Cooking pinto beans from scratch is a great way to enjoy beans as a side dish or as a meatless main dish. They are so much cheaper than canned beans.
Wanna save some money on food costs? Well, then, maybe it’s time to embrace the bean.
If you read any money-saving advice when it comes to food, you’re more than likely gonna hear the advice to eat more meatless meals, specifically, those that are bean-based.
Rice and beans, beans and rice — frugal, tasty, and a great dish to help you stretch your dollar.
I speak from experience. When we were getting out of debt, I served beans with dinner 2 to 3 times per week!
Since both my husband and I grew up in Southern California, Mexican food is a cuisine that is near and dear to our hearts. Eating beans on the regular wasn’t a hardship.
Bonus: it helped us trim down our grocery spending — and my waistline! — without sacrificing flavor.
Beans are a fiber-filled, nutrient-rich food that can help you, too!
Cooking your own pinto beans, as opposed to buying canned, is a great way to eat well and stay under budget. Canned beans are certainly convenient, but you will save money and be able to control ingredients better if you cook your own beans from scratch.
What do pinto beans taste like?
Pinto beans are small and flavorful. The are pale pinkish brown with reddish-brown streaks. Folks have described as them as earthy, nutty, rich, and creamy.
Since I’ve been eating pinto beans since birth, I’m probably not good at explaining them. They’re just beans!
Are pinto beans and kidney beans the same thing?
Pintos and kidney beans are very different beans. Since pintos have a creamy texture when cooked, they are ideal in refried beans. Kidney beans, on the other hand, are primarily used in chilis and salads. They are larger, firmer, and have a more distinct kidney shape to them.
Why cook pinto beans from scratch?
Back when we were paying off debt, I looked for every way possible to reduce expenses. Tracking prices for groceries became a habit that has served us well.
When I could no longer find canned beans for a good price (<$0.50), I started cooking dry pintos from scratch. While not as convenient as using canned beans, now that I’ve learned to use my pressure cooker to cook pinto beans, it’s become a simple process.
Plus, cooking them myself is proving to be much cheaper than fifty cents a can! I can cook dry pinto beans for about $0.64 per pound. That’s the equivalent of 4 cans of beans for about the price of 1.
I’ve also found that commercially canned beans contain additives that I don’t want in my food. By cooking my own, I can better control the ingredients.
How to Cook Pinto Beans from Scratch
Here’s how to make a pot of beans yourself.
Sort the pinto beans.
Sort through the dry beans to make sure there are no stones, agricultural matter, or rotten beans mixed in. It’s easiest to lay the beans out on a cookie sheet and remove the odd items.
Rinse the pinto beans.
Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse them well with cool running water. This removes surface dirt and dust.
Soak the beans.
When I use the instant pot to cook dried pinto beans, I don’t soak the beans. However, if I’m cooking beans on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, soaking is a must!
Transfer the beans to a pot or large bowl and cover them with at least two inches of water. Allow them to soak overnight, up to 24 hours. I’ve found that the longer soaking time prevents the cooked beans from being gassy. Drain and rinse them before cooking them.
Cook the beans.
Put the beans in a slow cooker or pot on the stove with water and chopped onion and spices and allow them to cook until very soft. You want the skins to peel off when you blow on them. Scoop up some and blow. If the skins aren’t tender, let them cook a little longer.
I’ve included the instructions to cook pinto beans in the pressure cooker in the recipe card below. It’s super quick and easy!
Season the beans.
The beans will need a fair amount of salt, but sometimes adding salt at the beginning has made the beans tough, so I add the seasonings near the end of the cooking time.
Freeze the beans for later.
I like to cook several pounds at once. Sometimes I even use two crockpots. I portion the cooked beans into two-cup containers which is basically the equivalent of one can. Cool them, chill them completely, and then freeze cooked beans in the freezer to use in recipes.
This is a great way to save money and enjoy great, tasty beans.
Can pinto beans be made ahead of time?
Yes, absolutely. You can store the pinto beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. In fact they will taste better the next day!
For longer storage, chill the beans in the fridge until very cold. Then transfer them to the freezer for longer storage.
What can I make with pinto beans?
We love these bean recipes:
- Simple Bean Tostadas
- Pinto Beans And Rice
- Chihuahua Beer Chili
- Carnitas Tostadas
- Healthier Refried Beans
- Chicken, Bean, and Cheese Burritos for the Freezer
What can replace pinto beans?
If a recipe calls for pinto beans but you really don’t like them don’t worry. You can replace them with another type of bean. Here a few options:
- Navy Beans
- Cannelini Beans
- White Beans
- Pink Beans
Homemade Pinto Beans
- 1 lb dry pinto beans
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- black pepper
- Sort through the dried beans, removing any stones or defective beans. Rinse thoroughly.
To cook beans in the electric pressure cooker
- Place the beans in the pressure cooker. Add the onion, garlic powder, and 8 cups of water.
- Secure the lid and close the pressure valve. Set the machine to manual for 22 minutes. When the time is done, press cancel and let the pressure release naturally.
- Drain the beans from the cooking liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To cook beans in a slow cooker:
- Soak the beans prior to cooking. Place in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Allow to soak overnight or up to 24 hours.
- The next day, rinse and place the beans in a slow cooker. Add the chopped onion, garlic powder, and enough water to cover by about an inch.
- Cook 8-10 hours on low or 6 on high. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
To cook the beans on the stovetop:
- If you don’t want to use the crockpot, or if you don’t have 8 hours until serving time, you can cook them on the stovetop. Soak the beans as you would for the slow cooker method. Place the beans, onion, garlic powder and water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover slightly. Stir frequently, adding water if necessary. They should be cooked in two to three hours. Season as desired.
Ready to make the most of beans?
Beans not only make a great base for main dishes, but they also freeze beautifully.
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