, you can cook for an additional 30 minutes or more depending on the firmness.

Last Few Words

Pinto beans are a delicious and nutrient-rich food that can be taken as a side dish or as the main course. You can cook dry pinto beans from scratch using these simple methods.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found the information useful.

Pinto beans recipe

Pinto beans recipe

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours

This is our recipe for cooking pinto beans on the stovetop.


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • water
  • salt


    1. Sort the beans to remove any rotten or cracked beans.
    2. Rinse the beans thoroughly using a colander.
    3. Soak the beans in a large bowl for 24 hours.
    4. Drain the beans.
    5. The transfer the beans to a large stock pan.
    6. Cover the beans with water.
    7. Cover the pot and cook the beans over medium low heat. (If the beans start to boil turn down the heat. You want them to simmer but not boil.)
    8. Stir every 20 minutes.
    9. After 2 hours remove a bean and test for doneness.
    10. Stir in salt to taste and any optional ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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Sandy Pincombe

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Not a pinto bean fan.

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