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Mexican Pinto Beans

Mexican pinto beans or frijoles pintos may look like simple, unassuming food but they pack a punch in terms of flavor and nutrition! Whether fried, stewed, or mashed, these pinto beans are found in a wide variety of Mexican recipes that have also become famous in the United States.

Closeup of a wooden spoon of dried pinto beans.

In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about these delicious beans — their nutrients, some delicious recipes, and how to grow them at home!

Characteristics of Mexican Pinto Beans

Kidney-shaped Beans

In terms of looks, they’re shaped like kidneys and have a painted appearance. In South America, they’re also referred to as the “strawberry bean” because of their pinkish color.

They’re typically bought in cans or as dry beans. After buying dry beans, they’re left to soak in water for several hours until they soften.

Pinto beans are integral to Mexican cuisine.

A pile of dried pinto beans.

Growing Conditions for Mexican Pinto Beans

Since they’re indigenous to tropical and warmer countries, Mexican pinto beans need the sun to grow and reach their full potential. Native to Mexico, these beans don’t need a lot to flourish.

A long, warm summer with sun exposure for at least 6-8 hours will do the trick for a bountiful harvest! They also need a good amount of space in between to grow well.

Closeup of immature pods on a Phaseolus vulgaris bean plant.

Damp weather and cold soils are not ideal for growing pinto beans.

If the growing conditions are met, Mexican pinto beans will be ripe for plucking within 100 to 150 days. But did you know that they can be harvested early and consumed as green snap beans?

This just goes to show how versatile this kidney-shaped bean is!

Using Mexican Pinto Beans

Just like any other bean, a good, long soak is needed for Mexican pinto beans to cook properly. Soaking them for 6 – 8 hours means that the cooking process to get that perfectly smooth and creamy texture will be shorter.

But that’s not all! Did you know that soaking beans before eating them can actually improve our bodies’ ability to absorb their nutrients? Soaking them also removes the pesticide coating and any dust on dry beans.

If you’re in a pinch, cans of pinto beans are also a great source of minerals and protein for your meal.

A bowl of cooked pinto beans.

Creamy Texture

When cooked to perfection, Mexican pinto beans lend a creamy texture to anything they’re prepared with. Add them to broth or soup for a thicker texture. They also absorb flavors very well and taste rich but simple at the same time.

Cooked, creamy pinto beans are extremely satisfying.

Best Ways To Serve Mexican Pinto Beans

There are so many ways to prepare Mexican pinto beans that you’ll have no shortage of recipe choices. Here are some of the best Mexican dishes that the entire family will enjoy.

Chili Con Carne With Beans

Let’s face it: the best way to prepare beans is to make a spicy, tangy chili!

Let the ground beef brown in a large pot, then drain off any excess fat. Add the rest of the vegetables in and sautée until soft.

Add Mexican-style seasonings, Mexican pinto beans, and 2 cups water (or vegetable broth). Let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Add some lime juice and voila! You’ve got yourself an amazing chili packed with hearty flavors.

Smashed Pinto Bean Tacos

Vegetarian tacos made with pinto beans.
Vegetarian pinto bean tacos.

These vegetarian and gluten-free tacos will leave even the most ardent meat lovers in awe.

In a large skillet, sauté the fresh tomatoes and onion in 2 to 3 teaspoon olive oil with all of the spices, garlic powder, and seasonings.

Add boiled beans to the skillet. Smash the beans as you cook them and let them mix with all the vegetables and spices. Set it aside as you warm up the tortillas on a pan. Add the beans to the tortillas, top with avocado slices, cilantro, and a squeeze from lime wedges for a dash of freshness.

Tacos are among the classic family favorites so this dish will be a guaranteed hit!

Frijoles De La Olla

Looking to prepare pinto beans the authentic, Mexican way? Look no further than this recipe for frijoles de la olla!

After letting the beans soak overnight in a large pot with water, boil them with the yellow onion, garlic cloves, and ham hock.

If you want a vegetarian version, swap the ham hock with additional salt and bay leaves. Let the beans soften and add water as needed to keep your ingredients covered while on medium heat.

Once done, serve with pico de gallo, lime juice, a crack of black pepper, and cilantro for a simple yet hearty meal.

Health Benefits of Mexican Pinto Beans

Here are some amazing pinto bean health benefits.

  • Great source of protein that’s easily digestible and plant-based
  • Rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium
  • Packed with fiber
  • Rich in cancer-fighting kaempferol
  • Improves blood sugar regulation and heart health

Where to Buy Mexican Pinto Beans For Eating

Dried pinto beans in a bowl and scattered on a cutting board.

Mexican pinto beans can be bought at most supermarkets and grocery stores. Look for them in the pulses or legumes sections for dry beans that should be soaked overnight.

Preparing beans from scratch is a worthy endeavor and is certainly very nutritious. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using cans of pinto beans either! They’re easier to find in stores and can be ordered on Amazon as well.

Canned beans don’t need to be soaked before cooking and can be added directly to your dish of choice.

Can You Grow These Beans at Home?

A pile of harvested pinto bean pods.

If you’re a fan of Mexican food, then here’s some good news. You can plant pinto beans in your home garden! Here’s a quick guide on how you can grow them at home.

  1. Make sure it’s summer so your seeds get enough sun exposure.
  2. Get growable pinto beans and fertile soil from your local nursery.
  3. Soak the beans overnight.
  4. Plant the beans 1.5 inches deep and 4 inches apart — rows should be 24″-30″ apart.
  5. Water the beans sparingly.
  6. In 10 to 14 days, the beans will germinate.
  7. Mature plants are 18″-24″ tall and ready for harvesting about 90 days after planting.

Where to Buy Pinto Bean Seeds

Pinto bean pods growing on a plant.

Pinto beans are an odd crop when it comes to home growing. The different varieties of pinto beans are developed primarily for commercial growing. Seeds sold to home growers often don’t specify the variety on the packets, so it’s hard to know which variety you’re growing.

But we can recommend pinto beans sold by one of our favorite online retailers, True Leaf Market. They have a phenomenal inventory of beans and other seeds to choose from — we’ve linked to their pinto bean selections for you.

Mexican Pinto Beans: Delicious and Packed With Minerals and Antioxidants

Mexican pinto beans are a powerhouse of minerals and antioxidants. It doesn’t hurt that they’re incredibly delicious too.

Refried beans are a classic use for Mexican pinto beans.

Add them to your soups and broths for more texture and flavor, or use them to make homemade refried beans to satisfy your cravings.

We’re bean lovers at Minnetonka Orchards, so you can check out our beans page for more blog posts about different kinds of beans!