Easy Pinto Beans Recipe

Yields: About 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus overnight soaking)
Cook Time: 2 – 3 hours (stovetop) or 5 – 8 hours (slow cooker)


  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups water, or enough to cover the beans by 2 inches
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, but adds a lovely depth of flavor)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Instructions: Soaking the Beans

Rinse and Sort: Rinse the beans in a colander, picking out any debris or shriveled beans.

Soak Overnight: Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Instructions: Stovetop Cooking

Drain and Rinse: Once soaked, drain and rinse the beans.

Cook Aromatics: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.

Simmer the Beans: Add the beans, 8 cups water, cumin, smoked paprika (if using), bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary, until the beans are tender and creamy.

Instructions: Slow Cooker Method

Combine Ingredients: Add the drained beans, water, olive oil, onion, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika (if using), bay leaf, salt, and pepper directly to your slow cooker.

Cook: Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours, until the beans are tender.

Finishing Touches (Both Methods)

Season: Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Some people like to mash a portion of the beans for a thicker, creamier consistency.

Remove Bay Leaf: Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Serving Suggestions

  • With rice for a classic beans and rice combo.
  • In tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.
  • As a side dish for your favorite grilled meats.
  • Top with sour cream, cheese, avocado, or salsa.


No-Soak Option: If short on time, you can use a quick soak method. Bring beans and water to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and soak for 1 hour. This will shorten the cooking time somewhat.

Spice It Up: Add a pinch of cayenne or chipotle powder for a little heat.


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