Cooking with Dried Beans

Beans Beans, the musical fruit,
the more you eat the more you…
um, can fit in your suit! …because they’re healthy, too. Yeah, that’s it.
Anyway… A lot of people are intimidated by cooking with dried beans. You see the bags in the grocery store for $.99, but you think, “What would I do with them?” In this post, I’ll tell you some yummy, easy and inexpensive ways to cook with these little gems!

But first I’ll share a story from the first few years of my marriage. Ahem. I grew up in a half-Italian, have Irish family from the northeast. We savored pasta dishes, homemade spaghetti sauce (made by my dad, BTW!) etc. My favorite thing that my dad made was a delectable crab and shrimp dish. He made it almost every year on my birthday. Needless to say, this dish will not make it to Friday’s Frugal Feast, unless I can somehow catch the crab and shrimp myself.

My husband grew up in a southern family, and ate a lot of wonderful “meat and potatoes” type dishes, and yes, pinto beans. So after about a year of my Italian-inspired cooking, my husband asked me, “Do you think we could have, like, pinto beans or something?” I had never had a pinto bean on my plate in my life, unless they were refried and inside an enchilada. I didn’t quite get it. “Pinto beans? What do you mean?”

“You know, pinto beans with a ham hock and chow chow, and cornbread .”

Chow chow? (That’s a story for another day) You mean, you just eat the pinto beans, you don’t put them into anything else?”

“Yeah, we ate that a lot growing up.”

“mmmK, uh, I’ll try it.” Well, I ended up loving them when I learned how to cook them!

Here is the basic method for cooking dried pinto beans:

1. Soak beans overnight:
a. Put the beans in a bowl, cover with water, leave out on the counter all night.

b. Quick-soak method: In a large pot, combine 1 lb beans and 8 cups cold water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

2. Cook beans in a crockpot on high for at least 8 hours.
There are several things you can add to give it wonderful flavor! I’ve tried all these and they are great!

a. A meaty ham hock or ham bone. Get these in your grocer’s meat section
b. About six strips bacon.
c. Italian sausage links. Layer them on top straight out of the refrigerator. We had this Wednesday, and it was fantastic!
d. Meaty beef soup bones
e. A ham hock, plus several sprigs of fresh thyme. After cooking, the leaves will fall off the thyme, and you can take out the stems.

3. When the beans are almost done, taste them. You may add salt, pepper, garlic, or hot sauce to taste.

4. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, or chow chow. (What the heck is chow chow?)

I usually make 1 or 2 whole packages at a time, then freeze what ever we don’t use.
I also use them in other dishes that week. (ex: Monday: Beans and Cornbread, Tuesday: Chicken and Bean Enchiladas.)

One bag of $.99 beans usually feeds about 8 people.



About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. Being in Mexico, we eat beans daily. A lot of people would be surprised at the fact that refried beans are pinto beans (though you mentioned it in your post). Mexicans swear that if you cook your beans with a clove or two of garlic (not the whole head, just the little pieces) it will help with the gas. I think there’s some truth to it!

    How does one make refried beans? Cook them like you said, but with a small onion and come garlic. When they are done, put the beans in the blender with a little bit of the liquid from cooking them. After they are good and liquidy, put them in a frying pan with a little bit of oil and fry them up. I use just a little bit of oil, and heat them until they are hot and a little drier than they were when I put them in there.

    I hope you don’t mind my sharing! It’s just so much better than the canned refried beans I used to buy at the grocery store, and cheaper in the long run!


  2. Oh, Jan, thanks so much for sharing that. I cannot stand canned refried beans, and I’m so glad I know how to make them now!


  3. Kim's Hotrod says:

    LOL!! It’s funny how much our families are on the same wavelengths sometimes. I had been asking Kim for a couple of years to make pintos (in a crock pot or pressure cooker) and cornbread. She finally gave in a couple of months ago. I’m not sure that the rest of my family enjoyed it as much as I did, but I’m hoping that maybe it’ll grow on them.


  4. I need to try this out. I am sure my kids will not be all too thrilled but it is so cheap. I told K to other day that sometimes your taste buds get use to things after you try it 10 times or so. She told me just today that she has tried green beans 10 times and she still doesn’t like them so I should stop trying! Yeah..I’m not giving up that easily!


  5. I had some pinto beans a couple of weeks ago. Living in the south, ya gotta love ’em! I’m with your husband–love the chow chow and onion with the beans. Add some cornbread and the meal is complete. I’m hungry now!!



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