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Slow Cooker Charro Beans

Slow Cooker Charro Beans — flavored with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, green chiles, jalapeรฑos, cilantro, and spices — are the perfect pinto beans to accompany your favorite Mexican entrees!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com

A few days ago I shared my recipe for King Ranch Chicken Casserole, which just so happens to be one of my family’s very favorite comfort food classics. And if you saw that post, you may have noticed a side of tasty-looking pinto beans adorning the casserole plate.

Well, those beans weren’t merely a photo prop, folks. They were the real, actual side dish that I make when I serve King Ranch Chicken Casserole…or Creamy Dreamy Chicken Enchiladas…or Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos. In fact, I whip up delicious, effortless, Slow Cooker Charro Beans to accompany just about every Mexican food entree in my recipe files!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com

I love cooking pinto beans in the crock pot, whether I keep them simple and straighforward for serving with barbecue or cornbread (like my Slow Cooker Ranch Beans), or whether I gussy them up with extra layers of flavor, herbs, and spices, like today’s recipe. Frijoles Charros (or Cowboy Beans) are basically a Mexican version of pork and beans, with bacon as the pork and pintos as the beans, simmered in a savory, as-spicy-as-you-like broth. If you want to turn them into Borracho (Drunken) Beans, you can include a little Mexican beer in the broth for an added dimension. At any rate, they are tasty and zesty, can be spicy or mild, and are the perfect complement to your Mexican food of choice!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com So here’s the thing that I’ve learned about cooking beans in the slow cooker over the years…cooking times can vary considerably depending on a number of factors. Some crock pots just run hotter/cook faster than others. Altitude can affect cooking time, which makes sense. But so can the hardness of your water (beans have a more difficult time softening in hard water).

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com Also, if beans have been stored for over a year, they may take longer to cook or they may never soften! Even if you know that you haven’t had a bag of dry beans in your pantry for that long, you never know how long they were at the grocery store before you bought them. There have been a couple of times that I’ve cooked a pot of beans and was surprised to find them still crunchy at the end of the allotted cooking time. The problem? Geriatric beans! So when possible, always use fresh dry beans. And finally, don’t add the salt or acidic ingredients until the beans have already softened…otherwise, you may end up with tough beans.

That’s a lot of things to worry about, huh? Not really. Despite all of those warnings, beans are really easy to make in the slow cooker! Just get to know how hot your particular crock pot tends to run, use fresh beans, and arm yourself with the above knowledge. Everything will turn out fine!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com

Now for the biggest bean-related query…to soak or not to soak? To be perfectly honest, I pretty much never soak my beans, primarily because I’m lazy I never remember to do so the night before. If you are a planner-aheader, however, and would like to consume your Slow Cooker Charro Beans a bit sooner than later, you can always soak them before cooking them.

Simply rinse and drain your beans, pick them over for any shriveled up beans, stones, or random particles, dump them in a pot, and cover them with a couple inches of water. Soak for at least 12 hours before discarding any floating beans, draining off the soaking water, and proceeding with the recipe. Soaked beans will probably only need 5 to 7 hours in the crock pot to cook as opposed to 8 to 10, but again, keep all of those aforementioned cooking time variables in mind! Many people also argue that soaking and draining beans results in less bloating and, er, related digestive issues, but I’ll leave that research up to you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com A quick anecdote regarding the potential after-affects of consuming beans…with two little boys in our household, it was only expected that the notorious “Beans, Beans” verse came up at dinnertime the other night while we were enjoying our Charro Beans. My 7-year-old apparently learned it at school recently, but I’m telling you…he had it all wrong. So after listening to him butcher the verse a half dozen times, I could handle it no longer. Despite my better judgement, I finally had to set him straight and teach him the correct words. If any child of mine is going to recite a rhyme riddled with potty words, by golly, he’s at least going to do his mother proud and get it right!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans ~ these "cowboy beans" are loaded with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, making them an excellent side dish to any Mexican entree! | FiveHeartHome.com Well, with all of that Bean Info 101 behind us, let’s get to slow cooking some Charro Beans, shall we? These pintos are tasty, they’re zesty, they’re warm and filling…and did I mention that they include bacon??? Yep, I’m pretty sure they’ll be your new go-to side dish any time Mexican food is on the menu!

Slow Cooker Charro Beans

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Slow Cooker Charro Beans

Slow Cooker Charro Beans -- flavored with bacon, garlic, tomatoes, green chiles, jalapeรฑos, cilantro, and spices -- are the perfect pinto beans to accompany your favorite Mexican entrees!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh jalapeno (seeds & membranes removed), diced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Rotel (diced tomatoes & green chiles)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place beans in a colander, rinse well, and remove any stones or shriveled beans.
  2. Cook bacon until just crispy. Drain, chop, and set aside.
  3. Pour beans into slow cooker. Cover with water and beef broth. Add chopped bacon, garlic, jalapeรฑo (if using), cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or until almost done. Stir in Rotel and chopped cilantro, cover, and cook for an additional hour or until tender (total cooking time will probably be between 8 to 10 hours). When beans are done, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon of salt at a time, tasting in between).

Notes

My favorite way to cook bacon is to lay it in a deep, foil-lined baking pan and bake it on the center rack at 400ยฐF for 15 to 20 minutes.

The first time you cook beans in your slow cooker, periodically check that they remain covered with liquid. Add additional hot water during the cooking process, if necessary.

One seeded jalapeรฑo cooked for that many hours should add flavor rather than spice. If you prefer spicy beans, add more jalapeรฑos and leave the seeds/membranes intact. Also, if you prefer mild beans, you may use mild Rotel instead of regular or hot.

For Borracho Beans, swap out 6 ounces of the beef broth with Mexican beer.

If you prefer to soak your beans, simply rinse, drain, and pick over your beans. Place them in a pot, cover with 2 inches of water, and soak overnight. Drain off the soaking water before proceeding with the recipe. If beans are soaked, cooking time will probably be shortened to 5 to 7 hours on low.

Always use fresh dry beans, as old beans can take much longer to become tender (and may possibly never soften!).

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Southern Baked Beans
Easy Southern Baked Beans ~ this sweet and savory side dish is topped with bacon, and it's quick to whip up using canned white beans | FiveHeartHome.com

Warm & Cheesy Bean Dip
Warm and Cheesy Bean Dip ~ quick and easy, full of flavor, and also makes a great side dish or filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more! | FiveHeartHome.com

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And see all of our recipes <<< HERE!

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I always love hearing from you! ~ samantha {at} five heart home {dot} com

This post may be linked up to House of Rose, 4 Little Fergusons, and these fabulous parties!

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Comments

  1. Hey Samantha, I just saw these beans on the link party and knew I had to get a better look. These look amazing! I can’t wait to try ’em ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Erin! I hope you enjoy them if you have a chance to try them. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad you hopped over…have a great evening!

  2. I love slow cook, it tastes much better and is made with much more love than fast food! Thanks for the recipe, I definitely need to try it in a cold and rainy day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Lily Lau! I don’t know what I’d do without my slow cooker…I particularly love using it this time of year. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you have a chance to try this recipe on the next cold and rainy day…it sure is a nice way to warm up! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a wonderful week!

  3. This looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing! Pinning!
    -Michelle @TheGraciousWife.com

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re welcome, Michelle…thank you for the pin! Hope your week is going well! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. These beans looked great and tasted even better. I loved the added flavor from the beef broth and bacon. I did make the borracho version, yum, yum! I’ve made countless pots of beans over the years, but this is my new favorite recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    As long as I am gushing about your recipes, I also want to add a huge thanks for the King Ranch Chicken recipe, which I also cooked. And at the risk of being repetitive, your version is even better than my mom’s oldie, but goody! The sauce was so delicious, I will have to find other uses for it. Muchas gracias!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Your sweet comment made my day, Carolyn. If the queen of cooking has success with my recipes, I can go to bed happy tonight! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you’re having a wonderful week and thanks, as always, for stopping by!

  5. They look delicious Samantha, and I love the tip about the “geriatric beans” {that cracked me up} and the hard water. We have horribly hard water here, so I might used bottled water! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Lisa! We have pretty hard water as well. I always use our reverse-osmosis water when I cook beans and they always turn out nice and tender…as long as I make sure they weren’t geriatric, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I appreciate you stopping by…hope you’re having a great weekend!

  6. It looks like our slow cooker is going to be busy once my husband returns home from sea! I just saw this after stopping by your chicken tortilla soup. I’m sure this would be a big hit with my husband, too! Yep, he’s Latino. Pinning!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Well I hope your husband enjoys these beans as much as the chicken tortilla soup, Natasha! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Big Bad John says:

    Hey, I hope it’s OK for guys to post here. This is just the recipe I’ve been looking for, and I’ll be making this soon. I can’t handle the cilantro, but I suppose parsley will work. Thank you for posting, looks delicious.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi John! Guys are more than welcome to comment here. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad that these beans are what you’ve been looking for and I hope that you enjoy them! I totally understand that a lot of people don’t like cilantro, but if you’re going to substitute parsley, I would probably start out using a bit less to make sure it doesn’t clash with the other Mexican-inspired ingredients. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope your December is off to a great start!

  8. Hello! Going to try this delicious recipe!
    Question- do you soak your beans over night for this recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Jo! No, I don’t soak the beans when I make this recipe. I explained a bit about soaking vs. non-soaking in the body of the post if you’d like more clarification. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you’re having a great week…thanks for the question!

  9. Cooking time on this is SOOOOOO screwed up. Soaked beans for 36 hrs. Cooked now for more than 10 hrs on low foe over 10 hours and still hard as hell. U need to recalculate this recipe

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi, John. I’m sorry to hear that you’re frustrated, but the cooking time for this recipe is accurate. As I tried to explain very thoroughly in the post preceding the recipe, there are a variety of factors that can cause beans to stay hard when you cook them, including altitude and the hardness of your water. However, if your beans were still not soft after 36 hours of soaking and 10 hours of cooking as you described, you are most likely dealing with old beans, which may never soften no matter how long you cook them. The beans may have been in your pantry for awhile, or if you recently purchased them, they might have already been at the grocery store or the warehouse for a long time. I’m sorry that this recipe didn’t work out for you…hope this helps explain why.

  10. I had to make these beans and since I didn’t have dry beans on hand, I cheated with canned beans :-). Since I used canned beans, I tweaked the recipe a bit (sorry Sam). I used 4 cans of beans and only 1 1/2 cups of water instead of 4. I cooked them in the crockpot for about 5 hours on high. These beans are the best beans I’ve had and my husband kept saying that they were the best beans he’s ever had, soooo this recipe is definitely a keeper along with many others from your arsenal Sam :-).
    Thanks for sharing them with us, as make more o them I will come back and report the results which I am sure will be nothing short of awesome.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I’m so glad y’all enjoyed these, Simona, and thanks for sharing your tweaks with us! I’ve doctored up canned beans with these flavors before as well, but I’ve never tried throwing everything together in the crock pot like you did…great tips! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  11. Have you ever made these beans as a freezer meal? Do you think that it would be OK to do?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Yes, Amanda, I have frozen leftover beans before with success. I just thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then slowly reheat in a pot on the stove. You may have to add a tad more water or broth and watch them so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot as they reheat. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck and enjoy!

  12. I’ve been looking for a good recipe for pinto beans and this one is awesome. I’ve tried three others that sounded good but turned out really bland. These turned out delicious and were sooo easy! I cooked them overnight last night and I can’t wait for my husband to try them tonight. He is going to LOVE them!

    BTW, I added 1 large jalapeno, seeds and all and they have great flavor but are not overly spicy.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I’m so happy to hear that you loved these, Shari…I hope your hubby enjoyed them just as much! And yay for finding the perfect balance of jalapeรฑo for your tastes… ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  13. John Anthony Cantergiani says:

    Hi Samantha,

    Thank you for all your recipes. The slow-cooker method rocks! I want to make a suggestion for your “Tips, Tricks, and Variations” section. As an option, diced white onions and/or Mexican chorizo can be added to the mix. This brings a great flavor dimension and is commonly used in the Mexican recipes for Charro beans (Frijoles Charros). LOVE the cilantro, by the way! Thanks again for sharing your passion for cooking.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi John Anthony! So happy to hear that you enjoy the site and thanks so much for the suggestion for these beans…your additions sound tasty! I’m glad you enjoy this recipe and I have to agree on the cilantro…it makes charro beans exponentially better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for taking the time to comment and I hope you have a great weekend!

  14. Adrienne says:

    Hello! I was wondering if you thought this dish would be still be good without bacon? I have a pork allergy. Thank you!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Adrienne! I think this recipe would still turn out great without bacon! Just taste your beans at the end and add a tad more salt (to make up for the missing bacon) if necessary. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!

  15. Hi! I was wondering if using Chicken broth instead of beef would work? That’s what I have so thought I’d see if anyone has made them that way before.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Sharon! I think chicken broth would work just fine in place of beef broth if that’s what you have on hand. A lot of people use water for making beans…I just think that broth adds a little more flavor. Hope these turned out well if you already cooked them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Drew Floyd says:

    Love this recipe. We are taking it to a pot luck tonight with a basket of cornbread muffins. Can’t wait for my friends to try it. Did a little quality control taste testing already with my family and we just love it. The only tip I have is that if you pre-soak the beans, you don’t need quite as much water in the cooking process. We has a lot of liquid compared to amount of beans. We just ate the broth this afternoon with the cornbread- delicious! Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re very welcome, Drew…I’m so glad this recipe was such a success with your family and I hope your friends enjoyed it just as much! Thanks for sharing your tip about reducing the water if you pre-soak the beans. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the extra broth anyway with some cornbread. ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate you taking the time to comment…hope you’re having a great week!

  17. Samantha: tried this yesterday, soaked beans night before cooked beans on low for 7 hours and beans were still rather hard, harder than I like. Any suggestions as to what I did wrong?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Lynn! I’m not sure if you had a chance to read the post that accompanies this recipe, but I explained a variety for reasons why dry beans sometimes never soften (or take longer than usual to do so). My best guess would be that your beans may not have been fresh. They could have been in your pantry for awhile, or perhaps they were already old when you bought them? However, even if you cooked fresh beans that were soaked, it’s possible that 7 hours on low just may not have been enough time for your particular slow cooker. I wonder if your beans would have continued to soften with an extra hour or two? At any rate, see if any of my tips from the post help and I hope your beans soften to your liking if you decide to give this recipe another try! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Hi, just wondering if there was a particular reason for not adding the rotel until the end?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Rachele! Acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes, can toughen the skins of dried beans and cause them to take longer to fully cook/soften. Also, Rotel added at the beginning would completely break down as the beans cook, and the flavor may become somewhat lost. By adding it towards the end, the tomatoes are more recognizable and you can actually taste it. Hope that helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Gina Eveland says:

    Fantastic loved these beans served with roasted shrimp enchiladas for guests and the meal was a big hit. Who knew making beans could be so easy, thank you!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re very welcome, Gina! I’m so glad that you found these beans easy to make and that they were a hit with you and your guests. And I may have to get your recipe for Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas…they sound delicious! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Laurie Cosby says:

    These were superb! Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      So happy to hear it, Laurie! Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Mark Allen says:

    Jus lettin ya know not boiling beans can cause some serious food borne illness.and the slow cooker actually exasperates up to five fold.

    http://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/causesofillnessbadbugbook/ucm071092.htm

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Mark Allen! Thanks for sharing that. I became aware of phytohaemagglutinin when developing a recipe for red kidney beans, and I would never recommend cooking those in the slow cooker, as your link confirms. However, many other varieties of beans contain only a small fraction of the toxin found in red and white kidney beans and can be safely cooked in a slow cooker. Of course, if you have any reservations preparing pinto beans in a slow cooker, you can always boil them in a pot on the stove for 10 minutes in order to destroy any small amount of toxin before adding them to the slow cooker. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Mark Allen says:

        Oh wow, good to know that other beans are safe in the slow cooker! Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Slow Cooker Charro Beans … Pinto beans are the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal or, if you are like me, you could just eat them all. by. themselves. If you have never cooked dry beans before, this is your chance. Beans are such an easy and economical food – and always a kid-favorite over here. […]

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