This easy pinto beans recipe makes the best creamy, tender and flavorful beans. Learn how to cook pinto beans from dried – you won’t want to go back to canned beans!

Cooked pinto beans in a Dutch oven pot.

Every time I make these pinto beans, I’m amazed at just how much better they are than canned beans. And with how simple they are to make, there’s really no reason not to cook beans from scratch. With this pinto beans recipe:

  • You can cook your beans more or less, depending on if you want a softer or firmer texture.
  • The hands-on prep time is minimal and then you simply let the beans simmer on the stove until they’re done.
  • You can season the beans as they cook so that they turn out so flavorful.

This is one of those basic recipes that I make all the time in my kitchen. I hope it becomes a favorite of yours, too!

Dried pinto beans in a jar.

Do You Need to Soak Pinto Beans Before Cooking?

Yes, it’s best to soak the beans before cooking them. Soaking the beans helps them to cook faster and more evenly and improves the texture of the cooked beans. Soaking may also help to make the beans easier to digest. It’s a simple step that hardly takes any time and requires just a bit of planning ahead. If I want to cook the beans in the morning for meal prep, I’ll soak them overnight. If I want to cook beans at dinnertime, I start them soaking in the morning.

Ingredients for pinto beans recipe.

Pinto Beans Recipe Ingredients

  • Dry Pinto Beans: Dried beans can vary in how long they take to cook. Fresher beans will cook faster than older beans. Avoid using very old beans, since they may never become tender.
  • Olive Oil: For sautéing the onion.
  • Onion: Use yellow or white onion. The onion adds flavor and will soften and break down as the beans simmer, so that it’s hardly noticeable in the cooked beans. If you prefer to have no bits of onion in the cooked beans, simply cut the onion in half instead of chopping it and then discard the onion halves after cooking.
  • Garlic: For flavor.
  • Water: Use filtered water, if possible, both for soaking and cooking the beans.
  • Salt: Adding salt to the cooking water flavors the beans as they cook.
  • Seasonings: My go-to seasonings for pinto beans are ground cumin, dried oregano and black pepper.

Recipe Variation: You can add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and/or 1 chopped jalapeño (seeds and ribs removed) for spice, if desired.

Find the printable recipe with ingredient amounts below.

How to Cook Pinto Beans

Pick over the beans to check for any small rocks or other debris. Then rinse the beans well under cold running water.

Soak the beans. Place the beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by about 3 inches. Soak for 8-12 hours, at room temperature. Then transfer the soaked beans to a colander and rinse.

Soaking pinto beans in bowl of water.

Sauté the onion in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Then add the garlic.

Pour in 10 cups of filtered water. Then add the soaked beans, salt, cumin, oregano and black pepper. Stir.

Simmer the beans until they are tender. This usually takes about 1 ½ hours, but can range from 1-2 hours depending on the beans.

Serve. If there is more liquid than you’d like left in the pot, you can drain some of it off. Taste the beans and season with more salt, as needed. I like to serve the pinto beans with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chopped fresh cilantro.

Cooked pinto beans in Dutch oven pot with a wooden spoon.

Instant Pot Instructions

If you’d like to cook the beans in an Instant Pot, use this Instant Pot Pinto Beans recipe. While I love the convenience of the Instant Pot, I usually prefer cooking pinto beans on the stove because I can easily check on the progress of the beans to check for doneness.

Serving Suggestions

Pinto beans are a good source of plant-based protein, fiber and other nutrients. They’re budget-friendly and perfect for incorporating into a variety of delicious meals. Here are a few of the many ways to serve them:

How to Store

Cooked pinto beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Cooked pinto beans in a bowl with a spoon.

More Cooking Basics

Cooked pinto beans in a Dutch oven pot.

BEST Pinto Beans Recipe

Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Soaking Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 45 minutes
This pinto beans recipe makes the best creamy, tender and flavorful pinto beans! Learn how to cook pinto beans from dried. They're easy to make and so much better than canned beans.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 cups water, filtered is best, plus more for soaking the beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • For serving: fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro, optional, as desired

Instructions
 

  • Pick over the beans to check for any small rocks or other debris. Place dry beans in a strainer and rinse well under cold water.
  • Soak the beans: Place rinsed beans in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches (use filtered water, if possible). Soak for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours, at room temperature. Transfer soaked beans to a colander and rinse them well.
  • When you are ready to cook the beans, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Pour in the 10 cups of filtered water. Then add the soaked, drained beans, salt, cumin, oregano and black pepper. Stir.
  • Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer the beans, uncovered, until tender, stirring occasionally. This usually takes about 1 ½ hours, but can range from 1-2 hours depending on the beans. (See note below.) Start checking on the beans after 1 hour, doing a taste test to see if they are cooked to your liking. If not, continue cooking, checking on them every 15 minutes or so. Add up to 1 cup more water as needed if the liquid is almost gone and the beans are not yet done.
  • Once the beans are done, if there is more liquid than you'd like left in the pot, you can drain some of it off. Taste the beans and season with more salt, as needed. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro, or as desired.

Notes

  • You can add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and/or 1 chopped jalapeño (seeds and ribs removed) for spice, if desired.
  • The cook time will depend on the age of the beans. Older beans will take longer to soften, and very old beans may never soften.
  • Cooked pinto beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Serving: 1/2 cup, Calories: 148kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 209mg, Potassium: 549mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 4IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Cuisine: Mexican
Course: How To, Side Dish
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