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Best Pinto Beans

These Best Pinto Beans recipe elevates this country classic making it both a delicious and budget friendly meal. In it, dry pinto beans are cooked with thick cut slab bacon, fresh thyme and seasonings giving 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 onions for crunch. Simply delicious.

Best Pinto Beans

Easy Pinto Beans Recipe

Pinto beans are not inherently Southern, however we truly love them 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. The seasonings I use in this pinto beans recipe go a bit beyond what my Mom would have made, but it expands the flavor profile. 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 Pinto Beans using dry beans:

  • Beans – One pound of dry pinto beans, rinsed and picked over.
  • Liquid – Water is the main liquid used for cooking beans. You’ll also need low sodium chicken stock.
  • Bacon – Thick cut bacon cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Seasonings – Bay leaf, sprigs of fresh thyme. chili powder, garlic salt, black pepper, cumin and crushed red pepper flakes.
Best Pinto Beans

How to Make Southern Pinto Beans Recipe 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. 

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Pinto Beans: One pound dry pinto beans, water, chicken stock, thick cut bacon, thyme, onion, chili powder, garlic salt, black pepper, bay leaves, cumin and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: Large bowl, 6 quart Dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot, sharp knife and chopping board, measuring cups and spoons and
  • 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.
  • Store Pinto Beans chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in single servings in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat.
Best Pinto Beans

More Beans Recipes to Make

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Best Pinto Beans

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Stand time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 45 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best-pinto-beans, pinto-bean-recipes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 268kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock plus additional as needed
  • 1/4 cup grated or minced sweet onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp dark chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp 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 1/2 hours. (Check periodically and add additional stock, if needed)
  • After 1 1/2 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 1/2 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.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 570mg | Potassium: 894mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 206IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!



  1. Pinto beans and corn bread was a staple in my home growing up in th deep south. I always added catchup to mine.Still do to this day 80 years .later. Also hot sauce.I keep a squeeze bottle of catup with hot sauce in fridge. Try it you’ll like it. Btw.
    Over rice is good.Liz

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