Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans

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Here is a mouthwatering recipe for Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans, a hearty and flavorful dish that’s sure to delight your taste buds. In this recipe, dried pinto beans are transformed into a savory masterpiece through a slow and simmering process, enhanced by the smoky richness of bacon and the subtle heat of jalapeños. Topped with crumbled Cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, and zesty pickled onions, these beans are a symphony of textures and flavors that will leave you craving more.

But that’s just the beginning. The magic starts with a simple overnight soak of the dried beans, ensuring they plump up perfectly for cooking. Then, thick-cut bacon sizzles in a pot, infusing the kitchen with its tantalizing aroma as it crisps to perfection. Onions, garlic, and jalapeños join the bacon in the pan, adding depth and complexity to the base of our bean masterpiece.

Once the beans take their place in the pot, they become the canvas for a simmering process that melds all these flavors together. As they gradually tenderize over the course of two hours, the beans absorb the savory essence of the bacon, while the occasional addition of water keeps them luxuriously moist.

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The final flourish comes when we sprinkle the beans with crumbled Cotija cheese, adding a creamy and slightly tangy note that perfectly complements the smoky bacon. Fresh cilantro adds a burst of herbaceous freshness, while pickled onions provide a tangy and crunchy contrast that ties the whole dish together.

Whether served as a satisfying side or a wholesome main course, our Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans will leave your palate satisfied and your guests asking for seconds. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that celebrates the rich flavors of tradition with a touch of contemporary flair. Enjoy every bite of this delicious journey!

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Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans

Bacon Simmered Pinto Beans

Bacon-Simmered Pinto Beans can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon. A final flourish of sharp Cotija cheese, cilantro, and pickled onions adds color and texture. Combine the earthiness of beans with the salty, smoky flavor of bacon, and you’re going to have a winner. These make great leftovers – as they are even better the next day!


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 lb. dried pinto beans (4 cups), rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pickled Onions


  1. Place beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4″. Let soak overnight. Drain beans.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon to pot and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. drippings from pot. Add onion, garlic, and 1 minced jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add drained beans to pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 2″ (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water by 1/2-cupfuls if dry, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir in remaining jalapeño and reserved bacon. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Transfer beans to a large bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and serve with pickled onions.



  • Can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving, adding additional water as needed if dry.


  • – If you like spicy, do NOT remove the seeds of the jalapeno as the recipe directs. In fact, consider using 3 jalapenos.
  • – I used 6 garlic cloves instead of the 4 the recipe calls for.
  • – I added a small palmful of cayenne pepper (probably 1 1/2 tsps) to the onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture after it had been cooking for a few minutes. Chili powder or ancho chile powder would work as well.
  • – The onions, cilantro and cheese are very important to this dish. Don’t skimp here.
  • – I did not find Cotija cheese, so I used Feta which is a great alternative.
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