Crockpot pinto beans




When I think of pinto beans, I think of my grandma.  She is the queen of a comforting pot of simple beans.  As a child, when we would visit, we would almost always be served a pot of beans at one point or another.  That and chicken and dumplings have become her two signature dishes.  Both make you wanna slap your pappy as my grandpa says.  She often serves hers with greens and cornbread for a complete simple and frugal down home cookin’ country meal.

Beans are so simple to make, but I know many of you aren’t home during the day to babysit a pot of beans simmering on the stove for a couple of hours.  Using the crockpot is a great way to get dinner on the table if you work outside the home or are just busy with other things and can’t devote a lot of time to cooking.

These crockpot pinto beans are seasoned very simply with just salt, pepper and a little bit of bacon, ham, or bacon fat.  In my mind there is no need for fancy seasonings with this humble dish.  The simplicity of the seasonings, makes the flavor of the bean shine through.  I also like to keep the seasonings simple so leftover beans can be turned into different things.

Beans are an excellent frugal protein source.  One of my favorite food budget tips after I have cooked them, is to reuse them in other recipes.  Cook once, use in multiple dishes.

They are excellent in burrito bowls or taco salads. Simply layer any ingredients that you desire:  rice, beans, cheese, salsa, guacamole, corn, peppers, lettuce, sour cream.

For re-fried beans, drain off a tad of the liquid and mash or puree.  You can add it to a toasted corn tortilla shell for tostadas, wrap them in wrap, serve it with eggs and salsa, etc.  You can also use them in tacquitos, beans and greens soup, a bean dip or bean burritos.

For more budget recipes and tips for reeling in your grocery budget, check out my frugal meal plans or my ebook, Eat Well Spend Less.


Here is the process for cooking crockpot pinto beans through pictures, for all you visual people out there.


1.  Rinse and sort beans.  Pick out any funky ones or debris.


2.  Soak beans overnight with about 2 inches of warm water covering beans.  Add a pinch of baking soda if desired.


3.  Drain beans and place in crockpot.


4.  Add 6 cups water or broth and fat of choice, or bacon or ham hock, or a bay leaf if you are vegetarian.


5.  Season that bad boy up after they’re tender.  Now gobble down your delicious pinto beans.  Nom nom nom

Pinto beans in the crockpot

Slow cooker pinto beans
Serves 6
Pinto beans. Dirt cheap simple comfort food made in the slow cooker.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 10 min
270 calories
48 g
1 g
2 g
16 g
0 g
315 g
609 g
2 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270
Calories from Fat 15
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 1mg
Sodium 609mg
Total Carbohydrates 48g
Dietary Fiber 12g
Sugars 2g
Protein 16g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. Make the simple humble pinto bean even simpler by cooking them in the crockpot.
  2. Ingredients
  3. 1 lb. dry pinto beans
  4. 6 cups. water or broth
  5. 1-1/2 tsp. sea salt (add more if desired)
  6. pepper to taste
  7. 1 T. bacon fat, or 2 pieces of bacon, or a ham hock (omit if vegetarian)
  8. 1 bay leaf (only if vegetarian)
  1. Rinse and sort beans.
  2. In a pot or bowl, add warm water covering the beans by two inches. Let soak overnight.
  3. Drain the next day and add beans to a crockpot.
  4. Add 6 cups water or broth as well as fat (use a bay leaf if you are vegetarian).
  5. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  6. After beans are tender, add salt and pepper to taste.
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  1. Mel January 13, 2017 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Do you cook the bacon first before placing in the crock pot?

    • Tara Buss January 13, 2017 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      No you do not have to. You certainly can cook it a little, but it’s not necessary.

  2. Bonnie January 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Do I soak the beans in the fridge?

    • Tara Buss January 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      You can soak them on the counter.

  3. Christi March 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    What type of broth?

    • Tara Buss March 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      Chicken or vegetable broth would both work. Water is perfectly fine though.

  4. katie April 3, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    how long do I cook if I did not soak over night

  5. Dallas May 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    What’s on the spoon in the seconds to last picture?

    • Tara Buss June 27, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Bacon fat. If you don’t feel comfortable with that you can use a ham shank or a bay leaf if you want meatless.

  6. Andrew Gray June 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    In my opinion, ham shanks are the way to go because they have a lot of meat. After the beans are cooked, take the shanks out and cut them up and return the meat to the pot.

  7. Rse June 28, 2017 at 11:37 am - Reply

    How much water for slower cooker 2 lbs pinto beans?

    • Tara Buss June 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      Just double the recipe. You want enough water to cover the beans by an inch or so. Keep in mind the beans expand, so make sure your slow cooker can handle a large amount of beans.

  8. Deb September 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    I only have a salt pork in fridge. can that be used?

    • Tara Buss September 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply


  9. Karen Fortner September 29, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

    In the picture it shows you putting in butter but I don’t see butter listed as an ingredient in the recipe.

    • Tara Buss September 29, 2017 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      That’s not butter, it’s bacon fat, as the instructions say. You can add it, use bacon or ham hock, or leave it out entirely.

  10. D. Mason October 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Bacon fat is the most flavorful way to go.

  11. Lis October 21, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Can you freeze cooked beans?

    • Tara Buss October 22, 2017 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      Yes you can.

  12. Pamela Eldridge October 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Does cooking the pinto beans in the crock pot make the thick gravy?

    • Tara Buss October 22, 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      Yes, the thickness is just starchiness from the beans. If you cook the beans long enough and don’t overload it with water, they will thicken.

  13. Big dee December 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Girl I remember my grandma beans you also made home sick for her chicken an dumplings which is my personal favorite she taught me how to cook god love her I miss but her cooking lives on in me guys lh

  14. Big dee December 4, 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    I was gonna guys learn to I’ve been married twice neither girl could cook it’s becoming a lost art Tara keep up the good nothin says love like good food

  15. Big dee December 4, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Oh by the way bison and ostrige I think I spelled that right work real well for this recipe as well as deer shank I love them happy eating

  16. Karen January 1, 2018 at 3:12 am - Reply

    I did exactly what this recipe calls for except the fat part and my beans still did not look like this picture….. what went wrong?

    • Tara Buss January 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      What did they look and taste like?

  17. Nona January 2, 2018 at 10:43 am - Reply

    To keep the beans vegetarian but wanting a smoky flavor, add liquid smoke to the crock pot. I’m the only one in my family that is vegetarian, but everyone loves it when I use liquid smoke.

    • Dorinda Eaton January 13, 2018 at 2:13 am - Reply

      How much Liquid Smoke?

  18. Renea January 21, 2018 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    How do they turn into a brown gravy ? Mine has been cooking for about 3 hours and it’s not brown yet

  19. Ted January 22, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    When covering the beans with an inch of water, the juice does not thicken. I cooked the beans a lot longer on lower temps and still had water consistency. I really like the thickened juice/gravy with my cornbread. You mentioned the thicker juice is due to the starchiness from the beans. Can a little added starch help with this?

    • Tara Buss January 23, 2018 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I have no idea why it didn’t thicken. Mine always thickens so it might be an outside factor like our slow cookers cook differently or something different with our beans. It’s hard to say. You could make a slurry with flour, arrowroot, or cornstarch and thicken it if you would like.

      • kelyann September 20, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

        I cheat sometimes and use refried beans to thicken.

    • Tara M March 18, 2018 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      If you think the beans are done and they are still watery, you can mash them just a little to get the thickness how you like it. Alternatively you could take out 1/2 to 1 cup and blend it and return it to the pot to thicken the liquid.

  20. Nancy February 23, 2018 at 9:14 am - Reply

    If there is not time to soak overnight can you just cook them longer or is soaking overnight a necessity?

    • Tara Buss February 26, 2018 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      I’ve done it plenty of times without soaking. You may have to cook a bit longer, but it will work.

  21. Cynthia March 23, 2018 at 8:58 am - Reply

    love these so much!!!! i add ham to mine! amazing and cheap. reminds me of grandmas beans!!! great with biscuits or cornbread yum yum!!!

  22. SR March 31, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    If they aren’t thick, just cook them longer. I find that sometimes I need to leave them in like 12 hours to properly thicken.

  23. Kimber September 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Mine didn’t thicken and had a lot of liquid left, but I just scooped the beans out, placed in a dish, added the salt and just a bit of the cooking liquid and mashed with a potato masher a bit to make them creamy. Super good! Thanks for the recipe!

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