Faye has been cooking for over 50 years and loves to share her recipes and cooking tips with everyone.
Cooking Pinto Beans
There's nothing better on a cold, snowy, or rainy day than the smell of a cooking pot of beans. Well, maybe eating them is the one thing that's better! Beans are a hot and filling comfort food.
Of course, you should cook beans at any time of the year because they are nutritious and have lots of fiber. Dried beans that you've cooked at home taste so much better than those bought in a can.
I love to put pinto beans in my crockpot (slow cooker) in the morning and let them cook all day. Not only do they smell good, but they also help warm your house. Double the benefits!
If you're working, you can put them in before leaving in the morning and come home to hot beans for dinner.
Whether they're in your crockpot or on your stove, in my opinion, pinto beans are best when cooked for several hours or, even better, all day.
Let me show you how...
Pinto Beans Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes + soaking time
Total Time: 6–8 hours
- 1 pound bag of pinto beans (or other dried bean)
- 6–8 cups water for cooking
- ham and/or other seasonings such as bacon, fatback, butter, margarine, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt, added during last hour of cooking, optional
- Pick through your beans, and discard any small rocks or bad beans.
- Rinse beans well in cold water.
- Cover with water, and let soak overnight (or use quick-soak method shown below).
- Rinse beans again after soaking period.
- Pour beans into the Crock-Pot, and add 6–8 cups of water. Enough to cover them, plus about 1 inch above that. I recommend using hot water to speed up the cooking process a little.
- Add any seasonings desired, such as diced ham, butter, margarine, bacon, or fatback.
- Turn crockpot to high, and cook all day (at least 6–8 hours).
- Add salt during last hour of cooking (if possible).
- Serve and enjoy!
Pinto Beans Are Ready to Eat!
Some Slow Cookers Cook Differently
I use a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, which I love. It's a simple Crock-Pot (slow cooker) without any fancy controls or timers. It's about average in temperature, not too fast or slow when cooking.
Read More From Delishably
When using this recipe, please remember that slow cookers differ. Some cook hotter than others; therefore, times and temperatures may need to be adjusted. When cooking any new recipe, it is always wise to keep checking the food until you know how it goes.
Step 1: Sort Out the Bad Beans
Dried Beans Need Sorting
Dried beans need to be sorted before cooking because sometimes there will be little rocks or bad beans included in the bag. If you find any, set them aside and toss them out.
Step 2: Rinse Away the Dirt
You will also need to be rinsed off dried beans before you cook them because they tend to be rather dirty. I usually sort mine into a bowl, add some cold water, and stir vigorously. I then pour them into a colander and rinse them again. Just to be safe, I repeat this process at least two times (sometimes even more than that).
Step 3: Soak the Beans
Overnight or Quick Soak
There are two ways you can soak your beans: overnight or quick soak. The quick version will work if you forgot to soak them the night before. But soaking them overnight gives the beans more time to swell and is preferable. Also, they can soak while you sleep and then be ready to put in the crockpot the following morning. If you choose to use the quick soak method, you'll need time to boil the beans and then an hour to soak them before you can start cooking them.
- Overnight Soak: Rinse and sort one pound of pinto beans. Place in a large pot. Add enough COLD water to cover beans by two inches. This should be about eight cups. Let stand overnight or at least six to eight hours. Drain soak water and rinse beans. Continue to step three.
- Quick Soak: Rinse and sort one pound of pinto beans. Place in a large pot. Add about eight cups of HOT water. Bring to a rapid boil and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for one hour. Drain soak water and rinse. Continue to step three.
Note: If you have a problem with beans causing you gas, try this: soak the beans overnight, drain and rinse. Then freeze the beans. Then take the frozen beans, add plenty of water (twice the water as beans) and boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Next, drain and add fresh water and cook until done. Make sure the beans are soft.
Step 4: Cooking the Beans
How to Cook in a Crockpot
- Place drained and rinsed beans into a crockpot.
- Add about 6–8 cups of hot water to cover beans.
- Add seasonings (except salt) and a ham hock or diced ham. If you don't have any ham, just use 2–3 tablespoons of butter or margarine.
- Set on high temperature, and let cook 6 to 8 hours, or all day.
- Add about 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) about 1 hour or less before finished cooking.
Note: You may want to try this for the first time when you are going to be at home all day so you can make sure the water doesn't get too low. You may need to start with more water or set the temperature on medium. It will depend on your crockpot.
When to Add Salt:
Add the salt at the end of cooking time! Adding salt at the beginning prevents your beans from getting plump.
How to Cook on a Stove Top
- Place drained and rinsed beans into a large pot.
- Add about 6 cups of hot water to cover beans (depending on the size of your pot).
- Add any seasonings desired (except salt), and your choice of ham hock, diced ham, butter, margarine, or nothing.
- Bring to a boil.
- Lower temperature, cover the pot, and simmer for at least two hours or until done.
- Best if simmered four hours or more!
- Add about one teaspoon of salt (or to taste) about one hour before finished cooking.
Note: The more done your beans are, the less gas you'll have after eating them.
If You're Feeling Experimental...
You can try replacing the water with chicken stock to give your beans a different flavor.
You can choose from a variety of seasonings to cook with your beans. Or you can add nothing at all. I never add salt because my husband can't have it. I season mine with butter. Remember to not add the salt until the last hour of cooking, as it will keep the beans from getting tender.
Below are a few seasoning suggestions:
- Diced ham
- Diced onions
- Smoked ham hock
- Garlic cloves
- Ham bones
- Olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
- Green onions
- Cayenne pepper
- Bay leaf
- Chili powder
- Bell peppers
What Should I Top My Beans With?
People like different toppings on their pinto beans. My husband likes LOTS of diced onions on his, and I like mine just plain. Pinto beans are good any way you fix them!
- Pickle relish
- Green tomato relish
- Chow chow
- Sour cream
How Can I Use My Leftover Beans?
- Reheat them the next day.
- Freeze them for later.
- Make bean salad.
- Whip up some mouthwatering chili from scratch. (This particular recipe is vegan, but you can easily toss some ground beef in it, if you like.)
- Get fancy with homemade refried beans.
- Make baked beans.
- Use them in a soup.
Can I Cook Other Dried Beans This Way?
Yes! This recipe works well with most types of dried beans, not just pinto. You can try this same recipe with:
- Navy beans
- White beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Black beans
- Red kidney beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Great Northern beans
- Lima beans
I Have an Instant Pot (or a Pressure Cooker), Will This Recipe Still Work?
No. The recipe ingredients might work, but the instructions will be different. If you have an Instant Pot, which is just a brand-name pressure cooker, you'll need a different set of instructions. SimplyRecipes has a great cooking-dried-beans recipe that's straightforward and easy to follow.
Watch How to Make Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
Sometimes it helps to have a visual reference, so you might like to watch the video below. The directions in this video are a little different than mine, but basically the same. Everyone does things using their own method.
The main difference is the seasonings. She uses seasoning salt, an onion, and ham hocks to season her beans while cooking. You can use anything you think would taste good, or even nothing at all. She shows how the beans double in size when soaked, which is interesting. Have a watch:
Thanks for Your Visit
I hope this article has given you the resources to cook your own pot of delicious beans! I'd love it if you left a note in the comment section and let me know how you liked them. If you have any tips of your own, please share them below.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why are my pintos taking so long to cook?
Answer: How long is it taking? Dried beans typically take longer to cook than fresh or canned. On the stove top, it takes about two to three hours, but in a crockpot, it's much longer at six to eight hours. If your dried beans never seem to get tender, it could be that they are too old. Even dried beans can get too old and will not cook until tender. Be sure to use "fresh" dried beans before their expiration date.
Question: Does soaking pinto beans take some of the gas out of the beans?
Answer: I've heard that overnight soaking will help with gas, but it's not proven. I have found that cooking longer helps with gas also. A bean that's not well done is more likely to cause gas.
Question: Every time I try to make pinto beans when the beans are done and perfectly tender it's like they are just sitting in brown water...no thickness to them at all!! What am I doing wrong?
Answer: Thanks for your question. You have to cook your beans for several hours before they thicken, even if they are tender. Also, I have found that when I cook them in my crockpot, they don't thicken. Try cooking them longer.
Question: What makes the beans soupy?
Answer: If you want your beans to be more soupy, add more water while cooking. If they are still too thick for your taste, you can add more water after they have finished cooking. Also, cooking longer makes the water thicker, so you could cook the beans until just done. Generally, you can cook them for a long time in the crockpot without the bean broth getting thick.
© 2010 Faye Rutledge