Pinto Beans: The Versatile and Healthy Ingredient Your Recipes Need
The pinto bean is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). It is the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico, and is most often eaten whole in broth or mashed and refried.
Pinto beans are a great ingredient to use in cooking, especially if you’re looking for a meat alternative. But how do you use them?
Pinto beans are great in soups, stews, and salads. They’re also perfect for adding a hearty texture to your favorite Mexican dishes like “borracho beans”, “charro beans”, and “refried beans”. You can even use them in breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to use pinto beans in cooking and share some of my favorite recipes.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Get to Know Pinto Beans
- 2 The Flavorful World of Pinto Beans
- 3 How to Cook Pinto Beans: A Simple Guide
- 4 Why Pinto Beans are a Nutritious and Healthy Staple in Your Diet
- 5 Conclusion
Get to Know Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are a type of dried bean that is popular in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. They are small, oval-shaped beans with a speckled, beige and brown exterior. Pinto beans are typically sold dried, but they can also be found canned. They are a cheap and simple ingredient to add to your cooking, and they are super versatile.
Soaking and Cooking Pinto Beans
Before cooking pinto beans, it’s important to soak them first. Soaking helps to reduce cooking time and makes the beans more digestible. Here’s a simple way to soak and cook pinto beans:
- Pick through the beans and discard any rocks or shriveled beans.
- Rinse the beans under cool water.
- Place the beans in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with several inches of water.
- Add a bay leaf, a teaspoon of coarse salt, and a few cloves of garlic (optional).
- Let the beans soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans again.
- Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover them by about an inch.
- Bring the beans to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 1-2 hours, or until they are fully tender.
- Check the beans every 30 minutes or so, adding more water if needed.
- Once the beans are fully cooked, remove them from the heat and let them cool in the cooking liquid for at least 30 minutes.
Pinto Bean Recipes
Pinto beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use pinto beans:
- Borracho beans: a hearty, flavorful dish made with pinto beans, bacon, beer, and spices.
- Charro beans: a simple, comforting dish made with pinto beans, bacon, tomatoes, and onions.
- Refried beans: a creamy dip or side dish made by mashing cooked pinto beans with spices and cheese.
- Scrambled egg tacos: a quick and easy breakfast or lunch dish made with scrambled eggs, pinto beans, and your favorite toppings.
The Flavorful World of Pinto Beans
Pinto beans have a mild, earthy flavor that is slightly nutty and creamy. They are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and dips. Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to the taste of pinto beans:
- Pinto beans have a rich, hearty flavor that makes them a great alternative to meat in vegetarian dishes.
- They have a short-chain soluble fiber that supports gut health and helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
- Pinto beans are a good source of protein, with one cup providing around 15 grams of protein.
- They are also high in fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.
- Pinto beans are low in fat and calories, making them a great addition to a healthy diet.
- They are a good source of antioxidants, which play a key role in supporting bone health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
- Pinto beans are easy to cook and can be used in a variety of recipes, from quick and simple lunches to more complex dishes like chili and rice bowls.
How to use pinto beans in cooking
If you’re looking to incorporate more pinto beans into your diet, here are some tips to get you started:
- Start by picking out high-quality beans. Look for beans that are uniform in size and color, with no signs of damage or discoloration.
- To cook pinto beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight in water. Cover the beans with a few inches of water and let them sit for at least 8 hours.
- Once the beans have soaked, drain off the water and rinse them well. Add the beans to a medium pot and cover them with fresh water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are tender.
- You can season the beans with salt, chili powder, cumin, or other spices to add flavor.
- Pinto beans can be served on their own as a side dish, or used as a base for other recipes like chili, soups, and stews.
- They also pair well with rice, and can be used to create a variety of vegetarian dishes like burrito bowls and tacos.
The importance of pinto beans in a healthy diet
Pinto beans are a super food that provides a wealth of health benefits. Here are some of the ways that pinto beans can support your health:
- Pinto beans are a good source of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that helps to feed beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. This can help to improve gut health and reduce the risk of digestive problems.
- They are also high in fiber, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
- Pinto beans are a good source of protein, which is important for building and repairing tissues in the body.
- They are also rich in antioxidants, which play a key role in supporting bone health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
- Pinto beans are a low-fat, low-calorie food that can help to support weight loss and improve overall health.
How to Cook Pinto Beans: A Simple Guide
- Pick through the beans and remove any small stones or debris
- Rinse the beans with cool water and place them in a pot
- Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches
- Let the beans soak for at least 8 hours or overnight to reduce cooking time
- Drain and rinse the beans before cooking
Seasoning and Serving
- Once the beans are fully cooked, remove the onion and bay leaf
- Season the beans with salt and any other seasonings you prefer
- Allow the beans to cool slightly before serving
- Pinto beans can be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient in various recipes such as refried beans or chili
- Optional toppings include diced onions, jalapenos, or shredded cheese
Storing Cooked Beans
- Allow the beans to cool completely before storing them
- Store the beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
- Cooked beans can also be frozen for up to 6 months in an airtight container or freezer bag
- Dried pinto beans typically require 1-2 hours of cooking time on the stove
- Using a Dutch oven allows for a longer cooking time and a more tender bean
- Soaking the beans overnight allows for a quicker cooking time and a more evenly cooked bean
- Adding coarse salt or acidic ingredients (such as tomatoes) during the cooking process can result in tough beans, so it’s best to add these ingredients towards the end of the cooking process
- Pinto beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients, making them a healthy addition to any dish.
Why Pinto Beans are a Nutritious and Healthy Staple in Your Diet
Pinto beans are a great source of nutrition and offer a wide range of health benefits. They are rich in fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and strengthening the immune system. A serving of cooked pinto beans provides about 15 grams of fiber, which is more than half of the recommended daily intake. Pinto beans are also a good source of protein, providing about 15 grams per serving. They are low in fat and free of gluten, making them a great ingredient for those with dietary restrictions.
Pinto Beans Help in Reducing Chronic Diseases
Research shows that eating pinto beans can provide protection against chronic diseases. A review published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that legumes, including pinto beans, can be a dietary strategy for controlling and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Pinto beans are particularly effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels and strengthening blood vessels. They are also rich in calcium and low in sodium, making them a heart-healthy food.
Pinto Beans are a Versatile and Savory Ingredient
Pinto beans are a staple in Spanish, Mexican, and Southwestern American cuisine. They have a nutty flavor and a speckled appearance that resembles the Spanish word for painted, which is where they get their name. Pinto beans can be prepared in a variety of ways, including in soups, stews, and tacos. They are available in most grocery stores, both dried and canned, making them a convenient ingredient to have on hand.
In conclusion, pinto beans are a nutritious and healthy addition to any diet. They are rich in fiber and essential nutrients, help in reducing chronic diseases, and are a versatile and savory ingredient. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up some pinto beans and start incorporating them into your meals.
So, there you have it- all you need to know about pinto beans and how to use them in cooking. They’re a great way to add some extra flavor and protein to your dishes, and they’re pretty easy to cook, too. Just remember to soak them overnight and you’ll be fine.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.