These homemade pinto beans are full of flavor and super simple to make! No pre-soaking is required…just get out your slow cooker and combine 4 simple ingredients. Let that slow cooker do all the work and pretty soon you’ll have yourself a tasty side dish to pair with any meal!
I was raised on homemade slow cooked pinto beans. My parents made them once a week on the stove and we paired pinto beans with chicken, meatloaf, beef, pork, and tacos. I remember my parents always buying a big bag of dry pinto beans each week at the grocery store so we could make sure we always had a bag on hand.
When it was time to make them, my parents would pour the bag on the counter and they would call me and my sister into the kitchen to pick out the “broken beans”. We would take our hands and spread them into a nice even layer and pick out all the half broken ones and the little rocks you would find in the mix. From there, we’d take the beans and add them to a big bowl, rinse, and then drain them. We would then let them sit on the counter to soak for hours.
I asked my parents one day, “Why do we soak the pinto beans before we cook them?” Dad said it helped to remove some of the air so we don’t get as gassy after eating them. That was always so funny to me as a kid!
As an adult, I still make so many recipes from my childhood. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of me, my mom, dad, and sister sitting down every night to a home cooked meal. Because this has left such a warm place in my heart, I’ve instilled this same tradition in my house with my husband and kiddos. I literally cook a homemade meal 6 days a week. It’s so rare that we go out to eat because my family loves my cooking and I love to cook.
Why You Should Eat Pinto Beans
When the kiddos were old enough to get off baby food, I decided to take a stab at my parent’s recipe and method for making homemade pinto beans. I would make them and smash them up with a fork for the kids to eat and lucky for me, both kids instantly fell in love with them! Which made me happy because they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, like fiber and iron. And, they are also low in fat and high in protein.
How to Cook Pinto Beans
But there was a problem. As an adult, I was really struggling with something when I made these on the stovetop. My beans would always turn out mushy. After talking to my dad and explaining to him how I was cooking them, he told me they were getting mushy because I was probably doing at least one of the following:
- Over watering them as they cooked,
- My temperature was probably too high,
- I was probably over stirring them as they cooked.
He asked me why I was still making pinto beans the old fashioned way. I was stunned…I was like, “Daddy, what do you mean the old fashioned way? This is how you always did it.” On the stove…in a huge stockpot! He softly smiled and said, “It’s so much easier in the crock pot. Let me tell you how to make slow cooker pinto beans.”
Hooray for this news from my dad! Ok, so here’s a quick video showing you how he told me to make pinto beans in the slow cooker.
Video: Step-By-Step Instructions For Making Pinto Beans In A Slow Cooker
It only takes 4 simple ingredients to make this crock pot pinto beans recipe. Then all you have to do is walk away while your slow cooker does ALL the work for the next 7-9 hours. You need a 1 lb bag of dry pinto beans, salt, pepper, and water. A 1 pound bag of dry pinto beans equals 2.5 cups.
I’ve had readers tell me that they’ve added in bacon, chorizo, and chopped up mozzarella to this beans recipe. They RAVED about it! The red pepper flakes are optional but they do help add a little kick if you like more of a spicy pinto beans recipe. Because these are made in a slow cooker, they turn out velvety smooth and full of flavor every time! Just like my parent’s pinto beans did when I was a kid.
How To Make Pinto Beans
This is what my dad told me to do to make crock pot beans. Get a 1 lb bag and pour them out on the counter. The bag below is a 2lb bag. If that’s all you can find, just use 1/2 the bag.
He told me he doesn’t soak the dry beans anymore. Just skim through them quickly on the counter and throw away any broken pinto bean and any rocks. I was also advised to throw away any dark beans.
So you’re probably asking…”Why in the WORLD are rocks in my pinto beans?!?” It’s a good question! Don’t fret! Rocks are left over from the soil after the dried beans are harvested. Some get picked up in the harvesting process. Just don’t cook them or eat them and you’ll be ok!
From there, he rinses the dry beans and then puts them in the slow cooker.
Next add the salt, pepper, and water to the slow cooker and put the top on the crock pot.
7-9 hours later, they will be done and are of the perfect consistency. Let me tell you, when I learned how to make beans in the slow cooker, it was a game changer. It was not fun nursing a big pot, cooking them the old fashioned way for 4-5 hours while adding yet more water because they boiled down too low. So, I took my daddy’s advice and made these the new way and oh my goodness, they turned out so AMAZING!!
What To Serve With Pinto Beans
I serve these as a side dish to so many meals. I especially love them with my Extremely Healthy Meatloaf recipe. My Pot Roast with Balsamic and Dijon also pairs well with these. And let’s not forget Mexican food! If you’re looking for a good Mexican beans recipe, this one goes really well with my Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos, especially when you season these with the red pepper flakes! And don’t forget beans and rice. That’s a meal all by itself!
Most of the time, I serve the pinto beans seasoned with salt and pepper, but they are also super yummy topped with feta or cotija cheese and parsley or cilantro. Sometimes simple is so much better. I really think you are going to enjoy these pinto beans cooked in the slow cooker! Enjoy this new super easy way to make them!
Expert Tips and FAQs for Making Pinto Beans
- To Pre-Soak Or Not Pre-Soak – Let me talk a little bit about the pre-soaking and gassiness aspect. When I make these in the slow cooker, I don’t pre-soak them beforehand. And I don’t notice any more or less gassiness than when I used to soak them. So I have no idea if there is any science behind that pre-soaking piece, but I did read an informative article about why you don’t need to soak pinto beans before cooking them. You can read about that here.
- Additional Cooking Method – My dad likes to cook his in the slow cooker for 5 hours on high and then turn the temperature to low for the last 4 hours.
- Naturally Gluten Free – They are naturally gluten free and contain so many nutritional benefits, so eat them up! They are also naturally low in fat!
- Spice It Up! – You can add a pinch of crushed red pepper if you want a kick of spice!
I can’t wait to hear how this recipe turned out for you! Leave me a comment if you make these and tag me @recipesworthrepeating on Instagram and hashtag it #recipesworthrepeating so I can see what you made!
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Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
- Slow Cooker
- Pour the beans onto a counter and sort through them and discard obvious broken pieces and any rocks, as well as any dark beans.
- Rinse the dry beans and place them in the slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients into a slow cooker and stir.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours. You want to ensure you don't overcook them. You don't want them falling apart.
- Once cooked, turn the slow cooker off.
- They are now ready to serve. You can serve them plain or top them off with your favorite toppings such as feta or cotija cheese and parsley or cilantro.
- Conversion - 1 pound bag equals 2.5 cups.
- Additional Cooking Method - My dad likes to cook his in the slow cooker for 5 hours on high and then turn the temperature to low for the last 4 hours.
- To Pre-Soak Or Not Pre-Soak - Let me talk a little bit about the pre-soaking and gassiness aspect. Ok, yes this is going to get personal for a minute so just bear with me here. When I make these in the slow cooker, I don't pre-soak them beforehand. And I don't notice any more or less gassiness than when I used to soak them. So I have no idea if there is any science behind that pre-soaking piece, but I did read a cool article about why you don't need to soak them before cooking them. You can read about that here.
- Toss The Stones - So you're probably asking..."Why in the WORLD are rocks in my pinto beans?!?" It's a good question! Don't fret! Rocks are left over from the soil after the dried beans are harvested. Some get picked up in the harvesting process. Just don't cook them or eat them and you'll be ok!
- Broken and Dark Pinto Beans - You absolutely NEED to toss those broken ones! There's a lot of reasons why these are broken. Some can split because of insect holes and the really dark ones just taste AWFUL if you cook them! So pick through those and get rid of broken, dark beans, and the rocks! It's SUPER important!
- Naturally Gluten Free - They are naturally gluten free and contain so many nutritional benefits, so eat them up! They are also naturally low in fat!
- Spice It Up! - You can add a pinch of crushed red pepper if you want a kick of spice!
- Additional Add Ons - I've had readers tell me that they've added in bacon, chorizo, and chopped up mozzarella to this recipe.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in March of 2017, but was republished with new photos, step-by-step instructions and tips in July 2020.