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Mexican charro beans in a white bowl. View from above.
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5 from 1 vote

charro beans

Charro beans are the perfect side to any BBQ or Mexican meal. Or just eat them out of the pot. 
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: charro beans, mexican pinto beans
Servings: 6
Calories: 516kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


Cook the beans

  • 1 lb dried pinto beans or 3 15 oz cans
  • 1 bay leaf

Cook the charro beans

  • 1/2 lb bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 white onion - diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced
  • 4 tomatoes scorched with a blow torch (see above) or a 15 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano - if you can't get it, leave it out. Regular oregano is not the same thing.
  • 1/2 tsp epazote (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-3 chipotle in adobo minced - depends how spicy you like it.
  • 1 handful cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt - you may need more. Creep up on it.
  • 2 cups chicken stock - thin to make the beans a bit soupy


Cook the beans

  • I use a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the beans and bay leaf for 22-25 minutes (check your manual). I use 2 cups of water per cup of beans. Once you depressurize your cooker, add 1 tsp kosher salt and simmer the beans for another 15 minutes or so. 
    You want them tender. Not falling apart, but not toothy either. Do not discard the water. 
  • Alternately you can cook them conventionally. Cover the beans with 1 inch of water and simmer until tender. This can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Add the salt after about an hour.
    Sometimes it even takes longer. Beans are annoying that way. Do not discard the water. 

Make the charro beans

  • Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. 
  • Fry the bacon until the edges start to get brown. This takes around 7-8 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to medium low. Add the onion, jalapeño and cumin. Fry, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and soft, around 10 minutes. When they get close, add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute or so.
  • While the onions are cooking, seed and dice the tomatoes. To seed, cut them in half and just squeeze. A few seeds won't kill you.
  • Add the tomatoes, Mexican oregano and epazote if using. As the tomatoes release liquid, scrape up any fond that might have formed in the bottom of the pan. Fond is flavour! Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, around 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato bacon mixture to the beans and water. Mix in the chipotle. Simmer about 30 minutes to let the flavours combine. You may need to add some or all the chicken stock. You want soupy. This part is up to you.
  • Add the cilantro. Simmer another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt. You will probably need to add another tsp depending on how salty your bacon is.
  • Garnish with a bit more cilantro or some pico. Enjoy!


If you are using canned beans cut the initial salt in half. Canned beans are already salted.


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 516kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 1187mg | Potassium: 1444mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 900IU | Vitamin C: 20.8mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 5mg