These Mexican Charro Beans Recipe (Frijoles Charros) are made with pinto beans, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, cilantro and can be made in dutch oven or pressure cooker.
These simple pinto beans can be paired with so many dishes, especially Mexican dishes. I actually made fish tacos and topped these beans on top of them, and they were phenomenal. These were always served in my household on the side, unless my mom made refried beans. I love the addition of the bacon and chorizo because it gives it a smoky flavor, along with the fire roasted tomatoes. Unless you are vegetarian, don’t skip the bacon or chorizo. You use the rendered fat and it is what gives the beans so much flavor.
I love this recipe because it uses so many pantry staples. These beans have a sweet, tangy, salty, rich flavorful taste and are so complex and filling. They can be made in a dutch oven or a pressure cooker.
- What are Charro Beans?
- Why are they called Charro Beans?
- Why you will love this recipe
- Charro Beans Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Charro Beans Recipe
- How do I cook dried beans?
- Charro Beans vs Cowboy Beans
- How to make Charro Beans in the Instant Pot
- Mexican Charro Beans Variations
- How to store Charro Beans
- Charro Beans Recipe Top tips
- Charro Beans Recipe
- Food safety
What are Charro Beans?
Charro beans are a traditional Mexican dish made with pinto beans cooked with bacon, ham, or pork sausage, onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, and various seasonings such as garlic, cumin, and oregano. The name "charro" comes from the Mexican cowboys, or "charros," who would cook the beans over a campfire. The dish is often served as a side dish with Mexican meals and is also a popular ingredient in burritos and tacos. Charro beans are hearty, flavorful, and a great source of protein and fiber. They are also easy to make and can be cooked on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot.
Charro Beans, or Frijoles Charros, is a traditional Mexican dish, consumed in many regions of the country. It is prepared with beans stewed with onion, garlic, chili, bacon, sausage. Other common ingredients are tomatoes, cilantro, ham, salsa, pork, chicharrón (in this case they are called pork beans because of the chicharrón) and chorizo. Frijoles Charro are Mexico’s version of cowboy beans.
Why are they called Charro Beans?
The recipe for charro beans varies from region to region and from home to home because they are very old recipes that come from the old cowboys from the north of the country. These cowboys are also known as Charros. They had to improvise and prepare their food with the ingredients they had on hand.
Why you will love this recipe
Versatile: You can use dried pinto beans when making them in the Instant Pot. You can also use salsa verde, black beans, or jalapeños.
Full of flavor: The combination of the chipotle pepper, beans, and chorizo gives this dish so much flavor. The onion and garlic is cooked in the leftover fat from the chorizo and bacon.
Hearty: This is such a hearty dish and can be a main dish or a side.
Great for any weather: I love eating this during the summer and winter months.
Serves a crowd: This dish serves 4 people and it is very easy to double the recipe.
Charro Beans Recipe Ingredients
- Longaniza Sausage
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- Chipotle peppers in adobo
- Pinto Beans
- Serrano Peppers
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Charro Beans Recipe
In a large dutch oven on medium heat, add the chopped bacon and crumbles sausage. Cook until this is brown, about 10-12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the meat but leave the excess fat in the pot.
Add oil and wait for it to shimmer. Stir in the chopped onion and minced garlic, and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in the diced tomatoes and the chipotle peppers and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour in the beans with its juices and bring to a boil. Stir in the paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Garnish with cilantro and serrano pepper slices.
Hint: I would use an Instant Pot if you decide to go the pressure cooker route. When you saute the bacon, make sure to keep stirring constantly.
How do I cook dried beans?
Cooking dried beans definitely takes some extra time, but their superior flavor and texture are well worth the wait. You will have to rinse the beans to remove any dirt and soak in 2 inches of water overnight. After draining, simmer the beans for about 2 hours, until they are cooked through and tender. Alternatively, you can cook dried beans in the instant pot without having to soak them. Cover the beans with water and pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.
Charro Beans vs Cowboy Beans
Charro beans and cowboy beans are both traditional bean dishes that are often served as a side dish in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine, but there are some differences between the two. Charro beans are a traditional Mexican dish made with pinto beans cooked with bacon, ham, or pork sausage, onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, and various seasonings such as garlic, cumin, and oregano. They are typically cooked with whole beans and have a slightly spicy taste. Charro beans are usually served as a side dish with Mexican meals.
Cowboy beans, on the other hand, are a popular American dish that is similar to baked beans. They are made with canned beans (usually pinto or kidney), ground beef, bacon, onions, tomatoes, barbecue sauce, and various seasonings such as chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Cowboy beans are often baked in the oven and have a sweet and smoky flavor. They are usually served as a side dish with American-style barbecue or grilled meats.
How to make Charro Beans in the Instant Pot
- Hit the sauté function and add the bacon and sausage, stirring constantly, until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant.
- Turn the sauté function off. Add the tomatoes and chipotle pepper and use a wooden spoon to scrape off the brown bits stuck on the bottom. Add the pinto beans with its juices, paprika, oregano and salt and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Let the pressure cooker naturally release.
- With a slotted spoon, take out the beans and place them in a large bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced serrano peppers.
Pinto Beans: Pinto beans are the most traditional bean to use. You could use navy beans, black beans or kidney beans if you really don’t like pinto beans.
Bacon: You can use pancetta or chorizo instead of bacon for this recipe. Both will give it a great smoky flavor.
Sausage: I used Mexican chorizo, also known as Longaniza Sausage. This chorizo is much softer and it works perfectly for these beans. If you cannot get your hands on them, you can use spicy Italian sausage.
Tomatoes: I like using tomatoes from the can because it comes already prepared and with the juices. You should opt for the fire roasted tomatoes or the diced tomatoes with green chilies.
Onion: This dish traditionally uses yellow onion, but you can use white or red.
Garlic: For best taste, use fresh garlic, but you can also use garlic from the jar. Just use about a tablespoon to substitute for 2 garlic cloves.
Mexican Charro Beans Variations
- Vegetarian Charro Beans: Use vegetable broth instead of meat-based broth and omit the bacon or sausage to make the dish vegetarian-friendly.
- Charro Beans with Chorizo: Add crumbled chorizo sausage to the charro beans for an extra burst of flavor and spice.
- Frijoles de la Olla: This is a simple version of charro beans that are cooked with only beans, water, and salt. They are typically served with a side of Mexican-style rice and are a great way to enjoy the natural flavor of the beans.
- Charro Beans with Beer: Add a bottle of Mexican beer to the broth when cooking the beans to add a rich and complex flavor to the dish.
To make charro beans, you will need the following equipment:
- Large pot or Dutch oven: A large pot or Dutch oven is necessary for cooking the beans. The pot should be big enough to hold the beans and the broth and should have a tight-fitting lid. I love using my Caraway dutch oven for best quality.
- Colander: A colander is needed to drain the soaked beans before cooking.
- Cutting board and knife: You will need a cutting board and a sharp knife to chop the onions, garlic, and other vegetables.
- Wooden spoon: A wooden spoon is essential for stirring the beans while they cook.
- Measuring cups and spoons: Measuring cups and spoons are needed to measure out the ingredients accurately.
- Pressure cooker (optional): I would use an Instant Pot if you decide to go the pressure cooker route. See recipe card below on how to make these in the Instant Pot.
How to store Charro Beans
To store leftover charro beans, follow these simple steps:
- Allow the beans to cool to room temperature. It's important not to store the beans while they are still hot, as this can create condensation and cause the beans to spoil more quickly.
- Transfer the beans to an airtight container. You can use a food storage container with a tight-fitting lid or a sealable plastic bag. Make sure that the container is large enough to hold all of the beans.
- Label the container with the date. This will help you keep track of how long the beans have been in the refrigerator.
- Store the beans in the refrigerator. Charro beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Reheat the beans before serving. To reheat the beans, place them in a pot with a little bit of water or broth and warm them up over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Charro Beans Recipe Top tips
Here are some top tips for making delicious charro beans:
- Soak the beans overnight: Soaking the beans for at least 8 hours, or overnight, will help to reduce cooking time and ensure that the beans cook evenly.
- Use quality ingredients: Since charro beans are a simple dish, it's important to use high-quality ingredients to ensure maximum flavor. Use fresh vegetables, good quality bacon, and high-quality beans.
- Use the right kind of beans: Pinto beans are the traditional choice for charro beans, but you can also use black beans or kidney beans if you prefer.
- Add a ham hock for flavor: Adding a ham hock to the pot while the beans cook will add depth and complexity to the broth.
- Add spices and seasonings to taste: Charro beans can be seasoned with a variety of spices and seasonings, including chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Taste the beans as they cook and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Add vegetables and herbs: Chopped onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and cilantro are all great additions to charro beans, adding flavor, texture, and nutrition.
- Don't overcook the beans: Overcooking the beans can cause them to become mushy and lose their texture. Keep a close eye on the beans as they cook and test them frequently to make sure they are cooked through but still firm.
- Serve with toppings: Charro beans are traditionally served with toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and fresh herbs. These toppings can add extra flavor and texture to the dish.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove