Slow Cooker Pinto Beans Recipe

Slow cookers in general (and Crock-Pots in particular) are probably the OG of all the standalone kitchen gadgets. They've probably been around for so long, you'd remember them sitting on the kitchen counter as a child. But with all the new gadgets out in the market today, is there still room for the slow cooker?

Fans would say yes, since it still bestows home cooks with the gift of getting on with a busy day and still have dinner ready at the end of it all. And because slow cookers have the potential to turn tough, fatty cuts of meat into fork-tender entrées bathed with rich flavors (via Taste of Home), you could have yourself a winning appliance right there.

This particular pinto bean recipe lets you bathe dried beans in spices, aromatics, and broth, and then leaves the rich vegan stew to cook on its own with the help of a slow cooker. As wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn of YouCare-SelfCare points out, "If you make this recipe on the stovetop, you need to soak the beans overnight, and it will take about two hours. However, I like using the slow cooker because you can leave it unattended. And it makes your house smell amazing for hours!" (PS: If you don't have a slow cooker, Hahn offers a refried beans option made with an Instant Pot as well.)

Gather the ingredients for slow cooker pinto beans

If you have a well-stocked pantry, you'll likely find that everything you'll need to make this delectable, vegan/vegetarian recipe could already be at your fingertips. You'll need dry pinto beans as the key ingredient, in addition to onions, garlic, and jalepeño for your aromatic ingredients. You'll also need cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and garlic granules for spices, and lastly, vegetable broth and salt. Then, you're officially ready to begin.

Prep the beans for the slow cooker

Begin by rinsing your dried pinto beans in cool running water before draining them in a colander. Once you've shaken off all the excess water, pour your beans into the slow cooker, and add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic granules, broth, and water. There is no need to salt the mixture at this stage, that will be added to the bean mixture when it has finished cooking. 

Canned versus dried pinto beans

If you are pressed for time, cooking with canned pinto beans will definitely cut into the prep time for this dish. "No need to use the slow cooker if you use canned beans. They are already cooked, so I would just warm up [the entire mixture] on the stove," Hahn says.

But is spending the extra time and effort actually beneficial? The answer would be, it depends. Bon Appétit reported that dried beans are more value-for-money, and they are seen to have more flavor. But it's difficult to argue against convenience, which is what canned beans represent, so both may be good to have for those "just in case" moments, one way or another.

How to serve this vegan-friendly dish

As soon as all the ingredients have been mixed into the slow cooker, set the appliance to high, and cook for between five to six hours until the beans are fork tender, but not mushy. You can add the salt as soon as the beans are done, and they will be ready to serve. Hahn recommends serving these beans topped with add-ons like diced red onions, cilantro, and avocado. Vegetarians may also welcome this bean dish served with a side of Mexican rice. And, if you eat dairy, Hahn says this also top the beans with grated cheese. She notes, "I do so many things with these beans! They are great as a side dish, make great burritos, tostadas, or tacos. You can add them to a buddha bowl, serve them with chips as a dip ... the options are endless."

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
This pinto bean recipe lets you bathe dried beans in spices, aromatics, and broth, and then leaves the rich vegan stew to cook on its own in the slow cooker.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Bowl of pinto beans with wooden spoon on the side
Total time: 5 hours, 6 minutes
  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Optional Ingredients
  • red onion, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • avocado, for serving
  1. Rinse the beans, and drain in a colander.
  2. Add the beans to the slow cooker along with the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic granules, vegetable broth, and water.
  3. Set on High, and cook for 5 to 6 hours, or until the beans are tender but not mushy.
  4. When the beans are done, add the salt.
  5. Top the beans with optional red onion, cilantro, or avocado, and enjoy.
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