How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Crockpot or on a Stove Top
What could be easier than putting beans in a crockpot and letting them cook all day? They'll be ready to eat when you get home from a hard day's work. Mmm, they make the house smell so good, too! Plus, you can use the leftover beans another day.
Prep Time: 30 minutes + soaking time
Total Time: 6 - 8 hours
Serves: 4 - 6
- 1 pound bag of pinto beans
- 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 crockpot, 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!
Some Crockpots Cook Differently
When using this recipe, please remember that crockpots 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.
Let's Break It Down Step-By-Step
Step One: Sort Out the Bad Beans
Also Step One: Rinse Away the Dirt
Sorting and Rinsing the Beans
I use a one pound bag, but you can cook at least two pounds at a time in your crockpot (you'll need more water).
- Sort: Dried beans need to be sorted before cooking. You'll want to be on the lookout for any little rocks or bad beans. If you find any, be sure to set them aside and toss them out.
- Rinse: They also need to be washed 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 Two: Soak the Beans
Soaking 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 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 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.
Step Three: Cooking the Beans
If you're feeling experimental...
you can try replacing the water with chicken stock to give your beans a different flavor.
Cooking the Beans
- 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.
Pro tip: Adding the salt at the beginning of the recipe prevents your beans from getting plump. Add the salt at the very end!
How to Cook Beans 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 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.
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...
What do you like on your pinto beans?
How Can I Use My Leftover Beans?
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 Work Still?
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 these delicious morsels! 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.
© 2010 Faye Rutledge