Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)
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Charro beans are a pinto beans dish with smoky and spicy Mexican flavors. Make this simmered frijoles recipe to replace traditional baked beans!
Whether they’re for Cinco de Mayo, Memorial or Labor Day, or a simple family meal, a pot of beans makes the perfect side dish. They pair well with everything from grilled steak or chicken to a pulled pork sandwich.
Legumes are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, and they’re filling, too.
When it comes to sweet flavor, American favorites include varieties like traditional bbq baked beans and root beer beans with bacon. Both are delicious and easy to make. The flavor is simple to create by adding a sweet barbecue sauce or soda pop.
Another great way to create sweet flavor without refined sugar is to use fruit. In my recipe for sweet and spicy baked beans, peaches bring the sweet flavor, and they are SO delicious!.
If you’re lucky enough to own a smoker, you can make smoked baked beans for the best smoky flavor. But if you don’t have one, it’s okay, because I have a south of the border recipe for charro beans that you are going to love!
What do charro beans taste like?
Frijoles charros (the Spanish name for the dish) has both smoky and spicy flavors. The smoky flavor comes from two types of pork; boneless pork loin and bacon. The spicy flavors come from ground chorizo, jalapenos and serrano chiles.
Because this dish was often served to Mexican ranchers, it’s also known as cowboy beans. You can read more about the origins of the dish in my Tex Mex version of the recipe for crock pot cowboy beans.
Other Mexican bean recipes
If black beans are your favorite variety, don’t let the summer pass by without making a pot of black beans and corn.
Or for the perfect side with any Mexican meal, put some authentic refried beans on the table. You won’t believe how easy the recipe is to make!
Charro beans recipe tips and notes
- Cooked and dried bean options
This recipe can be made using 1 pound of dried pinto beans or 48 oz (6 cups) cooked. Feel free to use store-bought cans or previously cooked pintos.
- Soaking is optional
I made the recipe twice; first soaking the beans for 8 hours and the second time using dried beans directly. It makes no difference texture-wise; the beans cook perfectly both ways. In a side by side taste test, no one could tell which were soaked!
- Storage and freezing
Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and use them within 5 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.
Both charro and borracho are Mexican pinto bean recipes. The ingredients are similar, but borracho beans are known as drunken beans because they’re cooked in beer.
Legumes are notorious for causing gassiness which can cause discomfort for some people. To help reduce some of the gas-causing sugars in them, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking liquid. This does change the flavor slightly (at least to me), so please adjust seasonings to taste.
Charro Beans (Frijoles Charros)
- 1 lb dry pinto beans or pre-cooked (See Notes)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 8 oz boneless pork diced
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- 3 slices bacon chopped
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 4 jalapeños or Serrano chiles
- 4 oz fresh chorizo
- 14.5 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- Feel free to substitute 48 oz or 6 cups cooked, canned pinto beans or cook your own.
- Pick through and discard any debris from dried beans. Rinse the beans under cool water. Transfer the beans to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 8 cups of water.
- Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and cook another 30 minutes, uncovered. Drain the cooked beans, transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
- While beans are cooking place the boneless pork, half of onion and smashed garlic in a small saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Simmer 1 1/2 hours (adding more water if needed to keep covered), discard onion and garlic and finely dice the cooked pork. Set aside.
- Over medium heat in a skillet cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer cooked bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain and leave bacon fat in skillet.
- Cut and remove stem and seeds from chiles. Either dice or cut into long thin strips, set aside. Saute the diced onion for several minutes in the bacon fat then add the garlic and cut chiles, cook for another minute.
- Add the chorizo and stir until chorizo is cooked. Add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring to pick up any browned bits on bottom of skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add half of the cooked bacon, simmered pork and beans, stirring to mix and simmer another 15 minutes, covered.
- Before serving stir in cilantro and spoon into bowls. Top with remaining cooked bacon and chile slices (optional).
- I find it optional to soak the pinto beans 8 hours. Using a bean recipe from Diana Kennedy, I realized it was optional to soak 1 pound dried pinto beans 8 hours (overnight) or cooking dried beans directly. It made no difference texture wise. Beans were cooked and in a side by side taste test, no one could tell me which were soaked!
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Got 5 star rating from my family of food critics! We eat Mexican/Latin food at least 2-3 times a week, so my crew isn’t afraid of expressing their like or dislikes to a dish. Kevin’s Cooking site is one of my to go sites when looking for innovative ideas. Thanks for all your great recipes!
So sorry for the late reply as I have been away on a much needed vacation outside the USA. Needless to say, about your comment…Thanks so much Mike. Appreciate you coming back top let me know!
I make a huge batch of Charro beans, freeze them in qt. bags & have them handy often. They thaw out just fine, and I can add additional ingredients if desired.
Sounds like a great idea to me!
Cooked the pintos yesterday… made the Frijoles Charros tonight for dinner. A delicious dish, thoroughly enjoyed by my family. Will definitely make again; thank you.
I am glad you enjoyed it Karin! Thank you for sharing!
This is a dish I will love and will make soon. As for soaking or not soaking, here in the Caribbean it’s a necessity. And sometimes even then they never get soft enough. Some of the beans must be super old!😣
I did make these last week, and being lazy and late, I did not boil the ham and onions. I cooked them in the pan after the chorizo and after putting everything in the pot, I just added a bit more water. We loved it, and these beans actually did very well not being soaked first.
We do these all the time. Your recipe is a bit different but sounds like a winner. I have found the difference in soaking the beans vs not soaking is the gas. To save time and not soak the beans my mom always cut a big russet potato in half and threw it in the pot. It soaks up the gas (oligosaccharide). Give that potato to a good friend.
I hope you give this one a try David! If you do let me know how you enjoy it!