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How to Make Charro Beans: Authentic Frijoles Charros Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 4, 2020 • 1 min read

Try charro beans—soupy take on pinto beans—as a hearty side or comforting main dish.



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What Are Charro Beans?

Charro beans (frijoles charros) are Mexican-style pinto beans cooked in broth with bacon or chorizo, jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions. The Spanish word charro refers to horsemen, so the dish is loosely translated to “cowboy beans.”

Unlike refried beans, which are smashed during the cooking process, charro beans are left whole, swimming in their broth. Charro beans are similar to another Mexican recipe, borracho beans, or pintos cooked in beer.

Serve charro beans sprinkled with fresh cilantro or pico de gallo. Scoop them into tortillas as a side for Mexican and Tex Mex dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, and carne asada, or eat charro beans as you would chili, with cornbread.

Authentic Charro Beans Recipe

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Cook Time
45 min


There are many versions of charro beans, but the basic method follows. For a vegan version, skip the meat (or substitute vegan sausage) and use vegetable broth or water in place of the chicken broth. If using dried beans, soak the beans before cooking, or cook the beans separately using a pressure cooker, multicooker, or slow cooker.

  • 6 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1–4 canned chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight in enough water to cover
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, cook bacon or chorizo until the fat has rendered. Add diced jalapeño and serrano peppers and white onion and sauté until softened. Add minced garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant, less than a minute. Add diced tomatoes and chipotle chile peppers. Season with ground cumin, Mexican oregano, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt.
  2. Add chicken stock and the drained, soaked beans. Pour in enough water to cover the beans. Simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 30–45 minutes, adding a little water if needed. Remove lid and continue to cook until the stock has thickened slightly and flavors have melded, about 30 minutes longer.

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