11 Ways to Use Pinto Beans

Use This Pantry Staple in Your Next Meal

Basic Mexican beans recipe

The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Pinto beans are a high-protein, high fiber powerhouse. They are easy to cook and taste delicious as a side dish or a main ingredient in soups, stews, dips, and burritos. Don't just stick them in your chili—break out of the pinto bean mold.

Pinto beans are especially delicious when cooked from dried. For best results, give the dried beans a soak in cool water for several hours or overnight before cooking. This shortens the cooking time, helps keep the beans pretty and whole, and aids in reducing any negative side effects that can come from eating beans.

If you're short on time, use the quick soak method an hour before getting started. This a good option when you're not too worried about how to beans will look in the end, like when making refried beans or bean dip.

Canned pinto beans are always a convenient option and still taste great. Give your beans a good rinse and drain before using them in a recipe. Store any leftover beans (cooked dried or canned) in an airtight container in the fridge with a little liquid to keep them from drying out. Beans will keep for up to four days in the fridge, or drain the liquid and freeze them for up to a month.

If you have an excess of canned or dried pintos or are looking for creative new ways to use the beans, then peruse these recipes.

  • 01 of 11

    Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger

    Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger

    The Spruce

    This recipe combines mashed pinto beans with sautéed mushrooms, onion, and garlic for a flavorful mushroom bean burger. The patties have a hearty texture from the beans and meaty umami flavor from the mushrooms. Serve with your choice of toppings—it's easy to keep them vegan (no cheese) and gluten-free (bunless).

  • 02 of 11

    Ground Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

    Ground Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

    The Spruce 

    Ground beef and pinto bean chili starts with dried beans for superior flavor and texture. As long as you plan ahead, it's an easy recipe that's mostly hands-off. You can swap out all or part of the meat if you like for Mexican chorizo, ground turkey, or pork. This recipe tastes even better the next day, so make extra.

  • 03 of 11

    Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Diced Ham

    Easy pinto beans in a bowl with slice of bread.
    Diana Rattray

    Pinto beans are the star of this super easy slow cooker recipe. Dump all of the ingredients in your Crock Pot and cook on low for several hours before serving. Pinto beans with diced ham are delicious served over fluffy white rice. Leave out the ham if you're vegetarian.

  • 04 of 11

    Dutch Oven Pinto Beans (Refried Beans)

    Refried beans with cotija cheese
    Evan Sklar / Getty Images

    Pinto beans are the traditional choice when making refried beans. They're extra flavorful when cooked in chicken broth from dried before finishing with lard or bacon drippings on the stovetop. Serve as a side dish or as a dip for tortilla chips. You can also make refried beans in the Instant Pot.

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  • 05 of 11

    Vegetarian Bean and Rice Burrito

    Vegetarian Bean and Rice Burrito

    The Spruce

    You can't make a good vegetarian burrito without beans. This recipe calls for black beans or pinto beans and can be tweaked to your tastes. Try adding cheese if you're not vegan, avocado or guacamole for creaminess, or sautéed veggies like peppers and onions. Serve with salsa.

  • 06 of 11

    Texas Bean Bake With Ground Beef

    Texas bean bake with ground beef

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Texas bean bake is a combination of browned ground beef, beans, and smoky bacon. The sweet and savory barbecue sauce adds tons of flavor. You can swap the kidney beans for more pinto beans with equally delicious results. Serve at a big family meal, potluck, or barbecue and watch it disappear.

  • 07 of 11

    Vegetarian Bean and Barley Vegetable Soup

    Vegetarian bean and barley soup

    The Spruce

    This simple and filling soup makes a perfect cold-weather lunch or dinnertime main when served with salad and bread. For the best flavor, make the bean and barley vegetable soup using half vegetable broth and half water. Bonus points if you use homemade broth.

  • 08 of 11

    Basic Mexican Beans

    Basic Mexican beans recipe

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

    For a classic Mexican and Tex-Mex side dish, make pinto beans the old fashioned way. Cooked from dried with onion and garlic, they turn out tender and flavorful. For an extra kick, add chopped chipotle peppers or a squeeze of fresh lime juice to the Mexican beans after cooking. These beans can also be turned into refried beans.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Instant Pot Baked Beans

    instant pot baked beans with cornbread
    Diana Rattray

    Classic baked beans are a must at any cook-out or barbecue. This recipe has all of the flavors you're looking for with tender, home-cooked pinto beans at the center. The Instant Pot shaves off minutes when compared to a stovetop or oven method—any multi-cooker or electric pressure cooker will do the job.

  • 10 of 11

    Slow Cooker Chunky Turkey or Beef Chili

    Slow Cooker Chunky Turkey or Beef Chili Recipe

    The Spruce

    After browning the beef or ground turkey for this slow cooker chili, all you have to do is combine the ingredients and let it cook. It's an easy recipe to throw together since it utilizes canned beans and chunky salsa. Top with cheese, sour cream, and olives or green onions.

  • 11 of 11

    Slow Cooker Pot Roast With Pinto Beans

    Pot Roast and Pintos
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    Pot roast, pinto beans, and barbecue sauce come together to make a filling main course. The meat turns succulent and fork-tender cooked in a bath of beef broth and sauce in the slow cooker. The side dish is built-in, with pinto beans cooking along with the slow cooker pot roast.