Chipotle Pinto Beans Recipe (Copycat)

These copycat Chipotle Pinto Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, and healthy! Add to burritos and salads or serve with rice for a tasty vegetarian meal.

These copycat Chipotle Pinto Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, and healthy! Add to burritos and salads or serve with rice for a tasty vegetarian meal.
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"Black or pinto beans?"

Before Chipotle removed the pork from its pintos, this was an easy decision. Because bacon!

But now there is no bacon and the beans are just is good, and life is full of tough choices.

Do I need to soak the beans first?

No, you don’t have to soak the beans first.

I created this recipe assuming you would NOT pre-soak the beans. I assumed you would wake up one day and decide to make Chipotle pinto beans.

Un-soaked beans take about 30 minutes longer to cook and require more liquid than soaked beans. This recipe accounts for that.

Warning: If you substitute dried kidney beans, you MUST pre-soak them and boil them for at least 10 minutes. Please see "Kidney Beans are Toxic if Not Cooked Correctly" below.

If you want to soak the beans first, there are two methods to do it: Overnight-soak and Quick-soak.

Overnight-Soaking Method for beans:

  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. Cover the beans with 5 cups over water and soak overnight.
  3. Drain and discard soaking liquid (see below “Should I discard soaking liquid?”).

Quick-Soaking Method for beans:

  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. To a large saucepan, add beans and enough liquid to cover them by 1 inch.
  3. Bring beans to boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and let beans sit for 1 hour.
  5. Drain and discard soaking liquid (see below “Should I discard soaking liquid?”).

Should I discard the soaking liquid?

Yes.

But people have differing opinions on this.

  • Some people say it’s a waste of water to throw away the soaking water.
  • Some people say if you keep the soaking water, it adds a sour taste.

I have learned from cooks in Mexico that they don’t usually soak beans at all. But if they do, they toss the cooking liquid. So that's what I do, too.

These copycat Chipotle Pinto Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, and healthy! Add to burritos and salads or serve with rice for a tasty vegetarian meal.

Cooking Dried Beans:

You can pre-cook beans to keep on hand or freeze for later. These instructions will work for 1 pound of pinto beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans, red kidney beans, Cannellini beans, or black-eyed peas.

  1. To a large saucepan, add 1 pound beans, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and water (4 quarts for soaked beans, 5 quarts for un-soaked beans).
  2. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to gentle simmer and cook until beans are tender (about 1 to 1 1/4 hours for soaked beans and 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours for un-soaked beans).
  3. Stir the beans occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and adjust heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Drain.

Wait – you add salt to the beans before they are cooked?

Yes.

You may have heard somewhere that the universe will implode if you add salt to beans before they are completely cooked.

However, if you read Kenji López-Alt’s information in his book, The Food Lab, he did some side-by-side testing and determined that salting beans before they are cooked is fine. In fact, doing so helps prevent the beans from exploding (see page 256 in his book).

Kidney Beans are Toxic if Not Cooked Correctly

Kidney beans contain phytohemagglutinin, a type of lectin that is very toxic at high levels.

You MUST pre-soak dried kidney beans and hold them at boiling point (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for at LEAST 10 minutes.

This means you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker. You won't know for sure if the slow cooker reached boiling temps and held it for 10 minutes. Better to be safe than sorry!

How to Cook Chipotle Pinto Beans on the stove:

  1. First, sauté onions in oil.
  2. Next, add garlic, spices, chipotles in adobo for heat, and your beans.
  3. Add enough water to cover the beans, and then simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Finally, remove the bay leaf and chipotle chilies if desired. Stir in fresh lemon and lime juice and season to taste with s&p.

How to Cook Chipotle Pinto Beans in a Slow Cooker:

  1. Heat oil until shimmering and cook onions until softened.
  2. Stir in garlic until fragrant, then add beans, spices, and enough water to cover.
  3. Bring to a boil, then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Remove bay leaves and chipotle chilies if desired. Add lemon juice, lime juice, and s&p to taste.

Can I substitute canned beans?

To substitute canned beans, use 3 or 4 cans of pinto beans. Rinse and drain before adding to the saucepan and bringing to boil.

  • 1 pound of dried pinto beans is approximately 6 1/2 cups of cooked beans
  • 6 1/2 cups of beans is approximately 52 ounces
  • 3 (15.5 ounce) cans = 45 ounces beans
  • 4 (15.5 ounce) cans = 62 ounces beans

Are Chipotle Pinto Beans Vegan?

Yes, they are. Just have a look at the ingredient statement and see for yourself.

What can I do with my leftover Chipotle peppers and/or adobo sauce?

Transfer to a bag and freeze for future use, or use in:

A side shot of chipotle pinto beans in a pot.

Chipotle Pinto Beans Recipe (Copycat)

These copycat Chipotle Pinto Beans are easy to make, inexpensive, and healthy! Add to burritos and salads or serve with rice for a tasty vegetarian meal.
4.88 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 338kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or rice bran oil (see notes)
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 16 ounces dried pinto beans rinsed and sorted
  • 2 chipotle peppers plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (see notes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups water (enough to cover beans)
  • lemon juice
  • lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add beans, chipotle pepeprs and adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 
  • Remove from heat. Remove chipotle chilies if desired and bay leaf. Stir in lemon and lime juices, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Video

Notes

You can use either Italian or Mexican oregano. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have.
Rice Bran oil: Chipotle uses Rice Bran oil in all of their products. Olive oil is more widely available (probably already in your pantry) and works equally well, especially if it has a neutral taste.
Pre-soaking the beans:
Soaking the beans before cooking is not required. However, you can cut about 30 minutes off the cooking time if you pre-soak the beans. WARNING: If you substitute dried kidney beans, you MUST pre-soak them and boil them for at least 10 minutes.
Overnight-Soaking Method for beans:
  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. Cover the beans with 5 cups over water and soak overnight.
  3. Drain and discard soaking liquid.
Quick-Soaking Method for beans:
  1. Pick through and rinse 1 pound beans.
  2. To a large saucepan, add beans and enough liquid to cover them by 1 inch.
  3. Bring beans to boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and let beans sit for 1 hour.
  5. Drain and discard soaking liquid.
To substitute canned beans:
  1. Use 3 or 4 cans of Pinto beans.
  2. Rinse and drain before adding to the pot and cook until heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

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  1. Roberta Abdel-kerim

    How much lemon and lime juice

    1. Hi Roberta, so sorry about that. You should add it “to taste” which is however much you like, I would start with 1 tablespoon of each and see if you think it needs more. Thanks! I’ll update the recipe so this makes more sense. -Meggan

  2. grace

    exactly like chipotle & and so delicious5 stars

  3. Somer

    I see your warning that you must boil kidney beans for 10 minutes to keep from being toxic but none of these recipes say to boil for 10 minutes? Does simmering count? Thanks!

    1. meggan

      Hi Somer, you’re right, the recipes are not for kidney beans specifically so none of them include the 10 minutes boiling time. That is just in the post in case someone makes a substitution. If you are going to use kidney beans here instead of pinto, I would bring them to a hard boil for 10 minutes and then do the simmering. I don’t think simmering is the same. It’s not written into the recipe specifically because the recipe is for pinto beans. But the note is there so if someone uses kidney beans, they will be safe. I hope that makes sense. Thanks! -Meggan

  4. Michelle Akers

    I suggest that you either remove kidney beans as a suitable bean for this recipe or remove the show cooker directions, as kidney beans are not safe to cook in a slow cooker!
    https://www.allrecipes.com/article/kidney-beans-slow-cooker/

    1. meggan

      Hi Michelle, I did NOT know this about kidney beans! I read some articles and you are totally right. I had no idea. Thank you so much, I will fix this post and there are some other posts on my site that I want to fix it on too. You’ve really helped me a lot. Thank you again for your help! -Meggan

  5. Mishael W.

    My second batch is perculating as I type! This recipe is awesome! My family loves it! It’s so easy and tasty. Thank you so sharing.5 stars

  6. Trish

    But the real ones have pork ingredient.

    1. meggan

      Nope they don’t, not since like 2013.

  7. Alissa

    Hi there, if you use canned beans do you still add water?

    1. meggan

      Hi Alissa, I would still add some water. I don’t know yet exactly how much, I’m going to test these today to find out. I’m thinking 1 cup or so. The reason would be make sure all the seasonings are evenly distributed and to help the beans cook evenly. Plus Chipotle’s beans are in liquid at the restaurant; they use a slotted spoon to drain them if I remember correctly. So you want some liquid in there, just not 6 cups. If you are anxious to start, try 1 cup and see what you think, you can always add more. I’ll respond with my definitive findings after testing and update the post with that info.

      Also – I think 1 pound of dried beans is equal to 3 cans.

      Thanks! -Meggan

  8. Julie

    I have the same question about the lime & lemon juices. There’s no amount listed for either – Thanks!

  9. Rey

    Hi,
    Do the beans need to be soaked over night or can I can make them straight out of the bag after rinsing.

    1. David

      perhaps old wives tale, but hear that overnight soak and rinse before cook reduces the amount of…. gas production… from eating beans.. less music in the fruit.

    2. meggan

      Hi Reina, in this recipe I don’t have you soak the beans in advance. It’s totally fine if you do, and that will help reduce the cooking time. But here I didn’t, I just added them straight to the recipe after rinsing. If you soak them, I suggested discarding the soaking water (sometimes it adds a sour taste). I’ll clear this up in the recipe notes so nobody else has to ask the question. I appreciate you! Thanks -Meggan

  10. Lynh Tran

    Can you do this in a crockpot too?

    1. meggan

      Hi Lynh, I’m sure you can. I’ll have to test it to see what the exact cooking times would be, if you’re interested. Off the top of my head I don’t know. But I am certain you can cook the recipe in a crockpot. I just can’t offer the specifics this second. Thank you! -Meggan

  11. Patricia

    I’m not a bean lover, I make them for my husband. But this recipe, I could have everyday. It’s delicious , not a boring bean by any means . thanks so much for sharing

    1. Meggan

      Wow, thanks so much Patricia, this makes my day! -Meggan

  12. rae

    Side of saute onions? No instructions on when to ADD onions INTO beans. Please Update. Thank you

    1. meggan

      Hi Rae, sorry for the confusion. You add the beans INTO the onions. You cook the onions first, then add in everything else. You never take the onions out. I’ve updated the instructions to from “to the pot add….” to say “to the pot with the onions add….”
      I hope that helps. -Meggan

  13. SABRINA

    My beans taste soo spicey .. I only added the two chile peppers and the sauce like it stated… is there anything I can do to adjust the spiceyness?4 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Sabrina, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I am going to change the recipe to address this and recommend people use fewer or even NO chipotle chiles, if spicy food is an issue. Part of it depends on the size of the chiles, mine always end up being tiny but maybe yours were bigger. Or maybe you have a lower tolerance for spicy food. In any case, at this point the best way to help with the spice is to add more beans. If you used dried, you could add some cans since they are already cooked. That will dilute the spice (1 or 2 cans of pintos). You can also add more lemon and lime juice, that should help tone down the overall spiciness. Last, serve the beans with bland foods (like rice or tortillas) and if you like toppings, sour cream, cheese, and avocado can help you eat the beans without setting your face on fire. I’m so sorry again. I’ll fix the recipe! Thanks! -Meggan

  14. Kate

    This are absolutely excellent! I have made them several times and LOVE them. Thanks so much for the recipe!5 stars

  15. Trish

    Absolutely the best bean recipe ever. I’m n not a fan of pinto beans but this one has me hooked. I make cheesy garlic quick bread to accompany the beans and it’s delicious5 stars

  16. Amanda

    Wondering if anyone has tried these in the Instant Pot? I’m thinking 45 minutes cook time and natural release with maybe 3 cups of liquid? Thoughts?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Amanda! I’m sorry for the delay, but I actually had you and one other person ask about these beans in the instant pot, so I wanted to test them for you two before giving you an answer. I saw tons of conflicting information from different sources on how long to do the beans. Ultimately, I ended up trying the bean button, and that cooked them on high pressure for 30 minutes, and did the natural release (which took another 30 minutes). They were chewy! I ended up closing the instant pot back up and doing another 10 minutes manual high pressure, then quick release. They were perfect! Here is what I would recommend:

      -Follow recipe card above for all ingredients (use 6 cups of water for sure)
      -Manual, high pressure 40 minutes, natural release

      I will update this post soon with these instructions! Have a great day! :D

  17. Jenny

    Can these be done in an instant pot?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Jenny! I’m sorry for the delay, but I actually had you and one other person ask about these beans in the instant pot, so I wanted to test them for you two before giving you an answer. I saw tons of conflicting information from different sources on how long to do the beans. Ultimately, I ended up trying the bean button, and that cooked them on high pressure for 30 minutes, and did the natural release (which took another 30 minutes). They were chewy! I ended up closing the instant pot back up and doing another 10 minutes manual high pressure, then quick release. They were perfect! Here is what I would recommend:

      -Follow recipe card above for all ingredients
      -Manual, high pressure 40 minutes, natural release

      I will update this post soon with these instructions! Have a great day! :D

  18. Stephanie

    I made these tonight and they came out amazing!! This recipe is perfect. Taste just like Chipotle! 5 stars

  19. Kathy

    If you use can beans, should you drain the liquid or keep it?

    1. Monica

      Hi Kathy! No need to to drain the liquid out of the can! :)

    2. LeAnn

      I have the same question about draining the liquid. Thanks!

    3. Meggan

      Hi LeAnn! No, you don’t need to drain the liquid for this recipe! -Meggan

  20. C-p

    Do you cover the beans during 2 hour simmer?

    1. Ray C.P. Trole

      Covering will help reduce evaporative losses but it isn’t strictly required. As for rice, most “boiling” rice reciped are really steamed rice which REQUIRES covering. True boiled rice doesn’t and you drain the water from it when you’re done.

    2. mike

      Anything that absorbs water during cooking should always be covered after bringing to boil and reduced to simmer otherwise the water evaporates and the result is a dry finished product. Same principle applies to rice

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