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Brothy Pinto Beans (Frijoles de la Olla)

Photo: Thomas J. Story

Total time 1 hr, 30 mins

Serves 8 (makes 8 1/2 cups) (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Simple and nourishing, these beans (frijoles) are served straight from the pot (olla) to the plate, says cookbook author Marcela Valladolid. She loves them lifted out of their broth and into a warm tortilla too, with a drizzle of Mexican crema or sour cream. This recipe is based on one in her first book, Fresh Mexico (Clarkson Potter, 2009).


  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican*
  • Salt and pepper

Nutrition Information

  • calories 248
  • caloriesfromfat 4 %
  • protein 16 g
  • fat 1.1 g
  • satfat 0.2 g
  • carbohydrate 46 g
  • fiber 16 g
  • sodium 2.2 mg
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg

How to Make It

  1. Combine beans, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and oregano in a medium pot. Add enough water to pot to cover beans by about 1 1/2 in.

  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if needed to cover beans by 1/2 in. They should be soupy when cooked.

  3. Season beans to taste with salt and pepper and serve in their cooking liquid.

  4. *Mexican oregano is more intense than regular Italian oregano; find it in well-stocked grocery stores, Latino markets, and online.

  5. Make ahead: Up to 5 days, cooled in cooking liquid and then chilled in the liquid.