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How to Cook Fresh Pinto Beans

How to cook fresh pinto beans is way easier than you think! A simple soak and a bit of time on the stove top are all you need!

A large pot filled with tender pinto beans is what southern dinner dreams are made of! There are so many different pinto beans recipe ideas, but this post will show you exactly how to go from dry pinto beans to flavorful beans you can eat however you prefer!

You’ll love this post if you’re looking to save a few dollars on your grocery budget. Pinto beans are CHEAP!

This method works for almost any dried beans! Red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, etc.

Another reason you’ll love this recipe is you can make it in a slow cooker!

how to cook fresh pinto beans

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How to Cook Fresh Pinto Beans

First, let’s start by gathering the ingredients:

Dried Pinto Beans – you’ll want to rinse these and pick them over while you’re rinsing. Make sure there are no little stones in the beans, or other debris you don’t want.

Water – we’re doing an overnight soak with this pinto bean recipe. Soaked beans cook way faster than the “quick soak” method, and I’ve found they just taste better, too!

That’s it, folks! You could do that, and create some really bland beans.

To give your beans some flavor you’ll want to add in chopped onions, some fresh garlic, and maybe a few other things.

Pinto Beans and Ham

Bean Flavoring Ideas:

Ham Hocks – I like to keep my beans vegetarian, but adding in a ham bone, or a smoked ham hock gives your beans incredible flavor!

Chicken Broth – after you’ve soaked your beans, you could boil them in chicken stock

Chopped Onion – any kind of onion you like will work! I prefer Vidalia.

Bell Peppers

Bay Leaves

Jalapeño Pepper

Should You Soak Your Beans?

Yes! You should soak your beans. Not only does the help lessen the cooking time, it is also the easiest way to make sure you have creamy pinto beans. No, hard bits are in the center of each bean!

To soak your beans, first, you want to rinse the beans under cold water really well. Fresh beans are dirty! Sometimes they have little stones or sticks from the plant from which they were harvested and dried, so you want to make sure to remove those. I stand at the sink and grab a handful of dried beans at a time, letting cold water run over each of them. I’ll look to make sure there are no stones in my hand, then drop the beans into a colander.

Once the beans have been picked through, I give the entire colander a good rinse under the water, then plop them into a large pot, and cover them with a few inches of water.

You want more than enough to cover the beans since they expand while they soak.

I also add a tablespoon of kosher salt.

cooking dried pinto beans

I know there is a lot of controversy on whether pre-salting your beans before they cook causes them to be tough… I’ve never found that to be true. You do you though!

It all depends on the freshness of your beans. If you’ve had your beans for longer than you can remember, and they haven’t been stored properly, get some new beans.

Let the beans soak overnight, or at least an 8-hour soak time. My favorite way is to let wash them and put them to soak just before bedtime. Then, when I wake up, they are ready to cook when I am!

Cooking Process for the Best Pinto Beans

Let’s chat about how to cook fresh pinto beans!

Once your beans soak, you can pour the beans and the soaking water into a colander and drain them.

Then, in a dutch oven, you’ll add your beans and cover with water. You want enough water to cover the beans, but not much more.

As for the cooking liquid, you could definitely use chicken stock over fresh water.

Add in some diced onion, and a ham bone or something of the sort.

If you are making pinto beans for another recipe leave the ham bone or other flavoring protein out.

You can really jazz up your beans with chili powder, black pepper, and some garlic.

If you’re making a vegetarian version you can pack the beans with flavor as they cook by using vegetable stock!

how to cook fresh pinto beans

Place your pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring it to a rolling boil.

Once your beans have boiled for 10 minutes, lower the heat to a low simmer and let the beans cook for one hour, covered.

Every 20 minutes give the pot a big stir to make sure you have enough liquid, and nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

cooking pinto beans from soaking

If you do need to add in extra liquid this is when I’ll use chicken stock.

Taste your beans to make sure you don’t need to add a little salt.

The beans are ready when you have a creamy texture! If they don’t taste super creamy, cook them a few extra minutes, and you’ll have a star rating in no time!

seasoning fresh pinto beans

Serving Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are delicious by themselves and a big hunk of cornbread!

They can be a side dish for Taco Tuesday (they make the best refried beans!), or as a main dish.

Some fresh cilantro, a drizzle of white vinegar, and some diced onion make a great topping.

quick and easy shredded pork chalupa

You can also make them into Quick & Easy Pulled Pork Chalupa and serve them with toppings piled high. This is one of my favorite ways to use leftover beans!

Store any leftover beans in an airtight container. I like to cool the beans, then add 2 cups of beans to freezer-safe ziplock bags. Freeze them flat to save room and make for a quick defrost. Pull a baggie out when you need them for bean recipes or a simple side dish on a busy weeknight!

Other Recipes You Need to Try!

If you need an Instant Pot Pinto Beans recipe, use this one where you don’t have to soak the beans!

Save this to your Favorite Food board on Pinterest!

How to Cook Fresh Pinto Beans
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pinto beans and ham recipe

How to Cook Fresh Pinto Beans

  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: southern


  • 1, 11-ounce bag of dried Pinto Beans (picked over, washed, and soaked overnight)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Fresh Black Pepper to taste
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Add the soaked beans to a big pot, and pour in 2 quarts of water.
  2. Add the chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons of onion powder.
  3. Bring to a boil, and cook at high heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are tender and soft.
  1. As the meat fall off the ham bone, remove and shred to pieces. Add back into the broth.
  2. Remove the ham bone at the 1.5 hour mark, and allow the shredded ham and beans to simmer together for half an hour.
  3. Taste the beans, and check if you need to add any salt. Grind fresh black pepper.
  4. Serve with fresh cornbread, hot sauce, and whatever extra fixings you like!


Add one tablespoon of kosher salt to the liquid when you soak your beans overnight.

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