In this Mexican style Pinto Beans and Rice recipe, pinto beans cook slowly in the oven then finish to creamy perfection on the stove. Serve them with bright Pico de Gallo, aromatic rice, and an extra squirt of lime. This recipe is easy to double and freezes well.
Serve Pinto Beans and Rice on their own, topped with a fresh n tasty Pico de Gallo or combine them with Citrus Pork Carnitas in a burrito. Wash it all down with an authentic Homemade Horchata de Arroz (Mexican Rice Drink) or Spicy Pineapple Margarita.
Disclosure: This post is made possible by Alberta Pulse Growers. All opinions and experiences are my own.
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Pinto Beans and Rice…Mexican Style!
If you’ve ever been to a Mexican comedore or fonda you will already know this quintessential Mexican side dish duo. These pinto beans are creamy and so full of flavour you’ll want to eat them all up with a big spoon (I did!). However, they are extra delicious when served alongside one of my favourite Mexican rice recipes, or as my kids always called it ‘fiesta rice’.
For this bean recipe, I used a several different cooking methods. Instead of soaking the beans overnight (like I did for these Chipotle Peach Pinto Beans), I brought the beans to a boil and used the ‘quick soak’ method. Then, I cooked them in the oven and finished them on the stove.
You can, of course, use canned beans (see what I did there?) to make a similar version of these stewed beans. However, I find the dish is far superior when made with dried pinto beans. Don’t be scared off by the long cooking time, most of it is inactive soaking or cooking time.
Pinto Beans (or frijoles pintos) meaning ‘painted bean’ are one of the most commonly consumed bean in Northern Mexico. This medium sized bean variety is one of the largest crops grown in Mexico and around the world including right here in Alberta, Canada.
Though the bean is most often eaten whole (sometimes in broth) as a common filling for burritos, tostadas, or tacos in Mexican cuisine, it is also consumed mashed and then refried.
In areas where meat is scarce, pinto beans are eaten with rice and corn (in bread or tortillas). This powerful nutritional trio combines to make the necessary essential amino acids required for a healthy vegetarian diet. This nutrient-dense legume is a great source of fibre, protein, manganese, and phosphorus.
Ingredients for Pinto Beans and Rice
Most of the ingredients for Pinto Beans and Rice are straightforward and easy to find in most grocery stores. The exception to this may be epazote, also known as Mexican Tea. This common herb can be used fresh or dried. It adds a savoury sharpness similar to citrus, oregano, pepper, and mint all in one.
While I was researching this recipe, I learned that epazote is often added to beans to regulate digestion and relieve bloating, cramping, and gas. While it isn’t necessary for this recipe, it is worth sourcing from a Mexican or Latino market to give the beans a more authentic flavour.
- Dried Pinto Beans
- Sea Salt
- Bay Leaves
- Diced Tomatoes with Chilies
- Olive Oil
- Red Onion
How to Make Pinto Beans and Rice
While economical, making beans from scratch can be time consuming. If you decide to use a can of pinto beans, you can save 5 hours of soaking/cooking time. However, the results may not be as delicious because the aromatics will not have time to infuse the beans with flavour.
Soaking and Cooking the Pinto Beans
Rinse and sort 1 cup dried pinto beans then place them in a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Add 3 cups of cold water and bring to a boil for 1-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow beans to soak for 3 hours.
Drain and rinse the beans then place them in a Dutch oven with a lid. Preheat oven to 300 F then add salt, 4 cups water, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 tablespoon epazote. Bring beans to a boil on the stove, then cover and transfer them to the oven. Bake the beans at 300 F for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
While the Beans Are Baking…
While the beans are baking, you can roast the garlic, make Pico de Gallo, and start the rice. This economizes your time and all three add incredible authentic flavour to this dish.
To roast the garlic, place the garlic bulb on its side and slice 1/2 inch off the top so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place bulb cut side up on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and wrap the bulbs tightly in the foil. Place the garlic in the oven and bake for 1 1/4 hours. Let it cool slightly, then squeeze the cloves out of their skins. Use a fork to mash the roasted garlic on a plate.
To make the Pico de Gallo, place the diced tomato, red onions, and minced garlic clove in a small bowl. Season with sea salt. Add chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice (reserve rest of lime for serving) and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Mix with a spoon and set aside.
For the rice I use a rice cooker that has a keep warm feature. It’s so handy to prepare the rice and have it ready and waiting to eat with the beans. To start, wash and rinse the rice in cold water until the water turns clear. Place rice in rice cooker and add 1/4 cup pico de gallo and the stock. Cook on white rice setting.
Cook the Beans Stovetop
Test the beans after 1 1/2 hours in the oven. They are ready for the next step when they easily split in two but do not turn to mush. Cook longer, if needed. When the beans are done cooking in the oven, it’s time to cook them on the stove.
Transfer the Dutch oven to the stove top and add diced tomatoes, sautéed onions, and roasted garlic. Bring beans to a simmer over medium heat then reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the pan.
*If starting with canned beans, drain and rinse the beans, then add bay leaves and epazote plus two cups of water along with the tomatoes, onions, and roasted garlic.
Check the beans after 30 minutes. If they are chalky or gritty, add more cooking time and more stock as needed. Allow the beans cook as long as it takes to get the texture you prefer. Note: the sauce will thicken on its own, however you can also blend 1 cup of the beans with 1/2 cup of stock in a blender then add the mixture back to the pot of beans.
How to Serve Pinto Beans and Rice
These beans are so delicious we sometimes eat bowls of them topped with a lively Pico de Gallo and a squirt of lime juice. However, they also make the best taco night side dish and are excellent stuffed into a burrito with cheese, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, and your choice of guisado (stewed meat).
I recommend making easy lunchtime quesadillas with the beans. You can leave them whole or blend them with some oil to make delicious refried pinto beans.
Make Ahead and Storage Directions
Slow cooked beans are one of those dishes that tastes even better after a few days in the fridge. This extra time allows even more time for the flavours to combine. So, I highly recommend making them a days before you intend to eat them.
I also recommend making a double batch or scaling the recipe even more than two times. Then, cool the beans to room temperature and freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
To serve, thaw the beans overnight in the fridge and reheat gradually (stirring occasionally) in a covered saucepan over medium heat. You may need to add more liquid as beans tend to soak up the liquid and thicken as they cool.
Looking for more Pinto Bean recipes? Cook them up quickly in your Instant Pot and enjoy them in a hearty bowl of Spicy Pinto Bean Soup or slow bake them with peaches for a fun twist on Chipotle Baked Beans.
If you make this Pinto Beans and Rice recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 1 cup (225 g) dried or 19 oz (540 ml) can (drained) pinto beans
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 Tablespoon epazote
- 5 oz (148 ml) diced tomatoes with green chili
- 1 small garlic bulb
- 1/2 onion; small diced
- olive oil
FOR THE PICO DE GALLO
- 2 medium tomatoes; seeded , cored, and small diced
- 3 Tablespoons red onion; very finely diced
- 1 clove garlic; minced
- sea salt
- 1 lime; divided
- 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
FOR THE RICE
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1/4 cup Pico do Gallo
- 1 1/2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
FOR THE PINTO BEANS (Omit steps 1-5 if using canned pinto beans)
- Sort and rinse the dried pinto beans then place them in a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Add 3 cups cold water and bring to a boil for 1-3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and cover. Allow beans to soak for 3 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Place beans in a Dutch oven with a heavy lid. Add 4 cups water, sea salt, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 tablespoon epazote.
- Preheat oven to 300 F. Bring beans to a boil stovetop, then cover and transfer to the oven.
- Bake beans at 300 F for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Place the garlic bulb on its side and slice 1/2 inch off the top so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place bulb cut side up on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and wrap the bulbs tightly in the foil. Place in oven to roast while the beans bake.
- Remove the garlic bulb and test the beans after 1 1/2 hours. The beans are ready for the next step when they easily split in two but do not turn to mush. Cook longer, if needed.
- While beans are baking in the oven, make the Pico de Gallo. Place small diced tomato, red onions, and minced garlic clove in a small bowl. Season with sea salt. Add chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice (reserve rest of lime for serving) and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Set aside.
- Drizzle olive oil in a sauté pan. Add onions and sauté over medium heat until they soften and become translucent.
- Squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and mash the garlic on a plate using a fork.
- Transfer beans to stove top over medium low heat. Add diced tomatoes, sautéed onions, and roasted garlic. If starting with canned beans, drain and rinse the beans, then add bay leaves and epazote plus two cups of water along with the tomatoes, onions, and roasted garlic.
- Bring beans to a light simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the pan.
- Check the beans after this time, if they are chalky or gritty, add more cooking time and more stock as needed. Let the beans cook as long as it takes to get the texture you prefer. The sauce will thicken on its own, however you can also blend 1 cup of the beans with 1/2 cup of stock in a blender then add the mixture back to the pot of beans.
- While the beans are cooking stovetop, make the rice. Wash and rinse the rice in cold water until the water turns clear. Place rice in rice cooker and add 1/4 cup Pico de Gallo and the stock. Cook on white rice setting.
- Serve Pinto beans with rice, extra Pico de Gallo, and an extra squirt of lime alongside tacos or add to burritos.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 242Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 959mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 8gSugar: 15gProtein: 9g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.