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bowl of pinto beans
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4.96 from 44 votes

The Secret to Perfect Old Fashioned Pinto Beans

Perfect Old Fashioned Pinto Beans with a LOAD of flavor!  Just know, if you are sensitive to salt, you can decrease the salt for cooking and add at the end.  
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 20 minutes
Course: main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pinto beans, how to cook pinto beans
Servings: 10
Calories: 120kcal
Author: Loaves and Dishes


  • 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
  • 1 tsp salt (less if you are sensitive)
  • 4 tsp chicken broth concentrate
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp granulated white sugar


  • 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, one bay leaf and sugar 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.


  • The bag will tell you that you can soak your beans OR you can parboil them.  I usually soak.  Some people Parboil for 10 minutes.  I think either works.
  • An important thing to understand is that good beans take some time- it doesn’t matter what method you use - they take time.
  • Just as a general rule of thumb, 1 cup of dried beans makes 3 cups cooked.  A usual serving is ½ cup.
  • Most recipes indicate that it is ok to add salt during cooking, I usually do.  There is an old saying among plenty of old cooks say that salt while cooking makes the beans tough.  I have never noticed that  but just wanted you to be aware.  My recipes says to add salt for cooking because, honey, beans with no salt - eww.


Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 299mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1.1mg