This guide teaches you how easy it is to cook dried pinto beans on the stove. You only need 2 extra ingredients and a little patience! They will be the best beans you've ever made!
I've spent most of my life cooking with canned beans. I couldn't understand why anyone would go to the time and trouble of cooking dried beans when they could just crack open a can and be ready to go. However, after my husband came home with a 25lb bag of dried pinto beans from Costco 🤔, we started using fresh over canned and discovered that I was missing out when only using canned beans.
- Most importantly, freshly cooked (from dried) pinto beans really do taste better! I promise this is true. Plus, you can cook them with different seasonings to make them taste even more flavorful.
- You have more control over what you're eating when you prepare them from dried. Looking a canned pinto bean label, I can see that they've also added calcium chloride and calcium disodium to the beans in order to help them stay firm and keep their color. I'm not saying that these ingredients are bad for you, but you don't have to add anything extra when preparing them yourself.
- You have more control over salt levels. ½ a cup of canned beans counts for 18% of your daily recommended salt intake. If you are someone who is trying to have less sodium in your diet, then making fresh beans is for you. Salt really is necessary in helping your beans taste great, but you can add less and still have success.
- Dried beans are cheaper and create less packaging waste. They are better for your wallet and the environment. I always recommend buying in bulk for these reasons.
There are many different ways to cook dried beans, like on the stovetop, or in the crockpot, pressure cooker, or oven. They all have their advantages and disadvantages (learn all about them here), but today we are going to focus on how to cook them on the stovetop. It's the classic way, where all you need is a pot, some water, and you are good to go! Let's do this thing!
- It’s a good idea to rinse the pinto beans before placing them into your pot. This removes any dust or debris that may have settled on the beans in storage.
- Typically water is used to cook the beans, but broth could be substituted if you want to add a specific flavor. You could also add any type of seasonings in with the beans to create more flavor.
- This is not a "set and forget" method, meaning you are going to want to keep an eye on your beans while they cook. As the cooking progresses, more and more of the water will be absorbed by the beans, and evaporated out in the boiling. Once all the water is gone, the beans will start burning onto the bottom of the pot. REMOVING BURNED BEANS OFF THE BOTTOM OF A POT IS THE WORST! (I speak from experience). Also, it makes your house smell like burning farts. Not great.
To avoid this, you'll want to test the beans as the water gets low. If they haven't reached the texture you want, add more water in. You can always drain it out later when they are done. I usually need to add more water about every 45 mins.
- The length of time it takes to soften the pintos to desired texture depends on personal preference. The times I have given are for pintos that are soft, but have a little bit of chew still to them. If you are planning on mashing your beans, you’ll probably want to cook them a little longer to make them even softer. If you like your pintos chewy, you’ll want to cook them for less time. Experiment a bit until you find the perfect time for you. Cook time also depends on if you have pre-soaked your beans or not. See section below for more info.
- The recipe I have provided includes a one hour presoak. From start to finish it takes about 2.5-3 hours to cook pinto beans on the stove (including soaking time).
- 1 cup of dried pinto beans makes about 3 cups of cooked pintos.
- There are about 1.5 cups of beans in a can of pintos.
💭 To Soak or Not to Soak
One of the most common questions when it comes to cooking dried beans is whether or not beans need to be soaked before cooking. Soaking beans before cooking them on the stove, does improve the overall texture of the beans. They cook faster, and more evenly. They are also less prone to splitting open in the cooking process.
The biggest benefit of pre-soaking beans comes down to cook time. Soaked beans cook at least an hour faster than unsoaked beans. There are different methods on how to soak. For example, some suggest soaking overnight in cold water, while others suggest a quick 1-hour soak in hot water. In my experience, the results are not drastically different, so use the method that works with your schedule. The recipe I provide includes a 1-hour quick soak.
While there are many benefits to presoaking your beans, don't worry, it's not a deal-breaker if you don't have time, or simply forgot to do it. (I NEVER remember to start soaking things 8 hours in advance). Your pintos will still be delicious, and much better than canned ones.
I have a whole series of posts answering all your dried bean questions. You can find out all about soaking, salting, and various cooking methods. Check out “The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Dry Beans” to learn way too much info about preparing the perfect dried beans.
Pinto beans are not low in calories or in carbs. One cup has 245 calories and 45 grams of carbs. Don't let this deter you from eating them, however, because they have a lot of health benefits too.
Pinto beans can be very healthy for you. They are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, such as iron, potassium, and the B vitamins. They also have 15 grams of both protein and fiber in a single cup, helping you feel full longer. This can help with weight loss, and help regulate your blood sugar.
Like all ingredients, Pinto beans are as healthy as the recipe they are used in. Pinto beans are often found in dishes with lots of cheese or sour cream, amping up their fat and cholesterol content. So while they are generally healthy on their own, they can be perceived as unhealthy because of the way they are used.
🥣 How to use
Pinto beans are often found in Mexican and Southern Style recipes. They are also popularly served refried or with rice. Here are some of my favorite pinto bean recipes from around the web:
Stove Top Pinto Beans
- 2 cups dried pinto beans
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Rinse dried beans under cold water and place in a large pot. Cover the beans with 2 inches of water.
- Cover the pot and bring contents to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour. (See section above to read about soaking vs not soaking dried beans).
- After an hour, stir in 1½ teaspoon of kosher salt and bring the uncovered contents of the pot back to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce heat and let simmer for about 1-1½ hours, until beans are tender and creamy. Check water level about every 30 minutes and add more as necessary.* Excess water can be drained at the end of cooking if needed.