Instant Pot Charro Beans – These pressure cooker Mexican-style pinto beans are LOADED with flavor and perfect for all your Tex-Mex faves. (Gluten-Free + Easy!)
We may have BLAZING summer heat, but one thing that’s awesome about where I live is the abundance of Tex-Mex food. Within just a few minutes of my house in any direction, I can find delicious tacos, burritos, fresh salsa, tamales, freshly-made tortillas, and more. It’s almost enough to make up for the heat thing. Almost.
We’re still trying to support our local restaurants and small businesses by ordering out once a week, but since we can’t do more than that, I’ve been trying to get better at making some of my favorites at home. One of our favorite restaurant recipes to make at home is a good batch of Charro Beans (cowboy beans). Charro beans are Mexican-style pinto beans PACKED with flavor and easy to make at home.
Typically with charro beans, you cook dried pinto beans in a flavorful broth seasoned with smoky bacon, savory aromatics, dried spices, chiles, and tomatoes. Typically, charro beans are cooked on the stovetop, but today, I’m going to show you how to make Instant Pot Charro Beans.
An Instant Pot or pressure cooker makes these flavorful beans a little more hands-off and will save you a little time. Plus, it’s the BEST way I know to cook dried beans. Pressure cooking speeds up the process, makes the beans tender without turning them to mush, quickly infuses BIG flavor, AND makes beans easier to digest!
Here’s what you need to make Instant Pot Charro Beans that are perfect for all your Tex-Mex faves…
Here’s What Goes Into My Instant Pot Charro Beans:
- DRIED PINTO BEANS. The foundation of this instant pot recipe is dry pinto beans + a flavorful broth. Before cooking, you’ll want to sort and rinse the beans, removing any ruined beans or stray pebbles that may have found their way into the bag. Then, it’s all about the broth, so you’ll need…
- BACON. Smoky bacon (or leftover ham or ham hock, pulled pork, etc.) adds LOTS of flavor to the broth. I love the smoky note with pinto beans (or black beans!).
- ONION + GARLIC. Then, for some aromatics, I add a combination of onion and garlic. They add so much flavor to the broth!
- JALAPENO + CHIPOTLE CHILI PEPPER. For a little heat and a lot of flavor, I add some jalapeno and a chipotle pepper canned in adobo. (Not all brands are GF, so be sure to check!). If you like spicy beans, you can add more jalapeno or chipotle chilis! I keep mine in the mild range since I’ve got very spice-averse littles at home.
- CUMIN + OREGANO + SALT + BAY LEAVES. For dry seasonings, I add a combination of cumin, oregano, salt, and bay leaves (if you have them on hand).
- DICED TOMATOES. A lot of the charro beans I’ve had have tomatoes in them, but not everyone adds them. Feel free to skip them if you’re not a tomato fan! If you *are* going with tomatoes, I prefer fire-roasted tomatoes to play up the smoky notes in the beans.
- CHICKEN BROTH OR WATER. After adding all those yummy flavors, you’ll finish things off with chicken broth or water. Pressure cooking really infuses all those flavors into the broth, so the end result is incredible!
- CILANTRO. Lastly, I love to add some fresh cilantro. It’s pretty, and it adds a fresh note to the beans.
4 Yummy Ways To Enjoy Charro Beans:
- AS A SIDE DISH! Serve these charro beans with some cilantro-lime rice as a side dish for all sorts of Tex-Mex main dishes–fajitas, burritos, tacos, and more!
- IN BURRITO BOWLS. One of my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant faves is a big burrito bowl. Rice, charro beans, any proteins I’m digging (like Salsa Verde Chicken, Sweet & Spicy Pork, or Beef Carnitas), lettuce or slaw, avocado or guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo, and any other veggies or extras that sound nice!
- IN TACO SALADS. Or, ditch the rice, pump up the lettuce and turn all those burrito bowl goodies into a giant taco salad. Top with crispy tortilla strips, and a drizzle of tomatillo ranch dressing and dive in!
- IN TACOS OR BURRITOS. My Instant Pot Charro Beans are perfect tucked into burritos or tacos. (Charro beans run saucy, so feel free to use a slotted spoon if you want just the beans in your tacos/burritos.)
- AS A SOUP. Or, you can serve them like bean soup or chili with a side of cornbread. Delightful!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Instant Pot Charro Beans:
CHOOSE YOUR HEAT TOLERANCE. Depending on how hot your jalapeño is, your Instant Pot Charro Beans will likely end up on the mild side. If you’d like to turn up the heat to medium or spicy, add a second jalapeño, or a second chipotle chili!
THE BEST PLACES TO BUY DRIED PINTO BEANS. For best results, you’ll want to buy your dried beans from someplace with high turnover (meaning they sell a lot of beans). Otherwise, you run the risk of your beans being SUPER old, which means they may not soften well. I like to buy from Thrive Market, Camellia beans, or Vitacost.
HOW TO FREEZE LEFTOVER CHARRO BEANS. This recipe will make about 8 cups of cooked charro beans. If you’re not planning to feed a crowd or eat leftover pinto beans for a few days, I recommend freezing! Scoop cooked, cooled beans into a freezer-safe reusable bag or airtight container (save a little space at the top for expansion if you use a container!), and lay flat in the freezer to freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating when you’re ready to use them!
HOW LONG DO INSTANT POT CHARRO BEANS TAKE FROM START TO FINISH? The initial saute + assembly takes about 15 minutes, then it’ll take 10 minutes to come to pressure, 30 minutes to cook, 20-25 minutes of natural release, and 2 minutes of quick release. That adds up to about 75-80 minutes total.
WHAT IF MY BEANS ARE STILL TOUGH? If they’re close, I recommend putting the lid back on and cook an additional 5-10 minutes at high pressure. If your beans still won’t soften or they aren’t even close to softening, it likely means your beans are old and won’t soften no matter what you do (read more about that here).
HELPFUL TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING MY INSTANT POT CHARRO BEANS: