International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Frijoles de la Olla

Pinto beans

(Mexican beans in broth)

Average: 3.4 (25 votes)

Frijoles de la olla, or beans in a pot, are good in burritos and tacos, on tostadas or on their own as a side dish. These slow-cooked, creamy beans are traditionally made in a bean pot, or olla.

4 to 6 servings


  • Lard, salt pork or oil -- 2 tablespoons
  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Dried beans, any variety, rinsed and soaked overnight -- 2 cups
  • Salt -- 1 to 2 teaspoons


  1. Heat the lard, salt pork or oil in a large saucepan over medium flame (the salt pork until it renders its fat). Add the onions and sauté until just translucent.
  2. Stir in the soaked beans and enough water to cover beans by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until the beans are cooked through and tender. Add water as needed to keep the beans covered.
  3. Near the end of the cooking time, stir in salt to taste.


  • Feijão Preto (Brazil); Caraotas Negras (Venezuela): use black beans.
  • Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken beans): Use pinto beans and substitute one bottle of beer for some of the water. Crumbled bacon is also sometimes added. Popular in northern Mexico.
  • Different beans are popular in different regions of Mexico. Pintos are most common, but in the Yucatán, black beans are favored.
  • When using black beans, Mexican cooks often add epazote, a pungent herb, to the pot. Epazote can be found both fresh and dried in the Latin markets. Use a sprig of fresh or a big pinch of dried.
  • Crumble some Mexican cheese over the top before serving if you like.
  • Throw a clove or two of garlic into the simmering beans for added flavor.
  • Add a whole fresh or a chopped pickled jalapeño to give a kick to your beans.


My granddaughter and her husband came home raving about the pinto beans they had had at a party. Mark is part Mexican and the family giving the party were as well. My luck with beans has always been so so. Too soft once, too firm the next. I followed your recipe as best I could, soaking overnight, adding a cut up jalapeno and garlic and simmering in the recommended amount of water. They were almost too soft after only one hour. There was still a lot of liquid and they were more bland than I had hoped. What to do with all the liquid? I have separated it from the beans and plan to pour off the thinner fluid and add the thicker to the beans. My family hasn't tasted them yet so I don't if I did good or not. He will say they are good but if he doesn't really like them he won't eat them again. Any help you can give would be appreciated.

It took me quite a long time to find the right way to cook beans. There's a science to this madness. How can something so simple be so difficult to cook you ask? I often asked that question myself many times over. Tried different recipes from everyone that said their beans were the best.. blah blah blah. Nothing worked until I met this lady who cooks Authentic Mexican food for her family everyday. It has to do with the Pot you cook them in. Not just any ordinary pot. It's an Adobe Orange looking Pot, called an Olla (Oya)... You can find these at swap meats or Mexican Markets. You soak the beans overight. The next day you add the beans to the Olla and add salt. Bring to a boil. Then you slow cook them for 4 hours, checking them constantly and adding water as needed. The broth will turn into a dark brown rich broth, Oh so good.
That's all to it.

It took me meeting the right person from Mexico to actually explain it to me in detail. Now I enjoy making and sharing my beans with everyone. They are out of this world.

To kick it up even 10 more notches what I do also is right after the beans are done, I mash some of the beans up. I get a pan and cook some Beef Chorizo and when that is done I add the mashed beans in and incorporate them real good.. OMG! What a delight.. It'll have your taste buds going crazy. You can make bean burritos or just serve on the side.

You don't need to soak the beans overnight. Use pork fat of some sort, cook the onion for a few minutes, then add rinsed beans. Cover with 2 quarts water per pound of beans. Add epazote if you can get it. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to a simmer. Don't add salt until the beans are fully cooked. Add water as necessary while you go along - it should cover the beans. And, yes, a clay olla is really good for pot beans (if there are any Mexican markets in the area they may have one). A dutch oven / heavy pot will suffice. But, seriously, pork fat is important. And don't soak them overnight - no point.