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.
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
Let's Hear From You...
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
God and Denise Walker on February 17, 2019:
We are trying this reciept in our cockpot
Linda on August 08, 2017:
I like onions, jalapenos, rotel, and sliced eckrich sausage! Making them now!
AllieB on July 31, 2017:
Great ideas! Thank you- but some beans MUST be parboiled-kidney beans are one example!
Adam Johnston on July 30, 2017:
I found that soaking 2# pinto beans 12 hrs with 90% beef or ham stock 10% fresh cold water with 2-3 cloves, minced fresh garlic and onion powder.
Gives them a flavor that doesn't require other spices.
Rinse with fresh water, discard soak water
Cook with med sweet onion diced, 2 cloves minced garlic; serve in bowl topped with dollop of favorite salsa, ripe cubed avocado & chopped cilantro
Doesn't get any better
Portugeegirl on July 06, 2017:
My grandmother always added a couple of big tbsp's of baking soda when soaking the beans. Either overnight or quick soak. Then rinse real good before cooking. I've found it to be the best way to lesson the gas.
bsakcouch on May 09, 2017:
Thanks for the info!!!
Tenn Hill Willian on November 28, 2016:
Neighbor in nursing home, take him soup beans, onions, Texas Pete and corn bread. Called it the NECTAR OF THE GODS.
LADY WALKER on October 02, 2016:
I put some on with ham hocks in the crock pot at 530 this morning. They will be ready after we return from our Sunday service. Going to go well with hot water cornbread.
Susan Hazelton from Summerfield, Florida on January 16, 2016:
I love pinto beans. For some reason I never thought of cooking them in a crock pot. Next time that's what I am going to do.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on August 01, 2014:
@BarbaraCasey: I know you will love your new crock pot! Thanks for your visit and comment.
BarbaraCasey on July 31, 2014:
Now that I have a larger kitchen with counter space, I can get a crockpot. Timely how-to for this family, thanks.
Corrinna Johnson from BC, Canada on July 24, 2014:
This is how I like to cook beans for using in burritos and salads. Very easy and hands off!
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on July 17, 2014:
This is one of those lenses I just love to find on Squidoo. It makes me feel all warm and cozy just thinking about the aroma of the beans floating through the house on a chilly day.We love beans at our house too, and make them in a small slow-cooker just right for two or four. I also make them nearly as often on the stove top using my many-decades-old cast-iron bean pot. I don't soak my beans, but I know many people do. We have never had a problem with gas, but perhaps that's because of the homemade yogurt that keeps our intestinal flora active and healthy.
Richard from Hampshire - England on July 16, 2014:
I love beans when they have been slow cooked - I definitely agree with you about the "cook all day" method. It's worth it for the smell alone! Yum.
Cecilia Karanja from Nairobi on July 10, 2014:
We never eat beans alone in Kenya. It's either served as stew for another meal, or we boil together with green maize. We call it Githeri.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on June 12, 2014:
Pinto beans are even popular in the summer time. You can use them to make baked beans for your picnics and cook outs!
Hal Gall from Bloomington, IN on June 01, 2014:
My wife is making beans today. May have to sleep on the couch tonite :)
queenofduvetcover on April 01, 2014:
I cook beans all the time and never thought of using a crock pot. This is some great info! =)
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on March 13, 2014:
I love Pinto Beans and just have to have slaw and cornbread with them. I have never cooked them in the crock pot but will have to try it soon. In fact, after reading this I now have a craving for some.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on February 18, 2014:
@Merrci: Merrci, yes you can just add margerine or butter, instead of meat. Also, onions or any spices you might like. I have a friend who adds carrots to her pinto beans when cooking.
Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on February 15, 2014:
I think a bag will start soaking tonight. It sounds so easy. Have you tried them without meat? I'm hoping they will come out okay that way too.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on February 13, 2014:
Have you ever heard of cranberry beans? They're pretty much like pinto beans, and I am cooking them in my crock pot on the cold, snowy winter day.
Donna Cook on February 04, 2014:
Great minds think alike! This is exactly how I cook pinto beans for burritos. The beans are so much softer than cooking on the stove. I buy a 15 pound bag of pinto beans at the local farmers market and divide it into one pound bags. Saves money and supports local farms.
cbarkett on January 26, 2014:
Love my crock pot. I'll have to try this, thanks
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on January 21, 2014:
It's a cold, snowy day in Concord VA...and guess what we'll be having for supper tonight? Pinto beans, of course. I have them cooking now, and they sure do smell good. Maybe I'll have cornbread with them tonight...Yum!
AnonymousC831 from Kentucky on January 20, 2014:
I love me some pinto beans. Great lens.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on November 17, 2013:
I cooked pinto beans a few nights ago for our supper. We added salsa and cheese to ours and ate them with tortilla chips. Yum!
Mickie Gee on November 02, 2013:
My husband loves pinto beans and gets them almost every time we go to a meat-and-three restaurant. I must try your pinto bean recipe in a crock pot and surprise him. If there are any leftovers, I will use the beans in chili!
Jogalog on October 15, 2013:
I'm lazy and usually use canned beans but I really should try the slowcooker method.
Mommie-Moola on October 04, 2013:
I love pinto beans in the crock pot. Sometimes I'll add whatever leftover meat's available - chicken, ham or beef too. And bell peppers... yum!
othellos on September 26, 2013:
Your pinto beans recipe sounds very delightful. A little different than my family's recipe and we must try your version as well. Thanks for posting:=)
tonyaalves3 on August 15, 2013:
Just the my mom use to make her pinto beans. Thank for sharing
Rose Jones on July 20, 2013:
My beans have developed well in the crockpot, I looked at this with great interest.
Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on July 04, 2013:
Boy now I have a taste for pinto beans and cornbread...Yum!!
amandascloset0 on April 28, 2013:
excellent lens! I've never made pinto's in the crock. I generally just let the steam the house up all day. I'll be trying the crock pot soon. thanks for posting!
anonymous on April 22, 2013:
And...in high school...many years ago, in Tennessee, we were served pinto beans with browned ground beef added! sooo good! I served it to my children and they serve it to theirs! They like cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, some add sour cream! Always add garlic salt!
anonymous on April 22, 2013:
Great webpage for cooking beans and sides!!!!! Ya'll keep up the good work on here!!!
Rosanna Grace on April 05, 2013:
Always looking for new ways to use my dusty crock pot! Thanks for inspiration. :)
GimperBee LM on February 12, 2013:
I have a new crock-pot that's been used like once. Now I know what to cook in it. Thanks!
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on January 17, 2013:
@GardenerDon: That's one thing about pintos, you can add them to other dishes, or spice them up any way you like! My new favorite way, is to add salsa to my bowl of pintos!
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on January 17, 2013:
@choosehappy: Thanks so much for the blessing, Squidoolinepro! :)
Gardener Don on January 17, 2013:
Though this is not a real "Canadian" style of dish, it looks so good I'm going to try some.
Vikki from US on January 12, 2013:
Hey, I didn't know about that salt tip----thanks! *blessed*
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on January 04, 2013:
We actually cook a pot of beans (in our crock pot) about once a month, sometimes every couple of weeks. We make a lot, so they last a while, some for soup or just "cowboy beans," and some for making refried beans for burritos and huevos rancheros. Yum! I miss the days when I used to grow my own pinto beans.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 01, 2013:
I'm trying to figure out what to do with the ham bone from our New Year's Eve dinner. I think I'll cook up a pot of navy beans.
Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on December 25, 2012:
This sounds like a fabulous recipe to make on a cold winter day - can't wait to give it a try.
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on December 24, 2012:
@MamaRuth: MamaRuth, thanks for you visit and comment. I hope you've tried the crock pot method and were successful. The longer you cook them, the better they are. I do love that Mitford Cookbook! :)
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on December 24, 2012:
@anonymous: Tipi, I'm glad you liked the salt tip. You should try cooking some pinto beans, they are much better than the canned ones. :) Thanks so much for blessing my pinto beans! :)
anonymous on December 23, 2012:
Now that is a great tip to hold off on the salt until the last hour, I had no idea that salt would prevent the beans from becoming tender. I love beans but usually get the canned variety. Yummily done!
MamaRuth on December 04, 2012:
Love pinto beans; love my crockpot. However, I've never tried them together! I think I always worried because I had been told the beans would never really get tender. You have inspired me though and I'm going to give it a try. My favorite pinto bean recipe involves the dry beans, onions, rotel tomatoes and a leftover hambone. Yum! I think I'm getting inspired to cook. (By the way I totallly agree with your recommendation of the Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader--definitely one of my favorites).
reubenj on November 08, 2012:
Yeah! Pinto beans, cornbread, fresh tomatoes, and a big glass of cold farm fresh milk. Hard to beat. Love my crock pot. Thanks for sharing.
ddunkin23 on July 28, 2012:
I have never had much luck with the crockpot. The food has always had a weird taste to me. But I might try the crockpot again now that I am vegetarian.
Michelle from Central Ohio, USA on July 07, 2012:
I love beans and I've done them in the crockpot for years after a lot of trial and error. I used to salt them early. This will be a helpful guide for a lot of people!
Faye Rutledge (author) from Concord VA on November 15, 2010:
@BuckHawkcenter: Thanks so much for the angel blessing and feature!! :)
BuckHawkcenter on November 13, 2010:
I love crockpot cooking. It's so easy and I love beans. You made it sound easy to do and I'm so excited to try it! I'm like your husband, the more onions, the better! Thanks for featuring my Green Tomato Relish lens, too. Oh, and Angel Blessed and featured on Angel Wings November 2010!
spritequeen lm on November 06, 2010:
This is a GREAT idea! We eat beans all the time. Will come in VERY handy!! Thanks for sharing :-)
capriliz lm on November 05, 2010:
I never thought to cook the beans in my crock pot. Thanks.
Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on November 05, 2010:
Mmmmmm.... this lens makes me want some pinto beans. I love beans and cornbread. It is so good for you too.
ohcaroline on November 05, 2010:
I didn't know about putting the salt in till the end. No wonder I have a hard time with them. Thanks...your instructions are great.