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Mexican Pot Beans

From Veronica Gonzalez-Smith: Mom always said, “If there are frijoles in the house, then you have something to eat.” Beans are a true staple in Mexico. Freshly made frijoles de la olla is my favorite way to have beans. There is nothing more pure and earthy than the taste of homemade pinto beans. My kids love bean burritos, but there are so many ways to use frijoles. You can eat them straight out of the pot, hence the name frijoles de la olla, and you can have them mashed or refried. If you like refried beans try frying them in lard, like Grandma did, or in bacon or sausage drippings, or mash them up with some Mexican chorizo. The possibilities are endless. Recipe courtesy of Hippocrene Books.
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican
Author Evangelina Soza, Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith


  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 onion, sliced (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Spread the beans over your counter so you can look for any pebbles or beans that are broken, discolored, or shriveled and remove them.
  2. Place beans in a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cool water for about 3 minutes. This step is not necessary, but your beans will be lighter in color and “mas bonitos” as my Mom says.
  3. Soak the beans in cold water in a covered bowl for 4 to 6 hours before cooking. (I never soak them and they still come out bonitos. I think they come out bonitos when the beans are fresh, so I prefer to be a rebel and skip this step.)
  4. Drain the beans and pour into a large pot. Add enough water to come 3 inches over the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 3 to 4 hours, adding more hot water as the beans absorb liquid. (Every pot is different so check your beans after 2 hours. Most take 3 to 4 hours but I have a pot I love to cook my beans in because it only takes 2 hours.) Add salt and onions, if using, about 1 hour before cooking is complete.
  5. Refrigerate beans in any liquid left when cooled. Beans can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

  6. The beans can also be frozen in small bowls for later use.