These Best Pinto Beans make for a scrumptious budget friendly meal. Dry pinto beans cooked with thick cut slab bacon. fresh thyme and seasonings gives them just the right pop of flavor. Serve a bowlful alongside a skillet of hot buttered cornbread, sweet chow chow and a generous sprinkle of green onion for a bit of crunch and watch them disappear. Simply delicious.
Best Pinto Beans Recipe
Pinto beans are not inherently Southern, however let me tell you we truly love 'em in the South. My Mom often had a pot of beans going on busy housekeeping days letting them cook to sheer perfection while she went about her day. As a girl, It didn't register that beans were an inexpensive way to feed the family, I just thought they were good. That hasn't changed a bit I still love them. The seasonings I use in this recipe go a bit beyond what my Mom would have made but, let me tell you she loves these beans, too. Don't forget to top them with a generous scoop of homemade chow chow for a true taste of the South in your mouth.
How to Make Southern Pinto Beans and Cornbread
Pinto beans would have never been served in our house without cornbread. Ever. It would have been considered a sacrilege and against everything we stood for. The flavor, or type of cornbread is completely at your discretion. You may like to bake a Skillet Honey Cornbread, Cornbread Muffins or add a little kick with these recipes for mouthwatering Jalapeno Pepper Jack Cornbread or Green Chile Cheddar Cornbread.
- Why is it necessary to soak dried pinto beans? Soaking dry beans helps tenderize them and prepare them for cooking. You can either cover them with cold water and allow them to stand on the counter for several hours or overnight or use a quick soak method.
- What is a quick soak method for making pinto beans? Pick over dried pinto beans, then place into a large pot and cover completely with water. Shoot for leaving at least 3-4 inches of water over the beans. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow them to soak in the hot water for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with the recipe.
- Country style pinto beans traditionally have very basic seasonings of salt and pepper plus some sort of pork for flavor. The seasoning blend and herbs in this recipe is a bit of a departure, but it adds to depth of flavor. These additions elevate the flavor and always has them coming back for more.
- You may also enjoy this recipe for Skillet Beans and Rice with Kielbasa from Belly Full.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Best Pinto Beans
- 1 lb dry pinto beans
- 6 cups water
- 3 slices thick cut bacon cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock plus additional as needed
- ¼ cup grated or minced sweet onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoon dark chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- Rinse and pick over the dry beans removing any debris. Place into a large bowl and cover with enough water to allow 2-inches over the beans. Soak overnight or for 4-6 hours.
- To cook: Drain the beans and place into a 6 quart dutch oven or similar size pot with bacon.
- Cover with 6 cups water or enough water to have at least 1-inch over the beans.
- Bring to a boil then cover. Lower the heat to just above medium. Adjust so there's enough heat to cook rather vigorously for 45 minutes. Check periodically and do not let cook dry.
- Uncover and add the chicken stock, onion, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and lower the heat to medium-low. continuing to cook for 1 ½ hours. (Check periodically and add additional stock, if needed)
- After 1 ½ hours add the chili powder, garlic salt, pepper, cumin and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix well. Cover and cook for another 30-45 minutes over medium-medium low or until the beans are soft and creamy and the liquid has thickened. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
- Once cooked, allow to stand for 30 minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken while it sits.
- Serve with cornbread, diced onion and chow chow, if desired.
- To thicken the beans further, remove ½ cup and mash, then mix back into the pot.
- Quick soak method for making pinto beans: Pick over dried pinto beans, then place into a large pot and cover completely with water. Shoot for leaving at least 3-4 inches of water over the beans. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow them to soak in the hot water for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with the recipe.