This is a recipe for Frijoles Rancheros made oh-so easy in the crockpot. Pinto beans with bacon and garlic, kicked up with some heat from jalapeno peppers. Cowboy beans are a creamy, healthy side dish for any Western entree.
Using a slow cooker is an easy way to make any type of dried beans recipe. And this easy recipe for Frijoles Rancheros will have friends and family asking for the recipe.
I’ve seen many recipes that add ground beef, barbecue sauce and brown sugar. This is a simple Mexican-style Cowboy Baked Beans recipe that keeps seasonings minimal to showcase those pinto beans.
This is a Rick Bayless recipe, from his cookbook Mexican Everyday.
Have you ever taken a bite of a straight forward simple ingredient dish and asked yourself, “why is this so darn good?” As with about any Bayless recipe I’ve tried, this is one of those dishes.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Dried Pinto Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Onion: Sweet or yellow onion.
- Bacon Thick cut good quality preferred. It will be meatier.
- Dried Chile Peppers: I use Arbol chile peppers.
Ingredients Subs and Swaps
- Pinto Beans: Swap out navy beans, cannellini beans, black beans, or
- Bacon: Swap out bacon for chorizo sausage.
- Tomatoes: If you’d like to use fresh tomatoes, use 3 – 4 chopped tomatoes. Add any liquid from the tomatoes.
- Jalapeno Pepper: If jalapeno peppers are simply too spicy for you, substitute a poblano pepper. Seeded and chopped.
- Lard: Crisco will work well here.
- Dried Peppers: Use any dried chile pepper here. Guajillo peppers are a good choice here.
Step by Step Instructions – It’s Easy
- Step 1: Cook the chopped bacon several minutes, stirring regularly, until bacon starts to brown and renders its fat. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeños and cook until the garlic is fragrant. About 1 minute.
- Step 2: Transfer the mixture from the skillet to the slow cooker. Add the beans, a scoop of lard, and 7 cups of water. Cover and turn the slow cooker to high. Cook for 3 – 4 hours. Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are hot.
Pro Tip: Remove about 2 cups of the beans and process in a blender or food processor. Return the beans to the crockpot for a creamier and thicker end result.
Frijoles Rancheros FAQ’s
Yes. Use a 6 – 7 quart Dutch oven. Just follow the instructions below on the recipe card and bake them at 350 degrees for about 3 hours or until beans are tender.
You could, but I don’t advise it. Canned beans are already cooked and simply won’t absorb the flavors like dried beans. Dried beans make all the difference in this recipe. Dried beans turn out more deeply flavored and more complex experience.
Whenever possible purchase dried beans from the bulk section rather than bags of beans on the shelf. There’s just no way to tell how old they are and you risk purchasing beans that just won’t soften up as well when they cook.
I usually do, but it’s not completely necessary. Rick Bayless tells us that in Mexico, beans are not soaked overnight as doing so bleeds the color from the bean.
The beans I used are from a new crop of Colorado grown beans. They were tender in the first four hours of cooking on high. The freshness of the bean will dictate the cooking time.
The fresher the bean, the less time to reach a tender state. I’ve read that some of the dried beans we purchase off the shelf at our super market can be 2-3 years old. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a “thing” and they can take longer to cook.
Keep A Lid On It: When cooking foods in your slow cooker, resist the urge to lift that lid. Unless of course it’s absolutely necessary. Crockpots cook at such low temps that lost heat is not quickly recovered. An uncovered slow cooker can lose up to 20 degrees of heat in as little as two minutes. If you need to lift the lid to add ingredients, replace that lid as quickly as possible. This is especially important when using the low heat setting.
How to Serve
A bowl of Frijoles Rancheros are good simply served with a warmed flour tortillas or Cornbread. Here are some more ideas:
- Side Dish: This is a hearty side dish that will go well with BBQ Chicken Sliders, Grilled Steak, or a great burger like these Silver Spur Ranch Blue Cheese Burgers.
Storage and Reheating
- Leftover beans should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll last about 5 days. Reheat them in the microwave for smaller portions. And reheat stove top for larger portions.
- Freezing: Frijoles Rancheros freeze well. Just store them in an airtight container. Let the side dish cool completely before freezing. I like to use a zip lock freezer bag so I can push the air out. And they can lay flat so they don’t take up much space. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat.
Recipe for Crock Pot Frijoles Rancheros
I hope you give this this Cowboy style baked beans recipe a try. It’s a great side dish recipe for potlucks, parties and barbecues. Forget the canned beans, making this recipe with dried pinto beans is more cost effective, more flavorful and healthier.
Looking for more ways to cook with beans? You won’t want to miss:
Crock Pot Frijoles Rancheros
- 4 ounces bacon 4 slices, thick cut, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium onion cut into ½-inch pieces. Yellow or sweet onion.
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and veins removed if you wish to reduce heat, and cut into slices.
- 1 pound dried pinto beans about 2 1/2 cups, rinsed in a collander
- 2 dried chile peppers
- 1 Tablespoon lard heaping (optional)
- 15 ounce diced tomatoes canned, preferably fire-roasted, undrained
- 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- In a skillet cook the bacon pieces several minutes, stirring often, until bacon starts to brown and renders its fat. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Add the jalapeños and cook for 1 minute, then add garlic until garlic becomes fragrant. About 1 minute.
- Transfer the mixture from the skillet to the slow cooker and add the beans. Cover with 7 cups of water. Add the lard. Drop in the dried chile peppers. Cook on high 3 – 4 hours. Cooking time will depend on the freshness of the beans.
- Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are hot.
- Remove 2 cups of the beans and process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add the smooth beans back to pot and stir in the cilantro. Taste and season with salt. Remove the dried chile peppers. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Crockpot Frijoles Rancheros …They’re What’s for a Side Dish.
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Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.