These Cowboy Beans are an old school, Tex Mex style simply using soaked pinto beans and slow cooking them until tender. For the flavor punch you add a sautéed mixture of bacon, onion, garlic, jalapeño and cumin. These are outstanding for being so simple.
Cowboy Pinto Beans
Back in the 1880s the elite of Mexico City thought beans, chiles, and corn products such as tamales and tortillas was street food for the lower class. I love them all myself and don’t discriminate!
The Spanish colonists, and that included several families from the Canary Islands who started to develop the wilderness area today known as San Antonio, Texas, were challenged by their surroundings and often times had limited foods.
You can read more about the early times of Tex Mex and the Spanish in my Real Deal Chili Con Carne post, too.
A typical breakfast could be as simple as these Cowboy Beans. Old ranchers would feed their vaqueros beans for breakfast and with the help of bacon, spices and chiles, made for a delicious meal.
Don, a reader of this site from New Mexico told me that even today, “Pinto beans are served for breakfast at every New Mexican restaurant with huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos and many other dishes.”
Now I don’t see myself eating this alone for breakfast, but it does make for a great lunch too, and I sometimes add shredded rotisserie chicken for a dinner meal.
I like to serve these with crumbled cotija cheese, a hard cow’s milk cheese that originated in Mexico and is similar to Parmesan cheese in flavor and looks like feta cheese.
Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans
- 1 lb dried pinto beans (See Note 1)
- 4 slices of bacon minced
- 1 onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 jalapeños seeded and diced
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Sort through the beans and remove any debris or stones. Rinse and in a large bowl cover with cold water and soak overnight.
- In a slow cooker or Instant Pot add the soaked and drained beans. Add 8 cups of fresh water. Cover, and for the slow cooker cook for 6 hours on low, or for the Instant Pot, close lid and vent then cook using the Beans setting.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat fry the bacon for several minutes. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeños salt and cumin. Stir to mix and cook until onion is softened. Set aside.
- When beans are cooked add the sautéed bacon chile mixture. Stir to mix in and serve as is, or with toppings like cheese of choice, slices of jalapeños and cornbread or warm tortillas.
- Feel free to substitute 48 oz or 6 cups cooked or canned pinto beans and then sauté bacon chile mixture and simply add to beans and heat through before serving.