How to Cook Pinto Beans (Instant Pot, Stovetop, Oven, Pantry Meal)

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Want to learn how to cook pinto beans at home? I’m going to show you all the various methods in this convenient guide to cooking pinto beans.

Suitable for vegan and gluten free diets. Post Includes Weight Watchers points.

Pinto beans are one of the best pantry staple ingredients around. They are affordable, versatile and can be used in all sorts of different recipes. And it’s easy to learn how to cook pinto beans using a variety of methods.

And I have got you covered – whether you prefer to soak or use a no soak method, cook ’em in your Instant Pot, in your slow cooker, or on the stovetop, everything you need to know in order to learn how to cook pinto beans is right here! We’re talking all things Pinto Beans, peeps!

Why You’ll Love Them

  • Dried beans are SUPER cheap and there’s no need to pre-soak beans if using an Instant Pot.
  • Filling, nutritious, and loved by the whole family.
  • Easy to prep ahead for many a freezer-friendly meal.
  • You can add much more flavor to the beans when you cook them from scratch.
  • You can also cook them to the firmness you desire for different recipes.
  • Reserve the cooking liquid and use it to cook a divine tasting treat.

Oh, and you can easily cook more beans than you need and store them in the fridge. They keep this way for about 5 days without any problems.

close up of pinto bean stew in a bowl

WHAT ARE PINTO BEANS?

Pinto beans or frijoles pinto “speckled beans” are super popular, especially in the southern United States and Mexico. Inexpensive, nutrient-dense, high in fiber, protein and fat-free, pintos are a staple in many kitchens. 

I find that pinto beans are creamier and softer than other beans and have a nuttier, earthier, balanced flavor.

a bowl of dried pinto beans to use to make instant pot pinto beans

Soaking Beans Overnight

Whilst you don’t need to soak dried pinto beans, soaking them means that you will greatly reduce the cooking time if using the stovetop. The easiest way to do this is to soak them overnight.

Place the dried beans into a container and add approximately 4 times the volume of water to beans (easiest if you use cup measures so 1 cup dried beans to 4 cups water). In the morning, drain, rinse and proceed with cooking.

pinto beans soaking in water

How To Quick Soak Dried Pinto Beans

You can also quick soak dried pinto beans. Just place them in a pot with approximately 4 times the volume of water, bring to the boil and boil for 2 mins. Then switch off the heat and let them soak for 1 hr. Drain, rinse and proceed with your recipe.

image collage showing the steps for making instant pot pinto beans

How To Cook Instant Pot Pinto Beans

  • Step Add dried beans, chicken broth stock. Then layer in the rest of the ingredients, ending with diced tomatoes on top and DO NOT mix.
  • Step 3. Close pot, set valve to sealing, select the pressure cook / manual (dependent upon IP model), select high pressure and set the timer to 40 minutes.
  • Step 4. Allow a natural pressure release (NPR) for 20 minutes and then a quick pressure release for the rest.
  • Step 5. Open the Instant Pot and stir in tamari soy sauce and serve.
cooked instant pot pinto beans inside the instant pot

How To Cook Pinto Beans On The Stovetop

Cooking pinto bean on the cooker is easy. You need three main things – pinto beans, water or stock and seasoning.

  • So you add your Pinto Beans to a pan, along with your water or broth.
  • Add seasonings to suit your taste: e.g. onions, thyme, chili, garlic or for some smoked paprika. Meat lovers can also add in some bacon, ham hock or chorizo.
  • Cover your saucepan and bring it to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer, leave the lid very slightly open and cook until tender. Now, this can take anything from 45-90 mins as this depends on the age of your beans. Older beans will take a little bit longer.
  • Cooking time depends on what you are using the beans – firmer for beans salads, but much softer for soupy meals. So taste the beans after the first 45 mins of cooking and check them every 20 mins after.
  • Also if the water level reduces before the beans are cooked you will need to add about half a cup (125ml of water or broth at a time).
pinto beans in a pot

How To Cook Pinto Beans In The Oven

Cooking them in the oven is also so easy.

  1. Place the pre-soaked beans into an oven-ready dish with enough water or broth so that there is 4cm (1.5 inches) of liquid above the beans.
  2. Add in your flavorings and bake about 90 mins at 350F /fan-assisted 160C / 180C / gas 4.
  3. Check the beans if they are cooked through.
  4. If not then bake them for a little bit longer checking them every 10 mins.
pinto beans in a pot with serving spoon inside

Cooking Tips

  • Pick through the beans. Remove shriveled beans and any debris before cooking.
  • Add veggies. Mix and match the veggies with what you have on hand. You can even use fresh veggies instead of frozen.
  • Vary the spices. Look through your spice cupboard and use whatever you have available. (See below for seasoning tips and ideas.)
  • Add meat. You can certainly add bacon, ham hock, chorizo or a smoked turkey during if you wish.
  • Bulk it out. Add bulk to the meal by serving the beans over another starch such as rice or quinoa.
  • Thicken it. Feel free to remove some of the beans, mash them and dd back in to thicken it.
  • Thin it out. If you plan to reheat you may want to add more broth to thin as desired.
  • Change up the beans. Use other beans like navy beans, but be aware that cook time will vary.
top down view of a bowl filled with uncooked pinto beans

Seasoning Tips

  • Don’t add salt to your beans until the end of cooking, as salting at the beginning may toughen the beans and increase the cooking time.
  • Amp up the flavor by adding in aromatics like cumin, oregano, and thyme.
  • Vary the spices. Use what you like the best or what you have available. I love making these beans with homemade creole seasoning, fajita seasoning, and Greek seasoning.

Meal Prep and Prep Ahead

Pinto Beans is an ideal meal prep recipe because it can be easily stored in the fridge or freezer until you need it. I love to make big batches and freeze till out when I need beans for other meals.

Prep Ahead – Make ahead and refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Freeze – Follow the handy tips below on how to freeze this.

  • Let cool down then transfer into these very handy Ziploc freezer bags.
  • Squeeze out all the extra air and seal the bags.
  • Label the bags and then lay them flat in the freezer.
  • Store in the freezer for 3 months.

Meal Prep – Feel free to make a fair amount of beans and with a few adjustments you can get several meals out of one pot of beans. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add additional broth, bring the pot to a boil and serve as a soup.
  • You can also pour some of the brothy beans over rice, potatoes, and cornbread.
  • Stuff inside corn tortillas to make a batch of vegetarian taquitos.
  • Mash the leftover beans and serve refried beans style as a side dish.
glass meal prep container filled with cooked pinto beans

Serving Suggestions

Easy Pinto Bean Recipes

Weight Watchers Points

If you do not add bacon (or other meats) and replace the olive oil with a no-calorie cooking spray, there will be 0 Blue Plan SmartPoints in a serving of pinto beans.

Thank you for reading my guide on how to cook Pinto Beans. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.

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5 from 1 vote

How To Cook Pinto Beans

Learn the various methods for easily cooking pinto beans from scratch!
Prep Time10 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Western
Servings: 12
Calories: 196kcal
Author: Bintu Hardy

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450g) pinto beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or no-calorie cooking spray
  • 1 cup diced frozen onion (or 1 fresh medium onion) optional, but adds great flavor
  • 6 sliced smoked bacon (if frozen then defrost first) optional, but addres great flavor
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups (709mL) chicken broth or vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup (236mL) water

Instructions

How To Cook Instant Pot Pinto Beans

  • Add dried beans, chicken broth stock. Then layer in the rest of the ingredients, ending with diced tomatoes on top and DO NOT mix.
  • Close pot, set valve to sealing, select the pressure cook / manual (dependent upon IP model), select high pressure and set the timer to 40 minutes.
  • Allow a natural pressure release (NPR) for 20 minutes and then a quick pressure release for the rest.
  • Open the Instant Pot and stir in tamari soy sauce and serve.

How To Cook Pinto Beans On The Stovetop

  • Add Pinto Beans to a pan, along with water or broth.
  • Add seasonings to suit your taste: e.g. onions, thyme, chili, garlic or for some smoked paprika. Meat lovers can also add in some bacon, ham hock or chorizo.
  • Cover your saucepan and bring it to the boil. Then reduce to a simmer, leave the lid very slightly open and cook until tender. Now, this can take anything from 45-90 mins as this depends on the age of your beans. Older beans will take a little bit longer.
  • Cooking time depends on what you are using the beans – firmer for beans salads, but much softer for soupy meals. So taste the beans after the first 45 mins of cooking and check them every 20 mins after.
  • Also if the water level reduces before the beans are cooked you will need to add about half a cup (125ml) of water or broth at a time.

How To Cook Pinto Beans In The Oven

  • Place the pre-soaked beans into an oven-ready dish with enough water or broth so that there is 4cm (1.5 inches) of liquid above the beans.
  • Add in your flavorings and bake about 90 mins at 350F /fan-assisted 160C / 180C / gas 4.
  • Check the beans if they are cooked through.
  • If not then bake them for a little bit longer checking them every 10 mins.
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Notes

Cooking Tips

  • Pick through the beans. Remove shriveled beans and any debris before cooking.
  • Add veggies. Mix and match the veggies with what you have on hand. You can even use fresh veggies instead of frozen.
  • Vary the spices. Look through your spice cupboard and use whatever you have available. (See below for seasoning tips and ideas.)
  • Add meat. You can certainly add bacon, ham hock, chorizo or a smoked turkey during if you wish.
  • Bulk it out. Add bulk to the meal by serving the beans over another starch such as rice or quinoa.
  • Thicken it. Feel free to remove some of the beans, mash them and dd back in to thicken it.
  • Thin it out. If you plan to reheat you may want to add more broth to thin as desired.
  • Change up the beans. Use other beans like navy beans, but be aware that cook time will vary.

Serving Suggestions

Weight Watchers Points

If you do not add bacon (or other meats) and replace the olive oil with a no-calorie cooking spray, there will be 0 Blue Plan SmartPoints in a serving of pinto beans.

Nutrition

Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 294mg | Potassium: 615mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg

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16 Comments

  1. Came across this well-explained Pinto Beans recipe, and it’s a gem compared to what I read on my friend’s mobile with an old version apk of Instagram. Clear instructions and delicious results make it a standout!