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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8-10 1x


  • 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
  • 24 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.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


  1. Wes on May 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

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

  2. The Other Randy on May 16, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      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.

      • O. Coleman on December 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

        Not at high altitudes. Just saying.

  3. corey on May 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

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

  4. Shelly on May 16, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    How long would you cook these in a pressure cooker?

    • Hilah on May 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      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.

    • JoJo on September 15, 2015 at 11:12 am

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

  5. CAMILO RIBEIRO on May 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm


    • pat Soltis on May 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm


      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.”


      • Hilah on May 22, 2015 at 10:05 am

        Yes, I figured it was something like that 🙂

  6. pat Soltis on May 18, 2015 at 11:06 pm


    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.



    • Hilah on May 19, 2015 at 10:38 am

      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 on May 21, 2015 at 2:00 pm


        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 on May 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm

          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.


        • Hilah on May 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

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

  7. Eric on May 19, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Hi Hilah,

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



    • Hilah on May 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Hey Eric!
      I do not. The fat is where most of the flavor is! But if you wanted to reduce the calories a little, you could.

      • Eric on May 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

        I was hoping you’d say to leave it. Thanks!

  8. FoodJunkie on May 20, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on May 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Ham hocks would be awesome in this! Very impressed that you make your own.

  9. Diana on January 8, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    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!

    • Diana on January 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      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.

      • Hilah on January 9, 2016 at 7:36 am

        Oh good! I love bay leaves with beans 🙂

  10. Melody M on April 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

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

    • Hilah on April 8, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      I don’t know about bologna. I would just make the beans without bacon.

  11. Tejana on May 25, 2016 at 1:33 am

    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

    • Hilah on May 27, 2016 at 7:33 am

      That’s a great idea to add more flavor. Thanks!

  12. Laura on August 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm

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

    • Hilah on August 21, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Sounds good, Laura!

  13. Dawn on October 21, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I used 3 cans pinto beans (rinsed), some adobo seasoning from Penzey’s and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (with the liquid), and enough chicken stock to just barely cover the beans, and simmered on low on the stovetop uncovered for somewhere between 1/2 hr and an hour. They were amazing! I could not stop eating them even though they were for the NEXT day’s dinner. It was a little bit chunky (the tomatoes) so next time I might try putting the non-bean ingredients in a food processor and give a quick blitz to get a final smoother texture to the sauce.

    • Hilah on October 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing your alterations, Dawn. Sounds great! 🙂

  14. Hilah on January 27, 2018 at 8:40 am

    I try to avoid canned foods as much as possible in my kitchen. The BPA/BPS lining in cans is proven to leach into food and cause endocrine disruption.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.