My favorite method for cooking perfect, deliciously seasoned pinto beans. Once you try them, you'll be hooked for life.
A hearty pot of beans is so deliciously simple, and cooking pinto beans is a basic cooking skill that I think everyone should have! Beans are tasty, filling, comfortable, simple to prepare, and insanely budget friendly. Pinto beans are also versatile when it comes to how they are served. They can take the backseat as a side dish, or you can make a whole meal out of 'em alongside a wedge of crispy cast iron cornbread.
Do You Have To Soak Them?
It's a long-held belief that the only way to cook dry pinto beans is to give them a long soak in cold water overnight. One reason for the long soak is well-soaked beans will cook faster. Another reason is that soaking will leech sugars out of the beans that contribute to gas production, reducing the likelihood of digestional upset for those who are sensitive to consuming beans.
There are some who don't see any major benefit of the long overnight soak, while others will soak their beans religiously until the day they leave this good Earth. I've always soaked my beans out of habit, but if you forget to do so the night before, fear not. There's an easy "quick soak" method you can follow that will mimic the result of an overnight bean bath.
How To Soak Dry Pinto Beans
Traditional Method: Pour the dry beans into a pot, cover with water, and leave it alone for 6-8 hours, or up to 12 hours (don't soak longer than that, or the texture of the beans will be altered). Pour the beans into a colander, rinse with fresh water, and pick through the beans to remove any weird bits. Proceed to cooking steps.
"Quick Soak" Method: Give the beans a quick rinse in a colander, then add them to a large pot and add 8 cups of hot water per 1 pound of dry beans. Bring to a full boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Pour beans into a colander, rinse out the pot, rinse the beans, and proceed with cooking steps.
How To Season Pinto Beans
Pork: Salt pork, bacon, ham (bones or hock), fatback, or even smoked sausage are all excellent ways to season a big pot of beans. I discard whatever pork product I use at the end of the cooking process, so don't use anything expensive here!
Spices: Good ol' salt and pepper are really all you need when soaking with one of the pork products above, but if you are looking for vegetarian-friendly options, you can skip the pork and instead add cajun seasoning, chopped onion, a bay leaf, cumin, and smoked paprika will all add some zip to your pot.
Heck, even if you do use the pork you can still use those spices if you really wanna flavor things up.
How To Make Southern Pinto Beans
Cover the soaked and rinse beans in about 2 inches of water on medium heat. I use approximately 6 cups of water per pound of beans.
Toss in the salt pork or other pork product (if using). Then put the lid on the pot - leave it slanted so steam can escape -and leave it alone for 90 minutes to two hours. That's it!
At the end of the cook time, give 'em a taste and see if they are tender enough for you, and then discard the salt pork and add any additional seasonings as desired. Let the beans rest for about 20 minutes to really soak in the flavors before serving.
How Do You Serve Pinto Beans?
You can strain out the liquid and serve as a side dish alongside any protein you want: steak, meatloaf, chicken (grilled or fried), etc. Add a roasted or steamed green veggie (green beans, broccoli, asparagus...) and a warm, soft dinner roll, and bam - you've got one hearty meal on your plate.
The beans can be the main event in one of my favorite comfort meals: beans 'n cornbread! Just spoon some beans (along with some liquid) into a bowl and mash it all up with some fresh, warm cornbread. Here's my favorite recipe for cast iron cornbread. The crispy crust is the game changer. Seriously, it's so good. One of my top 5 favorite meals.
What's your favorite way to make and serve Southern Pinto Beans? Let me know in the comments below!Print
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