How to Season Pinto Beans (Easy Southern Recipe)

How to Season Pinto Beans is just what you need to know when you’re craving a big pot of beans! The next time you’re cooking beans, give this recipe a try!

how to season pinto beans

Cooking dry pinto beans in a southern staple, and knowing what flavors to add makes this an easy recipe you’ve got to try!

You will love this post if you’re looking for simple ingredients to make your pinto beans recipe packed with flavor!

If you’re a fan of cooking black beans or any other kind of bean from scratch, this seasoning recipe will make a simple side dish the star of the show.

How to Season Pinto Beans

First, let’s chat about what you’ll need to flavor your big pot of beans.

Most people will use a ham hock, leftover ham bone, smoked turkey wing or leg, etc. 

pinto beans seasoned with ham

I love using a leftover ham bone in my Southern Pinto Beans with Ham recipe.

You’ll give your beans the overnight soak treatment, give them a good rinse, and then cook like in the recipe above. 

I like to soak my beans in a large bowl, with about 3-4 inches of water above the beans. Make sure you pick through the beans before adding them to the bowl! You’ll often find little rocks or stones mixed in.

pinto beans cooking in water

​A large pot and about 12 cups of water for a pound of beans. I like to make sure there is plenty of water for the beans to absorb and cook in, then, you can always drain them.

To your pot with the dried beans in water, you’ll add in your seasonings.

Seasoning for Pinto Beans

Alright, let’s chat about the various ways you can season your beans.

If you’re just boiling your beans or making instant pot pinto beans, without using a meat flavoring item, here’s a list of seasonings you can use!

oregano seasoned pinto beans

Chili Powder — this is a great way to pack in the flavor without a hot flavor profile coming through. This is one of the main spices in Quick and Easy Pulled Pork Chalupa. While that recipe uses canned pinto beans, if you made your own, you would add in a heap of chili powder seasoning!

Garlic Powder — The mellow flavor of garlic powder works so well with the beans. YOU could definitely use fresh garlic, but for boiling and cooking for a long period of time, the granulated garlic or garlic powder is better.

​Onion Powder — I love plopping a whole cut-up fresh onion in the pot with the soaked beans. But, adding the onion powder enhances the onion flavor and gives any pinto bean recipe more flavor. 

Bay Leaves — Just add them in. I have no idea what the flavor description is for bay leaves, but I can tell when it’s missing! 

​Salt and Black Pepper. People go back and forth about whether you should salt your beans while they cook or after… But, I do like to leave the pepper out until the end. The longer black pepper cooks the more bitter it gets. It’s a great addition, but if it’s your first time making pinto beans, leave this one until the end.

If you want to make more Mexican-style pinto beans you can add in a bunch or dried oregano and some chipotle powder for a perfect blend of spices that give you the best pinto beans!

Several shakes of red pepper flakes on the cooked hearty pinto beans is always delish!

Cooking Process for Dried Beans

Alright, once your beans are in the pot, you’ve got your seasonings in there, let’s chat about the cooking time.

I’ve only ever made beans on the stovetop. But, there are lots of different ways to cook beans!

pinto beans and ham recipe

​Also, I’ve only ever used water to cook my beans. Mainly, because when I cook beans, I use a leftover ham bone, so I don’t need the chicken broth or other type of cooking liquid. Water is just fine! However, if you are cooking JUST beans, using a flavored stock of some sort would be the way to go!

For every pound of pinto beans you use, you’ll need about 12 cups of liquid and 2-3 hours of cooking time. 

This is not one of those quick meals! This is why cooking red kidney beans for Beans and Rice is a Southern wash day tradition!

Cook your beans, low, slow, and long than you think. The extra time is a game-changer for tender pinto beans! 

Here’s a recipe for Slow Cooker Pinto Beans! These look like a great way to spice up some rice and enjoy them over and over.

If you’re in the market for Instant Pot Pinto Beans (No Soaking), that’s your recipe.

This delicious side dish makes a great main dish, too!

With a slice of cornbread, dinner is served!

pinto beans and cornbread

Favorite Pinto Bean Dishes

My absolute favorite way to eat them is this southern pinto beans recipe. It’s a staple in my family and the best thing to eat in the fall and winter.

quick and easy shredded pork chalupa

I mentioned Pork Chalupa above, but instead of using a can of beans, you can make your own with extra flavor, and then stir them into the pulled pork. It’s a great thing to serve on Game Day, or when you’re serving a crowd!

After making your beans be sure to store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

You can also freeze your beans in a freezer-safe zip-tip bag, for up to six months. 

The next day, make up a batch of refried beans and spoon over a burrito bowl with lots of fresh cilantro! It’s the comfort food we all know and crave!

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How to Season Pinto Beans

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