Tender and creamy Borracho Beans (or Frijoles Borrachos) are an easy Mexican dish made from pinto beans simmered in a beer broth with bacon, onions, tomatoes and spices. Serve with a side of cornbread or flour tortillas for the perfect Tex-Mex dinner!
I’ve been cooking with a lot of pantry staples like dried beans lately (so much so that I put together a list of 25 bean recipes to make with dried or canned beans), and I came to the realization that I had never shared a recipe for borracho beans!
Never heard of them? Basically, if you love beans, bacon and beer, then you’re going to love this one-pot recipe!
What are borracho beans?
Borracho Beans (or Frijoles Borrachos in Spanish) translates to “drunken beans.” They’re called this because the beans are cooked in beer. But don’t let the name fool you – these beans won’t leave you feeling boozy. The entire recipe contains only one 12-ounce beer, which translates to one ounce per serving.
What’s the difference between borracho beans and charro beans?
Borracho beans and charro beans are very similar. The difference is that borracho beans are cooked in beer and charro beans are not. Charro beans are typically cooked in water or chicken or beef broth.
How to make borracho beans
To start, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to cook your beans from dried (which is what I highly recommend) or if you’ll used canned pinto beans instead.
Cooking your beans from dried will produce a thicker, creamier and tastier batch of borracho beans. The only downside is that it does take a little longer because you have to soak the beans for 8 hours, but trust me – it’s well worth it.
If you’ve never cooked dried pinto beans before, here’s a post with step-by-step photos on how to cook pinto beans on the stove. I’ve also included those steps in the recipe card below as well as instructions if you decide to use canned beans instead.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients ready to go, cook the diced bacon in a pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (Here’s the Dutch oven that I love and use for all sorts of recipes like soups, stews and beans!)
When the bacon has browned and become nice and crispy, transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside. Make sure to leave the rendered bacon fat in the pot because that’s what you’ll use to cook the rest of the ingredients.
Next, add in the onions and jalapenos. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and have softened.
Now, add in the garlic, chili powders, dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if you have it), salt and ground cumin. Saute for about 30 seconds to release the flavors into the onions. You don’t want to cook it too long though because you might burn the garlic.
Then add the cooked pinto beans, canned diced tomatoes, beer and brown sugar. Give it a good stir to combine everything and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, the beans should be creamy and super tender! If you used canned beans, they may not look quite a thick as the beans in the photos. If you’d like them a little more tender, simmer them a little longer until they’re perfectly thick. You may need to add a splash of water or chicken stock if it needs a little more liquid.
When you’re ready to serve them, mix in some freshly chopped cilantro along with the crispy browned bacon.
Tips for making the best borracho beans
- I recommend starting with dried beans for the most tender and creamy beans. If you’ve never cooked dried beans before, take a look at this post all about how to cook pinto beans on the stove. Rest assured that I’ve also added these instructions in the recipe card below.
- Don’t have dried beans? You can use canned beans instead. You will need four 15-ounce cans of pinto beans.
- You can use any type of green pepper you have. I used jalapenos, but you could also use poblanos, serranos or even bell peppers if you don’t want any heat whatsoever.
- You can use any beer you have on hand. I prefer making these beans with a darker-style beer (for example, I used a Negra Modelo which is a dunkel-style lager), but you could use whatever you have in the fridge. Except a sour beer. Definitely don’t use that.
Now that is one mouth-watering pot of borracho beans! Just the smell of these beans makes me think of barbecues and summer cookouts with my friends and family.
They’re always a big hit a pair well with so many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes!
What to serve with borracho beans
While you can certainly eat a big bowl of these frijoles as a main meal, I usually eat them as a side dish. Here are a few ideas of what to serve them with: