This charro beans recipe, also known as frijoles charros or Mexican cowboy beans (ranchero beans), makes a traditional Mexican dish made with pinto beans, chopped bacon, and chorizo that is cooked in a spicy, smoky sauce.
If you love Mexican food, you’ll appreciate the bold flavors of this dish. It makes the perfect side dish, served with carne asada or enchiladas, and can even stand in as a main course all on its own.
You can prepare this charro beans recipe with canned beans or start completely from scratch and use dried pinto beans. We’re including instructions for both, along with details for making charro beans on the stovetop and Instant Pot charro beans!
If you’ve ever had borracho beans (also known as drunken beans or frijoles borrachos), charro beans are pretty similar.
Both authentic Mexican recipes are a delicious bean dish with tender pinto beans, intense spices, and flavors. However, the main difference is that borracho beans are simmered in beer while charro beans cook in a flavorful broth.
Why This Recipe Works
This easy charro beans recipe is a Tex Mex favorite and may even rival the ranchero beans at your favorite Mexican restaurant! Move over, refried beans and black beans… frijoles charros are our new fave. 😉
With a deliciously smoky, spicy flavor from the adobo sauce and chipotle peppers, each bite of this tender and meaty bean dish is hearty and comforting. The flavor of the tender beans makes the dish taste like it was cooked over the campfire.
Our authentic Mexican charro beans recipe is:
- simple to prepare
- a great side dish for Mexican cuisine
- cozy comfort food
Ingredients for Charro Beans
To make a delicious, large pot of charro beans, you will need:
- dry pinto beans (or sub canned pinto beans)
- bay leaves (if using dry beans)
- bacon slices, cut into chunks
- ground chorizo sausage
- garlic cloves, minced
- onion, diced
- diced tomatoes
- chipotle pepper and adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce)
- ground cumin
- smoked paprika
- dried oregano
- chicken broth
- fresh cilantro, chopped
How to Make Frijoles Charros
Stovetop or Instant Pot? Dried beans or canned beans? We’re including all of those variations in this charro beans recipe!
Dried beans will take a little bit longer to prep. If you do start with dried pinto beans, we recommend soaking the beans overnight. This is entirely optional, but it will help them cook quicker, and some claim that this little trick helps make them easier to digest.
A quick tip: make sure your dried pinto beans are not too old, or they will take even longer to cook. If they’re older than four years, they may not ever get soft, even with an extra long cook time!
For Charro Beans on the Stovetop
Here’s a look at the process, but for more detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of the page to view the recipe card.
- Cook the pinto beans in a large pot with water, salt and bay leaves (if starting with dried beans).
- Add the chunks of bacon to a large pot or Dutch oven and cook until almost crispy. Add the chorizo and cook until browned.
- Sauté the onion and garlic in the same pot over medium-high heat, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and spices.
- Stir in the cooked beans and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.
For Instant Pot Charro Beans
The process is pretty straightforward if you’re making Instant Pot charro beans. You’ll cook the dried beans in the Instant Pot first, then cook everything else with the Instant Pot set to sauté mode.
Once everything has been added, cook the charro beans on high pressure for 8 minutes. Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.
You can also use a combination of stove top and Instant Pot method if you’d like to save some time. Cooking dried beans in the Instant Pot will drastically reduce the cooking time required to soften the beans on the stovetop. Once the beans are done, follow the stovetop method.
Tips for the Best Results
- Our frijoles charros has a medium heat level, but you can adjust the spice to your preference.
- If you’re using canned beans, you will need a total of 4 cans of pinto beans.
- If using dried beans, keep in mind that acidic ingredients like tomatoes, vinegar, or lemons will prevent the beans from getting tender while they cook.
- Do not use the whole can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can freeze the remaining chipotle peppers and use them at a later date. If you freeze them in ice cube trays, they will be easy and convenient to use another time.
- For charro beans with a thicker consistency, remove 1 cup of the pinto beans and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Stir the mashed beans back into the pot. For a thinner, soup-like consistency, add additional chicken broth.
Mexican pinto beans taste great with warm tortillas on the side or on top of a bed of white rice. This Mexican beans recipe is a great way to spice up any Mexican-inspired meal!
Whether you’re planning on this for a Cinco de Mayo feast or for your next Taco Tuesday, we know you’ll agree: these are the best beans if you’re looking for something delicious, flavor-packed and comforting. Enjoy!
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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:
Skillet Chicken with Black Beans and Rice is a one-pot chicken dinner with zesty Mexican flavors! It all comes together in a large skillet and the entire recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
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- 1 pound dry pinto beans (or 4 cans of pinto beans)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (if using dry beans)
- 2 dry bay leaves (if using dry beans)
- 8 to 10 bacon slices, cut into chunks
- 1 pound ground chorizo sausage
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
If Starting with Dried Beans
For stovetop method:
- Rinse the beans and soak them overnight if desired. If you don’t soak them, you will need to increase the cooking time.
- Add the beans to a large pot. Add 8 cups of water, salt and bay leaves.
- Bring the beans to a boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (2 to 3 hours if you don’t soak the beans). Check the beans for tenderness and add additional time if needed (see notes).
- Drain the beans and set them aside.
For Instant Pot Method:
- Add the rinsed beans to the Instant Pot along with 6 cups of water, salt, and bay leaves. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes (20 minutes if you soak the beans).
- Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 15 minutes then release the rest of the pressure manually. Drain the liquid and set the beans aside.
To Make the Charro Beans
- Add the chunks of bacon to a large pot. Cook until almost crispy.
- Toss the ground chorizo in the pot and cook until browned.
- Drain the fat from the pot.
- Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is softened. Stir in the tomatoes.
- Mash the chipotle pepper then add it to the pot along with some of the adobo sauce (do not add the whole can of chipotle peppers).
- Add the cumin, paprika, oregano, and salt.
- Stir in the cooked pinto beans and chicken broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
To Make Charro Beans in the Instant Pot
- Cook the dry pinto beans per the above directions. Drain the beans and set them aside.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Saute the bacon until almost crispy then add the chorizo and cook until browned. Drain the fat from the pot.
- Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft. Stir in the tomatoes, smashed chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, paprika, oregano, and salt.
- Stir in the chicken broth and reserved beans. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 10 minutes then release the rest of the pressure manually.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro.
- Do not use the whole can of chipotle peppers. You can freeze the remaining chipotle peppers and use them at a later date. If you freeze them in ice cube trays, they will be easy and convenient to use at a later date.
- For a thicker consistency, remove 1 cup of the pinto beans and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Stir the mashed beans back into the pot.
- For a thinner, soup-like consistency, add additional chicken broth.
Starting with dried beans?
- Soaking the beans overnight is optional. It will help them cook quicker and some say it will make them more digestible (less gassy issues).
- If your beans are old, they will take longer to cook (up to 4 hours if you cook them on the stove). Very old beans (usually, older than 4 years) may not ever get soft.
- Salt will not prevent your beans from getting tender but acidic ingredients will. Do not add tomatoes, vinegar, or lemons to the dry beans while they cook.
- Optional ingredients: If you want to add additional aromatics to the dried beans, toss in 1/2 an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, and one or two sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary (you can also use dried herbs)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 370Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 1531mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 7gSugar: 2gProtein: 21g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.