Charro Beans! You’ll be hard pressed to find an authentic batch of Charro Beans anywhere north of the border, so it’s high time to make your own!
Charro roughly translates as cowboy, so these beans have always been associated with ranch lifestyle in Mexico. Luckily for us, you can make a hearty, delicious batch of these frijoles in your home kitchen in less than a half hour, no ranch required.
Charro Beans Recipe
If you’re planning on subsisting solely on charro beans while sleeping outdoors and tending to the ranch, then your frijoles are going to need some substance to them.
Traditional batches of charro beans will toss in any meat within arm’s reach of the cook . Our version uses only bacon and this will create a batch that everyone will enjoy. But of course, you are welcome to add in some chorizo or ham if you have some available.
Start by roasting four tomatoes in the oven at 400F.
This isn’t crucial for this recipe as there is an extended simmer time coming up that should thoroughly cook the tomatoes, but roasting them has become such a habit that I usually just toss ’em in the oven until they are needed.
Finely chop up 1/2 lb. of bacon (7-8 pieces) and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook for 5-8 minutes or until it is lightly browned. (Tip: although not required, it can be easier to chop up the bacon into small pieces if you first put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.)
Yes, you can drain some of the bacon fat if you want, but the cowboys prefer that you leave it in.
Add a chopped 1/2 onion to the bacon. I usually lower the heat to mediumish after the bacon is cooked.
Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is tender.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the mixture.
The garlic only needs 30-60 seconds to cook; anything longer than that and you risk burning it.
Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan.
I usually just roughly chop them in the pan. If they’ve been roasting for awhile they will fall apart on their own.
We’ll also add:
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups stock (or water)
3 chipotles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of Mexican oregano (optional)
The Mexican oregano is optional so don’t sweat it if you don’t have any. And note that this recipe uses canned beans. Yes, maybe you’ll get a slight increase in flavor with home-cooked beans, but it will taste just as good with canned beans and I know that most people simply do not have time to cook their own beans.
Also…I used chicken stock in this batch to please the cowboys, but I’ve made this exact recipe using water in place of stock and it is still delicious (bacon fat!).
And note that using 3 chipotles gives it some real heat! For a milder version use 1-2 chipotles.
Let this mixture simmer for 15-20 minutes or until some of the liquid has reduced a bit.
The broth is beyond delicious so I think these beans are best served when swimming in it. The above pic is how they looked after 15 minutes of simmering and that amount of broth was a good fit for this batch.
Definitely take a taste for seasoning at this point as exact salt amount will depend on how much meat you added to the mixture. I added another generous pinch to this batch so that is approximately one teaspoon total. If your version isn’t fiery enough you can always amp it up at this point too.
Serve immediately and be sure to include lots of broth!
While traditionally served as a side dish, these charro beans are nearly hearty enough to be a meal on their own and I make on-the-fly meals with them all the time. I usually reserve half of the batch to make a bean puree for some bean-n-cheese tostadas.
Add the charro beans and some broth to a blender or food processor and give it a whirl.
This creates one of the most heavenly bean purees that you’ll ever taste. For realz.
You can use this puree as you would any other refried beans. I usually add a layer to a corn tortilla along with some cheese and crisp it up in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few drops of Valentina and you’ve got insta-meals for the next few days.
Either way, your cowboys are going to be very happy when you serve up a batch of these Charro Beans. They’re a real treat and if you keep a few cans of pinto beans in the pantry you’ll always have the option of whipping up a batch.
Let me know if you have any questions about these beauties. They are surprisingly easy to make and you get great reward for such little effort.
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- 2 cans pinto beans (drained and rinsed, approx. 4 cups)
- 1/2 lb. bacon (approx. 7-8 slices)
- 4-5 plum tomatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 3 chipotles in adobo
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups stock (or water)
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Give the tomatoes a good rinse and roast them in the oven at 400F for approximately 20 minutes or until you need them.
- Chop up the bacon into small pieces. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned (approx. 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the bacon pieces).
- Chop up a 1/2 onion and add it the bacon. I usually reduce heat to mediumish after the bacon is cooked. Let the onion cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
- Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and cook briefly, 30-60 seconds.
- Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan (roughly chopping them up in the pan is fine). Also add: 2 cans pinto beans (drained and rinsed), 3 minced chipotles in adobo, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional), 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 2 cups of stock (or water). Combine well and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced down a bit.
- Salt to taste. I added another generous pinch to this batch (so that is approx. 1 teaspoon total) but keep in mind that if you are using store-bought stock that's high in sodium then you won't need to add as much salt. You can also add more heat at this point if you want a more fiery batch.
- Serve immediately. Note that these beans are best served in some of the broth.
- Alternatively, you can use part of the batch to make a bean puree. Simply add them to a blender or food processor and combine into a puree.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
We recently made a batch of Molletes using these Charro Beans.
Our latest recipe is for a batch of Homemade Enchilada Sauce.