Charro Beans

charro beans
“Frijoles de Charro” translates into  “cowboy beans” and are the Mexican equivalent of Ranch style beans, but just like homemade Ranch style beans, they are many times better than canned Ranch-style beans and quite different.

Characterized by lots of bacon and tomatoes, charro beans are rich enough to stand on their own, or rather, sit on their own … in a bowl … with some cornbread and salad for a simply delicious meal. Add a link of crumbled chorizo sausage and/or a handful or chicharrones along with the bacon for an extra punch of pork.  Add a bottle of beer to turn this into borracho beans.
charro beans recipe

Charro Beans Recipe – Printable


Charro Beans

4.7 from 7 reviews

  • Author:
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8-10


  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 4 ounces bacon or salt pork, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2-4 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems finely chopped and leaves separated


  1. Sort the beans and pick out anything that’s not a bean, or anything that looks shriveled and sad.
  2. Get your largest pot and cook the bacon (and chorizo, if using) over medium-high heat until cooked and slightly crispy.
  3. Add the beans, garlic and 8-10 cups water.
  4. For an extra layer of flavor, broil the onion, tomatoes and jalapeños for a few minutes until blackened. Coarsely chop and add to beans. For a quicker recipe, omit broiling and just chop raw veg and add to the pot.
  5. Add bay, salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro stems.
  6. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Immediately reduce heat to lowest and crack the lid to avoid boil-overs. Simmer the beans 1-2 hours until tender, but not bursting. The cook time depends on the age of the beans; older, drier beans take longer to cook. Add cilantro leaves last.
  7. These can be served right away but are even more delicious when made a day or two before and reheated.


  1. Well, now I now what I’M making for dinner this evening! 🙂

  2. The Other Randy says:

    No overnight soaking of the dry pinto beans? (not that it’s relevant here, but I found out from Russ Parsons that black beans have such thin skins there’s no need to soak them and that they have better flavor if you don’t).

    This offers the perfect opportunity to see if homemade vegan bacon (made from king oyster mushrooms) works as well as the real thing when cooked in a recipe. Even though it works really, really well in a BLT, I suspect it might not impart as much flavor here. But in the interest of staying vegetarian on weekdays, I’ll try it. Unfortunately, I’ve got to wait another couple of days for my shipment of Rancho Gordo beans to arrive. Here’s hoping they are as good as some say they are.

    • No sir! I gave up soaking pintos and black beans a long time ago. Given enough water and time, they soften up beautifully and retain more flavor, color and (I think) more flavor, too. And as long as your beans haven’t been sitting in a bomb shelter for a decade, they will be cooked in 90 minutes or so.

  3. Me too . I know what. I’m. Making to eat. Lol

  4. How long would you cook these in a pressure cooker?

    • I’m not sure. It’s been a long time since I cooked anything in a pressure cooker. I’d guess 15-20 minutes, but if you have the book that came with your PC refer to that.

    • Too fast! Try a slow cooker. Do what I did low and slow for 2hours and 15minutes, after soaking for 45 minutes YUM!!


    • pat Soltis says:


      Is your Spanish sufficient to enable you to understand Senhor Camilo Ribeiro’s Portuguese?

      “Here in Brazil, we eat a lot of beans, but this recipe sounds to me like the best.”


  6. pat Soltis says:


    Do you have any thoughts or wisdom relative to “Anasazi” beans? My brother gave me some, and I want to cook and eat them with due respect and appreciation. Ignorant as I am, this recipe of yours sounds to me like a good place to start.

    I use John Martin Taylor’s recipe for skillet cornbread. White cornmeal, buttermilk, bacon grease, no sugar or sweetening of any sort.

    Your small son is adorable. I hope, as you surely hope, that he will continue to do well.



    • Ooh, I want that cornbread recipe!

      About the beans, I have cooked them a couple of times. They are similar to pintos and I think they would work great with this recipe.

      • pat Soltis says:


        Mr. Taylor’s cornbread recipe is probably under copyright, since I know it from his published cookbook:

        John Martin Taylor, “Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking”. (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), p. 219.

        Yes, this is a South Carolina recipe.
        Maybe he’ll forgive me for sharing it since (a.) the book is probably out of print these days and (b.) I have given him the footnote.

        1 large egg
        2 cups buttermilk
        1-3/4 cups white cornmeal (He doesn’t specifically say WHITE cornmeal, but it’s what I’ve always used. Maybe my saying “white” will save me from the copyright police.)
        1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons strained bacon grease
        1 scant teaspoon baking powder
        1 scant teaspoon salt
        1 scant teaspoon baking soda

        Mix the egg into the buttermilk, then add the cornmeal and beat it well into the batter, which should be thin. Put enough bacon grease in a ten-inch, well seasoned cast iron skillet to coat the bottom and sides with a thin film, then put it in a cold oven and begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees, add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the batter. Beat thoroughly. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Bake for fifteen or twenty minutes or until the top just begins to brown.


        • pat Soltis says:

          I was wrong about “Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking” being out of print. There’s a “twentieth anniversary edition”, in paperback, and Amazon has thirteen copies in stock.


        • Thanks for sharing the recipe and the book info, Pat!

  7. Hi Hilah,

    Do you drain the fat after cooking the bacon/salt pork?



  8. FoodJunkie says:

    Yummy. I like bean dishes like this. I think one of the smoked ham hocks I made and froze in the fall would also be very tasty added to this recipe.

  9. I wanted a basic pinto bean recipe for huevos rancheros the next morning, so I skipped the onion, tomato and jalapeño. Those will be in sauce. Otherwise, I followed recipe exactly. Best ever and so easy to make. Tastes like I’m a great chef. Thank you!

    • PS: I thought to leave out the bay leaf. Didn’t seem Mexican enough. But when all was in the pot, I thought I may as well take Hilah’s word for it and I threw one in. Yep, it made a yummy difference.

  10. Can i use bolonga if i do not have bacon or winies ???? Help

  11. I was looking up recipes for Charro Beans, and as someone born and raised in South Texas, I can tell you this sounds quite accurate to my family’s homemade beans. Except we add some cumin! Curious to try! p.s I have made them without bacon for vegetarians and substituted vegetable bouillon for flavor

  12. This is about how I cook mine, but I also add diced ham, chorizo, and sometimes throw in sliced hot dogs! YUM!

  13. Awww yeah…totally making these and the Mexican rice tonight for Cinco de Mayo. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Leave a Comment