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You want to save money with dried Pinto Beans and you want perfect southern smoky soft pinto beans. There’s just one question, “HOW TO COOK PINTO BEANS ON THE STOVE TOP”?

The directions on the bag of dried pinto beans can be a little confusing. That’s no problem. Let me show you “HOW TO COOK PINTO BEANS ON THE STOVE TOP”.

How To Make Pinto Beans

To Make  Pinto Beans, first wash the pinto beans and remove any bad beans from the mix. Then, pre-soak overnight OR boil on medium high for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Then make the beans over medium low heat in water or stock with garlic powder, onion powder, concentrated broth, cayenne and a bit of bacon until tender (about 2-3 hours).


The basic process is the same for all dried beans when cooking on the stove top. Simply follow the basic rules for How to Cook Pinto Beans on the Stove Top. You might want to check out The Secret to Old Fashioned Pinto Beans too.

Close up of the beans in the pan

Hello Pinto Beans!

How To Cook Pinto Beans On The Stove

To Cook Pinto Beans on the Stove, first wash the dried beans and remove any bad beans from the mix. Then, pre-soak overnight OR boil on medium high for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Then cook the beans over medium low heat in water or stock with seasonings until tender (about 2 hours).

The recipe below gives you specific instructions for a great recipe, but that is the nut and bolts basics of the process. You’ll want to add as much flavor as possible while cooking, so I recommend following the recipe.

How Long To Cook Pinto Beans

Cook Pinto Beans (dried) for 2-3 hours on simmer after soaking or pre-boiling. This allows time for the beans to soften as well as for the seasonings to “marry”. If you are cooking canned beans, you’ll want to cook them for at least 30 minutes for flavors to develop, but they are already cooked

How to Cook Pinto Beans

To Cook Pinto Beans, first wash the dried beans and remove any bad beans. Then, pre-soak overnight OR boil on medium high for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse very well. Then cook the beans over medium low heat at a simmer in water or stock (best flavor) with seasonings until pinto beans are tender (about 2-3 hours). 


Seasoning is very important with Pinto Beans (or any dried bean) and there is some disagreement about the subject. Loaves and Dishes, as the comfort food center of the universe, advises the following:

  • SALT – Use salt when cooking the beans. Keep in mind any other sources of salt you may be using such as bacon, broth concentrate, etc.
  • BROTH or BROTH CONCENTRATE – I always recommend to cook the beans in  broth or to use broth concentrate. For the concentrate, in general, use one teaspoon for each quart of water. If using broth, simply use broth instead of water.
  • MEATS – Bacon or a ham bone is often the best choice. Do not try to use country ham – there isn’t enough fat and it just doesn’t work out.
  • UMAMI –  (depth of flavor) – onion, garlic, peppers, etc. Add some of these to the pot and cook in butter until cooked through well, then add your beans and water. You won’t be sorry!
  • SUGAR – Yes, that’s right. I said, “Sugar”. Just a spoonful. I’ve been given this tip by more elderly Southern cooks than you can imagine – believe me, it is true.
  • SPICY – While you and I might LOVE some spicy on our pinto beans, not everyone does. I recommend to set the bottle of hot sauce on the table and let your guests decide for themselves.


Use enough water to cover your beans by about 2 inches. So, however many beans are in your pot, use water that is 2 inches above the level of the pinto beans.

A view from above of a bowl of beans for HOW TO COOK PINTO BEANS ON THE STOVE TOP

A view from over head



  1. USE FRESH DRIED BEANS – It may seem like beans should be good for approximately EVER, but that isn’t true. Use beans by the date on the package. Don’t keep them more than two years.
  2. RINSE THE BEANS AND REMOVE ANY THAT LOOK QUESTIONABLE – Rinse the pinto beans under cool running water. If you note that some are broken, more shriveled, black or dark brown or simply look odd then pick them out and throw them away.
  3. ALLOW THE BEANS TO EITHER SOAK OVERNIGHT OR PROVIDE A 10 MINUTE BOIL FIRST – Beans require a little push off from the bank, so to speak. So, pour the beans in a bowl and cover with water by 2 inches the night before you plan to cook the beans.
  4. RINSE THE BEANS AFTER THE SOAK (OR BOIL) – Once the beans have been sufficiently soaked (or boiled) pour the soaking water off and rinse the beans well. This helps remove all of any remaining grit, grime and field sprays that may have been left on the bean before it was packaged.


  1. ADD THE INGREDIENTS YOU WILL USE FOR FLAVOR – If you plan to use bacon or onion or garlic or….? Brown those items in the bottom of your soup pot in a little bit of oil. Remove the pot from the heat, pour the soaked beans into the pot.


  1. COVER THE BEANS WITH 2 INCHES OF WATER – Place the beans into the soup pot with the flavor ingredients and cover with cool clean water to 2 inches above the level of the beans.
  2. HEAT THE WATER TO SIMMERING – Simmering is a light boil. There is no need to heavily boil the water when just a gentle simmer will do. Add some salt during the boiling and add the broth concentrate.
  3. SIMMER UNTIL DONE – Simmer gently until done – start checking in on the beans at the  2 hour mark. Some people like their pinto beans a little firm. A few more people like their pinto beans buttery soft. The longer the pinto beans cook, the softer they will be come.


  1. TASTE FOR PROPER SEASONING – There is nothing worse than an unseasoned pinto bean so please, taste the pinto beans before you serve them. If they don’t taste just right to you then please add some salt and pepper! It is likely to take more salt and pepper than you think is reasonable.


    Tennessee Onions
    Tomato Pie

    Easy Tasty Meatloaf

    Cardamom Plum Jam

    Sausage Gravy

    Would You Love to Cook the PERFECT Southern Dinner?


    Southern Sweet Tea

    Served with (choose one)

    Chicken Fried Steak or

    Chicken Pie or

    Marinated Pork Chops


    Pinto Beans

    Southern Cooked Cabbage

    Collard Greens

    Add A little Yum Yum Sauce

    Deviled Eggs made with this Easy Peel Hard Boiled Egg

    And finish it all off with…

    Banana Pudding!


A close up of the pinto beans in a dutch oven showing the pot liquor

How to Cook Pinto Beans on the Stove Top

This recipe gives you detailed instructions for how to cook pinto beans on the stove top
4.60 from 5 votes
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pintos on the stovetop, pinto beans
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 99kcal


  • 1 16 oz bag of pinto bean
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 4 slices of thick cut applewood smoked bacon - cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp chicken broth concentrate
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Rinse the bag of beans well and remove any that look like they are past their prime. If unsure - chuck it.
  • Pour the beans into a large bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water and allow to soak overnight. Alternately, you can boil the beans at a steady boil for about 10 minutes before you begin to cook them. Whether you soak or parboil, pour the water off from this step.
  • In a six quart stock pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until they smell really good and the pieces become translucent.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the beans, bacon, salt, chicken broth concentrate and one bay leaf and enough cool clean water to cover the beans by 2 inches. (If you are sensitive to salt, then you can always decrease the amount)
  • Heat the beans on medium until they come to a light boil then reduce the heat to low.
  • Stir the beans occasionally and don’t let them get to a strong boil. Cook until done. I tell doneness by tasting - you could also spoon some out and smash it in your fingers. If it is smashy- through and through - they are done.


  • Stir the beans frequently to prevent scorching. 
  • You'll want to add a little water or broth if the beans start looking dry and if some of the liquid has evaporated. 
  • Remember that canned beans are already cooked, so essentially you are just warming them up BUT if you put raw bacon in the beans, you'll need to wait until it is fully cooked through before serving. 


Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Pinto Beans on the Stove Top
Amount Per Serving
Calories 99 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 152mg6%
Potassium 203mg6%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 3g12%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 0.9mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!


Earlier this week, I received the quarterly mailing from my alma mater, Maryville College. It is a small liberal arts college in Tennessee where many people know each other. Receiving this little magazine is something like a family reunion that arrives in the mail.

The usual course is for me to briefly scan the articles in the front about the current students and faculty but I find myself racing to the back where the annals of marriages, births, achievements and deaths reside.

Back 30 years ago, the news from my comrades resided in the “marriages” and “births” sections. It seems that we moved on into the “achievements” section for some years and now, I dread turning those last few pages to find if any of my classmates have matriculated to the next stage in life, “death”.

Thank goodness, in this volume, there were none reported from my era at the college.


While this seems like a wholly unrelated item, you’ll find that I tie it up at the end. Today I decided to tag my elementary school teachers in a hilarious Facebook post concerning teaching elementary school. I am friends with several of them.

I made the post and ended up tagging three teachers as well as the daughter of a fourth. However, that made me realize that 7 of my other elementary school teachers have already passed on.

And before you say it, NO, I wasn’t in elementary school 12 years! There were several years where we rotated classrooms during the day! Lol.


All of this has made me realize that I am heading to a new chapter in life and because of this I am comforted by Ecclesiastes. In other chapters of my life, I don’t think I noticed the changes so much.

Perhaps I didn’t notice because things were all so shiny and new in the previous chapters. That isn’t true anymore. For a lot of things Ecclesiastes speaks the truth in saying, “there is nothing new under the sun”.

What is new and shiny and exciting is knowing that God’s love is with us as we travel through life. We are His children in all stages.

Likewise, I find great comfort in getting to know YOU, my life traveling companions. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have found something helpful on this website because it means the world to me knowing that you are out there and that something here worked for you. My email is wendi(at)

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There is a time for everything,

   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

    there is a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

    there is a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    there is a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

    there is a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

   there is a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

    there is a time for war and a time for peace.


Wendi is the writer, CEO and dishwasher at Loaves and Dishes! When not in the kitchen or behind the computer, you can find Wendi serving on International Food Conference Boards, Speaking at various conferences, Leading and Cooking for the local Arts Council's "Taste of Stokes" events or donating home cooked goodies to various local non profits such as the Danbury Songwriters and Stokes Partnership for Children. Wendi is also a Registered Nurse with a Master's Degree and serves on her town's board of councilmen.

Recipe Rating

Tonya W

Monday 29th of January 2024


What if you don't eat pork and want to use beef short ribs? Would this work and if so, when would the meat be added? Thank you!

Wendi Spraker

Tuesday 30th of January 2024

Would the short ribs already be cooked? If so, then you can add them at the beginning of the recipe when you add the beans and they should be done when the beans are heated through. If they are not cooked already then you will need to cook them first. I have a delicious short rib recipe here if you are interested. If you specifically wanted to add beef, you might add beef sausages, some leftover steak, smoked beef brisket, etc.

Diane Neal

Thursday 18th of January 2024

I happened across your recipe for pinto beans and then read your verse of the day- you lifted my spirits! Thank you! I hope you are doing well. I bookmarked your page!


Saturday 24th of February 2024

@Diane Neal, I read the recipe and thought it was great but the passage made me sit down for a minute. Thank u!!

Teresa Kucera

Saturday 24th of February 2024

@Wendi Spraker, Hi Wendy. I came up on your page while I was looking for a quick way to soak pinto beans. Thank you for the directions. I’m going to try it out tomorrow. I was raised eating pinto beans at least once a week all my childhood. Of course green onions and fresh tomatoes from the garden with a skillet of mamas cornbread made it a feast. They were called soup beans in our home. My parents were from Kentucky and the Appalachian mountains. A staple in the Appalachian peoples homes. Simple food that still is delicious. I want to thank you for your Bible scripture there at the end. It really ministered to my spirit. I just turned 71 and I realize that my time is almost up on this earth. A time for everything, being born and dying. The day we’re born, our lives begin to write our book, chapter after chapter. I’m on my last chapter with only a few pages to go. My prayer is that my book is pleasing to my heavenly father, in some ways that I have lived my life. I so look forward to seeing my Savior! Then see all my loved ones that have gone before me, including two sons, and a baby. God‘s children need to seek Him more than ever in these difficult times. God is good! Blessings to you my friend. Teresa Kucera

Wendi Spraker

Friday 19th of January 2024

I'm so glad! Thank you!


Thursday 7th of April 2022

You’re gonna want to cook these atleast 5 hours to get them soft. 2 hours they are super firm


Thursday 6th of October 2022

@E, I started just before 10am. Client(I'm a caregiver)soaked and cleaned beans. I parboiled them following directions, added sauteed ing., bacon etc. Cooked till 11.45am. Everything is great. Client likes it, just wanted more liquid. Pretty liquid as it is. So perhaps the parboiling is a good plan here.

Wendi Spraker

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Always do the presoak or/ par boil first because this lessens the cook time. 2 hours is correct if you follow the given directions

Ed Matthews,Jr.

Thursday 17th of June 2021

Grandma always said to put in Chili powder...a little less than a table spoon,chopped red bell pepper,dash of worchester sauce, tsp. of cumin,tsp.of paprika, and a small can of chili's and tomato's.

Tom Shiflett

Monday 15th of February 2021

Your bean recipe is spot on. I'm a cook, a high country cook. It really amazes me that no one ever mentions in there recipes about high altitude cooking and adjusting a recipe. You can't cook beans in 2 hours at 6000 feet above sea level. But you can cook beans on the stove top, it only takes 4 to 5 hours and you have to watch the water level as at that altitude it will steam out before the beans are done. You can even cook them at 10,000 ft. but it takes all day and a lot of water. Only thing I do different than your recipe is I add the chopped onion and garlic to the beans at the beginning and at the height I have found if you add your salt before your beans are fully cooked they may not get soft. I add the seasonings after the beans are fully cook. I like your site and will visit again. Tom

Wendi Spraker

Monday 15th of February 2021

Hey there Tom, Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it. Adding onion and garlic is wonderful. I do hope you'll be back soon.


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