Charro Beans (or Frijoles Charros in Spanish) are Mexican-style beans cooked in a broth made from bacon, onions, garlic, chiles, tomatoes and other delicious spices. Great as a side dish or as a full meal served with some flour tortillas or cornbread!
If you’re searching for a hearty and filling Mexican side dish, then Charro Beans are made for you!
They’re great in the summer to serve at potlucks and family get-togethers, perfect in the winter in a big bowl with homemade flour tortillas or a piece of jalapeno cornbread, or as an everyday side dish when you’re tired of the same old refried beans.
Plus they’re made with bacon, and we all know that everyone loves bacon! But before we get into the recipe, you may be wondering…
What are charro beans?
Charro beans, or “cowboy beans” in English (or “frijoles charros” in Spanish), are Mexican-style pinto beans cooked in a broth made from bacon, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, tomatoes and other delicious spices.
The beans are simmered in the flavorful broth until the liquid has reduced and thickened, resulting in a rich and irresistible mouthful of goodness. I like to think of charro beans as the Mexican version of “pork and beans.” Same concept with a touch of chipotle pepper smokiness.
Charro beans and borracho beans (or “drunken beans” in English) are very similar. They’re essentially the same thing, except borracho beans are made with the addition of Mexican beer.
How to make charro beans
- Place the dried pinto beans in a large bowl and cover them completely with water. Let them soak for about 4-8 hours.
- Cook some diced bacon in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat until all the fat is rendered. Add in some onions and jalapenos and cook until translucent.
- Add in garlic, diced tomatoes and chipotle pepper and cook until mixture is bubbling and slightly thick.
- Add in chicken stock, seasonings and soaked pinto beans and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 35 minutes, until beans are barely cooked.
- Uncover, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook for another 35-40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened.
Short on time? Use canned beans!
If you’re looking to save some time and would rather use canned pinto beans instead of dried, skip soaking the beans and follow the directions as written except for the part where you cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook the beans for the first 35 minutes.
Since canned beans are already cooked, skip that step and cook everything uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened.
I’m a big fan of eating this dish as a meal with a thick slice of cornbread, but if you’re looking to serve it as a side dish, here are some tasty options!
- 1 pound dried pinto beans
- 6 ounces bacon, diced
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- For serving: cilantro, jalapenos, bacon bits, diced white onions
- Place dried pinto beans in a large bowl and cover with about double the amount of water. Beans should be fully submerged. Let soak for 4 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add diced bacon and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp up on the edges.
- Add the onions and jalapenos. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent and begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add diced tomatoes and chipotle pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.
- Add soaked pinto beans, chicken stock, oregano, cumin, a generous pinch of sea salt, and bay leaves. Turn up the heat to high, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until beans are barely tender, about 35-40 minutes.
- Uncover the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high and continue cooking for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully cooked and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
- Taste and season with more salt as necessary. Serve with fresh cilantro, jalapenos, crunchy bacon bits and diced onions!