How to Make Crockpot Pinto Beans

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on December 21, 2014

How to make pinto beans in the Crockpot or slow cooker

Find more from our All About Beans series here.

I couldn’t forget the humble pinto bean, though. Like many of you observed in the first post, cooking dried, soaked beans in a crockpot works really well because of the long, slow simmer. I usually use a stovetop burner for every bean except pinto. It’s just a weird personal preference. There’s something about a pot of beans simmering on the stove that makes me feel incredibly domestic, in a south-of-the-border kind of way.

When I’m cooking dried pinto beans, though, I always use my crockpot because 1) I don’t have to keep an eye on them and 2) I like to cook them down until they are super soft before mashing them into the consistency of refried beans.

Why don’t you just buy cans of refried beans, you ask? The first reason, of course, is price. I can buy a pound of dried pinto beans for less than a buck (I paid .67/pound for these). That will give me approximately 6 cups of refried beans. If you really like pinto beans, Costco sells 25-pound bags for just over $12. You’d have a hard time finding a high protein, low-fat main dish that is cheaper than that.

The second, and more important, reason is quality. Two years ago, I bought a can of refried beans at a local grocery store. Inside, I found little black rubbery pieces mixed in with the beans. Pieces off a conveyor belt? The bottom of someone’s shoe? Who knows. I wrote the company, complained, received an apology & a coupon, and tried buying the same brand again at a different store. Same. Thing. Happened. Little black rubbery pieces!

That was all the convincing I needed to start making my own, and I have never looked back. You won’t either once you realize how easy and economical they are to make at home. Not to mention, they actually taste like pinto beans. What a novel concept.

The soaking and cooking steps are essentially the same as we have already covered. I include some basic ingredients to bump up the flavor, but you can keep this as simple as you want. Growing up, my mom always served this dish over Fritos or tucked into tortillas and topped it with shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado, salsa and/or sour cream. We called it Chalupas; it is probably to real Mexican food what the Olive Garden is to authentic Italian, but boy, is it good.

Crockpot Pinto Beans


1 lb. pinto beans
2 lb. pork or beef roast (optional)*
3-6 cloves garlic
1 T. chili powder
1 t. oregano
1 T. cumin
salt to taste

  1. Pour the beans onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sort out any debris or wrinkled, cracked beans. Don’t skip this step. Last time, I found four small stones. You don’t want a cheap dinner to turn into an expensive dentist visit.
  2. Dump the beans into a large bowl (use your crockpot bowl for fewer dishes to wash) and cover with cold water. Let it sit overnight, 6-8 hours.
  3. Pour off the water and rinse the beans before putting them back in the crockpot bowl. Cover with 1-2 inches of water.
  4. Add any additional ingredients your family enjoys. You could also add onions or peppers for more kick. * If you want a heartier main dish, add a roast to the crockpot. It is a very tender, flavorful addition that shreds when you mash the beans.
  5. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.
  6. If you like your pinto beans whole, you’re done! If you want to mash them into the consistency of refried beans, scoop out some of the cooking liquid and mash the beans with a potato masher. Add back enough liquid to reach the desired consistency. If you like a smoother consistency, scoop the beans into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour in some of the cooking water to achieve the consistency you like. Add salt, if needed.
  7. Tuck into tortillas or serve over chips topped with shredded cheese, diced avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and/or salsa. These beans will keep in the refrigerator for several days or the freezer for several months.

Looking for a new slow cooker? Amazon carries this portable Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-Quart Slow Cooker with a lid that seals to prevent spills. It has a mid-range price tag and many great reviews.

Simple Roast Chicken recipe: This will become your go-to chicken recipe! All you need is a whole chicken, salt, pepper & an oven! How to make homemade chicken stock (broth) -- so simple! Great way to lower your grocery budget.

Find more delicious recipes on our Recipe Page! And make sure you’re following us on Pinterest for more recipe inspiration!

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Dynamo of Dixie August 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Looks GREAT! Will be making this. Thank you.


Nichele January 4, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Has anyone canned the “refried” beans after cooking? i would love to can them but have never tried it. I like canning more then freezing items. Don’t have to worry about losing power or using up freezer space. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks


Lisa October 27, 2014 at 9:34 am

Never salt your beans while cooking. salting will prevent the beans from softening or lengthen their cooking time.


Cynthia Buhler August 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Years ago I figured out that I could skip soaking by pouring boiling water on the beans after I put them in the crock pot. Your right what comes out of the can isn’t the same. I like the taste and texture of home made.


Carrie January 4, 2014 at 7:24 am

I’m doing up pinto beans with pork in my crockpot tomorrow but New Mexican style, with yummy red chile and some homemade stock for any extra needed liquid. Can’t wait!


Kalinda August 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Read your article about sprouting beans tonight. Could I sprout the beans and then do the crock pot? Ay reasons why I shouldn’t?


Kalinda August 5, 2013 at 8:26 pm

*Any reasons, not Ay reasons…


Krysteen May 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I’ve never heard of toxic alkaloids/alkalids in beans before.. I’ve been told that without proper soaking and cooking, you could end up with extended cooking times and gastrointestinal disturbances


Laurel March 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I thought you must soak all beans to remove the alkalids, which can be toxic/poisonous and even fatal!


Renee February 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Can’t wait to try this tonight! Also, I love your picture of the beans in jars. I trying to decide what I was going to do with all my Winco bags of beans – jars of course!


Couponing4More February 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I started using the crock pot for my pinto beans about a year ago….and I love it :) they come out so good and the texture is much creamier. My family loves them cooked in the crock pot


Carol January 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

made refried beans for first time today using your basic recipe; some modifications: cooked beans in pressure cooker, transferred to crock pot; sauted fresh onion, garlic, cilantro, tomitillos; added to beans; also used all spices in your recipe + lime juice and a little hot sauce. Very delicious!


samantha October 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Thank you so much for emphasizing that you need to inspect the beans before soaking! I was totally going to skip that step until I read your comment NOT to skip it (haha) and consequently found 3 small stones in the mix. Thanks!


Cynthia Buhler September 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I hadn’t head of freezing the beans. I will have to try it.


Jerri September 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

I freeze my pintos when I bring them from store. Works well! No soaking. Just take them out of freezer, check for rocks, etc. , wash and cook! Saves soaking overnight!


Cynthia Buhler November 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I just found your site, great info! I have been cooking pintos in a crock pot for years. I found that you can skip the soaking by putting your beans into your crock and covering with boiling water at the start. When done I add packages of taco seasoning and cook a bit more. By then the beans are very soft and great for what you call Chalupas, we call them Haystacks.


Debi November 4, 2011 at 11:23 am

Thank you so much for the recipe!! I love the convenience of the crockpot and the receipe sounds great. I can’t wait to make a double batch and freeze some too!


Loretta June 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm



Loretta June 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm

My brother-in-laws mother used to make Fried Pinto Bean Patties . We have searched every where looking for the recipe . They aren’t the re fried beans that other people have sent us .
Have you heard of one ?


patty partin July 1, 2014 at 12:30 am

my grandma use to fry them and taught me when i was little girl…she took left over pinto beans the next day , drained any excess juice from them ..smash them in bowl and add little bit of flour and add salt and pepper and she would add crushed saltine crackers ….mix all together and fry them in skillet with grease or oil ….(saltine crackers is to make it hold together )…..try it … its very deliscious ..sorry i dont have exact amounts of items in recipe…i just add what i think each time i make cos we all have little or more beans leftover…..


patty partin July 1, 2014 at 12:31 am

sorry just seen date this was on…well hope you still enjoy the recipe ….let me know how it works out for you ..


Monica June 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oh, thank you!! I’ve been looking all over for something like this that says what to do if you don’t use meat! Didn’t realize it was so simple! I’m a young newlywed and new to my crockpot. My husband lived in south Texas right near the border for quite a while. I am so excited to make beans from scratch. Wish me luck! Thanks again!


Haley May 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm

We have a big ol’ pot of beans at least once a week, cooked this way. We are semi-vegetarian and this is a great way to do Meatless Monday (or any other day of the week). We eat them whole the first night, topped with sour cream, cheese and salsa (or minus the diary on a vegan day.) Later in the week, I’ll smash them up and stuff them along with cheddah into enchiladas. I can’t believe every family doesn’t do this!


Carla M April 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I did it!! I did it tonight and they turned out great. I don’t know what I was so nervous about! LOL I don’t know that I’ll ever buy canned again!


Carla M March 18, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Thank you!


Carla M March 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I thought I asked this before, but…
“Pour off the water and rinse the beans before putting them back in the crockpot bowl. Cover with 1-2 inches of water. ”

Does this mean up to 1-2 inches or 1-2 inches over the beans?


Kate March 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

1-2 inches over the beans


Stephanie January 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I love crockpot refried beans, however, the only thing I add is chicken bouillion, I buy the big bottle in the mexican aisle at the grocery aisle and often substitute it for salt. Anyways if you want the thriftyness of no meat but want to add flavor give it a try!


Huong January 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Definitely invest in a pressure cooker, they’ll cook dry beans in about 20 mins. It can also brown, saute, all in one pot. It replaced my rice cooker and crock pot. Pulled pork took 40 mins instead of 5 hrs on high or 8 hrs on low setting in a crock pot. Benefits to pressure cooker: cook 70% faster (energy efficient), retain more nutrients that’s not lost due to evaporation, and it’s perfect for the summertime as it doesn’t heat up your house like the oven. It’s on my kitchen counter and I use it a lot.


Wendy July 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Huang, this is so interesting! I have a pressure cooker, but only use it in the summer to can green beans. I would love to see a few recipes on how to use it for the things you you have any websites to recommend where I can see some recipes? Thanks so much for sharing!


Melody January 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I made a similar recipe for the first time a few months back. We ate them whole the first night, then I mashed the rest and froze in ice cube trays. After they froze, I threw them all in a gallon Ziploc bag. I can just pop out a few cubes when I need and SO much better than canned.

I even threw in a few cubes the other night to baked pasta with ground beef to make it stretch a little and nobody noticed. :)

I can’t wait to try the hummus from a few days ago!


West Coast Engineer January 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

My crock pot doesn’t do beans well- they stay hard.


Emily January 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hm. These would be a few things to try: soak beans, buy fresher product, add salt at the end of cooking time. If all else fails, buy a new crockpot. :)


Joyce January 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been cooking my pinto beans in a slow cooker for years. I use a similar recipe that you gave and I’ve also just added 1/4 cup butter and about a teaspoon of salt to 4 cups (2 lbs) of cooked, mashed beans. They do freeze well. I usually use 2 cup freezer containers.


Bethany January 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I hadn’t noticed you were doing a crockpot bean post, so I already linked this on your “cooking dried beans” one … but it’s so good I’ll mention it again here. :)

The recipes calls for pinto, but I double it and do half pinto/half black. No soaking required and done after five hours on high. Best beans in the world!

Your recipe calls for chili powder. Never tried that, but it sounds good!! Thanks for these beans posts. I just got back from WinCo, where I bought dried garbanzos to try making hummus with. :)


Jenni January 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

” There’s something about a pot of beans simmering on the stove that makes me feel incredibly domestic, in a south-of-the-border kind of way.”

I can totally see how cooking a pot of beans would do that!… so, I want to try 😉
I have a question… This is a lot of beans – do they freeze well?

Thank you – loved this little series!


Emily January 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Yep, they freeze great! I usually do 1-2 cup portions in plastic or glass storage containers.


Nancy March 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I usually freeze cooked beans in muffin tins (the large ones, not cupcake tins), then remove and save in gallon freezer bags. Then anyone in family can grab one for a snack or meal, or I can use several for dinner. Just an idea….


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