This Saucy Pinto Beans recipe is a perfect side dish to feed your family on crisp autumn nights.
There’s something so homely about a pot of beans simmering on the stove. When the big Dutch oven comes out of its summer storage spot, my family knows there’s a pot of Saucy Pinto Beans coming soon. This recipe is just so easy to make, and beans are super affordable, too!
Saucy Pinto Beans from Scratch
You probably have all of the spices needed to make this Saucy Pinto Beans recipe, so all that’s left is picking up a few more things from the store. Fresh jalapeños are important in this recipe — the ones from the jar don’t have the same flavor. You don’t need any particular brand of diced tomatoes, just be sure not to drain them.
Can I Make This with Other Beans?
I love Pinto beans, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use another type in this recipe. Black beans would be a great substitute, and maybe kidney beans, too. You might even try it with chickpeas (garbanzos). Or go wild and mix several kinds — then adjust the cooking time if needed.
Is It Okay to Salt Beans Before Cooking?
Have you always thought that adding salt to beans before they’re cooked would make them tough? That’s what I used to think, too. The good news is that’s a myth. If anything, adding salt during the cooking process makes the beans more tender. So, although I don’t know how that cooking myth started, I don’t follow it anymore.
Can I Freeze These Saucy Pinto Beans?
Absolutely! That’s another reason I love making them. Just let them cool completely first — maybe even overnight. Then portion them into your freezer containers and add a label. I usually freeze leftover Saucy Pinto Beans in Ziplock bags, then flatten them so they don’t take up a lot of room. Reheat defrosted beans on the stove or in the microwave with a little water or broth if needed.
Don’t Throw Away that Extra Liquid!
You’ll probably have a little extra liquid after the beans are done. Save it! If you want to make refried beans, add some leftover Saucy Pinto Beans to a skillet over medium heat. Pour in some of the cooking liquid and mash them together with the back of a spoon. Add more liquid until you get the consistency you like, and serve. It’s that easy!
Bean cooking liquid also provides an excellent start for soups and stews. So, consider it one of those kitchen scraps you should save, and pop the extra into your freezer to use.
Saucy Pinto Beans
- Dutch Oven or large stock pot with lid
- Colander or strainer
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Cutting board
- 1 pound dry pinto beans picked over for rocks and debris
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 fresh jalapeño peppers seeded, membrane removed, and minced
- 2 teaspoons sea salt divided
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or less if you don't like heat)
- 2 cups diced tomatoes including juices
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups water
- Optional toppings: jalapeño slices, crumbled queso fresco, diced fresh tomatoes, minced cilantro
- Pour the pinto beans into a colander and pick them over to remove rocks or debris. Rinse well under running water, then pour the beans into the Dutch Oven or stockpot. Add cold water to cover the beans plus another 2 inches. Let soak overnight, or at least 6 hours.
- Strain and rinse the beans in the colander. Set them aside.
- Heat the oil in the Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring often, until it's translucent.
- Stir in the minced jalapeños, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt then the diced tomatoes. Stir in the beans and 8 cups of water.
- Bring the beans to a full boil then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let the beans simmer on low for 4 hours. Be sure to stir every now and then to keep the beans from scorching on the bottom of the pan. Add additional water if needed
- Once beans are tender, add the remaining teaspoon of salt if desired. Drain the excess liquid if you want (see notes in blog post). Divide into serving bowls, sprinkle with any optional toppings you like, and enjoy!
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