Frijoles a la Charra (or charro beans) are a nice change from refried beans. These beans help to make a delicious soup that is inexpensive to make. What’s more, you can make these ahead of time, and the flavor will only get better. This copycat version of Pappasito’s charro beans soup is made with pinto beans and bacon in a rich tomato-based sauce flavored with onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.
What Are Charro Beans?
Charro beans (frijoles charro) are also known as cowboy beans from the Mexican cowboys who dined on them. Over time, they became a traditional Mexican side dish that is made by cooking dried pinto beans long and slowly in a broth full of amazing flavors.
These flavors come from other ingredients, which can include onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and meat (usually bacon, but ham, sausage, and chorizo can also be used).
- Drunken Beans (frijoles borrachos) is an interesting variation on charro beans. This is basically the same recipe with some Mexican beer added (Borracho means drunk in English). Pork rinds may also be used to change the flavor up a little bit more.
In Mexico, steakhouses will bring this bean soup to your table before your meat course – you don’t even have to ask for it. The soup all by itself is a hearty dish to warm you on a cold winter day.
Ingredients for Charro Beans
These beans can be made inexpensively, and are a great addition to any meal. This is what you need to make charro beans:
- Dried Pinto Beans
- Chili Powder
What Are Roma Tomatoes?
This recipe calls for Roma tomatoes. A Roma tomato is meaty and egg-shaped with thick walls. It is bright red in color, has few seeds, and is about three inches long.
This tomato is not juicy and is not meant for slicing into salads. The flesh is thicker and drier than other tomatoes so it can cook down into a thick sauce that intensifies the tomato’s already rich flavor.
It’s a tomato that’s great for canning, making pasta sauces, and tomato pastes.
How to Make Charro Beans
- Soak the pinto beans in water overnight.
- Cook the bacon, onions, and garlic.
- Combine soaked beans, bacon, onion, garlic, and seasonings.
- Simmer until the beans are soft and heated through.
- Add tomatoes. Serve and enjoy!
These beans taste even better the second day.
- You can add extra bacon, smoked sausage, or chunks of ham.
- Add a little pico de gallo when eating them.
- Omit the bacon if you want to enjoy the beans vegetarian style.
Can You Freeze Charro Beans?
Yes, you can freeze charro beans. I love to make extra bean soup to store in the freezer. Charro beans taste even better when you reheat them. Plus, this soup is really handy for when you don’t feel like cooking. Just defrost, reheat, and serve with warm tortillas.
Love Beans? Try These Recipes
- How to Cook Pinto Beans in a Pressure Cooker
- Crockpot Chicken with Black Beans
- Easy Barbecue Beans Recipe
- Sausage and Baked Beans
- How to Make Black Beans
- Calico Beans Recipe
- Treebeards Red Beans and Rice Recipe
More Mexican Favorites
- How to Make Cheese Dip like Mexican Restaurants
- Chipotle Mexican Grill Barbacoa
- Chipotle Restaurant Corn Salsa Recipe
- Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Recipe
- How to Make Cheese Enchiladas Mexican Style
- Green Dip at Mexican Restaurants
Check out all the tasty budget meals and Mexican food recipes.
Pappasito’s Cantina Frijoles a la Charra
- 1 1/2 pounds pinto beans uncooked
- 1 gallon cold water
- 3/4 pound bacon cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped garlic
- 4 tablespoon cilantro plus more for garnish
- 1 cup chopped white onions
- 1 tablespoon Cumin
- 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 gallon cold water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes
- Soak the beans in 1 gallon of cold water for 8 hours. Drain when ready to use.
- Ina large (2-gallon) heavy pot, cook the bacon cubes until well done – the baconshould not be undercooked.
- Add the onions, 1/2 cup of garlic,and cilantro, to the hot bacon and cook until the onions are transparent.
- Add the beans, cumin, and chili powder.Stir well and add 1/2 gallon of cold water. Set heat to medium-low, add thesalt, and stir well.
- Cook the beans slowly until they are tender (approximately 1 hour). Stir constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon ofgarlic, extra cilantro for garnish, and serve.
This recipe is the bomb! As a loyal Pappasitos fan for many, many years, and now living out of state, this bean soup is the solution to my problems! The flavors in this recipe are spot on. I made no changes to the recipe and it was very easy to follow. Next time, and there will be lots of next times, I’ll probably add more water. Since this was my first time soaking and cooking beans, I had no idea how much they’d soak up. What a great recipe to discover at the start of winter. Now, I need to find the rest of their menu so that I can save money on flights to Texas. Muchas gracias!
I am so glad you liked it!
Great recipe, l have been doing a similar recipe for years. I roast pablano, jalapeño and Roma tomatoes in cast iron skillet and then rough chop before adding to beans. Garlic and cilantro is key to your recipe. Thanks for sharing.
These beans are aresome. To make a perfect meal for me, what type meat could/would you add…smoked sausage or chunks of ham.. or both..or none?
I love smoked sausage in here, you could add a good smokey bacon or both.
I add smoked turkey wings(the drummet). 😉😋Valerie
Do i need to have a lid while cooking
Trying to cook now
Can I use tomato sauce instead of chopped Roma tomatoes? If so how many cans to this recipe
Thank you SO MUCH for the recipe. These are cooking in my kitchen as we speak and I can hardly wait for them to be ready.
I hope you enjoy the beans. They are a favorite of mine as well.
I doubled the recipe, following the ingredient amounts with minor exceptions: I had 2 lbs. of bacon so I used it all, and I started with 1Tbls salt and then added to taste. I probably ended up using 2Tbls. I also added 2tsp cayenne pepper. I wasn’t sure about “do not under cook the bacon”. When cooking gumbos I like to cook my bacon until it is brittle and the fat completely rendered. For these beans, I used thick cut bacon, cut in about 1/2 inch strips. Then I cooked it on medium heat until almost brittle – around 40 minutes. Most of the fat cooked down but there were the occasional pieces of very well done fat. Mmm! I soaked the beans overnight and cooked them gently in nothing but the water for about 3 hrs before they were approaching tender. I added the rest of the ingredients and brought to a light boil for the last hour. I will be cooking this recipe again very soon and will add the tomatoes and cilantro at the very end, as the recipe states, because they did cook down and left no ‘chuncky’ tomato in my dish.
These were by far the best beans I’ve ever cooked. I served the bean soup with beef and shrimp fajitas to a party of 14. I like to think I cook a mean fajita and great seafood, but I had more guests wanting seconds on the frijoles. Thank you for this recipe!
I really appreciate the detail you wrote here. I am going to give some of your suggestions a try. I love the extra bacon, I mean who doesn’t love bacon? Thank you for writing up your updates. I am going to give these a try.
Add two jalapenos, seeded and chopped to the onion addition. Adds nice flavor and just a tiny bit of heat. I like a little ground coriander and a little more (1 tsp more) chili powder.
I love to add a little pico de gallo to beans when I eat them. Your suggestions sound most excellent!
OMG These are delicious! ENjoying my bowl as we endure unseasonal 20 degree weather…..
It is 1/2 cup garlic, and then right at the end an additional 1 Tbsp of garlic. I need to take out the word remaining I think that makes it vague.
I have a question, it says 1 C garlic plus 1Tbsp. fresh Garlic. Is that correct? 1 cup of garlic?