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A close up of the pinto beans in a dutch oven showing the pot liquor
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5 from 7 votes

How to Season Pinto Beans

This recipe is for perfectly seasoned pinto beans
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 40 minutes
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to season pinto beans, pinto beans
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Wendi Spraker


  • 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 KOSHER 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


If you need to know ALL of the secret to perfect old fashioned pinto beans, I’ve got that post for you here.
What about canned pinto beans.  No problem, I took care of that for you here:  How to cook canned pinto beans
Are you interested in just stovetop cooking?  Great! Here is a post called “How to cook canned pinto beans on the stovetop”.
Put salt in your pinto beans while they are cooking, don’t wait until the end, it takes a LOT More salt to get them seasoned right if you wait till the end.
Pepper, while a mild heat, is more for flavor so please add black pepper per the instructions.
If you are a meat eater, you will want to add a more fatty piece of meat to these beans.  A ham hock, ham bone, fatty bacon pieces, fat back or even a fatter bit of ground beef (don’t drain the fat) will work.  
Country ham, while tasty, doesn’t add enough flavor because it really doesn’t have much fat.  
You can add country ham, just supplement it with one of the other meat/fat selections.
Add the amount of seasoning called for in the recipe and then when you are finished cooking you can add more if you need to.
I really can’t stress enough how much the chicken broth concentrate helps.  I specifically use this brand. You can get it in a vegetarian formulation as well.  I purchase it at my local grocery in the broth and soups section. It is also available from Amazon


Calories: 300kcal