Comfort Food Classics: Frijoles de la Olla {Cooked Pinto Beans}

It is said that beans are the most important part of the Mexican diet. If you were to walk into the average home here in Mexico, you would most likely find a batch of cooked beans either on the stove or in the fridge. Frijoles de la Olla (which means beans from the pot) are a staple in every Mexican cocina.

Pinto Beans (Frijoles Pintos) -

Frijoles are rich in protein and iron. It's no wonder that bean broth is the first food offered to infants in Mexico. In Mexico, frijoles are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beans are versatile in that they can be prepared in a variety of ways. Frijoles can be used in popular side dishes like in Refried Beans, Frijoles Adobados, and Frijoles Charros, to name a few. But they can also be used as part of a main dish like Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, and Enfrijoladas (enchiladas with a bean sauce). Cooked beans are also great to keep on hand to add to soups and stews. (Some of my favorites include Frijoles Puercos and Pork Chile Colorado.) 

Cooked beans aren't exclusive to Mexican kitchens. I remember my great-grandmother, with whom my dad and I lived with for a short time in Amarillo, cooking a pot of pinto beans about once a week and serving them over a slice of buttered cornbread. (Still one of my favorite ways to eat cooked pinto beans.) 

There are numerous methods on how to cook beans such as soaking the beans overnight, cooking them in a clay pot to enhance their earthy flavor, or adding a couple of epazote leaves to make them easier to digest and less gassy. Like most comfort food classics, there is no wrong way to cook a pot of beans. Every family has their own unique recipe for making Frijoles de la OllaMi abuelito (my grandpa) liked to cook his beans with garlic and patitas de puerco (pigs feet). And my grandmother preferred to add a couple slices of bacon.

My recipe is very simple. All you need is water and dried beans. You can cook the beans in a pot on the stove or you can use a crock pot. (That's how I cooked beans in the States.) Whichever cooking method you choose, I recommend that you don't add the salt until the beans are fully cooked. Once cooked, the beans can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

My bean of choice is frijol tejano (pinto beans), but this method also works for frijol peruano (peruvian beans) and black beans.

One final tip before cooking a pot of beans, that Mexican abuelitas (grandmothers) have passed down for generations is to make sure you are in a good mood while your beans are cooking. According to Mexican folklore if you're mad or upset while cooking beans, the beans will not soften, no matter how long you cook them. I don't know if that's true, but then again having a pot of Frijoles de la Olla cooking away on the stove always puts me in a good mood. 

Frijoles de la Olla
(Cooked Beans)


  • 1 pound peruano or pinto beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Fill a 3-quart stockpot with the 6 cups of water. Bring water to boil over high heat. Sort through beans and remove any rocks. Rinse beans with cold water.

Add beans to boiling water. Cover stockpot and let beans cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours until beans are fully cooked. (Add additional water to pot, if necessary.) Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and let simmer an additional 5 minutes. Serve with Chile de Molcajete and warm corn tortillas. Enjoy!!!

With Love,
Leslie Limón


  1. I've never made the peruano beans, but my sister in law makes these type and they taste really good!

  2. Hi Leslie,

    Can you believe after living here 8 years I still haven't mastered frijoles?

    I'm on a quest to make mole from scratch. I have a friend here who will show me, I just have to find the time.

  3. My husband loves refied beans, and has a certain way that he likes them. He likes them to be done in pork fat, and fried with no juice and stir them and stir and smash along side of the pot till they are a little smased and then add some of the bean juice in and stir, oh my they are so creamy and delicious!

  4. I took several pounds of dried peruanos with me to Alaska a few weeks ago. The kids had me cook them that day so we could enjoy them all week. Fortunatly, the local grocery store is finally carrying uncooked flour tortillas, so I no longer have to take thsoe with me.

  5. Angry people rinse their peruano beans with hot water ;D

  6. I have these simmering away now (I like pintos -- haven't ever tried peruano beans, but maybe next time) ... they smell amazing. Never in my life have I thought to put beans into boiling water for 30 minutes! Excited to see how they turn out. I like this method :)