These Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans are the perfect blend of Southern and Mexican pinto beans styles. Tenderly slow cooked with a ham hock and jalapeños, the lime adds a little twist. Perfect for a burrito, these beans will make you feel like you are in Texas, and really, what more could you ask for? Originally posted February 20, 2015

traditional tejano pinto beans (slow cooker Mexican beans) garnished with lime, sour cream, jalapenos, and cheddar.
Table of Contents
  1. Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans
  2. What are Tejano Beans?
  3. Ingredients for Mexican Pinto Beans
  4. How to Cook Pinto Beans Mexican Style
  5. Mexican Pinto Beans Crock Pot Tips
  6. How to Serve Mexican Beans
  7. How to Store this Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe
  8. FAQs for this Pinto Beans Recipe Mexican Style
  9. More great south of the border style recipes you will love:
  10. Beans, Beans, and more Beans!
  11. Traditional Tejano Beans (Mexican Pinto Beans) Recipe

On Monday Eric and I brought the kids to Muir Woods in the Bay Area with his parents who are visiting. We went on a beautiful hike in the Redwoods, and pretended we were Luke and Leia blasting Stormtroopers with Ewoks. I mean, Redwoods are great, but Redwoods + Star Wars? Better. Definitely better.

For being a scrawny 4-year-old little girl, Charlotte is a pretty hardcore hiker. She did the whole 3-4 mile hike on her own, with no meltdowns and only minimal candy bribing. In other words, a complete success.

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Sunlight shining in the redwoods with mother and her young daughter.

Actually, the only time she cried was when I squirted her in the face with a blast of cold water. Gotta keep these kids in line…oh my gosh, I’m joking. It was an accident, I swear! I was trying to let her sip from my Camelbak. The minute I took the cap off it blasted her in the face. Of course I started busting up laughing and I had to hide my face while she sobbed into my shoulder. Such a sympathetic mother. Seeing someone get squirted in the face is funny, ok? Even if they are 4.

Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans

Eric’s family is Swedish, and it’s been really fun to get into their food traditions over the years. Swedish Meatballs, Butter Pecans, Spritz cookies…so much good stuff. My sister Laura married into a family from southern Texas, and the only reason I’m not jealous is because she shares all their awesome Tejano recipes with me. (Tejano meaning Mexican-American-Southern-Texan cuisine.)

Over Christmas, my whole family got together at my parents house for a couple weeks…all 25 of us. On my sister Laura’s night to cook, she made us this awesome dinner with this Carne Guisada, guacamole, rice…and these beans. These amazing, delicious beans. We could not stop talking about them.

overhead shot of a bowl of Mexican pinto beans garnished with lime, cheddar, and sour cream.

What are Tejano Beans?

Tejano beans are Mexican-American-Southern-Texan beans. They’re a mashup of Mexican-style pinto beans and Southern-style pinto beans…and they’re SO good. 

Ingredients for Mexican Pinto Beans

Scroll down to the recipe card below for the full recipe! 

  • Dry pinto beans
  • Garlic (fresh garlic or garlic powder)
  • Onion
  • Sugar
  • Chicken bouillon
  • Jalapeños
  • Ham bone (or ham hock)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Limes (optional)

How to Cook Pinto Beans Mexican Style

The recipe is from my brother-in-law Adam’s grandma, who came from a long line of Tejanos, so it’s about as authentic as you can get. His whole family lovingly calls them “Grandma’s Beans.” I’m a little bit obsessed with them. The ham bone gives it that rich Southern pork-and-beans feel, but then you add the jalapeno, garlic, and lime wedges and it gives it this great Mexican twist.

They are meant to be a side dish, but if you want to slap them in a tortilla I won’t judge you. (I personally eat them with a shovel.) Hopefully you can tell from the photos that these beans are meant to be more wet than dry. They’re not the same consistency as refried beans. Adam’s family calls it “bean gravy.”

overhead shot of mexican pinto beans in a wooden bowl topped with cheese, jalapeño, sour cream, and lime.

These beans are easy to make, and there is very minimal chopping, but they do take a while. There’s just no getting around the fact that beans take a while to cook, and using canned beans as a substitute just doesn’t give the same flavor. They are already cooked, and so there is no way for them to soak up the other flavors in the pot. I’ve provided 3 cooking methods below: stovetop, crock pot, and quick crock pot.

Sliced jalapeño and chopped onions.

To add the heat, you don’t need to chop the jalapeño, just slit it on both sides like this and toss it in whole. Don’t fuss about dicing the onion, just slice it a few times. It will cook down.

Pair these with the  Carne Guisada recipe I mentioned–best burritos of my life! (Special thanks to Laura for putting up with my incessant texting the day I made this. You rock. Way to share the Tejano wealth.)

Mexican Pinto Beans Crock Pot Tips

  •  Be kind to your body. If you have had intestinal issues in the past from beans, then I recommend soaking them overnight (and discarding the soak water), OR boiling them and simmering for 30 minutes as described in the “Quick” slow cooker method below. 
  • Wait to add salt. Adding salt after all of the flavor from the ham hock and jalapeños has cooked into the beans means you can add just the right amount. “Salt to taste” is the idea here. 
  • Check the beans for doneness. Don’t settle for hard or chalky beans! If they need more time, keep them simmering. On the other hand, don’t cook them down until they’re the consistency of refried beans. These aren’t meant to be a homogenous mass, but delicious beans in equally delicious bean gravy. 

How to Serve Mexican Beans

These Tejano beans are to be a side dish, so serve them up alongside Slow Cooker Pork Tacos or Baked Mexican Meatballs

They’re also a delicious addition to Carne Guisada Burritos. Believe me. You will never eat a better burrito. 

Mexican pinto beans recipe with sour cream, jalapeno, and cheddar being scooped up with a spoon.

How to Store this Mexican Pinto Beans Recipe

These Mexican beans will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat them, warm them on low on the stove (or in the microwave) until heated through. 

FAQs for this Pinto Beans Recipe Mexican Style

Can I use canned beans?

Sure you can use canned beans, if you hate flavor! Sorry not sorry guys. Canned beans are already cooked, and there’s no way for the amazing flavors of ham, jalapeños, onions, and garlic to soak in. Also, they would be complete mush before you can say “Tejano.” The fastest way to cook this recipe is on the stovetop and takes 2-3 hours, but it’s definitely worth it. 

Are pinto beans and refried beans the same?

No. Refried beans are a recipe that is traditionally made using pinto beans, but pinto beans are an actual variety of bean that can be used in a number of different ways. Not the same thing!

Are there different types of pinto beans?

Yes. As with most beans, there are a few different varieties of pinto beans. However, all serve the same purpose in this recipe.

Are frijoles the same as pinto beans?

Frijoles” is the Spanish word for “beans.”  In Spanish, pinto beans are called “frijoles pintos”. There are many varieties of “frijoles” since “frijoles” just means beans. 

mexican style pinto beans in a bowl garnished with jalapeño, sour cream, cheddar, and lime.

More great south of the border style recipes you will love:

Beans, Beans, and more Beans!

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Traditional Tejano Beans (Mexican Pinto Beans)

4.93 from 28 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
These Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans are the perfect blend of Southern and Mexican pinto beans styles. Tenderly slow cooked with a ham hock and jalapeños, the lime adds a little twist. Perfect for a burrito, these beans will make you feel like you are in Texas, and really, what more could you ask for?


  • 4 cups dry pinto beans
  • 12 cups water, 12 cups for stovetop version; see crock pot instructions for water amounts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (or 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
  • 1 medium onion, very roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon, good quality
  • 1 jalapenos, left whole, but with a slit cut on two sides
  • 1 ham bone, or ham hock*
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • lime wedges, fresh, to garnish


Stovetop Instructions:

  • Rinse the dry beans in a colander. Put them in a large stock pot and add 12 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a medium-low simmer.
  • Add the garlic, onion, sugar, chicken bouillon, jalapeno/s, and ham bone. Bring to a boil again and then reduce the heat to medium low.
  • Simmer on medium low with the lid on but vented. (Tilted so that it’s not sealed) Stir occasionally.
  • Cook for 2-3 hours. After about an hour and a half, add salt so that it can absorb into the beans as they finish cooking. I added somewhere between 2-3 teaspoons, but taste as you go. The beans will continue to absorb the salt as they finish cooking, so be cautious.
  • Continue cooking until the beans are tender. Taste them ; if the beans are still hard or chalky, keep simmering. Don’t wait until the liquid has cooked off so much that they look like refried beans–you want plenty of bean gravy.
  • Remove the ham bone and discard (if there is any meat on it, chop it and add it to the pot).
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh limes.

Slow cooker instructions:

  • Rinse the dry beans in a colander.* Add to a crock pot, then fill the pot with water until it reaches 2 inches above the beans. Add all the other ingredients except the salt.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Start checking at 6 hours and taste. Add the salt for the last hour of cooking.
  • Remove the ham bone and discard (if there is any meat on it, chop it and add it to the pot).
  • Garnish with limes.

Quick Slow Cooker Instructions:

  • Fill your crock pot about 1/3 of the way with water. Turn the crock pot to high and put on the lid. Set aside.
  • Put the rinsed beans in a large stock pot and add water 1 and 1/2 inches above the beans.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour the beans into a colander and strain well.
  • Add the beans to the crock pot with the heated water. Add the rest of the ingredients, excluding the salt. When all the ingredients are added, check the water level. The water should be about 1 and 1/2 inches above the beans. Add or remove water accordingly.
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours, adding the salt for the last hour or so.
  • Remove the ham bone and discard (if there is any meat on it, chop it and add it to the pot).
  • Season with pepper to taste, garnish with limes.


If you are in a pinch you can use 6-8 slices of bacon (not chopped) instead of the ham bone/hock. Discard when the beans are done.
This makes a HUGE pot of beans, so 1 jalapeno does not make them very spicy, even left whole with the ribs and seeds. It just lends great flavor with enough spice to keep it interesting. 2 would definitely make it spicy.
*If you have had intestinal issues in the past from beans, then I recommend soaking them overnight (and discarding the soak water), OR boiling them and simmering for 30 minutes as described in the “Quick” slow cooker method.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 1097mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 278
Keyword: beans, Tejano
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 5 stars
    This Recipe is the Bomb! Pay Attention to your Beans! 😉 I’m born and raised in Michigan! This is Fantastic Winter Food! I love my cast iron pot!😁😘❤

  2. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe for pinto beans. They are also fantastic refried the next day. Thank you Karen for another tried and true recipe!

  3. I have made these beans a few times and absolutely love them. But they make so much! Have you successfully froze them?

    1. Hi Randi! So glad you are loving the recipe. Yes, beans freeze marvelously! Toss them in a ziplock and freeze for 3-6 months. Let thaw in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave or stovetop. Enjoy!

  4. Made these today with the Easter ham bone – just tasted these and they are delicious.  If I wanted these more refried style, how would I do that?  I was thinking of taking some out and using my immersion blender on a portion of them.  Have you ever?

    1. Hi Kristin! I haven’t tried it out, it sounds delicious! Let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Anna! The Better than Bouillon is added to bring in more flavor, not liquid. I don’t recommend adding broth!

  5. Thank you for this recipe! This is so good. My husband loves pinto beans, loves Mexican food, and loves his food spicy. I  just made this today and he can’t get enough of it. I followed the recipe to the tee, except I used to smoked turkey wings. I also glanced at some of your other recipes as well so I will definitely be back! Now that you’ve introduced Tejano food to us, I’ll be looking out for more of those type of recipes as well. Thanks again, with love from Atlanta, Georgia!

    1. Love the idea of using turkey wings Crystal! I bet it was so good. Glad it was a hit! Tejano food forever. Thanks so much for reviewing!

    1. Hi Fati! Look through the comments, some people have discussed this. I think they used liquid smoke to help bring in the smokey flavor. Tell me how it goes!

  6. I just found your blog today from a mention on Facebook (y’know, when they “recommend” things to you). I clicked to see what it was like (plus I really was intrigued by the name), and found this recipe that is going onto my menu plan as soon as I can work it in. I am super excited to try it! My attempts at crock-pot pintos always tend to be “meh” and flavorless, so I am super jazzed to try this one! (You had me at lime!)

    1. I’m so glad you found me Susan! You will have to let me know how the beans turn out. And yes, don’t be shy with the lime, or the cheese! Yum.

  7. Looks delicious and Weight Watcher friendly!! Excited to make these. Do you have instructions for making these in the Instant Pot?? 

    1. Hi Kimberly! I do not have IP instructions, but I bet if you found another pinto bean IP recipe and adapted the liquid levels with these ingredients you could work it out. Good luck!

  8. I have these beans on the stove right now. I’m doing the “quick soak”. At first, I was a bit dismayed that the recipe makes so much (there’s only the two of us) but now I’m thinking it will be great because I really want to make the Tejano Guisada some other time and now I’ll have the (frozen) beans to go along with it. Perfect!! I grew up on (Navy) beans and a pot of beans is still what we consider a good hearty meal. I’m just going to do a simple salad and some cornbread with these today. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews (minus one) and especially for posting this recipe!!

    1. I’m so glad you’re making the Guisada to go with it Cherie! Hopefully this pot of beans will last for several meals for the two of you. Cornbread and salad sounds perfect with it too. Enjoy the beans! Thanks so much for commenting!

  9. Hi. Just came across your site. Love it. I’m from Houston, TX. I was reading your way of making these beans. Basic Mexican ingredients, but down here we add about 1 teaspoon of comino (cumin) while its cooking and chopped cilantro.

    1. Who could say no to cumin and cilantro Laura?? Sounds delicious! I will try it next time! Thanks!

  10. I have made this about 12 times and it is so yummy!! I have served it to company and they love it too. I made it for my friend when she had her baby and now her family makes it all the time as well. I either serve it with tortillas cheese and sour cream or I serve it with cornbread. I make the Jiffy box cornbread which I know is cheating and then instead of using milk I add cream style corn. It is freaking amazing with these beans.

    1. Ooh I love the idea of serving this with cornbread Bridgette! I haven’t tried that! It sounds delish. So happy you’ve enjoyed the recipe so many times, and thank you for sharing and commenting!

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