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How to Cook Pinto Beans

Cooking 101: Learn How to Perfectly Cook Pinto Beans

The two most important things required to cook pinto beans are time and patience. Read this article to learn a good deal about cooking pinto beans from scratch on a stove, a slow cooker, and a pressure cooker.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2018
Basically, pinto beans are indigenous to Mexico and the United States. They are highly nutritious and are rich sources of protein and dietary fiber. Pinto beans are often served with rice or cornbread to make a wholesome meal. You can enjoy the delicious taste of pinto beans when cooked and seasoned correctly. And here's how you go about it properly.
How to cook pinto beans ...
» ... on the Stove
» ... in a Slow Cooker
» ... in a Pressure Cooker
How to Cook Pinto Beans on the Stove
Pinto beans are mostly sold in a dried state, as it ensures longer shelf life. The challenging aspect of cooking pinto beans is to make the dried beans moist and tender. To cook a pound of pinto beans, you will also need these ingredients:
  • Ham hocks, ½ lb.
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp.
  • Salt, 2 tsp.
  • Black pepper, ½ tsp.
  • Red pepper, ¼ tsp. (crushed)
Now, the right technique to cook pinto beans is as follows.
Uncooked pinto beans
Uncooked pinto beans
Ham hock
Ham hock
Step #1: Combing for Debris
The cooking process of the pinto beans start with sorting of the beans. This is done to eliminate rocks, decayed beans and other unwanted debris from the beans.
  • Spread a clean piece of white or light-colored cloth on the table.
  • Pour the beans onto it.
  • Start picking up the healthy beans from one edge of the cloth and put them into a bowl.
  • Discard small pieces of rocks and decayed beans.
Step #2: Cleaning the Beans
  • Put all the sorted beans in a colander and wash them thoroughly for a few minutes under running water in the kitchen sink.
  • Once all the traces of dirt are gone, drain all the water from the beans by letting the beans stand in the colander for a while.
Step #3: Soaking the Beans
Next, you soak the beans in water in order to rehydrate them. Soaking also releases enzymes that help to reduce the time needed for cooking these beans.
  • Place the pintos into a large pot and then add water such that the water fills up ¾ of the pot. For this, the amount of water should be thrice as much as the beans.
  • Allow the beans to soak properly for the next 8 - 12 hours.
  • Keep the beans at room temperature. There isn't any need for refrigeration.
  • Check the beans after a gap of every 4 hours.
  • If you find that the water level has gone down, add some more water to it.
Note: If you do not have the time to soak the beans for that long, just Pour 10 cups of water into a large pot, add the beans to it, heat over medium, let a boil set in and boil for a good 2 - 3 minutes, turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the beans sit in the warm water for 60 whole minutes. Rinse and drain the beans after that and they will be good enough to cook.
Step #4: Cooking Pinto Beans
  • Select a large cooking pot for cooking pinto beans. This is because the beans tend to expand a lot when cooked with liquid. Therefore, the pan must provide that much of space for expansion.
  • Drain out the water from the soaked pintos and rinse them.
  • Add the olive oil to the pot, followed by the ham hocks.
  • Next, pour the beans into the cooking pot. They should cover the meat chunks up completely.
  • Now cover the beans with sufficient amount of water for cooking well.
  • Place the pot on the stove, heat over medium, and bring a boil to it.
  • As soon as a boil sets in, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the beans slowly simmer for 5 to 6 hours.
  • Stir the beans now and then so that they do not stick to the pot.
  • When required, add some more water to the pot.
Once cooked, the beans will be tender.

Note: Even though slow cooking is recommended in order to optimally retain the flavor of the beans, one can keep boiling the beans on medium heat for 2 - 2½ hours. The beans will get cooked faster. Go for it if you are crunched for time.
Step #5: Seasoning an Finishing Touches
Seasoning of the beans should be done half an hour before removing the beans from the heat. If you add seasoning at the start, prolonged cooking will take away all the flavor of the spices. Moreover, salt tends to make the pintos less tender. Usually, fresh onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper are used for seasoning pinto beans.
  • Add in the salt, pepper, and red pepper to the pan and stir to mix.
  • Simmer for some more time after seasoning.
  • Once the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat.
Now, the freshly cooked pinto beans are ready to eat.
Cooking Pinto Beans
Cooking Pinto Beans
Pinto Beans Ready To Eat
Pinto Beans Ready To Eat
Cooking Pinto Beans in a Slow Cooker
The basic process stays more or less the same. Only the cooking medium changes.

Begin by making the following mixture first.
  • Salt, 1 cup
  • Black pepper, ¼ cup
  • Garlic powder, ¼ cup
Commingle all the three ingredients well and you will get 1½ cups of seasoning that can be stored in an airtight jar for 6 months.

For slow cooking the beans, you will need the following components.
  • Onion, 1 (chopped)
  • Streak o' lean, ¼ lb. (cut into cubes)
  • Water, 4 cups
  • Chili powder, 1 tsp.
  • Oregano, ½ tsp. (dried)
  • Seasoning mixture, to taste
Step #1: Combing for Debris
Same as above.
Step #2: Cleaning the Beans
Same as above.
Step #3: Soaking the Beans
Same as above.
Step #4: Cooking and Seasoning Pinto Beans
Now, here you need to add all the ingredients into the slow cooker all together. Since the entire thing gets cooked covered, no essential flavor escapes. And to do that, you need to cook the meat first.
  • Warm very little little oil in skillet.
  • Add the cubed streak o' lean to the skillet and stir-fry until they all become brown in color.
Now for the beans, do the following.
  • Pour the rinsed and drained beans into the slow cooker.
  • Use a spatula to stir the oregano and chili powder in.
  • Add the browned meat along with any rendered fat.
  • Add 4 cups of water next.
  • Finally, add in the onions, mix well, mizzle some of the seasoning mixture from top, place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on high for 5 whole hours.
Once cooked, the beans will be tender.
How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Pinto beans are mostly sold in a dried state, as it ensures longer shelf life. The challenging aspect of cooking pinto beans is to make the dried beans moist and tender. To cook a pound of pinto beans, you will also need these ingredients:
  • Water, 3 quarts + 7 cups
  • Salt, ¼ cup + extra
  • Garlic, 3 cloves (ground)
  • Bay leaf, 1
  • Onion, 1 (diced)
  • Vegetable oil, 2 tbsp.
  • Chipotle en adobo, 2 tsp. (puréed)
  • Cumin, 1 tsp. (ground)
  • Kosher salt, ½ tsp.
  • Black pepper, to taste
Now, the right technique to cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker is as follows.
Step #1: Combing for Debris
Same as above.
Step #2: Cleaning the Beans
Same as above.
Step #3: Soaking the Beans
  • Place the pintos into a large pot and add 3 quarts of water along with ¼ cup of salt.
  • Stir to dissolve the salt in the water completely.
  • Allow the beans to soak properly for the next 8 - 12 hours.
  • Keep the beans at room temperature. There isn't any need for refrigeration.
  • Check the beans after a gap of every 4 hours.
  • Drain out the water from the soaked pintos and rinse them in cold water after that.
Step #4: Preparing the Seasoning
  • In the pressure cooker itself, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onions to it. Sauté well.
  • Mizzle the kosher from top and keep stirring for 5 minutes until the onion bits turn transparent.
  • Now push them to one side of the cooker.
  • Then throw in the ground garlic and the cumin and keep sautéing until you get the scent of cooked garlic.
  • Mix this mixture with the cooked onions at this juncture and keep stir-frying for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the chipotle last of all and mix well with a stirrer.
Step #5: Cooking Pinto Beans
  • Add the rinsed and dried beans to the cooker with the fried seasoning and pour in 7 cups of water with it.
  • Add the vegetable oil and bay leaf next.
  • Stir well and the place the lid on the cooker.
  • Take the temperature to high and wait till the high pressure mark is attained.
  • Now, regulate the heat such that a high pressure is maintained and yet the temperature isn't that high anymore.
  • Cook for a good 12 minutes and then take the cooker off heat.
  • Wait for the pressure to get released on its own accord which means that the cooker needs to cool down completely for 15 minutes.
  • Gently remove the pressure regulator once all the pressure has been released.
  • If the lid does not open easily, it is an indication that some pressure is yet to get released. Do not force it open. Allow the pent up pressure ease out by placing the cooker in the sink and allowing cold running water wash over the cooker cover.
  • After that, uncover the cooker and throw the bay leaf away.
  • If the beans aren't completely tender, they have not been cooked through. In such a case, let them simmer uncovered on the stove for an added 10 minutes.
  • Adjust salt and pepper as per taste and serve hot!
As is evident by now, cooking pinto beans is a slow process and you have to invest a good amount of time for it. I really do not advise opting for the third option at all because of the risk factor often associated with pressure cookers. Go for the first two options as far as possible. Also, cooked pinto beans tend to get spoiled very easily, even if they are kept in the refrigerator. Hence, you should consume them as soon as possible.
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